LUDWICK, John (d.1411), of Digswell and Ludwick in Hatfield, Herts.
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Family and Education
Commr. of array, Herts. Apr., July 1377, Mar. 1380, Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403; to enforce labour services at St. Albans abbey July 1381; suppress the rebels of 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of oyer and terminer Sept. 1388 (attacks on the property of St. Albans abbey), July 1403 (treasons and insurrections); to prevent the spread of treasonous rumours May 1402.
J.p. Herts. 2 July 1377-Apr. 1378, 26 May-Aug. 1380, 14 Dec. 1381-Nov. 1389, 28 June-Dec. 1390, 27 Nov. 1391-Aug. 1397, 28 Nov. 1399-Feb. 1407.
John’s family appears to have taken its name from the manor of Ludwick, where his ancestors lived from the early 13th century onwards, if not before. His grandfather, William, who in his youth had been a follower of Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, represented Hertfordshire in the Parliament of 1338; and at least one of his great-uncles was also returned for the county. In December 1348 a commission of oyer and terminer was set up to inquire into allegations of trespass and poaching made by one Stephen Bassyngbourn of Hatfield against William Ludwick and his sons, John and Thomas, one of whom was probably our Member’s father. The John Ludwick who had taken possession of the Hertfordshire manor of Panshanger in, or before, 1349 quite clearly belonged to an earlier generation as well, although he too must have been a fairly close kinsman of this MP.2 In point of fact, the latter did not play any known part in local government until 1377, when he began to act as a royal commissioner and also to sit on the Hertfordshire bench. He had by then inherited his grandfather’s property in Ludwick and Digswell, together, no doubt, with the land in Welwyn, Tewin, Bishop’s Hatfield, Hertingfordbury and Datchworth (also in Hertfordshire) which he subsequently settled on feoffees. This part of his estate was said to be worth at least £20 a year in 1412, over and above whatever revenues came to him from the manor of Delamers in the same county, acquired in 1387 as a result of his marriage to the widow of a descendant of John de la Mare. The influential Surrey MP, Nicholas Carew*, was married to his wife’s daughter, Isabel, but there is no evidence to suggest that Ludwick benefited much from this valuable connexion.3
As a prominent local landowner and sometime j.p. Ludwick was subject to the unwelcome attentions of one of the rebels of 1381. In June of that year, Thomas Longe of Watford broke into his house at Digswell and carried off all the legal records then in his custody—presumably because his own name figured prominently in them. Not surprisingly under the circumstances, Ludwick, who was re-appointed to the bench in the following December, took an uncompromising stand against the insurgents, being commissioned not only to put down the general disorder in Hertfordshire, but also to enforce labour services on the St. Albans abbey estates. His relations with the abbey, which was commonly regarded as the harshest landowner in the county, appear to have been cordial, and he may even have been related by marriage to the abbot, Thomas de la Mare. On 15 June 1381, the day before Longe’s forcible entry at Digswell, Ludwick and his close friend, John Durham*, had witnessed the charter of liberties wrung from the abbot by his tenants in Barnet and South Mimms; and at a much later date, in June 1411, the two men again acted as witnesses, this time to a grant of land made to the abbey by the earl of Oxford.4 One of the most striking features of Ludwick’s career is his long association with Durham, who was connected with him officially as a crown servant, and more personally as a party to innumerable property transactions for over 30 years. From 1389 onwards first Durham and then Sir Philip Thornbury*, his son-in-law, settled almost all their estates in trust upon Ludwick, while the latter made the two kinsmen feoffees-to-uses of his own extensive possessions.5 Ludwick occasionally witnessed local deeds with members of the Thornbury family; and on 23 Oct. 1399 he and Durham stood as mainpernors at the Exchequer for Sir Philip as farmer of certain crown property in Essex. Sir Philip performed the same service for them on the very same day, joining with Nicholas Carew to provide securities on their behalf for the regular payment of the rent of £41 p.a.which they then offered for the lease of the late duchess of Norfolk’s manor of Weston in Hertfordshire. One month later Ludwick and Durham were able to act for Carew, who then became keeper of land in Surrey. Again, in 1403, the friends appeared as mainpernors, this time in Chancery, for Thornbury and his brother-in-law, Sir Edward Benstede, who had been returned to Parliament with Ludwick in 1399, and with whom they had already witnessed a conveyance of the manor of Knebworth. Ludwick and Durham eventually became feoffees of this manor for John Hotoft*, although our Member died shortly after the confirmation of his title. On his own death in 1420, Durham left money for the performance of good works for the salvation of his friend’s soul.6
Although Ludwick seems to have enjoyed greater prominence after the Lancastrian usurpation, his career during Richard II’s early years, at least, was not undistinguished. He may, perhaps, have been related to Margery Ludwick, a lady-in-waiting to Joan of Kent, who enjoyed several marks of royal favour during the late 14th century; and we know that the annuity of £20 granted to him for life as one of Henry IV’s esquires in February 1400 (when John Durham received a similar award) had actually been paid from some point in the previous reign. As early as March 1386 Ludwick received royal letters patent exempting him from jury service and other official duties; and two years later he shared in the grant of property in Sacombe and Standon, Hertfordshire, temporarily forfeited by Sir John Holt, j.c.p. (following his condemnation in the Merciless Parliament). This award, which was rescinded in May 1398, suggests that he may have sympathized with the Lords Appellant, a view supported by his sudden removal from the local bench in August 1397. Although the grant to him of a royal pardon in the following June is not in itself unduly significant, his election to the first Parliament of Henry IV’s reign and his re-appointment as a j.p. and crown commissioner soon afterwards would suggest a previous attachment to the house of Lancaster.7 In August 1401 and again two years later, Ludwick and John Durham were among the leading Hertfordshire landowners summoned to attend a great council at Westminster, and in October 1402 our MP was approached personally for an unspecified royal loan. The rest of his life evidently passed without incident. He became a trustee of Sir Roger Trumpington’s Shropshire estates either in or before 1406, the date of his appearance at the Hertfordshire parliamentary elections as a mainpernor for Sir John Poultney.8 Having ceased to play any significant part in local government by February 1407, if not earlier, he spent the next four years in retirement and died towards the end of 1411. His estates were subsequently conveyed to John Perient (d.1415), although the latter may have been acting as a trustee for Sir John Ludwick, who died in 1442 and was probably the deceased’s son or grandson.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. VCH Herts. ii. 298; iii. 105; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 141; J.E. Cussans, Herts. (Broadwater), 273.
- 2. CPR, 1348-50, p. 248; VCH Herts. iii. 469.
- 3. VCH Herts. ii. 298; iii. 82-83; CIPM (Rec. Comm.), iii. 216; Feudal Aids, vi. 460; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 418, 422; 1413-19, pp. 115-16; 1419-22, pp. 191-2.
- 4. A. Réville, Le Soulèvement des Travailleurs, 38; Gesta Abbatum S. Albani ed. Riley, iii. 324, 353, 512-13.
- 5. Corporation of London RO, hr 120/146, 149, 138/21; CP25(1)291/62/160; E326/4392, 4395; CAD, ii. B2567, 2569-71; CCR, 1385-9, pp. 652-3; 1409-13, pp. 418, 422; 1413-19, pp. 115-16; 1419-22, pp. 191-2.
- 6. CCR, 1385-9, p. 643; 1399-1402, pp. 111, 508; 1402-5, p. 287, 1409-13, pp. 293, 302-3, 312-13; CFR, xii. 10, 16, 20-21; PCC 49 Marche.
- 7. CPR, 1377-81, p. 483; 1381-5, pp. 318, 328; 1385-9, p. 124; 1391-6, p. 558; 1399-1401, p. 201; 1408-13, p. 402; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 275-6; 1399-1402, p. 51; C67/30 m. 18.
- 8. PPC, i. 158, 162; ii. 74, 86; CFR, xix. 123-4; CPR, 1405-8, p. 123; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 306-7; C219/10/3.
- 9. CCR, 1409-13, pp. 418, 422; 1413-19, pp. 115-16; 1419-22, pp. 191-2; VCH Herts. iii. 82-83; Cussans, 273.