TEY, Robert (d.1426), of Marks Tey, Essex.

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



Sept. 1397

Family and Education

yr. s. and h. of Sir Robert Tey of Marks Tey by his 2nd w. Agnes, da. of Robert Crispyn, wid. of John Naunton of Layer de la Haye, Essex and of Thomas Bretoun of Sparham in Necton, Norf. m. Joan ?Norbury,1 2s.

Offices Held

Constable of Colchester castle, Essex 22 June 1396-c. Oct. 1404.

J.p. Essex 27 July-Nov. 1397, 28 Dec. 1411-May 1412, 12 Dec. 1414-17.

Commr. to treat for payment of communal fine of £2,000, Essex, Herts. Dec. 1397; of array, Essex Dec. 1399, Nov. 1403, June 1421; oyer and terminer May 1401; inquiry Jan. 1411 (lands of Colchester abbey), Apr. 1416 (Scrope estates), Aug. 1417 (Fitzwalter estates), Feb. 1422 (false weights); to raise royal loans Nov. 1419, May 1421.

Parlty. cttee. to settle the dispute between Bolingbroke and Mowbray, and to finish the business of the Parliament Jan. 1398.

Sheriff, Essex 30 Sept.-3 Nov. 1399.

Tax collector, Essex Apr. 1404.


Robert belonged to an old Essex family of some wealth and substance. His father died before December 1380, and by the time he came of age (by November 1384) he had acquired, as heir to his father, his uncles and his brother, at least six manors and many other properties in the county. From his mother, who lived on another four years or so, he subsequently inherited Layer de la Haye, a manor she had acquired after the death of a former husband. In 1412 Tey’s landed holdings were estimated to be worth £93 6s.8d. a year, and this was probably an undervaluation.2 In his early years Tey was closely connected with the Sutton brothers, Sir John and Sir Richard, who occupied his manor at Ardleigh for term of their lives. But a more important link was established with Joan de Bohun, countess of Hereford, from whom he held certain of his lands, this connexion following on from his father’s valued services not only as feoffee of the estates of Joan’s father-in-law, William de Bohun, earl of Northampton, but also as executor of the will of her late husband, Humphrey, earl of Hereford. Among those of Joan’s intimate circle was Walter, 3rd Lord Fitzwalter (d.1386), with whom Tey had dealings; and he was clearly able to look to her son-in-law, Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, for the furtherance of his career.3 In February 1390 Gloucester personally requested Richard II for a special licence for Tey, Sir William Arundel (Joan’s nephew) and Sir Simon Felbrigg, who were proposing to ‘see the world’ together, to exchange £300 into foreign currency for their expenses, and freely to embark from London or Dover with a suitable entourage and 12 horses. Both Arundel and Felbrigg were to become prominent figures at Richard’s court, so it may well have been with their help that, following their return home, Tey also joined the Household, receiving livery as a ‘King’s esquire’ from September 1392. In May 1394 he was granted a life annuity of 40 marks payable at the Exchequer, and later that year he accompanied the King to Ireland, accordingly receiving wages of war from 7 Sept. until 21 Apr. 1395. In June 1396 he was further rewarded for his services with a grant for life of the constableship of Colchester castle.4

Despite his evident closeness to Richard II, Tey somehow managed to keep on good terms with those of the affinity of the duke of Gloucester and the countess of Hereford throughout the 1390s and right up to Gloucester’s fall in the summer of 1397. For instance, he acted as a feoffee of the estates of the duke’s adherent, Walter, 4th Lord Fitzwalter, and he was party to important transactions on behalf of the countess’s retainer, William Marney*.5 Even so, when elected to the Parliament of 1397 (Sept.) he was still wearing Richard’s livery and receiving an annuity at the Exchequer; furthermore, he was constable of Colchester and a j.p. by royal appointment and there can be little doubt that the King looked to him for support in the Commons for his stringent measures against his enemies, who included not only the murdered Gloucester but also the countess’s brothers, the earl of Arundel and the archbishop of Canterbury. In December Tey was among those given the invidious task of raising £2,000 from the commonalties of Essex and Hertfordshire (in effect a draconian fine for disaffection shown towards the King) and, with his fellow shire knight, Sir John Howard, he was instructed to report personally to Richard about the commission’s activities when Parliament re-assembled at Shrewsbury. That Tey should have been one of only six knights of the shire who at the dissolution were assigned, with a number of Lords, to settle the matter of the alleged treasons of Bolingbroke and Mowbray and to finish the business left uncompleted by the Parliament, is proof enough that the King had no doubts of his continuing loyalty. Subsequently, he was present at meetings of the committee at Westminster in March 1399, and he was among those who took an oath for the observation of the Acts of the Parliament. In May he was preparing to join Richard’s second expedition to Ireland.6

During the period of transition after Bolingbroke seized power, Tey briefly held office as sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire, and as such he is recorded holding elections to Henry IV’s first Parliament which met on 6 Oct. (his appointment being dated 30 Sept., the day an assembly of estates met to depose Richard II). He was confirmed as constable of Colchester in November (although removed from the shrievalty at the same time), and a month later he was appointed to a commission of array. Nevertheless, his royal annuity was not renewed, and there evidently remained suspicions about his allegiance to the new King. Indeed, in December 1400 he was put in the Tower. He may have owed his release (in time to be elected to the Parliament which assembled in January following) to his friendship with John Doreward*, a member of the King’s Council. In August 1401 Tey was one of the four men summoned from Essex to attend a great council, and he received another such summons about two years later. Yet he was still not reconciled to the deposition of his former master: in 1404 when plots were uncovered in Essex for the overthrow of Henry IV and the re-instatement of Richard II (widely rumoured to be still alive), he was clearly suspected of being in league with the conspirators. On 16 Oct., when it was learned that he was intending to go overseas, he was ordered ‘upon his allegiance and under pain of forfeiture’ not to do so without a special licence authorized by the King personally; and a week later the castle at Colchester was put in the safeguard of the King’s son, Humphrey, never to be returned to Tey’s keeping. It may well be that Tey had been drawn into the plot by Maud de Vere, the dowager countess of Oxford and one of the principal conspirators, from whom he held land and near whose seat at Castle Hedingham his own estates were situated. On the other hand, perhaps he had done no more than allow certain of the less important rebels to escape from his custody at Colchester. Certainly, he was later fined £15 for the escapes of prisoners, which sum he was to be pardoned five years afterwards.7

Tey was not appointed to royal commissions again for nearly seven years after his removal from the constableship. He may have owed his eventual rehabilitation and his reinstatement to the Essex bench in 1411 to the countess of Hereford, for, surprisingly enough, he remained on good terms with her and members of her circle throughout all his changes of fortune. Countess Joan and her councillors, Sir John Howard and Sir William Marney, acted as trustees of Tey’s manorial holdings, while he himself assisted Joan’s kinsman, Sir Richard Arundel, a ‘King’s knight’, to complete a conveyance of estates far away in Northumberland. In 1408 he was associated with the countess, her brother, Archbishop Arundel, and others of her affinity in the foundation of a chantry on Foulness, Essex, and he subsequently assisted her in making a grant of the manor of Margaret Roding to the Great Hall of Oxford university. In 1414 Marney named him as a feoffee of his property and as an executor of his will, and Tey later acted as an attorney and executor for Marney’s son, Sir Thomas (d.1421), as well. This friendship with Sir William led to connexions with the latter’s brothers-in-law, William Swinburne* (who also asked him to be an executor) and Richard de Vere, earl of Oxford, on whose behalf he raised substantial loans on the security of manors in Essex and Buckinghamshire. Tey was evidently much in demand as a feoffee-to-uses, and among those for whom he appeared in this capacity were the lawyer Richard Baynard (a friend from his youth) and Baynard’s stepfather, the wealthy London draper, John Hende. Bartholomew, Lord Bourgchier, also considered him to be trustworthy when it came to dealings in property, and indeed after Bourgchier’s death Tey helped to put into effect his plans for the endowment of a college at Halstead.8

Although after 1401 he never, apparently, sat in the Commons again, Tey showed a continuing interest in parliamentary matters by attending the Essex elections to the assemblies of 1407, 1411 (then standing surety for Sir William Coggeshall), and 1422. Meanwhile, in January 1420, his name had been included on the list sent by the local j.p.s to the Council as being among the knights and esquires considered best capable of military service in defence of the realm. Tey’s property in Colchester had always kept him concerned in the affairs of the town, and in 1415 he had been chosen by the burgesses to act as an arbiter in their dispute with the abbot of St. John’s. Among the others who looked to him for assistance in their transactions during his later years were Sir John Howard, Sir Andrew Butler and William Rookwood*. Finally, on 1 Sept. 1426 his friend William Hanningfield* named him as an executor of his will, leaving him as much as £30 for his trouble.9 But he may not have survived Hanningfield, for he himself died just a few days later, on the 13th. He left a widow and two sons, John and Thomas.10

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. P. Morant, Essex, ii. 202.
  • 2. Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), ii. 364; CIPM, x. 76, 418; xi. 142; xii. 264; CCR, 1377-81, p. 479; 1381-5, pp. 384, 587; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 173, 191, 196; Feudal Aids, vi. 440.
  • 3. CPR, 1385-9, p. 399; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 84, 120; Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 34.
  • 4. CPR, 1388-92, p. 188; 1391-6, pp. 414, 552; 1396-9, pp. 1, 46; CCR, 1392-6, p. 528; Add. 35115, f. 41; E101/402/20 m. 37d, 403/10, f. 43, 22, f. 13.
  • 5. CCR, 1392-6, p. 124; 1396-9, pp. 116, 121, 126, 314, 383.
  • 6. RP, iii. 360, 368-9, 373-5, 383; CPR, 1396-9, p. 554.
  • 7. C219/10/1; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 84; 1401-5, pp. 189, 468; 1408-13, p. 114; CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 218, 307; 1402-5, p. 389; PPC, i. 163; ii. 86.
  • 8. CCR, 1399-1402, p. 396; 1402-5, p. 298; 1409-13, pp. 78, 221, 347; 1413-19, pp. 161, 370-1, 374-5, 478; 1419-22, pp. 8, 15, 30; 1422-9, pp. 337, 408; 1429-35, p. 38; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 198; 1401-5, p. 309; 1405-8, pp. 386, 433; 1408-13, pp. 394, 426; 1413-16, p. 398; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 248, 259; Corporation of London RO, hr 149/38; PCC 31, 52, 54 Marche.
  • 9. C219/10/4, 6, 13/1; E28/97 m. 10; CCR, 1413-19, p. 201; 1422-9, pp. 120, 144; 1429-35, p. 97; CPR, 1422-9, p. 142; Feudal Aids, vi. 441; Fifty Earliest Eng. Wills (EETS lxxviii), 69, 71.
  • 10. C139/31/59; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 290-3; CPR, 1422-9, pp. 391-2; 1429-36, p. 64.