OLDHALL, Edmund (d.1417), of East Dereham and Little Fransham, Norf.
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Family and Education
s. of James Oldhall of East Dereham by Emma, da. and coh. of Sir Richard Belhouse of Wreningham. m. (1) bef. Sept. 1393, Mary (b.c.1377), da. and coh. of Henry English* of Wood Ditton, Cambs.; (2) ?by July 1399, Alice, da. and event. coh. of Geoffrey Fransham of Great and Little Fransham; 1s. William†.1
J.p. Cambs. 18 June 1394-Feb. 1397, Norf. 20 Mar. 1406-Jan. 1414, 14 Feb. 1415-d.
Receiver of the estates of the duchy of Lancaster in Norf., Suff. and Cambs. bef. Sept. 1399-d., the estates late of Margaret, duchess of Norfolk, 14 Sept.-1 Nov. 1399.
Commr. of inquiry, Norf. Jan. 1400 (shipwreck), Dec. 1402 (royal rights to an advowson), Mar. 1403 (property pertaining to Norwich castle), Apr. 1405 (piracy), Oct. 1405 (concealed gold), Feb. 1406 (insurrection at Bishop’s Lynn), Norf., Suff., Essex Nov. 1406 (Hemenale estates), Norf. Nov. 1408 (insurrection at Thetford), Feb. 1409, Oct. 1410 (wastes and alienations) Feb. 1410 (complaints by the prior of Wymondham), July 1410 (misprisions), June 1412 (estates of Sporle priory), Dec. 1415 (disturbances at Lynn); array July 1402, July 1405, May 1415; to obtain a benevolence, Norf., Suff. Oct. 1402; organize repairs to duchy of Lancaster properties, Norf. Nov. 1402; determine a dispute between the tenants of Hulme abbey and the Crown Oct. 1404; purvey victuals for King’s army June 1405; raise royal loans Sept. 1405; determine an appeal from the admiral’s ct. Apr. 1408; of oyer and terminer, Norf. Mar., Dec. 1411; arrest Apr., Oct. 1415.
Sheriff, Norf. and Suff. 8 Nov. 1401-29 Dec. 1402, 6 Nov. 1413-10 Nov. 1414.
King’s receiver at Bury St. Edmunds, Suff. 1403-4.2
Escheator, Norf. and Suff. 1 Dec. 1405-9 Nov. 1406, 10 Dec. 1411-3 Nov. 1412, 8 Dec. 1416-1 Dec. 1417.
Collector of customs and subsidies, Ipswich 20 Feb.-25 June 1407.
The family of Oldhall had been settled in Norfolk for at least a century before Edmund’s career began, and had acquired there the manors in East Dereham, Cley and Dersingham, which all descended to him. As his maternal grandfather, Sir Richard Belhouse, died without male issue, Edmund also inherited an interest in the Belhouse estates at North Tuddenham and Wreningham.3 To these he added through his first marriage, to Mary English, a number of properties in east Cambridgeshire, including the manor of Ditton Valenz (which provided him with annual revenues of at least £14 as assessed in 1412), and lands at Newmarket and Chevely. As a consequence of his second marriage, the Norfolk manors of Great and Little Fransham came to the Oldhalls too, while Edmund’s purchase of premises at Narford and Bodney extended the family holdings still further.4
Oldhall’s career in royal service began in 1394 when he was named as a j.p. in Cambridgeshire. Before the end of Richard II’s reign he was appointed receiver of the estates of the duchy of Lancaster in East Anglia, and although it is unclear whether he owed his position to John of Gaunt, to the King (following the confiscation of the Lancastrian inheritance), or to Henry of Bolingbroke, there is no doubt that he acted as Henry’s receiver after his return to England in July 1399 and before his accession to the throne. Indeed, before he became King, Henry also appointed Oldhall as receiver of the estates left by the recently deceased duchess of Norfolk, authorizing him in the course of the nine weeks he occupied this post to pay £200 to his supporters, Sir Walter Hungerford* and Sir Thomas Beauchamp*. Although there were some difficulties over Oldhall’s accounts for revenues collected on the duchess’s property, giving rise to an order in March 1400 for his appearance before the King’s Council on pain of a fine of £400, this did not affect his position in the duchy of Lancaster administration, for he retained his receivership there until his death.5
Oldhall was one of the most frequently employed members of the Norfolk gentry in the government of the region, for besides his permanent duchy post he also held office for two terms as sheriff and three as escheator, and served on numerous royal commissions including that of the peace. Some of his duties were far from easy: in 1402, towards the end of his first shrievalty, he was sent letters by the royal council instructing him to obtain benevolences—always an unpopular task; and in August 1414, during his second year as sheriff, having been ordered to supervise the conduct of mayoral elections at Bishop’s Lynn, he found himself ignominiously trapped in the town by Bartholomew Petipas† and his armed supporters, who went so far as to break down the bridges and put guards on the gates in order to secure their candidate’s appointment. As sheriff, Oldhall was responsible for holding the parliamentary elections in Norfolk and Suffolk to the assembly of 1414 (Nov.). The office was often a drain on the incumbent’s own resources, and in February following, ‘in consideration of his great losses and costs’, Oldhall was pardoned £100 due on his account at the Exchequer. Rewards for his efforts were otherwise few and far between, although he did secure, in 1412, a share in the wardship and marriage of a duchy tenant; in March 1413 he was one of a syndicate headed by Sir Thomas Erpingham KG which was permitted to purchase from the Crown a number of escheated properties in East Anglia; and, most important, from 20 Nov. 1415 he shared with the bishops of Winchester and Durham guardianship of the temporalities of the see of Norwich during the vacancy caused by Bishop Courtenay’s death.6
In the course of his career Oldhall established a number of useful connexions, and no doubt his growing expertise in the sphere of estate management proved useful to those of his acquaintance, among whom were Erpingham, John Spencer* and John Wynter*, all prominent figures in the households of the King and the prince of Wales. Thus, he assisted Erpingham to make two purchases (of the manor of Cantley in 1401 and of ‘Berney’s Inn’ in Norwich eight years later); in 1408 he was party to transactions regarding manors in Banham which Spencer had acquired, and in later years he acted as his trustee; and he helped Wynter not only when he bought a manor in Saxthorpe in 1409, but also when he came to make settlements of his other estates.7 Oldhall’s official position prompted the citizens of Norwich to seek his counsel: in 1411 or 1412 at the city’s expense he was given both a breakfast at the Saracen’s Head and a supper at the Ram’s Head when engaged on business in London, and during the winter of 1414-15 he was brought in as an advisor for settlement of the disputes over the constitution of the city. Evidently regarded as a man of integrity, Oldhall was named as executor of the wills of Alexander Tottington, bishop of Norwich (d.1413), and Isabel de Ufford, dowager countess of Suffolk (d.1416), as well as overseer of that of Sir Edmund Thorpe* (d.1418). Thomas, Lord Morley, engaged his services as a trustee of his manor at Buxton, Norfolk, and as a witness to various conveyances, and in 1409 Oldhall assisted Morley’s son, Sir Robert, to complete the endowment of the college at Pontefract. When Lord Morley died intestate in 1416, Oldhall was appointed by Archbishop Chichele as an administrator of his goods. Others whom he served in positions of trust included the widows of Constantine, Lord Clifton, and Sir William Elmham*.8
Despite his prominent position in the administration of East Anglia, and his acquaintance among the more influential gentry of the region, Oldhall was himself reluctant to change his social rank by taking up knighthood, and in 1411 he paid a fine to obtain exoneration from so doing. At least five times a knight of the shire, he further showed his interest in parliamentary affairs by attending at the Norfolk elections of 1407 and 1410.9 It was shortly before or actually during the session of Parliament which opened on 16 Nov. 1417 and closed on 17 Dec. following, that Oldhall died, suddenly and intestate. He was buried in the Carmelite friary in Fleet Street, London. On 12 Dec. the feodary of the duchy of Lancaster estates in Norfolk was ordered to seize his goods and chattels as he had failed to render an account for his final year of office as receiver. Edmund’s only son, William, was at that time serving in France in the retinue of the duke of Exeter and, taking advantage of his absence, one William Shelton obtained from Archbishop Chichele administration of the deceased’s effects. By assuring Edmund’s sole surviving feoffee of the manors of Bodney and Narford that William had died overseas, Shelton persuaded him to sell these properties to his own nominees, so that William, on returning home, had to petition the Parliament of 1421 (May) for redress. He later became famous as the chamberlain and councillor of Richard, duke of York, and was elected Speaker of the Commons in 1450-1.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. It is uncertain which of Edmund Oldhall’s wives was the mother of his son, William, for the estates acquired by both marriages came into the latter’s possession.
- 2. Norf. Arch. xxiv. 12.
- 3. CIPM, xii. 457; F. Blomefield, Norf. v. 118; vi. 40; x. 208; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 355, 404, 407; Feudal Aids, iii. 614.
- 4. E326/6591; CAD, i. B1235, 1244, 1329; ii. B3779; Feudal Aids, vi. 407; Blomefield, vi. 232; ix. 496; RP, iv. 158; C136/80/19.
- 5. Somerville, Duchy. i. 377, 596; HMC 11th Rep. III, 245; E364/36 m. D; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 50.
- 6. PPC, ii. 74, 76; DL42/16 (pt. 2), f. 72; CPR, 1408-13, p. 469; 1413-16, p. 280; CIMisc. vii. 517; C219/11/4; CFR, xiv. 139.
- 7. CCR, 1399-1402, p. 305; 1405-9, pp. 385, 524; 1409-13, pp. 226, 229, 234; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 479; Norf. Arch. vi. 144; CP25(1)169/185/18, 31; HMC Lothian, 53.
- 8. Recs. Norwich ed. Hudson and Tingey, ii. 58, 60; CCR, 1413-19, p. 351; CPR, 1408-13, pp. 74, 274; 1413-16, p. 302; 1416-22, pp. 16, 53; Reg. Chichele, ii. 95-96, 113, 144.
- 9. E159/187; C219/10/4, 5.
- 10. DL42/17 (pt. 2), f. 59; PCC 21 Stokton; RP, iv. 158. For Sir William Oldhall’s career see Nottingham Med. Studies, v. 87-112. Edmund’s widow, Alice, was still living in 1436: E163/7/31(2) m. 3.