HOLBACHE, David (d.c.1422), of Dudleston and Oswestry, Salop.

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



May 1413
Apr. 1414
Nov. 1414

Family and Education

s. of Ieuan Goch of Dudleston by Anghared, da. of Iorwerth ap Gruffydd Fychan.1 m. c.1398, Gwenhwyfar, da. of Ieuan ab John ab Einion of Sweeney, ?1s. d.v.p.

Offices Held

King’s pleader and attorney, Wales 27 Oct. 1377-aft. 1382.

Commr. of gaol delivery, Conway July 1378; inquiry, N. Wales July 1378 (concealments), Salop Feb. 1399 (government of Shrewsbury), Bromfield and Yale June 1399 (income of Richard, late earl of Arundel),2 Salop Nov. 1400 (estates of John, late Lord Strange), Staffs., Salop June 1406 (concealments), Salop May 1407 (heretics), Sept. 1408, Nov. 1409, Mar. 1410, Jan. 1412 (land ownership and feudal incidents), July, Oct. 1410 (administration of the lordship of Caus), Aug. 1412 (murder), Feb., June, Nov. 1413 (franchises in Morfe forest), Jan. 1414 (lollards); to raise royal loans, Staffs., Salop June 1406; of oyer and terminer, Shrewsbury castle June 1408, Salop Feb. 1409; to collect sums due from the former Fitzalan lordships of Bromfield, Yale and Oswestry Feb. 1416.3

Jt. justiciar, S. Wales 25 May 1389-c.1390.4

Auditor, clerical tenths, diocese of St. Asaph Mar. 1397, accts. of the treasurers of the wars 16 Dec. 1406, of murage, Shrewsbury July 1407, Nov. 1409.

Dep. justiciar of the former Arundel lordships in the marches by May 1398-Sept. 1399; steward of Oswestry and other former Fitzalan lordships by Dec. 1415-c.1422.5

Parlty. cttee. to engross the Parliament roll Dec. 1406.

J.p. Salop 20 Feb. 1407-Dec. 1420.

Escheator, Salop and the adjacent march 7 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410, 10 Nov. 1413-14 Dec, 1415.

Bailiff, Shrewsbury Sept. 1412-13.6


Holbache, who was the son of Welsh parents, came from Dudleston in the Fitzalan lordship of Oswestry.7 Possibly a member of Thavie’s Inn (an inn of Chancery),8 he evidently became a highly competent lawyer. His services as legal adviser to the Fitzalan earls of Arundel began as early as 1376 when, at Ruyton-on-the-Eleven-Towns, tenants of Richard, the new earl, swore their oaths of fealty before his attorneys. By the following year Holbache had also entered royal service as King’s pleader and attorney for the whole of Wales. His connexions with the principality grew stronger with time and in 1385 he obtained from Richard II a grant for life of the ferry across the river ‘Tavarne’ (probably the dangerous passage of Traeth Mawr between Talsarnan and Treflys, co. Merioneth). It is idle to speculate upon the immediate effects on his career of the earl of Arundel’s close involvement in the critical events of 1386-8, but he clearly emerged unscathed when, early in May 1389, Richard II brought to an end the government of the Lords Appellant (of which Arundel had been a predominant member) and assumed personal control of affairs of state. In fact, no later than 25 May, Holbache was appointed as joint justiciar of South Wales, and on the very next day set out from London along with Richard Nash* in order to hold courts in Carmarthen and Cardigan.9 Perhaps Arundel had insisted on his retainer’s promotion before withdrawing from the Council. Certainly, it by no means followed that Holbache would dissociate himself from Earl Richard, and he evidently did not do so, for by 1394 he was acting as the earl’s steward of Oswestry and Chirk, and in February 1395 was made a feoffee of Chirk and Chirksland. It may well have been their continued connexion which led to Holbache’s arrest on 17 May 1397, followed by imprisonment in the Tower of London. He was released, however, on 7 June, and next day secured a royal pardon through the intercession of Arundel’s brother, Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury. Nevertheless, following the earl’s execution and the archbishop’s exile in the autumn, Holbache continued to be under suspicion, and in April 1398 he was ordered to come up for questioning before the royal council under pain of a forfeiture of £200. He evidently managed to satisfy the King of his loyalty, for only a month later he was confirmed as steward of the now forfeited Fitzalan lordship of Oswestry, and later, in October and December, he held courts in Ruyton, Melverley and Kinnerley, as lieutenant of Richard II’s nominee as justiciar of the Arundel lands, William le Scrope, earl of Wiltshire. It appears, too, that Holbache had contracted to pay the lord of Oswestry 60s. annually for the right of collecting advowry fees there, and this sum he now continued to pay to the King. A royal commission of June 1399, moreover, instructed him to assess the late earl’s income from the lordships of Bromfield and Yale. That he was appointed to these offices at all is extraordinary at a time when the purge of Fitzalan officials was otherwise virtually complete.10

When Thomas Fitzalan, the heir to the earldom, returned from exile in the company of Henry of Bolingbroke, he immediately replaced Holbache as steward of his marcher lordships, but it was not long before the lawyer gained the new earl’s confidence. His lack of royal appointments over the next six years must be attributed to extraordinary factors: the outbreak of the great rebellion in Wales under Owen Glendower, and his own Welsh origins. For, under a statute of 1401, Welshmen could neither purchase land in England nor hold office there. However, in 1406, possibly through the influence of the earl of Arundel, Holbache secured election to Parliament for Shropshire, and immediately turned this event to his own advantage, for he then obtained the Commons’ support for his petition for denization. In this petition he asserted that he, like his ancestors, had always been a true and faithful subject, claiming that as a result of the rebellion he had lost estates in Wales worth 200 marks annually together with moveables he valued at 2,000 marks, and had thus been reduced to poverty. Henry IV granted the request and so, on 19 Oct., did he another petition of Holbache’s, one which asked for a grant of the estates late of David ap Yonet of Iffnal in the lordship of Whittington, North Wales, worth £20 annually; and only a week later, in compensation to the true heirs, Holbache secured for them royal pardons for having taken part in the rebellion. Holbache’s own reinstatement was complete: on 19 Dec., three days before the dissolution of the Parliament, he was one of the few Members of the Lower House to be appointed as auditors of the accounts of the parliamentary treasurers for the wars, Thomas, Lord Furnival, and (Sir) John Pelham*; and at the very end of the session he was among the 12 MPs assigned by the Commons who, along with some of the Lords, were to witness the engrossment of the Parliament roll.11

Following this, Holbache very frequently received appointments to royal commissions, particularly relating to Wales and Shropshire. From early in 1407 for over 13 years he was a member of the Shropshire bench, often as one of the quorum and once, under the first of Henry V’s commissions, as custos rotulorum. His second parliamentary return for Shropshire, in 1410, occurred while he was royal escheator in the county, and his undoubted influence in this period may be gathered from the success with which, in 1411, he interceded with Henry IV on behalf of the chronicler, Adam of Usk, for whom he secured a pardon for his alleged association with Glendower. (The grateful Usk was to describe him as ‘magnificus vir’.) Holbache was occasionally appointed as a parliamentary proxy: in 1410 by Bishop Peverel of Worcester; in 1414 (Apr.) by the abbot of Shrewsbury and in 1414 (Nov.) by Bishop Lancaster of St. Asaph.12 In the meantime, interspersed with his Parliaments for Shropshire, he had also represented the borough of Shrewsbury. He had been admitted as a burgess as early as 1397. Without doubt this was honorific, and his superior status in the town was to be demonstrated both by the commonalty’s gift, in 1407-8, of £2 to the players who entertained the guests at the wedding of a relation of his; and by the large quantity of wine it made available at his house for the earl of Arundel’s retainers, John Wele* and Richard Lacon*. In 1410 in order to settle the quarrel between Urian St Pierre* and the constable of Shrewsbury castle, Nicholas Gerard*, Holbache agreed to pay the former £5 if the sheriff neglected to do so. When he first represented the borough in Parliament he was actually serving as a bailiff.13

It was while escheator for the second time (1413-15) that Holbache obtained from Henry V confirmation of his letters of denization; and, in both Parliaments of 1414 he again represented Shropshire. At this time, too, he was appointed by Bishop Mascall of Hereford as his steward of Bishop’s Castle and Lydbury North. His Welsh origins and abilities as an advocate lend credibility to the report that it was he who arranged the negotiations, authorized by Henry V in the summer of 1415, between Gilbert, Lord Talbot, and Owen Glendower (whose cause was now lost).14 Meanwhile, he had continued to be closely associated with the earl of Arundel, who in 1407 had made him a trustee of his castle and town of Shrawardine, Shropshire, as well as of certain Wiltshire estates. In March 1413 Holbache was admitted to the fraternity of the cathedral priory of Canterbury in the presence of the earl’s uncle, the archbishop, and in May 1415, shortly before sailing to Normandy in Henry V’s expedition, the earl made him a feoffee of his lordships of Lewes and Reigate, along with some 18 manors in Surrey and Sussex. Immediately after Arundel’s death on 13 Oct. Holbache was reappointed by the Crown as steward of Oswestry and other former Fitzalan lordships temporarily in the King’s hands. This post he continued to hold until his own death, being commissioned in the meantime, in 1416, to collect debts and arrears of rent from Arundel’s ministers and tenants of the lordships of Bromfield, Yale and Oswestry in order to pay off the earl’s war-time retinue. In July 1418, Holbache and his co-feoffees of Chirk and Chirksland were obliged to convey them to the King’s use in return for 4,000 marks. In the same year he dealt with transactions concerning the manor of Aynho, Northamptonshire, which belonged to another branch of the Fitzalan family.15 Holbache’s legal and administrative abilities had previously, before 1409, also led him to be enfeoffed by Joan, widow of Walter, 4th Lord Fitzwalter, and wife of Hugh, Lord Burnell, of her estate at Dinton, Buckinghamshire, and in the summer of 1416 he was similarly employed by Burnell himself with regard to 29 manors in Shropshire and Staffordshire alone, together with property in five other counties. Then, too, by July 1419 he was acting as steward of Powys for Edward, Lord Charlton.16

Holbache himself had inherited or acquired by marriage lands in Sweeney, Treflach and Maesbury, in the lordship of Oswestry, and to these he added lands in Worthenbury, Flintshire and Croesmere by Ellesmere, as well as property in the Welsh borough of Mawddwy and the English one of Shrewsbury.17 Holbache is now best remembered for his foundation of the grammar school at Oswestry, for which purpose he set up a trust composed of such prominent Fitzalan retainers and officials as Thomas Strange*, William Burley* and John Wele. He was also a benefactor of St. Martin’s church, Oswestry, where he founded chantry.18

Holbache is last recorded on 19 Dec. 1421 when, as steward of Ellesmere, he witnessed a local conveyance. His will, dated 10 Sept. 1421, is no longer extant, but is known to have been proved on 7 Apr.1423.19

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Biographical details about Holbache appear in Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), iv. 185-216; DWB, 359-60, and R.A. Griffiths, Principality of Wales, i. 121. Suggestions that there were two MPs of this name (as in Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), i. 61-68, 78 and (ser. 4), xi. 8-10) are based on an erroneously dated copy of Holbache’s widow’s gift to Oswestry school.

  • 1. Harl. 4181; NLW, Peniarth ms, 129.
  • 2. DKR, xxxvi. 258.
  • 3. Ibid. xxxvii (pt. 2), 12-13.
  • 4. Griffiths, 119-21.
  • 5. Shrewsbury Lib. deeds 3650, 7300, 7312, 7355, 7392, 7480, 7483-4, 9043, 9045.
  • 6. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 1), iii. 243.
  • 7. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), iii. 370-2; v. 239-40; W.J. Slack, Ldship. of Oswestry, 165, 166, 169.
  • 8. J. Leland (Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, iii. 75) wrote that ‘Sum say that this David made David Yn yn London’. Although this is not true — the Inn was founded by John Thavie (d. 1348) — Thavie’s was popular with Welsh attorneys.
  • 9. CPR, 1381-5, p. 539; Harl. 1970, ff. 238-74; E364/23 m. B.
  • 10. CPR, 1391-6, p. 548; 1396-9, p. 144; CIMisc. vi. 233; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 72, 84, 104, 108, 227; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. liii. 105-6; SC11/1234/7; Reign of Ric. II, ed. Du Boulay and Barron, 263; R. R. Davies, Ldship. and Soc. March of Wales, 246.
  • 11. Add. 30319, f. 34; RP, iii. 585, 590, 600-1; CPR, 1405-8, pp. 245, 298, 366-7; SC8/52/5291; E324/656.
  • 12. Salop Peace Roll ed. Kimball, 17, 23-24, 30, 80; CPR, 1408-13, p. 283; Adam of Usk, Chron. ed. Thompson, 118, 297; SC10/44/2162, 45/2209, 46/2260.
  • 13. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), iii. 80; v. 41; liv. 103-4; Shrewsbury Guildhall, box VIII, 355.
  • 14. CPR, 1413-16, p. 128; J.H. Wylie, Hen. V, i. 111; J.E. Lloyd, Owen Glendower, 139; Harl. 1969, f. 619; Reg. Mascall (Canterbury and York Soc. xxi), 87.
  • 15. Harl. 2044, f. 79; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 1), ii. 204-8; (ser. 3), i. 78; CPR, 1405-8, p. 342; 1413-16, p. 336; 1416-22, pp. 172, 325; CIMisc. vi. 601.
  • 16. CAD, ii. C2398, 2639; CCR, 1405-9, p. 446; CPR, 1416-22, p. 362; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 1), v. 1, 2; Arch. Camb. (ser. 1), i. 47.
  • 17. Slack, 19, 165, 169; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), iii. 333; (ser. 3), iii. 370-2; liv. 93; CP25(1)195/21/1; Bull. Bd. Celtic Studies, xxiii. 335-6.
  • 18. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), iv. 185-216; x. 321, 356; Leland, iii. 75; E301/40 m. 4, 41 m. 4d.
  • 19. Add. 30321, f. 15; Shrewsbury Lib. deed 3650; Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 55. His widow was still living in 1431 (Add. 30319, f. 37; Feudal Aids, iv. 260). There is no evidence to support the Welsh genealogists’ contention that he left a da. named Gwenhwyfar, who married Robert Salter of Oswestry. His widow, however, may have done so. Hugh Holbache, D.Cn.L., who died in 1417 while a member of the English delegation to the Council of Constance, having been warden of St. John’s hospital, Oswestry, in 1414 and dean of St. Mary’s, Shrewsbury, in 1416, may well have been David’s son (Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. ed. Emden, ii. 944-5). Certainly, any male issue predeceased him, for he was described on the Shrewsbury guild merchant roll as ‘mortuus sine haerede ’, and his lands passed to his uncles, Einion and Madog Goch.