TEMPEST, Sir Richard (c.1356-1427/8), of Bracewell and Waddington, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Jan. 1404

Family and Education

b.c.1356, prob. s. and h. of Sir John Tempest (fl. 1349) of Bracewell and Waddington by Margaret, da. of Sir Robert Holand. m. at least 1s. Kntd. by May 1382.1

Offices Held

Jt. keeper of Roxburgh castle 28 Feb. 1385-24 Feb. 1386; keeper of the castle of Berwick-upon-Tweed 18 Apr. 1386-May 1387, dep. keeper by 1 Dec. 1390-aft. 25 Jan. 1395.2

Commr. of array, Yorks. (W. Riding) Apr. 1385, Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403, July 1410, Oct. 1417, Apr. 1418, Mar. 1419; to make arrests June 1396, Oct. 1404, Dec. 1405, June 1410; of inquiry, Cumb., Westmld. May 1398 (offences against the bp. of Carlisle), Yorks. July 1408 (ownership of the manor of Hartlington), Jan. 1412 (persons liable to pay taxes); to prevent the spread of treasonous rumours May 1402; raise royal loans Apr. 1421.

Dep. to John, earl of Huntingdon, as lt. of Carlisle and warden of the west march c. Feb. 1397.3

J.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) 28 Nov. 1399-Jan. 1414, 8 July 1420-3.

Ambassador to treat for a truce with the Scots bef. July 1409.4


It is important to distinguish this MP from his namesake and kinsman, Sir Richard Tempest of Studley in Yorkshire, who died at some point before 1390, leaving a widow, Isabel, and a son, William. The fact that both men were active on the Scottish march no doubt explains why historians have so often confused them and their progeny, although the elder Sir Richard’s retirement in the mid 1370s after disgracing himself by embezzlement, does, in fact, make the problem of identification much easier. The subject of this biography almost certainly belonged to the senior branch of the Tempest family, which had retained the two ancestral manors of Bracewell and Waddington. A cadet line, to which the other Sir Richard belonged, had, meanwhile, built up even more impressive holdings through marriage, thus giving the family as a whole considerable influence throughout the West and North Ridings.5

On his own testimony, Sir Richard first took up arms when he was about 15 years old, gaining valuable military experience in warfare against the Scots. By September 1376, for example, two Scottish monks whom he had captured as spies were being interrogated by the bishop of Durham. While serving on the march he came to the notice of John, Lord Neville, whom he accompanied in the following year on an expedition for the relief of Bordeaux. Evidence of Sir Richard’s status in the local community is, meanwhile, to be found in his appearance, with Sir Ralph Ipres*, as an arbitrator in a quarrel between two leading landowners over property in the Yorkshire village of Hanlith. Ipres was a prominent retainer of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster; and it is interesting to note that Sir Richard himself joined the army which Gaunt led to Scotland in 1383. Real preferment came to him two years later, when he shared command of the English garrison at Roxburgh castle. During their years in office, he and his colleague, Sir Thomas Swinburne*, received and spent over £2,866, although their final account was not closed for another 14 years. Because of his position as joint warden, Sir Richard naturally played a prominent part in Richard II’s unfortunate campaign of 1385 against the Scots, which had been prompted by the landing of a French force across the border. Together with Lord Neville (who was then warden of the west march), the earl of Northumberland and other prominent northerners, he agreed to serve the King for a month, providing a personal retinue of 40 men-at-arms and 80 archers, over and above a routine contingent from Roxburgh itself. Although the expedition proved a failure, Sir Richard seems to have impressed the authorities with his ability, and when his term as joint warden of Roxburgh ended he was soon entrusted with the castle of Berwick-upon-Tweed, a stronghold of even greater strategic importance to the English. With a garrison of almost 500 men and an allowance of £7,000 a year during wartime, he occupied a position of heavy responsibility, although the negotiation of a truce with Scotland in the summer of 1386 clearly eased his burden considerably. He remained on the marches after leaving office, for in June 1387 King Richard granted him a special licence to stage a tournament with the enemy.6

Although he served on a few royal commissions in Yorkshire during the 1390s, Sir Richard still seems to have devoted most of his attention to the Scottish border, spending the best part of five years as deputy to the earl of Northumberland, the new keeper of Berwick. Then, on his appointment as warden of the west march in February 1397, John, earl of Huntingdon, the King’s half-brother, chose Sir Richard to deputize for him. Financial problems occurred almost at once, and before long sizeable arrears of pay began to build up. As we shall see, Sir Richard later claimed to have been owed at least 500 marks by the government—a factor which may well have undermined his loyalty to Richard II and the court party. At all events, in May 1398, he deemed it expedient to sue out a royal pardon, although he was probably as much concerned about irregularities in his account as by any suspicions regarding his political sympathies. His decision to support Henry of Bolingbroke’s coup d’état in the summer of 1399 was also influenced by his growing attachment to the earl of Northumberland, whose help proved crucial to the new regime. There is a strong possibility that he continued to serve in the earl’s retinue throughout this period; and he was certainly in attendance upon him at the September Parliament, which ratified the deposition of Richard II and Bolingbroke’s seizure of the throne. While he was away at Westminster, his manor of Hellifield in Yorkshire was reputedly robbed of goods worth £160, although thanks to his useful connexions at Court a royal commission of oyer and terminer soon began to investigate the affair. In December 1399, Sir Richard offered securities on behalf of Northumberland as the keeper of property confiscated by the Crown, and it was probably at this time that he became a King’s knight. As a corollary of this promotion, he now began to play a far more active part in the business of local government, sitting on the West Riding bench from November 1399 onwards, and also executing other commissions there as well. Indeed, in July 1401, he was summoned to attend a great council at Westminster as one of a small group of representatives from Yorkshire. Notwithstanding his long and hitherto profitable association with the earl of Northumberland, who at some unknown date granted him an annuity of 20 marks, charged upon his manor of Long Preston in Craven, Sir Richard remained staunchly loyal to the Lancastrian cause at the time of the Percy rebellion in 1403. Between 13 June and 17 July of that year he and a contingent of 72 armed men campaigned with the prince of Wales along the Welsh march; and it seems almost certain that they helped to inflict a crushing defeat upon the Percys and their supporters just a few days later at the battle of Shrewsbury. Less than a month after the victory, on 17 Aug. 1403, Henry IV granted Sir Richard the wardship and marriage of Sir John Lilburne’s next heir, no doubt as a reward for his support. Sir Richard probably offered financial guarantees on receiving the Lilburne estates, since the clerk of the hanaper took pledges worth £5 from him on the very day the royal letters patent were issued.7

Sir Richard’s years of administrative and military experience, no less than his position as a landowner, amply qualified him to represent Yorkshire in Parliament. As well as the above-mentioned manors of Bracewell, Waddington and Hellifield, he also held extensive estates in and around Skipton, Gargrave, Burnsall, Cold Coniston, Horton, Keighley and Rilston. He was, furthermore, in great demand as a trustee and witness to local property transactions; and his name occurs frequently in West Riding deeds of the early 15th century.8 It is, however, unlikely that he would ever have sought—or accepted—a parliamentary seat but for the difficulty which he faced in recovering the money still owed to him as former deputy warden of the west march. In January 1404, he complained to the assembled Commons that the heavy cost of meeting his men’s wages had caused ‘grant arrerissement de son estat’, and still threatened him with insolvency should reparation not be made immediately. Orders were issued for the settlement of his account, and, his demands satisfied, he returned home never to represent Yorkshire again. He may already have been drawing the fee of £50 a year from the duchy of Lancaster lordships of Pontefract and Knaresborough which King Henry granted to him for life, although the first reference to any payment occurs at about this date. That he continued to be regarded with great favour is evident from Henry IV’s decision not only to confirm him in the original pension of 20 marks awarded him by the rebel earl of Northumberland, but also, after the latter’s forfeiture in 1405, to give him the confiscated manor of Long Preston as well. Sir Richard remained useful to the Crown for many years to come, travelling on an embassy to Scotland at some point before July 1409, and continuing to perform valuable administrative duties in the north. Although he must by then have been about 60, he even indented to accompany Henry V to France in 1415 with a sizeable retinue of six armed men and 18 archers. From then onwards, however, he withdrew from public life, living quietly on his Yorkshire estates until late August 1427, when, ‘feeling himself near to death’, he drew up his will.9

Sir Richard left £20 to cover the cost of his funeral at Bracewell church. He made a few small bequests to local religious houses, but the bulk of his estate went to members of the Tempest family. His son and heir, Roger, received £20 in cash, while sums totalling 40 marks were enjoyed by various female relatives. The task of executing his will (which was proved on 30 Sept. 1428) fell to Roger, who promptly took seisin of his inheritance.10

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. Harl. 6136, f. 18; Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 198; ii. 473-4; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. cxx. 136-7.
  • 2. Cal. Scots. Docs. iv. nos. 335, 340, 360, 528; v (supp.) nos. 4462, 4464, 4484, 4503.
  • 3. RP, iii. 542.
  • 4. Cal. Scots. Docs. iv. no. 784.
  • 5. R. Surtees, Durham, ii. 329, confuses Sir Richard with his kinsman, although he shows clearly enough how the Tempest family divided into two branches during the early 14th century. For details of Sir Richard Tempest the elder see Cal. Scots. Docs. iv. nos. 50, 64, 69, 166; CPR, 1374-7, p. 398; CCR, 1389-92, p. 152; VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), i. 143.
  • 6. Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 198; ii. 473-4; Cal. Scots. Docs. iv. nos. 235, 340, 360, 528; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. cxx. 136-7; Foedera ed. Rymer (Hague edn.), iii (4), 13.
  • 7. RP, iii. 542; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 125; 1401-5, p. 256; 1405-8, p. 48; CCR, 1402-5, p. 184; Cal. Scots. Docs. v. (supp.) nos. 4462, 4464, 4484, 4503; PPC, i. 164; CFR, xii. 12; C67/30 m. 25; E101/404/24.
  • 8. CIPM, xvi. no. 842; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. xxxix. 41, 44, 154; lvi. nos. 247, 249-51, 253-4, 257-9; lxix. 67; lxxvi. 7; cxx. 14; CP25(1)278/145/17; CCR, 1409-13, p. 83.
  • 9. RP, iii. 542; DL28/27/3; DL29/738/12100; DL42/16 (3), ff. 15-15v; Issues ed. Devon, 312-13; N.H. Nicolas, Agincourt, 385; CPR, 1405-8, p. 48; E404/31/407.
  • 10. Test. Ebor. i. 412-13.