STRICKLAND, Sir Walter (d.1407/8), of Sizergh, Westmld.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Sir Thomas Strickland† (c.1290-1376) of Sizergh by Cecily, da. and coh. of Robert Welles (1295-1320) of Hackthorpe, Westmld. and Isabel (d.1315), da. of Adam Periton of Ellington, Northumb.; bro. of Thomas Strickland I*. m. (1) by 1366, Margaret Lathom, niece of Ralph, Lord Dacre (1322-75), at least 5s. inc. Thomas II* and Walter†; (2) Alice (d. aft. 1411). Kntd. by Nov. 1384.1
Collector of taxes, Westmld. Nov. 1377, Nov. 1382, Dec. 1384, Nov. 1392, of an aid on the marriage of Princess Blanche Dec. 1401.
Commr. of inquiry, Westmld. Feb. 1381 (alienation of lands of St. Mary’s chapel, Holme), Aug. 1386 (extortions); to suppress the insurgents of 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of array Sept., Dec. 1383, Mar., Aug. 1384,2 Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403; oyer and terminer May 1384 (poaching on the estates of William Strickland, parson of Rothbury).
Dep. sheriff, Westmld. 23 Sept. 1384-10 or 18 Oct. 1390, 2 Jan.-12 Nov. 1392.
J.p. Westmld. 9 May 1385-June 1390, 26 Nov. 1392-July 1401, 14 Mar. 1403-Dec. 1405.
Escheator, Westmld., Cumb. and Northumb. 14 Feb. 1390-2 Jan. 1392.
The Stricklands were a family of considerable antiquity who took their name from the manor of Great Strickland in Westmorland, occupied by them from the early 13th century onwards. Through his marriage, in 1239, to Elizabet Deincourt, Sir William Strickland† had not only obtained the manor of Sizergh, near Kendal, which became the family seat, but had also gained possession of estates in Barton, Brigsteer, Hackthorpe, Helsington, Heversham, Hincaster, Howes, Lowther and Stainton, thus establishing himself and his descendants as prominent local landowners. Both he and his son, Sir Walter Strickland†, served as deputy sheriffs of Westmorland, representing the county on various occasions in Parliament. Sir Thomas Strickland continued this tradition in the next generation; and distinguished himself further by serving overseas in France and Ireland, as well as holding office briefly as a warden of the west march towards Scotland. His wife, Cecily Welles, was a niece of Adam, Lord Welles, so it was understandable that he should seek an equally prestigious marriage for his son and heir, Walter, the subject of this biography. In June 1362, the young man was betrothed to Margaret Lathom, a niece of Ralph, Lord Dacre, who took sureties of £200 from Sir Thomas as a guarantee of his good faith. In return, Dacre promised to pay 240 marks to the knight on the security of rents worth £20 a year from two of his Lancashire manors. The couple were married by 1366, when Sir Thomas conveyed certain property in Sedgwick to Margaret as her jointure. Walter had by then been summoned to appear before a royal commission of oyer and terminer as a result of his poaching activities in the parks of John Coupland’s widow, Joan, who accused him and others of stealing fish, timber and game. But although two commissions were set up to investigate her allegations, no serious attempt seems to have been made to punish the offenders.3
Sir Thomas Strickland died shortly before June 1376, leaving Walter to inherit all the family estates. He thus acquired the advowson of the church at Lowther, and in the following year he agreed, under sureties of £100, either to present the living to one John Walker or else to pay 20 marks to his nominee. He inevitably encountered many problems as a landowner, not least because of the poaching and thefts of which he himself had once been guilty. In 1378, for example, he sued a group of local men for carrying off timber worth £20 from Sedgwick; and soon afterwards he was back in court to defend his title to land in Barton which had been claimed by the master of St. Nicholas’s hospital in York. His long and varied administrative career began at this time with his appointment as a collector of taxes in Westmorland. He first entered the House of Commons soon afterwards, in November 1380, and before long he was serving on a variety of royal commissions in the north-west. As we have already seen, at least three of his forebears had previously held office as deputy sheriff of Westmorland, and in September 1384 Walter assumed the post. He was, consequently, responsible for returning himself (in direct breach of the statute forbidding the election of sheriffs) to the Parliament which met in the following November. It seems unlikely that he had to exert much pressure on the local electors, who had chosen him once already after all, but he may well have had particular reasons for wanting a seat on this occasion. His friend and neighbour, William, Lord Windsor, had just died, naming him as one of his executors. The administration of Windsor’s estate was made particularly difficult by a number of factors, not least being the unusually heavy demands presented by the government for money still owing from the time of his military service in Ireland and France. Although the sentence of banishment and forfeiture passed against his wife, Alice Perrers (the unpopular and avaricious mistress of Edward III), by the Good Parliament of 1376 had been repealed, Windsor’s executors were none the less also found liable for certain sums of money and effects deemed to have been entrusted to him by her. Their problems were further complicated by a dispute between Alice and Windsor’s nephew, John (who was one of the executors), over the ownership of most of the deceased’s estates, which in turn prevented them from paying off any of his debts. On 1 Nov. 1384, a few days before the opening of Parliament, the recently knighted Sir Walter Strickland witnessed a deed conveying Windsor’s lordship of Egremont in Cumberland to John, and then proceeded to Westminster, where he could more effectively present the case of the trustees. Interestingly enough, the other representative for Westmorland was John Windsor’s kinsman, Robert Windsor, while Sir James Pickering*, who was also one of the executors, sat for Yorkshire. Their efforts were rewarded in May 1385 with the issue of a royal pardon excusing the executors from all debts save those arising from Lord Windsor’s service abroad, and the dispatch of a writ of supersedeas to the Exchequer, ordering a halt to proceedings. Unfortunately, as various petitions to the November Parliament of that year reveal, the authorities were slow to implement the writ, and for a while Strickland and his associates (who also included Sir William Melton*, then present in the Commons) faced the very real prospect of imprisonment. Matters had evidently improved by December, when John Windsor made Sir Walter a trustee of the estates in Westmorland and Lancashire which he intended to keep secure from the rapacious hands of his aunt.4
Sir Walter obtained a seat on the Westmorland bench in 1385, and continued to preoccupy himself with administrative affairs for the rest of his life. Once again, however, he found himself the victim of acute financial difficulties, largely because it was impossible to raise the farms, taxes and other levies demanded by the government in an area so badly affected by poverty, disease, and continuous harassment from across the border. In June 1391, seven leading figures in the north-west, including Hugh Salkeld I*, the deputy escheator of Northumberland, and Ralph, Lord Greystoke, were bound over to appear before the royal council to answer certain unspecified charges, probably concerning their accounts. Sir Walter, who was then in office as escheator of Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland, pledged bonds worth £500 as a guarantee of his own readiness to submit to interrogation. The reason for this inquiry cannot now be established, but it seems more than likely that Sir Walter acquitted himself well: certainly, on 16 Nov. following, royal letters close were sent to the Exchequer allowing a reduction in the sums charged to his account as escheator ‘because of devastation by the Scots’. Although Sir Walter was returned to Parliament for the last time in 1395, he remained active as a member of the Westmorland bench for another ten years. In October 1404 he headed the list of jurors who gave evidence at the inquisition post mortem held on the estates of William Parr (sometime husband of his niece, Elizabeth), but from then onwards the settlement of his own affairs took priority. His son and heir, Thomas II, had already proved a loyal and valued servant of the new Lancastrian regime, and was, indeed, first chosen to represent Westmorland in the Lower House at this time. In the following February, Sir Walter negotiated a marriage contract for him with Sir John Beetham*, whose daughter, Mabel, became his wife. Beetham’s share of the bargain involved the payment of £93 6s.8d. in five regular instalments, while Sir Walter undertook to settle land worth £20 upon the couple at once, and also to guarantee their title to all the other estates then in his possession. It was no doubt to establish this reversionary interest that he began a collusive suit for the recovery of the manor of Great Strickland some months later. He also conveyed property in Stainton and Hincaster to feoffees, probably with the same purpose in mind, for we know that Thomas’s son, Walter Strickland†, eventually inherited this land. Sir Walter had already made careful provision for his other offspring, most notably his third son and namesake, who was married in childhood to Isabel, the daughter and heir of John Olney, a wealthy landowner with property in London, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Leicestershire and Wiltshire. This Walter Strickland later became master of the hounds to Henry VI, and established himself as a figure of consequence in the south.5
Sir Walter died shortly before 15 Mar. 1408, leaving at least five sons by his first marriage, and a widow named Alice, who was evidently childless. It was then that she offered sureties of £200 to Thomas Strickland II and his wife as an earnest of her readiness to release certain property to them in return for the manor of Hackthorpe and other holdings in the surrounding area which constituted her dower. After her marriage to Thomas Warcop II*, in or just before 1411, she reached a further agreement with her stepson, permitting him to lease these estates at a rent of £20 13s.4d. a year.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. H. Hornyold, Stricklands of Sizergh, 35-39, 43-45; Recs. Kendale ed. Farrer and Curwen, i. 170; ii. 194; CCR, 1381-5, p. 589. Sir Walter did not marry Isabel Olney (as stated in Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. x. ped. facing p. 74). She was, in fact, the wife of his son, Walter.
- 2. Rot. Scot. ed. Macpherson etc. ii. 55, 58, 61, 67.
- 3. Hornyold, 8-19, 35-39, 43-45; CPR, 1364-7, pp. 202, 358.
- 4. Recs. Kendale, ii. 185; Later Recs. N. Westmld. ed. Curwen, 271; CPR, 1381-5, pp. 566-7; CCR, 1381-5, pp. 548, 589; 1385-9, pp. 84-85; Hornyold, 41; SC8/170/8493, 183/9111, 9124.
- 5. CCR, 1385-9, p. 270; 1389-92, p. 421; Recs. Kendale, i. 34; ii. 174, 194, 225; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 242.
- 6. Recs. Kendale, i. 170; ii. 194; Hornyold, 43-45.