CHISELDEN, Robert (d.1444/5), of Harpole, Northants., Allexton, Leics. and Braunston, Rutland.

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

m. by July 1392, Anne or Amy ( d. 7 Mar. 1445), da. and h. of Sir William Burgh† (d. aft. 1406) of Allexton and Braunston, j.c.p., by his w. Margery (d.1428), wid. of Theobald Ward of Harpole, at least 2s. (1 d.v.p.).1

Offices Held

Escheator, Rutland and Northants. 12 Feb.-16 Nov. 1397.

Tax collector, Northants. Mar. 1404, Leics. Dec. 1414, Nov. 1415, May 1416, Dec. 1417.

Sheriff, Rutland 4 Nov. 1418-23 Nov. 1419.


Although Chiselden’s early years are now shrouded in obscurity, we may be reasonably sure that his family was not without influence in the Midlands. His marriage, in or before July 1392, to Anne Burgh, the daughter of a former judge and widow of the son of a prominent Northamptonshire landowner, certainly suggests that he was well placed to further his own interests. The impeachment and exile of Anne’s father, Sir William Burgh, by the Merciless Parliament of 1388 then appeared to have dashed all her hopes of succeeding to the complex of estates which he had built up around the manors of Allexton, Braunston and Lye (Rutland); but this loss was somewhat offset by the dower settlement made upon her by her first husband’s father, Simon Ward†. In addition to a substantial amount of land in the Leicestershire village of Carlton Curlieu, she also acquired the reversion of the manor and advowson of Harpole, together with land in Benefield (Northamptonshire), which came into her hands soon after her marriage to Chiselden.2 In actual fact, Anne did eventually recover most of her inheritance, since her father was rehabilitated by Henry IV and died seised of almost all his former holdings at some point after 1406. Our MP is described, variously, as living at either Braunston or Allexton from 1414 onwards, so we may assume that his wife had taken custody of the estates by then. The death of her mother, Margaret Burgh, in June 1428, left Anne in complete possession of all her patrimony, which must have produced at least £35 a year, if not more.3

Although he twice represented Northamptonshire in Parliament and also held office as escheator during the reign of Richard II, Chiselden seems to have lived in comparative obscurity until the beginning of the 15th century. Certainly, very little is known about his personal affairs until November 1400, when he appeared as defendant in an action of novel disseisin at the Northampton assizes. This was by no means his only experience of litigation, for three years later he became involved in a dispute with the abbot of St. Albans over an annual rent of 30s. which the latter claimed from the parson of Harpole. This living lay in Chiselden’s gift, and he appears to have filled it with one of his kinsmen, a clerk named William Chiselden, whose refusal to comply with the abbot’s wishes led to a short but unsuccessful lawsuit. It is possible that this William Chiselden was none other than the erstwhile receiver-general of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster. Such a connexion would account for Robert’s return to the two Parliaments of 1395 and 1399, the second of which was, indeed, summoned to ratify the claim of Gaunt’s son to the throne of England. Chiselden’s circle of friends also included his fellow MP, Sir John Trussell, who made him a trustee of his Leicestershire and Northamptonshire estates at about this time. The two men again acted together in February 1407 as mainpernors for a local man charged with assault, each offering securities of £20 on behalf of the accused.4 Over the next few years Chiselden was busy in the royal courts, resisting an attempt by the heirs of Simon Ward, his wife’s former father-in-law, to recover the manor of Harpole, and contesting a claim for money made in 1410 by the executors of his young stepson, William, whose Rutland estates had been entrusted to his care. Chiselden managed to obtain a writ of supersedeas to halt the second of these proceedings. He was helped here, as on other occasions, by his position as an esquire of the body to Henry IV, who, in the previous February had permitted him to settle goods worth 100 marks upon trustees so that he could avoid the consequences of a reputedly false indictment for felony in Middlesex. The management of his wife’s affairs caused Chiselden many problems, not least because of the marriage of her daughter, Margery Ward, to James Bellers* (one of the above-mentioned executors), with whom he entered mutual recognizances of 1,000 marks in November 1411, presumably to ensure that both would observe an arrangement for the partition of the Ward estates.5

Shortly after the end of his term as sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1419, Chiselden was again being sued, this time by the executors of the late rector of Hallaton in Leicestershire, who alleged that he owed them £2 6s. On the whole, however, the later part of his life passed without incident, and nothing more is heard of him until his appearance in September 1428 among the mainpernors who guaranteed Sir Thomas Burton’s* readiness to account as sheriff of Rutland.6 He was still alive in March 1444 when he and his younger son, Robert, were confirmed in the reversion of land in the Leicestershire villages of Thorpe Satchville and ‘Erdeburgh’, which was held for life by his stepdaughter under the terms of the 1411 agreement. The inquisition post mortem held on Anne Chiselden’s death, one year later, records that she was by then a widow, so our Member must have died quite soon after these conveyances were made. Since the couple’s elder son, John, had predeceased them, the Burgh estates descended to their grandson, who was then 20 years old. His marriage and the wardship of his estates were immediately granted to Ralph, Lord Cromwell, who exercised his rights of guardianship over the young man until Easter 1447.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Chesilden, Chesylden, Chezelden.

  • 1. C139/118/15; VCH Leics. v. 78; VCH Rutland, ii. 16, 33; Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xi. 417-20; J. Wright, Rutland, 23-24; Genealogist, n.s. xv. 214; CCR, 1392-6, p. 4; 1422-9, pp. 376-7.
  • 2. C139/118/15; VCH Rutland, ii. 16, 33; Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xi. 417-20; Genealogist, n.s. xv. 214; CCR, 1392-6, p. 4; Feudal Aids, vi. 500; CIMisc. v. nos. 8, 10; E. Foss, Judges, iv. 36-37.
  • 3. CFR, xiv. 86, 150; xv. 233-4; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 217; 1422-9, pp. 376-7; VCH Rutland, ii. 16, 33; Trans. Leics. Arch Soc. xi. 417-20.
  • 4. Gesta Abbatum Monasterii S. Albani ed. Riley, iii. 523-35; JUST 1/1514 rot. 7, 11v; CP25(1)178/91/50-51; C1/11/140; CCR, 1413-19, p. 370.
  • 5. CPR, 1408-13, p. 167; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 122, 298-9; Genealogist, n.s. xv. 214.
  • 6. Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xi. 417-20; CFR, xv. 247.
  • 7. C139/118/15, 129/41, 130/2; CCR, 1441-6, p. 367; 1447-54, p. 5.