ALLINGTON, William (d.1446), of Horseheath, Cambs.

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



Oct. 1416

Family and Education

?s. of William Allington of Penryn, Cornw. by Denise, da. and h. of William Malet of Horseheath. m. bef. 1409, Joan (d. 27 Feb. 1445), da. and h. of William Burgh of Barningham, Suff., 1s. William†; 1s. illegit.

Offices Held

Receiver of Brest, Brittany by June 1397.1

Treasurer, Calais 8 Feb. 1398-c. Aug. 1399.

Escheator, Cambs. 24 Nov. 1400-5 Feb. 1401, Cambs. and Hunts. 14 Dec. 1415-Dec. 1416.

J.p. Cambs. 16 May 1401-Feb. 1407, 28 Nov. 1417-July 1420, 7 July 1423-Nov. 1439, Cambridge 18 May 1414-Apr. 1415, 28 Jan. 1430-Feb 1432.

Commr. to make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well, Cambs. May 1402; of inquiry Feb. 1417 (murder), Apr. 1429 (concealments), Apr. 1431 (liability to contribute to an aid); sewers, from Cambridge to the sea May 1418; array, Cambs. May 1418, Jan. 1436; to raise royal loans July 1426, May 1428, Cambs., Hunts. Mar. 1430, Mar. 1431, Cambs. Feb. 1434; assess tax on landed incomes Jan. 1436.

Treasurer of the Exchequer of Ireland 14 July 1403-bef. Apr. 1404, 14 July 1406-c. June 1413.

Tax controller, Cambs. Mar. 1404.

Sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. Mich. 1414-14 Dec. 1415, 3 May-13 Nov. 1423, 7 Nov. 1427-4 Nov. 1428.

Member of Henry V’s council in England by Oct.1417-c. July 1418, of Henry VI’s council 25 Jan. 1424-aft. Mar. 1427.2

Envoy to treat with the French 26 Oct. 1418, 22 Jan. 1419, with John V, duke of Brittany 7 July 1420, 26 Mar. 1421.

Treasurer-general and receiver-general of Normandy 1 May 1419-Sept. 1422, throughout the pays conquis 24 Jan. 1420-Sept. 1422.

Controller of the salt-garners, Vernon and Fécamp May 1419-c. Sept. 1422.

Conservator of the truce with Brittany 10 Feb. 1421.

Speaker 1429.


The Cambridgeshire family of Allington probably had its origin in Cornwall, and William’s father may well have been he who traded in wine at Fowey and London in the 1380s. Certainly, the Allingtons’ deed of purchase of the manor of Horseheath, which marked their removal to Cambridgeshire in 1398, was formally acknowledged at Penryn. The considerable increases in estate and reputation made by the family in the first half of the 15th century were largely due to the successful career in administration of William Allington, although shortly before his time the name was not entirely unknown, for Master Robert Allington (a close relation of his, perhaps an uncle), had been chancellor of Oxford University (1393-5) and was noted as a logician. Young William’s acquisition of Horseheath was followed by his purchase of the manor of West Wickham and of property in Bottisham, so that by 1412 he could expect an annual profit of at least £40 from his landed holdings. In later years he took possession of the manor of Barham in Linton, and, in the neighbouring county of Norfolk, of land at Middle Harling.3

Allington had first come to the court of Richard II, in 1394 or earlier, as a member of the retinue of John Holand, earl of Huntingdon, the King’s half-brother. It was with Robert Cary*, a fellow royal esquire and retainer of Holand, that at the time of Richard’s coup in the autumn of 1397 he shared in royal grants for life of two manors in Wiltshire and of the estates of the alien priory of Ellingham (Hampshire). This may have been in the order of a reward for his service as receiver of the English garrison at Brest, recently completed. He owed his appointment as treasurer of Calais in the following year to Holand, at that time captain of the castle there; and when his patron, by then created duke of Exeter, was preparing to accompany the King to Ireland in April 1399, he was named as one of the attorneys who were to look after his affairs at home. Nevertheless, Allington had little trouble in accommodating himself to the effects of the deposition of Richard II and of Holand’s subsequent treason. Within little more than a month of Henry IV’s accession he was again one of the King’s esquires, and before long he came to be employed in the administration of Cambridgeshire, first as escheator and then as a j.p. He clearly achieved an assured position in the royal service by the summer of 1403, when he was made treasurer of the Irish Exchequer, an appointment which suggests he had already joined the retinue of the King’s second son, Thomas of Lancaster, who had become lieutenant of the province two years earlier. Initially holding office for less than a year, Allington was reappointed treasurer in 1406 and probably then retained the post until after Henry V’s accession, although he may have discharged his official duties in person only on those rare occasions when Thomas of Lancaster himself visited Ireland, as in 1408. Allington’s connexion with Prince Thomas, created duke of Clarence in 1412, remained constant and close. He was made a trustee of his lord’s estates in 1407 and thereafter was evidently a member of his household staff. We may speculate that the presence of Allington and other of the prince’s retainers in the Commons assembled for the Parliament of 1410 may have provided a certain counter-balance to the then predominant party led by the prince of Wales and the Beauforts, although there is no evidence that they were a vociferous opposition. Allington had no military part to play in Clarence’s expedition to France in 1412-13; instead, he remained in England where he helped organize the despatch of supplies to the duke’s army spending the winter at Bordeaux.4 Nor did he join Prince Thomas on Henry V’s invasions of France in 1415 and 1417, most likely because he had been entrusted with the supervision of affairs at home. Before the embarkation of the second army he was made an executor of Clarence’s will, and it may well have been on the prince’s recommendation that he then became a member of the council which assisted the duke of Bedford in the government of England during the King’s absence.

Allington’s services were eventually needed in Normandy for diplomatic and administrative rather than military employment. He crossed the Channel in July 1418 and in January following was named on an embassy empowered to treat with the French for a final peace. Then, not long after the fall of Rouen, he was put in charge of the finances of the Norman duchy with the title of treasurer and receiver-general, his authority being extended subsequently to keep pace with fresh acquisitions of territory. The treasurer’s office was exacting in its requirements, although as compensation Allington received a salary of not less than 12s. per day, and such perquisites as royal grants of houses at Harfleur and Honfleur, and land in the vicomté; of Caen, as well as a handsome annuity of £100. Furthermore, the duke of Clarence gave him estates at Iville-sur-Seine and ‘La Lounde’ in the vicomté; of Pont Audemer. That his operations proved satisfactory may be gauged from the fact that not only was he retained in office after Clarence was killed at Baugé (in March 1421), but also, directly after this tragic event, he was made custodian of the castle and town of Caen, his own financial headquarters. Moreover, he continued to discharge these offices until Henry V’s death in August 1422, being dismissed only at the inauguration of Bedford’s rule as Regent.

Allington continued to be busy over the next few years as one of Clarence’s feoffees and executors. The council of the minority appointed him as sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire in the first year of Henry VI’s reign, and in January 1424 formally co-opted him into its ranks, offering him a fee of £40 a year (with deductions for days of absence from council meetings). It may be presumed that he owed this promotion to the influence of Bishop Henry Beaufort and Ralph, Lord Cromwell, both of whom were his co-trustees in the Clarence estates. (Furthermore, Cromwell was currently using Allington’s services as one of his own feoffees-to-uses in his property in Lincolnshire.) Beaufort and Cromwell were only two of a number of notables with whom Allington was connected at that time. Called on to assist John Holand, earl of Huntingdon (son of his own first patron), who had been taken prisoner by the French at Baugé, he subscribed as much as 200 marks towards the earl’s ransom. Walter, 5th Lord Fitzwalter, named him among the trustees of his estates. He had long been associated with the prominent Cambridgeshire landowner, Sir Walter de la Pole*, having been party in 1414 to a transaction whereby de la Pole’s cousin Michael, earl of Suffolk, had added to the endowment of the Carthusian monastery founded by his kinsmen near Kingston-upon-Hull; and he maintained amicable relations with the de la Poles until Sir Walter’s death 20 years later. In 1419 he had been named as an executor of the will of Sir John Ingoldisthorpe* (whose son and heir had married de la Pole’s daughter). Those for whom he acted in positions of trust in arranging settlements of their estates included such distinguished veterans of the war in France as Sir John Fastolf KG and Sir John Radcliffe* KG.5

It was during the shrievalty of his friend, Sir Walter de la Pole, that Allington was elected for Cambridgeshire to the Parliament of 1429, in which he was to serve as Speaker. In the situation confronting Parliament his former headship of the financial administration of the English conquest in France, and his recent (possibly even still continuing) membership of the royal council were probably his most important qualifications for the post of Commons’ spokesman. Further indication of Allington’s standing is provided by the marriages he contracted in the 1420s for his elder son, William, and his younger, bastard son, Robert, with two sisters — Elizabeth and Joan — the grand daughters and coheirs of the wealthy Sir William Argentine*. The widespread estates thus acquired by the Allington family were assessed in 1436 as worth £170 a year. Meanwhile, in May 1434 Allington and his son Robert had been among the Cambridgeshire gentry sworn to keep the peace and not to maintain those who infringed it. (The younger William, as knight of the shire in the preceding Parliament, shared responsibility for administering this oath.) Allington senior was requested by the Council for a loan of £40 towards the equipment of the duke of York’s army in 1436. He retired from the Cambridgeshire bench in the autumn of 1439, and died on 19 Oct. 1446. His tomb in Horseheath church is marked by a monumental brass which describes him as sometime treasurer of Ireland and treasurer of Normandy, thus drawing attention to his most important achievements.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Authors: L. S. Woodger / J. S. Roskell


Allington’s career is treated more fully by J.S. Roskell in ‘Wm. Allington’, Cambridge Antiq. Soc. Procs. lii. 30-42, and in Speakers, 197-9.

  • 1. Recueil des Actes de Jean IV ed. Jones, ii. no. 1099.
  • 2. He may have remained on the Council until July 1434: E101/96/22.
  • 3. CCR, 1399-1402, p. 561; VCH Cambs. vi. 71, 115, 117; Feudal Aids, vi. 407; CP25(1)292/67/124.
  • 4. E404/28/98.
  • 5. C139/103/33.
  • 6. His son William had been three times elected knight of the shire for Cambs. in his lifetime: in 1433, 1437 and 1439, and his grandson, another William, was to serve twice as Speaker, in 1472-5 and 1478.