TAUK, Robert (d.1401), of Westhampnett, Suss.
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Family and Education
1st s. of Sir William Tauk, c. bar. Exch. (d.1375), by his 1st w. Isabel, da. of William St. George of Todham and sis. and h. of William St. George. m. bef. 1380, Elizabeth (c.1366-bef. 1401), da. of Thomas Warrener by Isabel, da. of William Overton† (d.1361) of West Tytherley, Hants, 1s.
Commr. of inquiry, Suss. Dec. 1379 (counterfeiting), Hants Apr. 1398 (theft); arrest, Suss. Mar. 1390; to supervise reconstruction of the Canterbury diocesan archives Feb. 1399.
Abp. of Canterbury’s bailiff of Pagham, Suss. by 1396.1
The family of Tauk became prominent among the gentry of Sussex and Hampshire largely through the successful career of Robert’s father, Sir William Tauk, who was appointed chief baron of the Exchequer a year before his death in 1375. For at least 20 years previously Sir William had been on amicable terms with Isabel, Lady St. John of Basing, from whom he held his manor of Westhampnett on the outskirts of Chichester. Lady St. John’s first husband, Luke Poynings, was probably godfather to his son Luke (Robert’s half-brother), while the connexion had also led to his being asked to act as feoffee and executor for her nephew, Thomas, 2nd Lord Poynings (1349-75). In later years the links between the families were to be strengthened still further by the marriage of William Tauk, another of Robert’s siblings, to the sister and heir of Sir Thomas Worting*, Lady Isabel’s second husband.2 Robert was the eldest of five sons. Under the terms of a settlement made in 1356 he was to inherit from his parents a number of properties in Chichester and its suburbs, including the advowson of the chantry in St. Mary’s hospital; and after his father’s death he came into possession also of the manors of Crimsham in Pagham and Todham in Easebourne, as well as property at Eartham. These holdings had a value later estimated at over £20 p.a. An entail made in 1368 in favour of his stepmother and half-brother, Luke, gave him a reversionary interest in lands at Mid Lavant, but these do not seem to have ever come into his keeping. In his father’s will, made in July 1375, Robert was left a number of important items of silver (including a cup given to the chief baron by the bishop of Worcester), a third share of all his furnishings and household utensils, his two best horses, some 500 head of livestock, and £10 in money. Evidently having already reached maturity, he was named as an executor, with instructions to take care of his stepmother and her offspring.3
Tauk’s marriage to Elizabeth Warrener was to bring him, on the death of her young cousin Michael Overton in 1389, the manor of West Tytherley on the border between Hampshire and Wiltshire, along with about 700 acres of land, six messuages, and rents of £17 13s.4d. p.a. there and at Romsey, Bishop’s Waltham and Southampton. When he died these were to be estimated as worth another £20 a year.4 In 1383 Tauk joined Thomas Poynings, Lord St. John, as a witness to the foundation of a chantry in Pagham church, and he evidently maintained the family links with Poynings subsequently. He was accompanied to Westminster following his only election to Parliament in 1391 by Sir William Percy, a leading retainer of Richard, earl of Arundel; and there are hints that he, too, may have been of the affinity of the earl, from whom he held some of his land. His kinsman, John Tauk (very likely his brother of that name), was a prominent figure in Arundel’s entourage, serving him most notably as the steward of the lordship of Lewes and a trustee of his estates. Furthermore, the Tauks were closely connected with another of that circle, Sir Henry Hussey*; indeed, Robert and two of his brothers were the only persons trusted by Sir Henry to be feoffees of his property, and John Tauk held one of Hussey’s manors for life by his gift. Something of Robert’s status is suggested by the fact that in 1393 he was fined £2 for failing to take up the order of knighthood in response to a royal proclamation. At Pagham he was a tenant of the archbishop of Canterbury, and he most likely owed his appointment as bailiff of the archiepiscopal estate there to William Courtenay, for in August 1396 he was among those to whom the temporalities of the see were committed following the latter’s death (although this guardianship was to be revoked before it took effect). He probably continued in office as bailiff under Archbishops Arundel and Walden, and in 1399 he was assigned the task of helping to reconstruct the diocesan archives which had been damaged during the Peasants’ Revolt. Tauk was appointed royal escheator in February 1400, only to be immediately replaced by William Weston I*.5 The reason for this may have been ill health. He died on 9 Apr. 1401, being succeeded by his son, Thomas (b.1380). Following the death of that young man just four years later, the Tauk properties were granted in custody to (Sir) John Pelham*, to hold during the minority of the shire knight’s grandson, another Robert.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. L. Fleming, Hist. Pagham, i. 62.
- 2. J.B. Post, ‘Tauk Fam.’ Suss. Arch. Colls. cxi. 93-107; CIPM, x. 260; xiv. 190; CCR, 1374-7, p. 178. Unnecessary confusion regarding the connexion of the Tauks with Basingstoke stems from W. Berry, Hants Gen. 234 and VCH Hants, iv. 134. The latter misdates the marriage between the families of Worting and Tauk to bef. 1311, whereas the correct date is bef. 1409-10: F.J. Baigent and J.E. Millard, Hist. Basingstoke, 200-1.
- 3. Suss. Feet of Fines (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii), nos. 2169, 2345; VCH Suss. iv. 51-52, 105, 177; CIMisc. vii. 56; CIPM, xv. 469; Fleming, i. 144-5; Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Sudbury, f. 85.
- 4. VCH Hants, iii. 279; iv. 520; CIPM, xi. 153; xii. 400; xvi. 882; CFR, x. 318; CP25(1)207/29/20, 27. Other Overton properties were to pass to Tauk’s grandson, Robert, after the death of his wife’s father, Thomas Warrener, in 1407: VCH Hants, iii. 225-6, 229; CFR, xiii. 171.
- 5. CFR, ix. 76, 161; xi. 187-8; xii. 3; E401/592; Fleming, i. 89; CCR, 1409-13, p. 18; CPR, 1396-9, p. 111.
- 6. C137/23/42; CFR, xii. 135; xiii. 1, 15.