COWDRAY, Edward (c.1355-1428), of Herriard, Hants and Padworth, Berks.

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.1355, s. of Peter Cowdray. m. (1) Maud, prob. da. and h. of Sir John Lilborne* of Milton Lilborne, Wilts., 2s. 2da.; (2) aft. 1421, Joan, wid. of — Beynton.

Offices Held

Tax collector, Hants Nov. 1388, Mar. 1401; controller Mar. 1404.

Bp. Wykeham’s bailiff of Highclere, Hants 2 Jan. 1391-c.1404; Bp. Beaufort’s bailiff of Sutton, Alresford and Cheriton, Hants Mich. 1405-c.1426.1

Sheriff, Hants 19 Feb. 1404-22 Nov. 1405, 10 Nov. 1417-4 Nov. 1418, Oxon. and Berks. 3 Nov. 1412-6 Nov. 1413.

Commr. of array, Hants May 1406, Mar. 1419; inquiry Oct. 1410 (restrictions to trade, Southampton), Jan. 1412 (contributions to a subsidy), Jan. 1414 (lollards); to take musters, Southampton Nov. 1417.


Cowdray’s father was a younger son and possessed no estates to speak of, but he himself was heir to his uncle, Sir Henry Cowdray, who died childless in 1365, and it was from him that he inherited Herriard. He was then still a minor, but he came of age before January 1377. Padworth had been held by a kinsman of his, Sir Fulk Cowdray, after whose death (before 1378) it fell to Bishop Wykeham of Winchester, but in 1402 Cowdray obtained a royal licence for the bishop to transfer the manor to him and his heirs. Lydford, also in Berkshire, had similarly been held by Sir Fulk, and under a settlement made in 1372 should have passed after his death to his daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Sir Philip Popham†. In fact, Edward Cowdray obtained possession, although, after a lawsuit brought by the Pophams in 1383, he agreed that they should have an annual rent of ten marks from the manor. The split in the family was further healed by the marriage, some time before 1415, of Cowdray’s sons, John and Peter, to the Popham heiresses, Margaret and Maud, respectively. In 1412, when Cowdray’s lands were assessed for the purposes of taxation, he was said to be receiving £7 a year from Padworth, £10 from Herriard and Pamber and £20 from Milton Lilborne in Wiltshire (which had come to him by marriage). Together with Thomas Hunt, clerk, he was also then in possession of lands and rents in Hampshire valued at £42 a year, but possibly only as a feoffee-to-uses.2

Cowdray’s first public appearance was as a juror at the Hampshire sessions of the peace in 1390, and his association with Bishop Wykeham of Winchester dates from the following year, when he was appointed as an attorney to receive seisin of the manor of Andwell on behalf of Winchester college, the bishop’s foundation. In the same year he was appointed by Wykeham as bailiff of Highclere; he is known to have dined with the bishop’s household in May and July 1393; and, under the terms of the codicil of Wykeham’s will, made in 1404, he received a bequest of £5. Ten years later Cowdray witnessed a grant of lands to the college to provide, in Wykeham’s memory, for the annual distribution of alms to the poor at Winchester cathedral. Shortly after the translation of Bishop Beaufort to the see, Cowdray exchanged his bailiwick for that held by William Fauconer*, thus becoming bailiff of a different part of the episcopal estates. There are no indications, however, that Cowdray was on such good terms with Beaufort as he had been with Wykeham. Cowdray often witnessed deeds for William Brocas* of Beaurepaire, whom he named as a feoffee of his own estates. In 1411, between his own first two Parliaments, Cowdray attended the elections at Winchester.3

Cowdray made his will on 12 Jan. 1428 and died before 5 Feb., the date of probate. He asked to be buried in the church at Herriard and left 46s.8d. for works on its bell tower. To Winchester cathedral priory he bequeathed his second best horse and 26s.8d. for prayers for his and his parents’ souls. Each of the four orders of friars at Winchester was to receive half a mark. Other beneficiaries were his two daughters, his two surviving sons, his stepdaughter and a kinswoman who was a nun at Wherwell; and the bequests included 74 ewes and six cows. The executors were Cowdray’s widow and his eldest son and heir, Peter.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Reg. Wykeham (Hants Rec. Soc. 1896-9), ii. 428; Hants RO, bp. of Winchester’s pipe rolls 159405-27.
  • 2. M. Sharp, Padworth, 120-1; VCH Hants, iii. 367; iv. 418; VCH Berks. iii. 414; iv. 289; CPR, 1401-5, p. 109; Berks. Bucks. and Oxon. Arch. Jnl. vii. 122; Feudal Aids, i. 63; vi. 401, 451, 452, 537; CCR, 1405-9, p. 278; HMC Var. iv. 160.
  • 3. B.H. Putnam, Procs. J.P.s, 228; Winchester Coll. muns. 1, 10386, 10733; R. Lowth, William of Wykeham, p. xlvii; M. Burrows, Fam. Brocas of Beaurepaire, 385-7, 389, 412; C219/10/6; C140/12/15.
  • 4. Reg. Chichele, ii. 375-6.