HARRY, John ap (d.1420), of Poston in Vowchurch, Herefs.

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

s. of Henry ap John ap William of Oldcourt, Herefs. by Eva, da. of Ievan ap Rhys ap Ievan of Elfael, Rad. m. by 1399, Elizabeth (d. Feb. 1420), da. and coh. of Sir Hugh Waterton of Eaton Tregoes, Herefs. by his w. Katherine, 2s.1

Offices Held

Commr. to arrest adherents of Walter Brut, Herefs. Sept. 1393; seize lands of Thomas, Lord Despenser, S. Wales Jan. 1400; of arrest, Herefs. Apr. 1401; to resist Welsh rebels and relieve Abergavenny May 1401; of inquiry, Herefs. Feb. 1414 (armed raid on Eardisley).

Dep. steward, Brecon by 1396-c. July 1409; steward of Builth 16 Jan. 1402-9 June 1413, Dinas 27 June 1403-9 June 1413.2

Constable of Aberystwyth castle 27 Oct. 1399-26 Sept. 1402.3

Sheriff, Herefs. 3 Nov. 1399-24 Nov. 1400.

Escheator, Herefs. and adjacent march 14 Feb.-29 Nov. 1402, 12 Nov. 1404-1 Dec. 1405, 7 Nov. 1409-9 Mar. 1411.

Jt. capt. of Hay and Brecon Aug.-aft. Nov. 1404.4

Justice itinerant, Welsh lordships of the duchy of Lancaster June 1417.5


As his name and parentage indicate, ap Harry was a Welshman, though his family lands (at Poston, Turnastone and Oldcourt in the Golden Valley) were just on the English side of the Herefordshire border with Breconshire. His father was dead by 1377, when his mother (described as a widow) contributed 3s.4d.to a poll tax. John himself was a lifelong servant of the house of Lancaster, and when first mentioned in the records in May 1390 he was preparing to go to Prussia in the household of Henry of Bolingbroke, earl of Derby. He became deputy steward of Bolingbroke’s lordship of Brecon by 1396 and it was probably about this time that he married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Hugh Waterton, his patron’s chamberlain. Little else is known of him during Richard II’s reign, but in June 1397 he received by royal grant a felon’s estate at Dorston, near his family home.6

The accession of Bolingbroke as King in 1399 brought advancement both to ap Harry’s father-in-law (who became chamberlain of the duchy of Lancaster and steward of the Lancaster lands in South Wales) and to John himself. In October 1399 he was made constable of the important castle of Aberystwyth for life, and in the following month he was appointed sheriff of Herefordshire. He then also stood surety when Waterton was granted custody of the Gloucestershire lands of the Norman abbey of Caen, and in May 1400 he himself secured a lease of the Cluniac alien priory of St. Clears, Carmarthen. Besides continuing to hold office as deputy steward at Brecon, in the course of the next two years he was appointed steward of the lordships of Builth and Dinas, which were in the King’s hands during the minority of the Mortimer heir. By November 1402, furthermore, he was receiving a royal annuity of £40 from the duchy manor of Haresfield, Gloucestershire, of which his father-in-law was steward.7

By this time Owen Glendower’s revolt was in full spate but, although his brothers, Gruffydd and Thomas, are said to have joined the rebels, John (like his cousin, Dafydd Gam of Brecon) remained loyal. Whether he fought with the shire levies of Herefordshire at the disastrous battle of Pilleth on 22 June 1402 is unknown, but on the day after the fight he garrisoned Clifford castle, near Hay-on-Wye, and for the remainder of the year he was occupied in defending and repairing Clifford and the nearby Mortimer castles of Glasbury, Dinas and Blaenllyfni. In September 1402, together with John Merbury*, he was commissioned to take the muster of forces assembling under the command of Richard, Lord Grey, the King’s lieutenant in South Wales. A year later, along with Sir John Oldcastle*, he was granted power to receive the submission of the Welsh rebels of Brecon, and in August 1404 the two of them were made joint captains of Hay castle, with temporary authority over Brecon as well. How long they held office is unknown, but in May 1409 they were still owed £270 in wages for the garrison.8

Ap Harry did not, however, go unrewarded for his services, and during the next few years he did well from grants of custody of the lands of royal wards, notably some of those of Edmund Mortimer, the young earl of March. In February 1403 John and his father-in-law, Waterton, had shared a lease of property belonging to Roger Mortimer, and in the following month he and William Bradwardyn (esquire and surgeon to Prince Henry) received the wardship of the Herefordshire estates of the heir of Thomas Fouleshurst. In 1405 he was granted temporary keeping of the lands of an outlaw, John ap Howell, in the marches. While he was representing Herefordshire in the Parliament of 1406, moreover, further rewards came his way: on 11 Mar., described as ‘the King’s esquire’, he was granted (for good service past and to come) custody of half the Mortimer lordship of Ewyas Lacy, Herefordshire, and in May following he was given the farm of property further afield, namely the Essex estates of the heir of Sir Alexander Walden*. Finally, in 1407, he received a grant of the Mortimer lordship of Dinas, to be held jointly with John Bodenham and his old comrade-in-arms, Sir John Oldcastle. Ap Harry was, in fact, closely connected with Oldcastle in many private transactions. In 1405 he had been a trustee when Sir John obtained the reversion of Sir John Chandos’s* manor of Wellington, Herefordshire, and a year later Oldcastle had been his surety for the custody of Ewyas Lacy. Moreover, he was a feoffee of Sir John’s principal manor of Oldcastle in Almeley, from the issues of which, in 1408, he granted an annuity to Thomas Corbet (one of the tenants) for good service to Sir John. Oldcastle, in his turn, was a trustee of ap Harry’s manors of Poston and Turnastone.9

Meanwhile, in October 1407 (while Oldcastle was sheriff) ap Harry was again returned to Parliament for Herefordshire, his neighbour Thomas de la Hay* acting as surety for his attendance. In May 1409 he became a feoffee of the manor of Talgarth, Brecon, to the use of his brother, Thomas. A year later he made a settlement of his own lands on himself, his wife, and his sons, Hugh and Richard. His father-in-law, Sir Hugh Waterton, died in 1409, but ap Harry gained none of his estates, in which Waterton’s widow, Katherine, had a life interest. John and his wife did, however, receive a legacy in Sir Hugh’s will, for which in 1411 they gave his executors (including John Leventhorpe*, receiver-general of the duchy of Lancaster) a general release. The death of Waterton, one of Henry IV’s counsellors, cannot but have been detrimental to ap Harry’s career, but in 1412, jointly with Thomas de la Hay and others, he obtained yet another lease of the Herefordshire lands of a minor, Humphrey, son of Walter, 4th Lord Fitzwalter.10

In April 1413 John attended the Herefordshire elections to the first Parliament of Henry V’s reign. Two months later he lost his interest in the Mortimer lands when Edmund, earl of March, came of age, only to be partially compensated, in July, by a new royal annuity of £20 drawn from the issues of Monmouth. Despite his closeness to Oldcastle he was apparently not suspected of complicity in the latter’s rebellion (the lollard rising) of January 1414, and a month afterwards he was appointed to a royal commission to investigate an armed raid on Eardisley by Richard de la Bere. In 1415 he accompanied Henry V to France, being retained on 1 Apr. to serve with a small retinue of two men-at-arms and six archers.11 He probably returned to England after the Agincourt campaign, and in the summer of 1417 was acting as an itinerant justice in the duchy of Lancaster lordships in South Wales. By this time, however, ap Harry was under a cloud. His old comrade Sir John Oldcastle had been in hiding since the failure of his rising, and in July 1417 several of his associates were bound over not to lend him support. Among these was ap Harry, who was required to find sureties (one of whom was Sir Robert Whitney II*) in the large sum of £1,000. His manucaptors undertook that he would refrain from harassing the King’s subjects or burning their houses, from making unlawful assemblies and from either supporting Oldcastle in revolt or maintaining him in his heresies. Evidence brought to light by an inquisition in April 1418 (after Oldcastle’s capture and execution) showed that ap Harry had in fact been collecting the rents of the traitor’s Herefordshire estates ever since 1414, presumably passing the proceeds to the fugitive. These rents should, of course, have reverted to the Crown on Oldcastle’s outlawry, but when taxed with this ap Harry declared (hardly convincingly) that he was not aware of the forfeiture. There is no evidence, however, that ap Henry himself was a lollard sympathizer; at least, he is not known to have been arraigned before the episcopal courts for heresy. His assistance to Oldcastle more likely sprang from the ties of friendship.12

Probably as a result of the suspicion under which he had fallen, ap Harry held no government office after 1418, though from 1419 until his death he was serving as the earl of March’s steward of Usk. It is even possible that he was involved in further conspiracies, for in February 1420 he appeared as a surety for Sir John Mortimer, then a prisoner in the Tower. By the following August, however, when his estate at Byford, Herefordshire, was in the hands of Thomas de la Hay and other feoffees, ap Harry was dead. His wife had predeceased him, and his eventual heir was his second son, Richard, who in February 1421 was a minor in the wardship of ap Harry’s former colleague, John Leventhorpe.13

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: Charles Kightly


Variants: ap Henry, ap Herry.

  • 1. Herefs. RO, B56/1, ff. 37-38, 84; CFR, xii. 14; CPR, 1416-22, p. 315. Ap Harry’s family claimed descent from the Viking Sihtric, King of Dublin, via Maredydd ap Iago, lord of Cantref Selyf.
  • 2. SC6/1157/4 m. 4; R.A. Griffiths, Principality of Wales, i. 234; DL42/16, ff. 30, 352; CPR, 1401-5, pp. 34, 237; CP, vii. 451.
  • 3. SC6/1222/9; CPR, 1401-5, p. 122.
  • 4. PPC, i. 237; CPR, 1401-5, p. 464.
  • 5. DL42/17, f. 124.
  • 6. CCR, 1409-13, pp. 211-12; E179/117/16; Derby’s Expeds. (Cam. Soc. n.s. lii), 122; CPR, 1396-9, p. 152.
  • 7. CFR, xii. 14, 51; DL42/15, f. 157, 16, f. 85; Somerville, Duchy, i. 635.
  • 8. Herefs. RO, B56/1, ff. 37-38, 84; Griffiths, i. 234; E101/43/8; CPR, 1401-5, pp. 122, 299, 464; PPC, i. 237; E404/24/509.
  • 9. CPR, 1401-5, pp. 207, 215, 492, 1405-8, p. 176; 1416-22, p. 368; CFR, xii. 320; xiii. 29, 66; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 211-12; CAD, iii. C2966; E159/195 m. 3.
  • 10. CPR, 1408-13, p. 73; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 205, 208, 211-12; CFR, xiii. 232. Katherine Waterton d. c. May 1421, and the Waterton manor of Eaton Tregoes eventually passed to ap Harry’s 2nd s., Richard, whose mother had d. in 1420, and whose e. bro. Hugh was dead by Feb. 1421: J.H. Matthews, Herefs. (Wormelow), 139-40; CPR, 1429-36, pp. 85, 108; CFR, xiv. 388; CCR, 1419-22, p. 195.
  • 11. C219/11/1; CP, vii. 451; DL29/615/9843-5; E101/69/3/ 376, 6/456; DKR, xliv. 572.
  • 12. CCR, 1413-19, p. 435; E159/195 mm. 1, 3. It is notable that Oldcastle was living quite openly at his manor of Almeley (of which ap Harry was a feoffee) between Aug. and Oct. 1417 (EHR, lv. 432-8).
  • 13. NLW, Badminton deeds 559, 1724, 2291; CCR, 1419-22, p. 63; Cal. Hereford Cathedral Muns. (NLW 1955), iii. 545; CPR, 1416-22, p. 315.