CLECHE, Richard (by 1455-1519/25), of Reading, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1455. m.2

Offices Held

Guardian of the High ward, Reading 1476-8, mayor 1487-8, 1498-9, 1505-6.3


Of obscure origin, Richard Cleche, draper, is the only person of his name known in the history of Reading. In 1483 he was one of the three mayoral candidates whose names were submitted to the abbot of Reading; he was not selected then or in the two following years and in 1486 he was not a candidate, but he was chosen on 28 Sept. 1487. After standing without success on six further occasions, he began a second term in 1498, apparently without the abbot’s consent. Nine weeks later he discharged the two constables named by Abbot Thorne, retorting to the latter’s complaint before the Privy Council that ‘misruled people daily increased’ because of the abbot’s bad appointments; he also denied malice against the abbey and pointed out that, thanks to the abbot, no mayor had been appointed for three or four years until the burgesses elected himself. Although chosen by Thorne for a third term in 1505, two years later Cleche joined the mayor and another ex-mayor in submitting the town’s various grievances to Bishop Fox of Winchester and the 1st Lord Daubeney. The matter was delegated to two judges, who decided, among other things, that the burgesses should choose both constables, one from the guild and the other from outside it.4

These services must have made Cleche a natural choice as Member for the Parliament of 1510. He and his fellow-Member William Justice both paid 20s.towards a renewal of the town’s charter by Henry VIII and both were among the 24 secret councilmen appointed by the 45 comburgesses to advise the mayor in January 1511. When arms were needed for the wars of 1513 Cleche joined with a fellow-townsman to provide one bow and one man. He stood for the mayoralty in 1508 and 1518 without success.5

Despite his opposition to Reading abbey Cleche was a devout parishioner of the church of St. Lawrence. As one of the ten brethren of the mass of Jesus named in the will of its founder Henry Kelsall in 1493, he helped to obtain royal approval for its endowment and in 1498-9 he was one of two ‘godfathers’ at the consecration of a bell given by Kelsall. He himself presented a pair of silver candlesticks and a silver ship to the church, and contributed towards a new organ. In October 1513 he renewed a lease of a stable, garden and dye-house near the guildhall from the corporation, but his other property is not recorded. He last appears on a list of freemen for 1519 but it was not until 1524-25 that the churchwardens of St. Lawrence’s received 10s. for his grave there.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: T. F.T. Baker


  • 1. Reading Recs. i. 113.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. C. E. Kerry, St. Lawrence, Reading, 188; Reading Recs. i. 132.
  • 3. Reading Recs. i. 72, 73, 77, 84, 97, 103.
  • 4. Ibid. i. 81-84, 88-91, 94, 97, 98, 103, 105-6; HMC 11th Rep. VII, 212; LP Hen. VIII, i; J.B. Hurry, Reading Abbey, 61.
  • 5. Reading Recs. i. 109, 113-14, 120-1, 127, 135.
  • 6. Kerry, 29, 50, 59, 84, 100, 188; CPR, 1494-1509, p. 452; Reading Recs. i. 125, 132, 141.