WALEYS, Robert, of Ipswich, Suff.

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. 1377
Oct. 1377
Jan. 1380
Nov. 1384
Feb. 1388
Sept. 1388

Family and Education

s. and h. of Richard Waleys of Kersey, Suff. m. bef. Apr. 1365, Alice.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Ipswich Sept. 1366-7, 1373-4, 1375-6, 1377-9, 1384-6, 1387-90.1

Collector of customs and subsidies, Ipswich 30 Sept. 1375-9 June 1386, 12 June 1388-12 Oct. 1389, tunnage and poundage 28 Nov. 1386-9.

Dep. butler, Ipswich, Colchester and Orwell 9 July-8 Oct. 1376, Ipswich, Colchester and Maldon 8 Oct. 1376-3 Mar. 1380.

Jt. controller of subsidies for expenses of Sir Thomas Percy, admiral of the northern fleet, Ipswich June 1379.

Jt. attorney for the Crown, Ipswich Sept. 1379-80.2

Commr. of array, Ipswich June 1380; to impress mariners for defence of the East Anglian coast June 1382; of arrest Feb. 1384; to seize the goods of Prussian merchants in ports between Boston and London Nov. 1385.


In 1354 Waleys relinquished possession of certain lands which, along with rents of £20 a year at Kersey and Hadleigh, he had apparently inherited from his father, and he then moved some ten miles east to Ipswich. There, in 1365 he and his wife, Alice, acquired land at Thurleston on the outskirts of the town and, three years later, shops in the parishes of St. Mary and St. Leonard. To these properties he later added 40 acres in Stoke next Ipswich and tenements in the parishes of St. Lawrence and St. Nicholas. In 1376 he became a feoffee, together with Walter Stratton, of holdings in the area of Westerfield belonging to another man from Ipswich.3

Waleys quickly established a prominent place for himself in the merchant community of Ipswich, and built up trading connexions with the ports of the Baltic and the Low Countries, dealing in a variety of commodities which included grain, vetch, cheese, skins, cloth and iron. His fellow burgesses chose him as bailiff at least ten times; and it was by virtue of his office that he was responsible for making several parliamentary returns, recording among these his own election to the assemblies of 1377 (Oct.), 1385, 1386 and 1388.4 Waleys served, too, for nearly 14 years in all as a customs official at Ipswich, his fellow customer usually being Geoffrey Starling or the latter’s son of the same name (who accompanied him to the Commons on at least three occasions). It may well have been with the intention of avoiding prosecution for misdemeanours committed while in office that in June 1377 and April 1382 he took out royal pardons. Meanwhile, in December 1378, he had acted as a surety at the Exchequer when the local proceeds from the subsidy on imports and exports granted at the Gloucester Parliament were farmed out to two men from Ipswich. Six months later he was one of those appointed to survey and control sums collected for the defence of the eastern seabord undertaken by Sir Thomas Percy, the admiral. This appointment followed after a petition by the Commons in Parliament, and it is possible that Waleys had been sitting in the House for Ipswich on that occasion (the borough returns for 1379 have not survived). In September 1379 he was appointed with William Master* to act as attorney for the Crown in suits brought before the local courts. Early in 1385 Waleys was indicted in the court of the mayor and aldermen of London as a result of a bill ‘cunningly sued’ by his former receiver in order to delay proceedings at the Exchequer. There, on behalf of the Crown as well as in his own interests, Waleys had been prosecuting a suit for certain consignments of wool the disaffected man had held as his agent, as well as for sums amounting to more than £73 due to be paid as customs revenue. A writ of supersedeas was issued in Waleys’s favour. In November that same year, after a petition complaining about the unjust detention in Prussia of goods worth £20,000 belonging to English merchants had been presented in the Parliament in which Waleys was then sitting, he was among those commissioned to arrest, by way of reprisal, any Prussian merchants’ cargoes found in east coast ports. It may well be that his own trading concerns had suffered. Acquaintances at Court might have proved useful in such circumstances, and it is interesting to note that while the same Parliament was in session Waleys stood surety at the Exchequer for Sir James Berners*, a knight of the King’s chamber and close friend of Richard II himself.5

In 1386 Waleys became a trustee of a manor at Sproughton on behalf of the widow of Sir Thomas Visdelou, and four years later, following her death, he and his co-feoffees granted the reversion of the same to John Slegh, the chief butler. In July 1395 Waleys obtained a royal pardon of outlawry for failing to appear in the courts at Westminster to answer two Salisbury drapers for a debt of £39 2s.8d. He was not so fortunate with regard to another outstanding sum: on 6 Apr. 1400 Sir John Cheyne I* informed Henry IV that Waleys was in the Fleet prison as a result of legal action begun in the previous reign by the Exchequer for recovery of £23 10s. he had collected as customs revenue. Thanks to Sir John’s intervention, Waleys was released, and evidently cleared his name for, in July following, he was granted custody of crown property in St. Lawrence’s parish, Ipswich.6 He is not recorded thereafter.

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: K.N. Houghton


  • 1. N. Bacon, Annalls of Ipswiche ed. Richardson, 76-77; E368/151-63.
  • 2. Bacon, 81.
  • 3. CCR, 1354-60, p. 89; CP25(1)222/100/5; Ipswich RO, recog. rolls 41-42, 46-51 Edw. III, 11-14, 16-23 Ric. II.
  • 4. E101/342/10; E122/50/33; C219/8/1, 12, 9/1, 4, 5, 7.
  • 5. C67/28 B m. 11, 29 m. 28; CFR, ix. 121-2; x. 114; CPR, 1377-81, p. 355; 1385-9, p. 61; CCR, 1381-5, p. 614.
  • 6. Add. Chs. 9661, 9662, 9666; CPR, 1391-6, p. 673; 1399-1401, pp. 251-2; CFR, xii. 72.