FOX, Richard (d.1435), of Thonglands, Salop; Haselbeech, Northants and Arkesden, Essex.
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Family and Education
m. (1) bef 1422, Elizabeth (d. bef. Oct. 1426), da. and coh. of Walter Bygood of Alfreton Hall in Great Dunmow, Essex, by Isabel, da. of Thomas Baynard of Messing, Essex, ?1 ch. d.v.p.; (2) bef. Nov. 1427, Joan (d. 24 Dec. 1445), da. and h. of John Olney of Holt, Leics. by Isabel da. and h. of Robert Petman, wid. of Sir George Nowers,1 1 da. ?1da. illegit.
Commr. of weirs, Essex Feb. 1416; to raise royal loans Apr. 1431.
Richard was certainly a member of the Salopian family of Fox, although he does not appear in its pedigree. In 1421 he and John Fox were joint patrons of the church at Thonglands, but in 1425 he sold to William Burley* of Broncroft his interest in the manor and advowson there along with the manor of Aldon.2 By that time his concerns as a lawyer had long since taken him away from Shropshire. The change in his sphere of activities to Essex apparently came about through his close connexions with Hugh, Lord Burnell, whose third wife, Joan, was the widow of Walter, 4th Lord Fitzwalter, and as her dower held substantial estates in that county. Before Joan’s death in 1409 Fox had been named by her as a feoffee of the Fitzwalter manor of Dinton (Buckinghamshire), a responsibility he was to share for more than 20 years, in the course of which he regularly came into contact with Joan’s son, Walter, the 5th Lord. In 1413, in association with Burnell, he received from John Smale of Great Holland bonds for £200, and in the following year he was acting as trustee of a manor in Kent of which Burnell held the reversion. In June 1415 Michael de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, entered into recognizances with Fox and Sir Edward Burnell (Lord Burnell’s son and Suffolk’s nephew) for £800, a transaction which probably had something to do with the preparations for Henry V’s forthcoming campaign in France, during which both the earl and Sir Edward were to lose their lives. In July and December that year Fox was party (as Lord Burnell’s feoffee) to transactions with the Crown resulting in the exchange of the manor of Pitchford, Shropshire, for that of Ham, Surrey; and in the following year he was co-patron of the deacon’s portion of Holgate church, a living in Burnell’s patronage. Finally, Fox was involved in the series of enfeoffments made in 1416 to settle Burnell’s estates on his grand daughters and heirs; Katherine, who was betrothed to (but never in the event married) John, eldest son of John Talbot, Lord Furnival; and Margery, who married Edmund, son of Sir Walter Hungerford*. After Burnell’s death in 1420 Fox was referred to in his estate papers as a former receiver-general, and there is also evidence that he enjoyed a life annuity of 20 marks charged on the deceased’s property in Cambridgeshire.3
Fox’s associates as Burnell’s feoffees included the prominent Essex lawyers John Doreward*, Robert Darcy* and Richard Baynard*; and although between 1411 and 1421 he was occasionally described as ‘of Haselbeech, Northamptonshire’, he increasingly came into contact with these men, becoming closely involved in their personal affairs. It was Doreward’s stepdaughter and Baynard’s niece, Elizabeth Bygood, whom Fox took as his first wife, his marriage thus linking him with two sometime Speakers of the Commons. In 1417, shortly before his only known return to Parliament, Fox was recorded as a co-feoffee with Joan de Bohun, countess of Hereford, of land in Arkesden, Essex, where he himself had acquired property two years previously. The status of his associates and his own involvement in countless legal transactions as an attorney or trustee of land in Essex, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, point to Fox’s ability as a lawyer and strongly suggest that he was the man of this surname admitted to Lincoln’s Inn at some point before 1420. Among the many people for whom he acted as a mainpernor or feoffee-to-uses in the next few years were Richard Baynard himself, William Loveney* (former keeper of the King’s wardrobe), Sir John Cornwall (afterwards Lord Fanhope), Joan, Lady Abergavenny (executrix of Lord Burnell’s will), and Ralph, Lord Cromwell, while among his colleagues was another Speaker, William Allington*. Perhaps Fox’s most important client after Burnell’s death, and certainly the one to whom he then became most closely attached, was Burnell’s stepson, Lord Fitzwalter. On his behalf Fox was party as feoffee and attorney to many transactions concerning his estates in Essex and Lincolnshire.4 After Fitzwalter’s death in 1431 it was revealed that he had granted Fox for life for his good service land in Henham (Essex), and to him and his heirs in perpetuity the manor of Ashdon in the same county.5 In the same year Fox was required to forfeit a bond for £200 entered 13 years before as a guarantee that Lady Abergavenny would keep the peace. However, in the Parliament of 1433 the large fine imposed on her for her transgressions was reduced and all her mainpernors exonerated.6
Over the years Fox built up his landed holdings in Essex, starting in 1415 with the acquisition of the manor of ‘Woodhall’ in Arkesden, and continuing with the purchase of Dagworths in Elmdon and ‘Arnoldes’ in Clavering. His first marriage gave him an interest in the Bygood estates, of which his wife was one of three coheirs; these included the manors of Bacons in Dengie, Alfreton hall in Great Dunmow and ‘Pakenhohall’ (Essex), and Marham and ‘West Tofts’ in Norfolk, but for the most part they remained in the possession of his mother-in-law, Isabel Doreward, until her death in 1426. Before this date Fox’s wife had also died, leaving no living issue, but in May 1427 he paid £5 for a royal licence to retain her share of the Bygood lands for the rest of his life.7 Fox also held property in Cambridgeshire (at Ickleton and elsewhere), but it was as one of the Essex gentry that in May 1434 he took the oath against maintenance of those who broke the peace. He died on 18 Jan. 1435 and was buried at Arkesden. The monumental brass on his altar tomb depicts him as a warrior in complete plate armour, although there is no evidence that he had ever served in a military capacity. The Bygood properties were held by his second wife until her death (then reverting to the true heirs), while other of Fox’s holdings passed to his young daughter, Anne, who later married Thomas Langley. Another daughter, Joan, must have been illegitimate (unless Fox married more than twice), for she was to marry John Nowers, the son and heir of Fox’s second wife by a previous marriage. Fox’s widow married John Hotoft*, chamberlain of the Exchequer and former treasurer of the King’s household.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Leics. Village Notes ed. Farnham, v. 95; JUST 1/1537 m. 29.
- 2. CCR, 1422-9, p. 207; Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxviii), 191; Reg. Poltone (Canterbury and York Soc. xxii), 15.
- 3. CCR, 1405-9, p. 446; 1409-13, p. 414; 1413-19, p. 275; CAD, ii. C2398; v. A13603; CPR 1413-16, p. 399; 1416-22, p. 362, 371, 374; Kalendars and Inventories ed. Palgrave, ii. 95; Reg. Mascall (Canterbury and York Soc. xxi), 182; SC6/1117/14; C147/146.
- 4. CCR, 1409-13, p. 206; 1413-19, p. 500; 1422-9, pp. 126, 145, 150, 152, 153, 206, 260, 261, 263, 266, 268, 273, 331-2, 449; CAD, iii. C3007; CFR, xv. 20; CPR, 1422-9, pp. 201, 211; 1429-36, pp. 292, 446; LI Adm. 2.
- 5. CPR, 1429-36, pp. 130, 208-11; CAD, ii. C2231; CCR, 1429-35, pp. 145, 152-3.
- 6. CPR, 1429-36, p. 295; RP, iv. 410-12, 445-6.
- 7. Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 273, 464; iv. 3; CAD, i. C609; ii. C1829, 2070, 2852; iii. C2932; vi. C7293; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 319; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 257, 294-5; 1429-35, pp. 94, 162, 181-2; Feudal Aids, ii. 227; C139/31/61; CPR, 1422-9, p. 399.
- 8. CPR, 1429-36, pp. 401, 456; CAD, i. C1168; ii. C2231; C139/69/25; CCR, 1429-35, p. 334; 1441-7, p. 337; Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), ii. 296; vii. 1-3; Test. Vetusta ed. Nicolas, i. 248.