RUSSELL, Sir Maurice (1356-1416), of Kingston Russell, Dorset, Horsington, Som. and Dyrham, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. 2 Feb. 1356, 3rd s. but event. h. of Sir Ralph Russell of Kingston Russell by his w. Alice. m. (1) c. June 1369, Isabel, da. of (Sir) Edmund Childrey† of Childrey, Berks., 2 da.; (2) by 1412, Joan (c.1395-1457), da. of Sir John Dauntsey of Dauntsey, Wilts., by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of John Beverley of London, sis. and event. h. of Sir Walter Dauntsey, 1s. Kntd. between June and Dec. 1385.
Tax collector, Glos. Dec. 1385, Mar. 1388.
Commr. of inquiry, Bristol, Devon, Glos., Som. May 1389 (concealments), Glos. May 1393 (disseisin), Nov. 1398 (intimidation of a jury), June 1399 (eviction), May, Nov. 1400 (trespass), July 1401 (disseisin), July 1403 (wastes), Feb. 1406 (disseisin), Mar. 1406 (obstruction of a road); arrest July 1392; oyer and terminer, Bristol Mar. 1394, Glos., Worcs. Mar. 1401; to take assizes of novel disseisin, Glos., Som. May 1395, Jan. 1396; survey the estates of the Lords Appellant of 1387-8, Berks., Glos., Oxon. Oct. 1398; of array, Glos. Dec. 1399, Sept., Nov. 1403; to collect an aid Dec. 1401; make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well May 1402; raise royal loans Sept. 1405.
Sheriff, Glos. 7 Nov. 1390-21 Oct. 1391, 9 Nov. 1395-1 Dec. 1396, 10 July 1400-8 Nov. 1401, 5 Nov. 1406-23 Nov. 1407.
Coroner, Glos. 1 Feb. 13921-6 Feb. 1394, bef. 14 Feb. 1397.
J.p. Glos. 18 June 1394-Feb. 1406, 4 July 1406-Feb. 1407.
The descent of the Russells of Kingston Russell has been traced back to 1210. To their substantial estates in Dorset (which included the manor of Ailington, held of the Crown by the service of presenting the King with a cup of wine at Christmas), they added in the 13th century, through marriage, a moiety of the barony of Newmarch, comprising the manors of Horsington in Somerset, Dyrham in Gloucestershire, Upton in Berkshire, and Hardwick and Kimble in Buckinghamshire, while by other means they acquired three manors on the Isle of Wight. Maurice had two brothers older than himself, upon whom certain of the family properties had been entailed in 1341, but they evidently both died without issue before 1369 when, on the occasion of his first marriage, his father Sir Ralph settled on him the manor of Dyrham. When the latter died, on 13 Feb. 1375, Russell was still under age, and his wardship was granted to Sir Robert Assheton, his father’s cousin, soon to be appointed treasurer of the Exchequer.2 In December 1377 Russell took seisin of that part of his inheritance not retained by his mother, Alice, as jointure, and five years later he granted Walter Clopton and his wife a lease for 20 marks a year of the reversion of Kingston Russell (to fall in after Alice’s death). Meanwhile, he successfully overcame such minor difficulties as the requirement to account at the Exchequer for the issues of the Gloucestershire manor of Aust collected during his minority (these being payable to the Crown owing to a vacancy in the see of Worcester from which it was held), and to disprove in the courts spurious claims to Ailington. The Russell estates fell to him in their entirety following the death of his mother on 16 Mar. 1388.3 In the meantime, when Russell’s former guardian, Assheton, had died childless in 1384, he had inherited his manor of Bradpole and the hundreds of Redhone and Beaminster Forum in Dorset, these being properties which had once belonged to the family of his grandmother, Eleanor Gorges. Assheton’s manor of Litton and lands at Combe, in the same county, were to be divided between Russell and Sir Ralph Cheyne* (another of his father’s cousins), though not without difficulty: lawsuits concerning their title lasted from 1387 until 1391, and the Crown continued to contest Russell’s right to present to the church at Litton until as late as 1401.4
Russell’s first marriage had connected him with a leading Berkshire family, his wife Isabel being the sister of Thomas Childrey*, who was to become steward of the estates of Bishop Wykeham of Winchester. It may well have been through the Childreys that he first came into contact with the bishop, although it is unclear whether his dealings with Wykeham were ever anything other than purely business matters. In 1385 he sold the Buckinghamshire manor and advowson of Hardwick to him, for the purpose of its inclusion in the foundation of New College, Oxford, and he also granted him an annual rent of £10 from the manor of Aust for his wife’s lifetime. Other transactions also involved him in the affairs of his in-laws: thus, after he had sold Upton to John Latton it was transferred to Thomas Childrey; and later dealings brought him into contact with Thomas Calston*, a Wiltshire landowner who had married one of Childrey’s daughters and heiresses. Despite his sale of Hardwick and Upton, and the conveyance of Allington to John Roger I* of Bridport, Russell remained a very wealthy man, as the assessments made in 1412 for the purposes of taxation make clear. His estates in Hampshire, Somerset and Gloucestershire were then said to be severally worth £40 p.a., while those in Dorset apparently gave him an annual income of £122 5s., making a total (no doubt underestimated) of over £242.5
Russell’s career had begun in 1385 and had followed along lines to be expected of a landowner of substance, with appointments to many important royal commissions and as sheriff four times. Curiously, most of his administrative work was not carried out in Dorset, where the bulk of his estates lay, but in Gloucestershire, where he was not always resident. (He was removed from the coronership in 1394 because ‘he dwells not in the county’.) So far as may be ascertained from the pattern of his public service, Richard II considered him to be politically reliable: his subsequent appointment as coroner was terminated in 1397 only because he was too busy acting as a j.p. and commissioner of oyer and terminer to exercise the office; he was one of those appointed to survey the estates forfeited by the Lords Appellant following their condemnation in the Parliament of 1397 (Sept.); and he continued to serve on commissions right up to Richard’s deposition. It may be that the personal loan of £40 he proffered to the King in August 1397 was not extracted from him unwillingly, as was often the case with loans made at that time. Furthermore, before the end of the reign his daughter, Isabel, was contracted to marry one of Richard’s staunchest adherents: William le Scrope, earl of Wiltshire, the zealous treasurer of the Exchequer. All this is not to suggest, however, that Russell’s attachment to Richard II was so close as to preclude his employment by Henry IV; far from it, for he continued to be a member of the Gloucestershire bench throughout the period of crisis and for some seven years afterwards. He was returned to his first Parliament in 1402, representing Gloucestershire, and in the autumn of 1403 he was among the prominent figures of the county commissioned to select the best fighting men of the region to join the royal army in combating the Welsh rebels. As sheriff for the fourth time, Russell held the Gloucestershire elections to the Parliament of 1407 (which met in the county town). These years were otherwise uneventful, save for a dispute which erupted in 1408 between him and the influential Sir Walter Hungerford*: both men were required to enter into recognizances for 1,000 marks apiece as surety that they would abide by the award of the chancellor, Archbishop Arundel, touching all actions between them. Clearly their quarrel was a serious matter, but its causes have not come to light. It was after this that Sir Maurice retired from royal service, perhaps because his continuous work in administration over the previous 20 years had won him no reward. (An Exchequer lease of land in Horsington had been awarded only pending a decision as to whether it pertained to him or to the Crown.) For a landowner of such substance as Russell, it is strange that he seems to have established no close acquaintance of any major importance, and that he was only rarely requested to act as a trustee of property (one such occasion being before 1403 when he was asked by Sir John Luttrell to be a feoffee of the Somerset manor of East Quantockshead).6
Sir Maurice’s own feoffees did, however, include the chief justice, Sir William Hankford, and a j.c.p., Robert Hill. It was they, together with his kinsman, Sir William Cheyne*, and the Gloucestershire esquires Robert Poyntz* and Robert Stanshawe†, whom Russell shortly before his death entrusted with the bulk of his estates during the minority of his son, Thomas, the child of his second marriage. Evidently, he put no trust in the husbands of his daughters by his first wife—Sir John Drayton* of Nuneham, who was Isabel’s third husband, and Sir Gilbert Denys* of Siston, who was married to Margaret—indeed, he had once brought a suit in Chancery against Drayton over the estates of Isabel’s former husband, Sir Thomas de la River, which he was determined to hold in trust for his grandson, Maurice. Nevertheless, he could not prevent his daughters from inheriting Dyrham and other properties in Gloucestershire, for the descent was governed by an entail made 45 years before, on the occasion of his marriage to their mother. Russell died on 27 June 1416 and was buried at Dyrham, where a monumental brass depicts him in full armour with his feet resting on a lion.7 His heir, Thomas, became a ward of Thomas, duke of Clarence, the King’s eldest brother, but hopes of the continuation of the male line of the family came to nothing when he died, still a minor, in 1430. Thomas’s infant daughter followed him to the grave two years later, whereupon the bulk of the Russell estates passed to his half-sisters Isabel (now the wife of Stephen Hatfield†) and Margaret (now married to John Kemys†).8 Sir Maurice’s widow, Joan, survived him by more than 40 years. Shortly after his death she married Sir John Stradling, and when her brother, Sir Walter Dauntsey, died childless she inherited the Dauntsey estates in Wiltshire, including the manor of Marden. After Stradling’s death in 1435 she took as her third husband John Dewall†, and it was next to him, in Dauntsey church, that she was buried in 1457.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. C242/7/32.
- 2. G. Scott Thomson, Two Cents. Fam. Hist. 324-7; CIPM, xiv. 196; CFR, viii. 282; ix. 48; VCH Hants, v. 206.
- 3. Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 127; Dorset Feet of Fines, ii. 195; CCR, 1377-81, p. 36; 1381-5, p. 249; 1385-9, p. 402; CPR, 1381-5, p. 296; E364/22 m. A; CIPM, xvi. 626-9.
- 4. CFR, x. 35-36; CCR, 1381-5, pp. 465-6; 1385-9, p. 551; 1392-6, pp. 27-28; CIPM, xv. 915, 917-18; Peds. Plea Rolls, 173, 190, 219.
- 5. CPR, 1367-70, p. 281; 1385-9, p. 36; 1399-1401, p. 423; 1405-8, p. 469; CCR, 1381-5, p. 296; VCH Berks. iii. 283; CAD, ii. C2381; VCH Bucks. iii. 364; CP25(1)78/80/66; Feudal Aids, vi. 427, 450, 505; C115/K2/6682, ff. 37d-39.
- 6. C219/10/4; CCR, 1392-6, p. 197; 1396-9, p. 35; 1405-9, p. 394, 400; 1435-41, p. 6; CPR, 1396-9, pp. 178, 308, 435; 1401-5, pp. 286, 440; CFR, xiii. 131; CP, xii (2), 733-4.
- 7. E149/107/12; CFR, xiv. 175-6. The date on the brass is generally, and erroneously, given as 1401: Mon. Brasses ed. Mill Stephenson, 150; Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch Soc. xxiii. 72, 75, 76.
- 8. Some Som. Manors (Som. Rec. Soc. extra ser. 1931), 393; CPR, 1416-22, pp. 32, 43; Reg. Chichele, i. 233; ii. 295; CFR, xvi. 88, 98-99, 124-32; C139/55/39.
- 9. CPR, 1416-22, p. 120; CCR, 1419-22, p. 249; Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. l. 326-7; CFR, xiv. 374; xix. 168, 209; VCH Wilts. x. 120; C138/45/37; C139/163/1, 6, 166/25.