STERYSACRE, Richard (d.c.1434), of Darmsden, Suff.
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Family and Education
Commr. to pardon rebels, Chepstow, Gower Nov. 1403; of array, Suff. Apr. 1418, Mar. 1419.
J.p. Suff. 28 June 1419-July 1423.
Sterysacre’s distinctive surname originated in the county of Lancaster and he would appear to have joined the Suffolk squirearchy solely as an outcome of his attachment to the house of Mowbray whose principal estates were situated there. His entire career was dedicated to the Mowbrays’ service, a commitment which began before 24 Mar. 1394 when Thomas Mowbray, earl of Nottingham, formally retained him with an annuity of £10 for life, payable from the issues of the manor of Thirsk in Yorkshire. Before going into exile in the autumn of 1398 Mowbray, by then promoted duke of Norfolk but more recently fallen into disgrace, granted him lands and tenements in the manor of Barton Seagrave (Northamptonshire) worth an additional £6 13s.4d. a year. Norfolk died in Venice in September 1399, but no later than 16 Nov. Sterysacre obtained Henry IV’s confirmation of his annuity at Thirsk. Evidently, he had no difficulty in attaching himself to the household of his former lord’s elder son and heir, Thomas, the Earl Marshal, and in the autumn of 1403 he accompanied him to the marches of Wales. There, on 1 Nov., along with the earl and certain of his high-ranking officials (such as Sir John St. John* and John Lancaster II*), he was included in a royal commission granting them full power to extend the King’s pardon to Welsh rebels in the Mowbray lordships of Chepstow and Gower.1
Sterysacre’s first recorded connexion with the county of Suffolk came in March 1404 when he was associated with a group headed by Sir Thomas Skelton*, the chief steward of the duchy of Lancaster south of Trent, which alienated in mortmain a wood in Bradfield St. Clare to the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds. It is not known whether he had yet acquired landed interests of his own in the county, although later in his career he was to have possession of property in Ipswich, and a share in four knights’ fees at Ringshall, Baylham and Darmsden, situated to the north-west of that town, this last being as a tenant of the Mowbrays.2
It seems unlikely that Sterysacre participated in the Earl Marshal’s rebellion against Henry IV in 1405, for he avoided the consequences which proved fatal for his master. Although the Crown now took custody of the traitor’s estates, their administration largely remained under the guidance of Mowbray officials. The wardship of the earl’s heir, his younger brother John, was granted by the King to Joan de Bohun, countess of Hereford, and in November 1407 Sterysacre was linked with two of her retainers (Sir Gerard Braybrooke II* and Sir William Marney*), as well as with a Mowbray official named Nicholas Ledewich, in securing at the Exchequer a lease of his manor of Crick (Northamptonshire). Just over a year later he and Ledewich, together with Hugh Dalby (former attorney-general to Earl Thomas), obtained custody of two-thirds of the Mowbray manor of Weston in Long Compton (Warwickshire); and in March 1411 he was associated with Ledewich, Thomas Burnham (a member of the late earl’s council) and John Wilcotes* (once a retainer of Earl Thomas) in an important royal grant of the keeping of the castle and lordship of Bramber (Sussex). In November 1412 he alone acquired the lease of the alien priory of Llangennith situated in the lordship of Gower, while Robert Southwell (later receiver-general of the Mowbray estates) acted as one of his sureties.3
After Earl John had secured livery of his inheritance, in November 1413, Sterysacre remained one of his close affinity. On 12 Mar. 1415 he was among those appointed by the earl to be justices of assize in his lordship of Chepstow, and later that year, before the earl accompanied Henry V to Normandy, he was named by him among the feoffees of his estates. He received advanced warning that the earl was to be invalided home from Harfleur, and early in October following he travelled to Bosham (Sussex) where he spent 50s. on medicines in anticipation of the sick man’s arrival. He probably remained in attendance during the weeks of Earl John’s convalescence. As reward for his services, Mowbray confirmed him in his tenure of lands at Barton Seagrave, and in addition, in April 1416, granted him for life the manor of Crick, worth £20 a year. In 1417, when the earl again embarked for France, he left his trusted retainer as one of his attorneys-general in England, and it was in this capacity that Sterysacre subsequently made presentations to benefices in Mowbray patronage.4
Sterysacre served as a commissioner of array in Suffolk in 1418 and 1419, and as a j.p. from then until 1423. But he had few local connexions save those resulting directly from his association with others of the Mowbray affinity. For example, from 1423 he acted as a feoffee-to-uses for John Lancaster’s ward, William Lawney, who held lands in the county.5 There can be little doubt that he had been returned to his only Parliament, in 1420, in the Mowbray interest. Early in 1421, when Earl John was once more in France, organization for his installation as a Knight of the Garter was entrusted to Sterysacre, who travelled to Windsor to pay the dean and chapter of St. George’s chapel their dues, and drew upon the assistance of one of the valets of the royal wardrobe to ensure that Sir Roland Lenthale was suitably equipped to attend the ceremony as the earl’s representative. Sterysacre served for a time as his lord’s chamberlain, and in 1423, as a member of his council, he took a leading part in preparations for the major expedition to France, of which the earl was a principal commander. In 1425, the year in which Earl John was promoted duke of Norfolk, Sterysacre was acting as a feoffee of the Mowbray manor of Kenninghall (Norfolk), and he later had an important role to play as a trustee for the settlement of the duke’s other estates and the fulfilment of his will. As a consequence, in 1433 he was party to transactions on behalf of Mowbray’s widow, Katherine, the dowager duchess.6
In January 1427 Sterysacre had obtained a papal indult giving permission for a confessor of his choice to grant him plenary remission of sins at the hour of death. It seems likely that he died in the summer of 1434. He had long been engaged in litigation with James Andrew* of Ipswich, a member of the affinity of William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, over land at Baylham, and that July he and his co-defendants in an assize of novel disseisin allegedly threatened Andrew’s life. Andrew sought security of the peace against a number of other prominent Mowbray retainers, only to be attacked and murdered by certain of their faction near Bury St. Edmunds on the 21st. As Sterysacre was not mentioned in the subsequent legal proceedings it seems likely that his own death occurred at about the same time. Andrew’s murder created a dangerous situation in Suffolk, with a threat of large-scale violence between the followers of the young duke of Norfolk and those of the earl of Suffolk, a situation which required the intervention of the King’s Council.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Steresacre, Stevesacre.
- 1. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 220; 1401-5, p. 326; Add. Chs. 16556, 17209.
- 2. CPR, 1401-5, p. 372; CAD, ii. A3275; CCR, 1429-35, p. 210.
- 3. CFR, xiii. 84, 132, 200, 253; CPR, 1413-16, p. 46.
- 4. T.B. Pugh, Marcher Ldships. S. Wales, 49, 297; CPR, 1413-16, pp. 319, 333; A. Suckling, Suff. i. 268; Add. Ch. 17209; R.E. Archer, ‘The Mowbrays’ (Oxf. Univ. D. Phil. thesis, 1984), 150, 156, 189.
- 5. CCR, 1429-35, p. 48; 1435-41, p. 463.
- 6. Add. Ch. 17209; Norf. Feet of Fines ed. Rye, 408; Reg. Chichele, ii. 473; CPR, 1429-36, p. 260; CCR, 1429-35, pp. 197-9; Archer, 233.
- 7. CPL, vii. 532; CCR, 1435-41, p. 149; Procs. Suff. Inst. Arch. xxxiv. 263-8.