HETHE, Henry (d.c.1446), of Grafham, Hunts.
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Family and Education
bro. of Richard Hethe (d.1443), sub-dean of Lincoln and archdeacon of Huntingdon. m. Katherine, at least 1s.1
Escheator, Cambs. and Hunts. 30 Nov. 1417-4 Nov. 1418.
J.p. Hunts. 8 Feb. 1418-May 1437.
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Hunts. Jan. 1420 (withdrawal of labour services on John Styuecle’s* manor of Woolley).
Tax collector, Hunts. Dec. 1429, Sept. 1432.
Nothing is now known for certain about this MP’s family background, although he may perhaps have been connected with the Thomas atte Hethe alias Grendon, who sold the Huntingdonshire manor of Sawtry Beaumes to Sir William Moigne* during the early 1390s.2 He had at least three brothers, the most distinguished of whom was Richard Hethe, sometime archdeacon of Huntingdon, and successively prebendary of Caister in Norfolk and Welton Beckhall in Lincolnshire. Another of his siblings, named Thomas, was also in holy orders, while the third appears to have been a local landowner on a fairly modest scale. Each of these men played an important part in his affairs, notably as trustees of the land which he acquired in and around Grafham. Hethe is first mentioned in July 1409 when he and three associates obtained custody of the estates and marriage of Sir John Bernak’s son and heir, who was then a royal ward. This lucrative grant had initially been made to Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, in return for a cash payment of 500 marks, although Hethe and his friends were obliged to offer almost half as much again, albeit spread equally over 14 annual instalments, which came to an abrupt halt in 1415 on the boy’s death. This early connexion with the Bernak family probably accounts for his subsequent quarrel with Robert Stonham* over the ownership of the manor of Grafham, which the latter claimed on behalf of his wife, Mary, the elder daughter and eventual coheir of Sir John Bernak, notwithstanding the fact that her title lacked any real credibility at law. Hethe and his brothers appear to have purchased the manor outright in, or before, the spring of 1416, and from then onwards they were involved in a long series of conveyances, adding piecemeal to their holdings in the area.3 The dispute with Robert and Mary Stonham reached a head in 1423, when both parties bound themselves in mutual securities of £500 to accept the award of their neighbour, the influential lawyer, Roger Hunt*. In the event, Hunt was too busy to act as an arbitrator, and the task fell to Sir William Babington, c.j.c.p., who pronounced in favour of our Member. The latter had, however, to wait over ten years before the Stonhams finally relinquished their attempt to recover Grafham, which they then settled formally on Hethe and his brother, Richard.4
By the date of his first return to Parliament in December 1421 (when, interestingly enough, he sat with his future adversary, Robert Stonham), Hethe had already served a term as escheator of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, and he was also sitting on the local bench. He had, moreover, attended the Huntingdonshire parliamentary elections of 1419, and was to do so again on at least five subsquent occasions.5 Lack of evidence about the rest of his career none the less now makes him seem a rather shadowy figure, and only a few other scraps of evidence have survived about him. At some point before May 1415, for example, he began an unsuccessful lawsuit for the recovery of a debt of ten marks from a neighbouring parson; and at a much later date he and Richard Hethe again went to court in an equally vain attempt to collect the money owed to them by a Northamptonshire yeoman. Meanwhile, in July 1424, he was a party to the endowment of the Augustinian priory of Fineshede in Northamptonshire, in conjunction with Sir John Cockayne*, who, in turn, was a trustee of some of his estates. His last years passed peacefully enough, even though he was one of the Huntingdonshire gentry required, in May 1434, to take the oath that they would not assist anyone to disturb the peace. From time to time he and his brothers acquired holdings in other parts of the county, such as Thurning (where he also owned the advowson) and Weald; and it may well have been in connexion with these ventures that in May 1437 he received a bond in £10 from two of his neighbours.6
Hethe died in, or shortly before, 1446, when his will was proved before the bishop of Lincoln. Although he had by then sold off some of his farmland in Grafham, the manor itself passed to his widow, who was to enjoy a life tenancy on the condition that she did not remarry. Hethe had a son named Richard upon whom the property was entailed.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. VCH Hunts. iii. 112; J. Le Neve, Fasti Ecclesiae (3rd edn.) i. 5, 9, 49, 121; xii. 22; Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 169.
- 2. CFR, xi. 36-37. For details of this transaction see the biography of Sir William Moigne.
- 3. CPR, 1408-13, pp. 153, 211; Add. Chs. 33357-9, 33366-75, 33377, 33381-2, 33384; Feudal Aids, ii. 474.
- 4. Add. Ch. 33378; Hunts. Feet of Fines (Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xxxvii), 105.
- 5. C219/12/3, 4, 13/5, 14/3-5.
- 6. CPR, 1413-16, p. 311; 1422-9, p. 204; 1429-36, pp. 235, 375; Add. Chs. 33145, 33352. The VCH (Hunts. iii. 112) misdates Hethe’s acquisition of the advowson of Thurning, which took place in 1426 not 1403 (Add. Ch. 699).
- 7. Add. Ch. 33392; Early Lincoln Wills, 169.