Appendix C3: The composition of the Parliament of September 1397-January 1398

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

The composition of the Parliament of September 1397-January 1398

Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, facing his accusers at his trial for treason at the start of this Parliament, was stung into protesting at the false assumption that the charges against him were made in the name of the people: ‘fideles plebei Regni non sunt hic’. Thomas Walsingham, the St. Albans chronicler, further substantiated the earl’s complaint by referring to the presence in the Commons of a number of knights of the shire who had not been elected by their communities according to established custom, but rather had been chosen at the behest of the Court. According to his admittedly subjective account, nothing was allowed to be said, or petitioned for, which did not please Richard II. There is no doubt that in this Parliament the Commons were at the forefront of the political action on the King’s behalf, and that from Arundel’s point of view the ‘faithful commons’ were simply not in evidence, or else, if present, were unable or unwilling to make their voices heard in his defence. The reasons for this are not readily apparent. The charges made against Richard II after his deposition asserted that, having appointed his own creatures as sheriffs, he deliberately used them to influence the return of knights of the shire in his own interest. Yet there is no reason to suppose that the outgoing sheriffs who presided over the election of Members to the Parliament of September 1397 were unduly subservient to the King (even though Richard certainly did, in October—after the first session had ended—appoint many of his supporters to the shrievalties), and evidence of widespread and systematic packing has not been found. Some contemporary accounts report that the Parliament assembled at Westminster in an open-sided building with the royal archers ranged around it, fully visible to those present, who were thus exposed to direct intimidation.1

Whether or not these reports are true, there is an alternative explanation for the Commons’ willingness to endorse and promote royal policy: that this largely came about through the careful management of the proceedings by one of the King’s most articulate councillors, Sir John Bussy, whom (so Walsingham asserted) Richard had appointed (‘constituit’) as their Speaker. As the lists below make clear, Bussy could look for support in the House to several Members who had been formally retained by the King, some of them as knights or esquires of his household. Indeed, Bussy himself and the majority of this group of 29 individuals (14% of the total of 203 Members known) had been granted annuities and/or appointed to crown offices within the previous six years, in several cases only very recently, as a consequence of Richard’s deliberate policy of increasing the size of his personal retinue. Opinion could well have been orchestrated by three other leading and highly remunerated members of the King’s Council present in the House: the experienced parliamentarian Sir William Bagot, the astute Sir Henry Green and the long-serving Sir John Russell, master of the King’s horse. Bussy and these fellow councillors had all once been prominent in the service of the Lords Appellant of 1387-8, but now, having been newly won round to the King’s party, were all the more zealous proponents of his views on the royal prerogative. Around this key group, firmly committed in their support for King Richard, were ranged at least a dozen Members who were closely associated with his friends—the eight noblemen who as counter-appellants were to be the instruments of Richard’s policy of retaliation, and Sir Thomas Percy, who in the trials held during the first parliamentary session was to act as proctor for the clergy. The identity of those Members who were considered on the strength of their stance in the House to have shown appropriate loyalty to the King in the course of that session may be deduced from the appointments to office or the rewards in the form of grants authorized in their behalf, either before the prorogation on 29 Sept. or while Parliament was in recess. Of particular interest are those whom Richard then selected to be sheriffs and, in contravention of the statutes, subsequently chose to keep on in office for a second year in the autumn of 1398.

The King’s men in the Commons may not have been dominant numerically, but there was quite clearly a cadre of his adherents well able to manage the House in the way he wanted. They were doubtless helped in their task by the fact that 42% of the Members (86 out of 203) had apparently never entered the Commons before, and were, therefore, quite likely to be overawed by the proceedings. Moreover, as many as 21 constituencies (six of them shires) had sent to the House two individuals without any previous parliamentary experience. For several communities this in itself was a most unusual step to take: Cambridge, Dorset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Nottingham and Salisbury had never before in our period returned two newcomers together to a Parliament (that is, at ten or more consecutive elections); indeed, for Dorset it was the first time this had happened in 20 years, for Essex in 17 years and for Gloucestershire in 15. Apart from the complete novices, there was also a group of 11 men who had not served in the Commons for a very long time (upwards of 13 years), and, except in the cases of Sir John Russell, the King’s councillor, and Sir Ivo Fitzwaryn, a knight of his chamber, they may well have been out of touch with current political issues. Then again, the Lower House also contained a number of complete nonentities sitting as knights of the shire, whose election is difficult to explain save either because of a marked reluctance of established members of the shire communities and experienced parliamentarians to put themselves forward, knowing that Gloucester, Arundel and Warwick had been arrested and a political crisis was imminent, or else as a consequence of outside interference in the free choice made at the shire courts. There can be no doubt that in several constituencies the normal pattern of representation was disrupted. In Wiltshire, for example, it would appear that direct pressure was exerted on the electorate, for the newly-appointed sheriff, Richard Mawarden*, one of the King’s retainers, returned to Parliament a councillor, Sir Henry Green, in company with a knight of the chamber, Sir Thomas Blount, neither of whom had previously shown any interest in the affairs of the local community. Elsewhere, the results of the elections may reflect more of a general disinclination on the part of the leading gentry to be party to the proscription of the King’s opponents.

For 108 of the 203 Members whose names are recorded this was to be their final appearance in the Commons. For, whatever their reasons, they did not seek election again, or else were unsuccessful when they did so. Perhaps the experience of Richard II’s last Parliament had proved particularly unedifying. Only 27 of the MPs who sat at Westminster and Shrewsbury in 1397-8 were chosen to represent their constituencies in the assembly of estates which formally deposed the King in 1399, and which shortly afterwards met as Henry IV’s first Parliament.



Date granted
Ashcombe, RobertKing’s embroiderer
Bagot, Sir Williamcouncillor£60                                    
Aug. 1397                                                 
Blount, Sir Thomasknight of King’s chamber£401383
Bukton, Robert
Bussy, Sir John
King’s esquire
20 marks
40 marks
20 marks
Apr. 1397
Mar. 1397
£1001 Aug. 1397
Calveley, Sir John  
King’s knightmanor worth 
  c. £30 p.a.1394
Chelmswick, RichardKing’s esquire40 marks
Cholmley, RobertKing’s esquire£20
£6 13s.4d.
Feb. 1397
Clanvowe, (Sir) ThomasKing’s esquire
King’s knight
40 marks
two tuns of wine
Mar. 1397
Cobham, JohnKing’s esquire£20
Dagworth, Sir Nicholasdiplomat; knight of King’s chamber in 1380s100 marksbef. 1377
Fitzwaryn, Sir Ivoknight of King’s chamber£401395
Golafre, JohnKing’s esquire40 marks1395
Green, Sir HenryKing’s knight
40 marks
Mar. 1397
1 Aug. 1397
Gresley, Williamroyal archer6d. per diem 1385
Heron, Sir Gerarddiplomat40 marks1393
Howard, Sir JohnKing’s knight£401394                           
Morton, Robert 40 marks granted to his wife          
Mulsho, Johnthe King’s messenger 5 Sept. 1397 to persuade William Rickhill, c.j.c.p., to hear Gloucester’s ‘confession’ at Calais  
Newport, AndrewKing’s esquire from 1392
Pickering, Sir JamesKing’s knight40 marks1390
Russell, Sir Johnknight of King’s chamber
c. Sept. 1397
Shelley, ThomasKing’s esquire 1396
Skydemore, JohnKing’s esquire by 1396
Tey, RobertKing’s esquire40 marks1394
Thorpe, Sir EdmundKing’s knight50 marks1393
Trevarthian, JohnKing’s esquire by 1392
Wilcotes, WilliamKing’s esquire£20
Worship, Johnusher of the chamberten marks1395



Created on 29 Sept.                                                                                 
Thomas Mowbray, earl of Nottinghamduke of Norfolk
Edward, earl of Rutlandduke of Aumâle
Thomas Holand, earl of Kent (the King’s nephew)duke of Surrey
John Holand, earl of Huntingdon (the King’s half-brother)       
duke of Exeter
John Beaufort, earl of Somersetmarquess of Dorset
Thomas, Lord Despenserearl of Gloucester
Sir William le Scropeearl of Wiltshire
John Montagu, earl of Salisbury
Sir Thomas Percy, proctor for the clergyearl of Worcester
1. Nottingham
Bagot, Sir WilliamAtt., E, O, R
Calveley, Sir JohnA
2. Rutland
Calveley, Sir JohnO
Courtenay, Sir HughA, M
Morton, Robertposs. O
Mulsho, JohnAtt.
Northborough, HughA
Tyndale, JohnR (40 marks p.a.)
Shelley, ThomasA
3. Kent
Bathe, JohnA, O
Wintershall, ThomasA, prob. R
4. Huntingdon
Shelley, ThomasC, M, O
Thomer, WilliamO
Tilliol, Sir PeterR
5. Despenser
Browning, JohnM, R
Mortimer, HughM, R (£40 p.a.)
Ruyhale, RichardA, Att.
Sackville, Sir Thomas IIA, prob. R
Wilcotes, WilliamAtt.
6. Salisbury
Francis, Sir Adambrother-in-law (but there is no evidence of a close association between them)
7. Percy
Bukton, RobertM, O, R
Thorpe, Sir EdmundA, M, R



Lancaster and his sons stood by the King in September 1397; the former, as steward of England, presiding over the trials of Arundel and Warwick. Gaunt and Bolingbroke had been given licence to assemble large retinues in anticipation of the meeting of Parliament, and Bolingbroke was created duke of Hereford on 29 Sept., the same day that the counter-appellants, including his half-brother the earl of Somerset, received new titles as their rewards. Gaunt’s associates are marked *.

Bagot, Sir John                                                                 
Bagot, Sir William*R; A, O, R
Bardwell, Sir William*M
Bonville, Sir William I*M
Boteler, Sir John*M, O, R
Bussy, Sir John*O, R; A
Chelmswick, RichardM
Dabrichcourt, Sir John*E, M, O, R (£20 and 50 marks p.a. plus 50 marks p.a. granted Sept. 1397)
Englefield, John*M, R (£20 p.a.)
Green, Sir Henry*M, R (50 marks p.a.)
Hasilden, Thomas II*O; R (£10 p.a.)
Hodings, JohnR
Ramsey, RalphR (£10 p.a.)
Rempston, Sir Thomas I*M; M, R (£20 p.a.)
Rochford, John*O
Roucliffe, Sir David*M, O, R (£40 and 40 marks p.a.); O



1. Customs officials                                                                      
Bernard, Johncontroller, Ipswich
Debenham, William Idep. butler, Ipswich
Hulle, William IIdep. butler, Chichester, Shoreham and Seaford
*Newport, Andrewcollector, London
Pope, John Ialnager, Gloucester
2. Constables of royal castles
*Bukton, RobertEye, Suff.
*Bussy, Sir JohnSomerton, Lincs.
*Chelmswick, RichardKilgerran, Pemb.
*Cholmley, RobertWinchester, Hants
*Fitzwaryn, Sir IvoWhittington, Salop
*Skydemore, JohnGoodrich, Herefs.
*Tey, RobertColchester, Essex
3. Stewards
*Bagot, Sir WilliamCheylesmore
*Chelmswick, Richardduchy of Cornw.
*Wilcotes, WilliamQueen Anne’s estates
4. Others
*Chelmswick, Richardkeeper, forests of Morfe and Shirlet, Salop
Coventre, William IIkeeper of the rolls in KB
*Heron, Sir Gerardchancellor and chamberlain, Berwick-upon-Tweed
Ilshawe, Williamunder sheriff, Warws.
*Newport, Andrewwarden of the Mint; keeper of gold and silver stamps at the Tower and in Canterbury
*Russell, Sir Johnmaster of the King’s horse
Tyndale, Johnhereditary forester of Sule, Northants.
5. Justices of the peace
†Arundell, John ICornw.
†Bagot, Sir WilliamWarws.
†Bernard, JohnIpswich
†Biere, WalterDorset
†Brooke, Sir ThomasSom.
†Bussy, Sir JohnLincs.
†Carew, NicholasSurr., Suss.
†Clanvowe, (Sir) ThomasHerefs.
†Francis, Sir AdamMdx.
†Green, Sir HenryNorthants.
†Hasilden, Thomas IICambs.
†Howard, Sir JohnSuff.
Knyvet, JohnHunts. (removed Nov. 1397, during the recess)
†Mulsho, JohnNorthants.
†Rochford, JohnLincs.
†Ruggewyn, JohnHerts.
†Russell, Sir JohnWorcs.
Ruyhale, RichardWorcs. (removed Nov. 1397, during the recess)
Tey, RobertEssex (removed Nov. 1397, during the recess)
†Wilcotes, WilliamOxon.


* Also in receipt of annuities from Richard II

† Kept on the bench after the Parliament was dissolved



1. Justices of the peace (in addition to those marked above. Appointed on 12 Nov. 1397 unless noted otherwise)
Bagot, Sir WilliamSalop
Bussy, Sir JohnCambs., Suff.
Chelmswick, RichardSalop
Cobham, JohnSurr.
Golafre, JohnOxon.
Green, Sir HenryWilts. 26 Oct. 1397
Heron, Sir GerardNorthumb.
Mauleverer, Sir OliverRutland
Oudeby, Sir ThomasRutland
Pickering, Sir JamesYorks.
Tilliol, Sir PeterCumb.
Worship, JohnBeds.
Wroth, Sir JohnMdx. 20 Dec. 1397
2. Sheriffs (appointed on 3 Nov. 1397 unless noted otherwise)
Browning, JohnGlos. 17 Nov. 1398
*Clanvowe, (Sir) ThomasHerefs.
Curwen, Sir WilliamCumb.
*Golafre, JohnOxon. and Berks.
*Morton, RobertNotts. and Derbys.
*Mulsho, JohnNorthants.
*Newport, AndrewCambs. and Hunts.
*Oudeby, Sir ThomasRutland
*Pickering, Sir JamesYorks.
Radcliffe, Sir RalphLancs. 10 Oct. 1398
*Worship, JohnBeds. and Bucks.
3. Others
Bagot, Sir Williamsteward and surveyor of estates forfeited by the earl of Arundel in Wales and the marches 22 Sept. 1397; constable of Holt castle 22 Sept. 1397
Bussy, Sir Johnkeeper of confiscated estates of Mowbray Sept. 1398; envoy to Scotland 1398, 1399
Golafre, Johnverderer, royal park at Woodstock (£10 p.a.) Apr. 1398
Green, Sir Henryenvoy to Scotland 1398, 1399
Heron, Sir Gerardcollector of customs, Berwick-upon-Tweed 9 Dec. 1397; envoy to Scotland 1398, 1399
Oxney, William Icollector of customs, Gt. Yarmouth 1 May 1398
Shelley, Thomaswarden of the stannaries, Cornw. 10 Dec. 1397; duchy steward in Cornw. 23 Aug. 1398


* Kept on in office for a further year in the autumn of 1398, evidently they had proved satisfactory either as administrators or from the political point of view.



Bagot, Sir William                                      
Staffs., Salop, Herefs.
Brooke, Sir ThomasSom., Dorset, Hants, Wilts.
Carew, NicholasSurr., Suss.
Courtenay, Sir HughDevon, Cornw.
Hasilden, Thomas IICambs., Hunts., Norf., Suff.
Heron, Sir GerardCumb., Northumb., Westmld., Yorks.
Howard, Sir JohnEssex
Skydemore, JohnW. Midlands, Herefs.
Tilliol, Sir PeterCumb., Northumb., Westmld., Yorks.
Wilcotes, WilliamBerks., Glos., Oxon.
Morton, Robertto audit accts. of Thomas Arundel, former abp. York, Feb. 1398
Russell, Sir Johnto take possession of the horses forfeited Sept. 1397



This, consisting of six commoners, ten lords, and two earls acting as clerical proctors, was given responsibility for completing the business of the Parliament, and hearing the charges brought by the dukes of Norfolk and Hereford against each other.

Bussy, Sir JohnGreen, Sir Henry
Chelmswick, RichardRussell, Sir John
Golafre, JohnTey, Robert



Bukton, Robert
extension for life of his annuity of 20 marks, 15 Oct. 1397
Bussy, Sir JohnArundel’s household goods in London and Warwick’s barge, jointly with Green, 26 Sept.; Warwick’s manor of Kirtling, Cambs. in tail-male 28 Sept.; Mortimer’s manors in Suff.; Cobham’s inn in London, jointly with Green, 3 Oct. 1397
Green, Sir HenryArundel’s household goods in London and Warwick’s barge, jointly with Bussy, 26 Sept.; two of Arundel’s manors in Wilts., one of Warwick’s in Warws., and two more in Northants., in tail; Cobham’s inn in London, jointly with Bussy, 3 Oct. 1397
Hayward, JohnExchequer lease 18 Sept. 1397
Radcliffe, Sir Ralphannuity of £40 as ‘King’s knight’, 22 Sept.; wardship 3 Oct. 1397
Russell, Sir JohnWarwick’s lands, rents, and certain manors in Worcs. 28 and 29 Sept. 1397
Skydemore, JohnExchequer lease, Talbot lands Feb. 1398
Syreston, RobertExchequer lease Dec. 1397
Wilcotes, Williamcustodianship of crown property, Oxon. Nov. 1398; in tail from May 1399 at reduced rent
Worship, Johnmanor of Worplesdon, worth £20-£30 p.a., Jan. 1399



Only 17 men who had sat in the Merciless Parliament (6% of the total) were elected to the Parliament assembled in September 1397, and none of them, even if they had been adherents of the Appellants then, was evidently so any longer. It will be noted that, apart from the three Members listed as having close contact with the earl of Warwick, the former Appellants could not look to the support of any of their more influential retainers in the House. Those listed as being connected with Gloucester and Arundel had served them merely in the capacity of knights on military expeditions, and as long ago as the 1380s.

1. Gloucester
Aylesbury, Sir ThomasM (1378, 1380)
Bardwell, Sir WilliamM (1380)
Fitzwaryn, Sir IvoM (1381)
Pecche, Sir WilliamM (1380)
2. Arundel
Bardwell, Sir WilliamM (1387)
Calveley, Sir JohnM (1387)
Courtenay, Sir HughM (1387)
Howard, Sir JohnM (1387)
3. Warwick
Brome, JohnA
Crewe, ThomasA, C, F, O
Ruyhale, RichardA, Att., C



Altogether 48 Members (24% of the total) obtained royal pardons, 15 of them expressly for their subversive or overtly treasonable activities in 1386-8. Several of them were by the autumn of 1397 retainers of the King, but evidently even those most firmly in his favour, such as Bagot, Bussy and Green, felt the need of his assurance that they would not be prosecuted for anything that had earlier caused him deep offence. Pardons granted specifically for adherence to the Appellants of 1387-8 are marked *; those enrolled on the patent roll are marked .

Aylesbury, Sir Thomas9 June 1398
Bagot, Sir John16 June 1398
*Bagot, Sir William†1 Mar., *20 Oct. 1398
Bailly, Thomas1 May 1398
*Benstede, Sir Edward*6 May 1398
*Bixton, Walter†*20 May 1398
Bonville, Sir William4, 20 Feb. 1398
Boteler, Henry I10 June 1398
Boteler, Sir John13 June 1398
Brome, John16 June 1398
Brooke, Sir Thomas4 Feb., 20 Apr. 1398
Brown, William15 June 1398
*Bukton, Robert*17 Aug. 1398
*Bussy, Sir John†*1 May 1398
*Calveley, Sir John*1 May 1398
Canynges, John14 Mar. 1398
*Chelmswick, Richard*2 May 1398
Cholmley, Robert12 June 1398
Cobham, John12 June 1398
Courtenay, Sir Hugh10 June 1398
*Crewe, Thomas*1 May 1398
Curwen, Sir William16 Feb. 1398
Fitzwaryn, Sir Ivo3 May 1398
*Green, Sir Henry†*1 May 1398
Groos, William16 June 1398
Hasilden, Thomas II12 June 1398
*Hodings, John*25 Sept. 1398
*Hulle, William II*10 Oct. 1398
Laxfield, Seman29 May 1398
Lisle, Sir Robert25 Apr. 1398
*Maryot, John†*14 May 1398
*Mortimer, Hugh*22 June 1398
Mulsho, John12 June 1398
Ottworth, John29 Mar. 1398
Oudeby, Thomas16 Apr. 1398
*Patching, John*15 June 1398
Pigot, (Sir) Baldwin14 June 1398
Rempston, Sir Thomas I12 June 1398
Rochford, John5 Feb., 5 June 1398
Russell, Sir John20 May 1398
Ruyhale, Richard20 June 1398
*Sackville, Sir Thomas II†*3 May 1398
Skydemore, John18 Feb., 12 June 1398
Tilliol, Sir Peter13 May 1398
Tyndale, John15 June 1398
Wodeland, Richard10 June 1398
Worship, John16 June 1398
Wroth, Sir John24 Apr. 1398



The surveys for each individual constituency draw attention to any unusual factors in its representation, Parliament by Parliament. The following list is intended merely as a brief summary of such matters as they affected the Membership of Richard II’s last Parliament.

Unusual factors
Beds.Worship, John     
something of an outsider: came from Surr.
Berks.Hartington, John

obscure nonentity, never appointed to positions of authority in the shire; connected with the King’s councillor, Laurence Drew*

Bucks.Shelley, Thomasoutsider whose territorial stake in Bucks. was not firmly established; retainer of the earl of Huntingdon
Cambs.Tyndale, Johnoutsider: had been returned seven times previously for Northants.
ExeterFrye, Williama landowner and lawyer who had little to do with the affairs of the city
 Wilford, Williamhe and Frye were paid 4s. per diem for service in Parliament, whereas Exeter usually paid only 2s.
DorsetMartin, Williamobscure nonentity, illegitimate, never given positions of authority
MelcombeCoventre, William II               
outsider whose principal interests were in Berks. and Wilts.; keeper of the rolls in KB
Glos.Mortimer, Hughoutsider with no local concerns or contacts among the Glos. gentry; retainer of Lord Despenser
HantsMore, Robert IIobscure; connected with the Brocas family established at Court
LondonAshcombe, Robertrelatively obscure artisan; not a member of a city guild; King’s embroiderer
 Newport, Andrewnewly made alderman, but did not belong to any guild, and was not a Londoner by birth; King’s esquire
Bishop’s LynnRawlin, Rogerlawyer living outside the borough, though poss. town clerk; most MPs for Lynn were merchants
NottinghamGresley, Williamroyal archer; most MPs for Nottingham were merchants
SalopPembridge, Sir Fulkhad taken no part in shire administration for previous 20 years
WarwickIlshawe, William‘maintained’ by Sir William Bagot
Wilts.Blount, Sir Thomasoutsider from Oxon., no involvement in Wilts. affairs; Household knight
 Green, Sir Henryoutsider from Northants.; member of King’s Council
SalisburyCary, Johnexceptional in that he never held civic office
Worcs.Russell, Sir JohnKing’s councillor who had not been elected for Worcs. since 1379. The sheriff was a royal nominee, rather than the deputy of the earl of Warwick, as had been the case previously

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: J. S. Roskell

End Notes

  • 1. Hist. Vitae et Regni Ric. II ed. Hearne, 137; Annales Ric. II in J. de Trokelowe, Chron et Annales ed. Riley, 209; RP, iii. 420; A. Steel, ‘Sheriffs of Cambs. and Hunts.’, Cambridge Antiq. Soc. Procs. xxvi. 1-34.
  • 2. CPR, 1396-9. pp. 307-8.