CHEYNE, Sir William (c.1374-1420), of Brooke, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b.c.1374, s. and h. of Sir Ralph Cheyne*. m. bef. July 1401, Cecily (c.1371-18 Oct. 1430), yr. da. and coh. of Sir John Stretch* of Pinhoe and Hempston Arundel, Devon, by his 1st w., wid of Thomas, yr. s. of Sir William Bonville I* of Shute, Devon, 2s. inc. Edmund†. Kntd. by May 1400.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Wilts. 29 Nov. 1402-5 Nov. 1403, 4 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410, Devon 15 Nov. 1408-4 Nov. 1409.

Commr. of array, Wilts. Sept. 1403, Devon Apr. 1418, Wilts. Mar. 1419; to survey rivers, Som. Nov. 1403; of inquiry, Devon July 1414 (treasons), Som. Nov. 1414 (title to estates), Devon Feb. 1416 (treason).

Tax collector, Dorset Mar. 1404.

J.p. Wilts. 16 Feb. 1405-7, 8 Nov. 1415-d.


In 1400 Cheyne inherited from his father substantial properties in Wiltshire, Dorset, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Hertfordshire. He was then aged about 26, and the fact that he had been recently knighted suggests that he was already launched upon his career. He is, therefore, possibly to be identified with the esquire who on 30 Sept. 1395 had been retained by Thomas, duke of Gloucester, to serve him for life in peace and war in return for a fee of £16 p.a. from the lordship of Holderness. This grant was confirmed by Henry IV in November 1399 and in the following April a William Cheyne, described as ‘King’s esquire’ was sent to Rome ‘on secret business of the King’. He was given 15 marks for his travelling expenses. On 12 May, now a knight, Cheyne was granted an annuity of £40 from the Despenser exchequer at Cardiff during the minority of the son and heir of Lord Despenser.2

If this identification is correct, then inheritance of his patrimony later in 1400 ended Sir William’s activities in the service of Henry IV as he took on the character of a country landowner. Cheyne had come into the manor of Brooke some years earlier on his mother’s death, but had then conveyed it to his father for term of the latter’s life. Other of the Pavely estates pertaining to his mother’s family were shared with John Bathe* and Richard, Lord Saint Maur of Castle Cary, the husbands of Cheyne’s cousins. Besides Brooke, Cheyne inherited from his parents the manor of Cheyney Cottered (Hertfordshire), lands in Westbury, Hulprington and Avon (Wiltshire), the manor of Norton Hawkfield (Somerset) and that of Tothill (Lincolnshire). He also held the reversion of three manors and other property in Devon, a third part of ‘Cheynysplace’ in Steeple Morden, Cambridgeshire, and the manor of Long Stanton in the latter county, but these properties were in the possession of Katherine, the widow of his uncle, Sir Edmund Cheyne† of Poyntington, Somerset (who was also the stepmother of his wife, Cecily Stretch), and she did not die until 1422, two years after Cheyne’s own death. Through his marriage Sir William acquired the manor of Pinhoe and lands in Hempston Arundel (Devon) and the manor of Seavington St. Michael (Somerset), only a part of the Stretch estates which had to be shared with Cecily’s sister Elizabeth and her husband, Sir Thomas Beauchamp*. Then, too, some of the Stretch lands were held as dower by Katherine, widow of Cecily’s brother and now wife of Sir Hugh Luttrell* of Dunster. Cecily also brought to the marriage property which had been settled jointly on her and her former husband, Thomas Bonville, by the latter’s wealthy father. In 1412 Cheyne’s estates in Cambridgeshire were valued at £22 13s.4d. p.a., in Devon at £20, in Dorset at £20, in Somerset at £44 and in Wiltshire at £51 13s.4d., producing a total of £158 6s.8d. which did not include his property in Hertfordshire and Lincolnshire (said at his death to be worth about £35 p.a.).3

Cheyne often acted as a witness or feoffee for his neighbours, but there are few traces of activities of much interest. In 1403 he and his wife obtained a papal licence to have a portable altar. In November 1405 he petitioned that inquiry should be made in an Exchequer case against him as sheriff, concerning the issues of the Wiltshire cloth subsidy. From 1409 until Easter 1411 he and Sir Humphrey Stafford I* were custodians of the lordship, hundred and manor of Frome (Somerset), pending a settlement of a dispute over ownership between Robert Lovell* and Edmund Liversedge. In February 1415 Cheyne was pardoned £60 for losses incurred as sheriff of Devon six years before. He is not known to have taken part in Henry V’s first expedition to France, but on 26 Nov. 1417 payment was ordered for his wages for three months in taking a force of 24 men-at-arms and 50 archers for the defence of Harfleur; and his name was included on the list of those from Wiltshire best able to undertake military service, which list was sent to the King’s Council late in 1419.4

Cheyne died on 27 Sept. 1420, leaving as his heir his son Edmund, aged about 18, whose wardship and marriage were granted, for £400, to the MP’s widow and Bishop Beaufort of Winchester. Edmund married Alice, one of the daughters of Sir Humphrey Stafford II* and, having been returned to Parliament for Wiltshire in 1429, died on 30 May 1430. His mother, Cecily Cheyne, made her will at Brooke on 12 Oct. following, expressing a wish to be buried in the parish church of Westbury next to her late husband. She had settled Pinhoe on her other son, John Cheyne, but the remainder of the family estates passed to her young grand daughters, Elizabeth, Cecily and Anne.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421


  • 1. C137/24/6; VCH Herts. iii. 230; CIPM, xvi. 1027-8.
  • 2. E403/567 m. 2; E404/15/182; C76/84 m. 9; CFR, xii. 100; CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 117, 285; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 15.
  • 3. C138/46/46; C139/2/29; CFR, xiv. 334-5, 396-8; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 287; Devon RO, Petre (Bonville) mss, TB 461; E368/174 m. 185; CPR, 1401-5, p. 91; Feudal Aids, vi. 408, 419, 427, 506, 530; CCR, 1419-22, pp. 159-60, 177, 210, 212.
  • 4. CPR, 1408-13, pp. 176, 214, 303; E28/15, 97/33; E404/33/204; CPR, 1413-16, p. 281; CPL, v. 567.
  • 5. C138/46/46; CPR, 1416-22, p. 310; C139/13/57, 49/42; PCC 14 Luffenham.