LOVENEY, William (d.1435), of Brentford, Mdx. and Great Wenden , Essex.
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Family and Education
m. by Sept. 1397, Margaret, h. (by 1415) of Roger Cavendish of Stratton, Suff., 2S. 1da.[footnote]
Clerk of the household of Henry of Bolingbroke by 31 Mar. 1382; keeper of his wardrobe by 5 May 1390-c. Sept. 1398.[footnote]
Keeper of the Great Wardrobe 28 Oct. 1399-8 Apr. 1408.
Commr. to make arrests, London Jan. 1400 (supporters of Richard II); commandeer horses for the Scottish campaign July 1400; of inquiry, Surr. Nov. 1400 (concealment of portage), Mdx. May 1402 (to suppress treasonous rumours), Sept. 1402 (concealment of wards), Essex Dec. 1421; array, Mdx. Nov. 1403, May 1418, Essex Mar. 1419; oyer and terminer, Mdx. Feb. 1405 (weirs and sewers); to sell victuals left after Princess Philippa’s journey to Denmark Jan. 1407; recruit mariners Mar. 1412; fell oaks for the King’s ships Oct. 1412; raise a royal loan, Essex Nov. 1419, Jan. 1420.
Surveyor of pontage, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surr. 18 Nov. 1400-1 May 1411.
Collector of the cloth subsidy and petty custom, London 24 Nov. 1400 Oct. 1401.
J.p. Mdx. 14 Dec. 1404-Nov. 1418, Essex 30 May 1412-Feb. 1416, 21 Apr. 1419-July 1423.
Supervisor of victualling and array, the marches of Picardy 23 Mar. 1405.[footnote]
Treasurer of Henry IV’s da., Philippa, on her marriage to Eric IX of Denmark 22 July 1406-1 May 1408.[footnote]
Sheriff, Essex and Herts. 15 Nov. 1408-4 Nov. 1409, 1 May-Mich. 1422.
Escheator Essex and Herts. 29 Nov. 1410-10 Dec. 1411.
Keeper of the King’s ships 1 Mar.-aft. 1 Oct. 1412.
Treasurer of the household of the dukes of Orléans and Bourbon and other French prisoners at Windsor for from 20 Dec. 1415.[footnote]
Appropriately enough for one who owed his wealth and success to his long association with the house of Lancaster, William Loveney first appears in 1382 as a clerk of the household of Henry of Bolingbroke. He evidently made a good impression upon the latter and his wife, Mary, who, as newly created earl and countess of Derby, in 1385, granted him a corrody for life at Llanthony priory as a token of their ‘grande affection’. It was largely through Bolingbroke’s good offices that he obtained a royal pardon in November 1388 for killing a man in a brawl at Brentford in the previous year. His escape from the local prison was also overlooked, and he returned to pursue his career exactly as before, rising to become keeper of Bolingbroke’s wardrobe at a wage of 1s. per diem at about this time. Loveney’s background remains obscure, although he appears to have been a native of Brentford, where he was living at the time of the murder. In 1394 he acquired property in the nearby village of Hounslow, which later formed the nucleus of his Middlesex estates.[footnote] His position in Bolingbroke’s household gave him the opportunity to make many influential connexions, not least with John Leventhorpe*, a prominent duchy of Lancaster official, who joined with him in taking bonds from other employees and accountants. The keepership of the Wardrobe carried with it heavy responsibilities, as, for example, in the early 1390s, when Loveney played a prominent part in equipping Bolingbroke’s expedition to Prussia. That he was considered a person of some consequence is clear from the papal licence of September 1397 which permitted him and his wife to make use of a portable altar. He was by then in receipt of an annuity of ten marks, assigned to him for life from the duchy of Lancaster manor of Shoreham; and it must have been because of his increasingly close connexion with Bolingbroke that he deemed it expedient to sue out another royal pardon, in June 1398, by which date his patron’s relations with King Richard were beginning to deteriorate rapidly.[footnote]
Loveney’s wife, Margaret, was the kinswoman and heir of Roger Cavendish; and by 1415 she had inherited the latter’s holdings in Stratton and Yaxley, Suffolk. The estates which she and her husband are known to have held in Tacolneston, Thurton and Newton, Norfolk, almost certainly formed part of her own family’s possessions, as no doubt did the extensive farmland around Brandon in Suffolk conveyed by the Loveneys to purchasers or feoffees towards the end of their lives. From a fairly early date, the couple also owned property in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, which may well explain why Loveney became a surveyor of portage there.[footnote] Yet despite these fortunate acquisitions, the latter owed his influence as a landowner to patronage rather than marriage, and would never have become such a wealthy rentier had it not been for the Lancastrian usurpation of 1399, which placed his former master on the throne. One month after Henry IV’s accession he was made keeper of the Great Wardrobe, and for the rest of the reign he continued to enjoy every mark of royal favour. The grant, awarded to him for life, of the manors of Silkeby and Dembleby, Lincolnshire (worth an estimated £15 a year), in November 1399 was but one of many, and reflects the high regard in which his services were held.[footnote]
It is tempting to place a sinister interpretation upon the ‘secret business’ which took Loveney to Pontefract castle at, or near, the time of Richard II’s death in the first weeks of 1400, especially as his proven loyalty to the new King would have made him an ideal agent for the removal of the old. Within the following year he was appointed farmer of the manor of Sheen in Surrey and custodian of the lands and marriage of Sir Philip Popham’s young son; he received a monopoly of all the unmarked swans on the Thames below Oxford, and also became tenant (at a token rent) of an estate in Hounslow and Isleworth which Henry IV granted to him in reversion on the death of the owner.[footnote] The possibility that he was being rewarded for his part in the mysterious events at Pontefract remains a very real one, although his obvious talents as an administrator are alone sufficient to account for his rapid advancement. He was certainly able to cultivate some influential friends, among whom was Henry Despenser, bishop of Norwich, to whom he wrote early in the new reign on behalf of a kinsman in holy orders. Mindful of ‘toutz les bien faitz que vous de vostre tresbone voluntee m’avez faitz et monstrez avant cez heures’, he could confidently expect further patronage, almost on demand. Yet Loveney had to work hard for his success, and as keeper of the Great Wardrobe, he was required to shoulder an increasing burden of responsibilities both at Court and at a more local level. In October 1401, for instance, he undertook to supervise the English affairs of Henry IV’s second son, Thomas, while he was absent as lieutenant of Ireland; and it was to him that the task of equipping the Princess Philippa’s household fell on her marriage to Erix IX of Denmark. His industry did not go unrecognized, however: an annuity of 50 marks was awarded to him for life in January 1402, and since most of the sum came to him from the fee farm of Kingston-upon-Thames, where he was surveyor of portage, it is unlikely that he experienced the usual problem of over-assignment.[footnote] Two years later, Loveney was rich enough to buy the manor of Great Wenden, Essex, from Thomas, Lord Berkeley, who offered him securities in the form of rents worth 50 marks a year as a guarantee of undisputed possession. At some point before March 1410 he also acquired land in Warfield, Bray and elsewhere in Berkshire from Thomas Rothwell the elder, although this gain was offset by the loss of the manor of Bobbingworth in Essex, which had been granted to him jointly with his fellow courtier, Helming Leget*, by Henry IV in May 1408, only to be restored to the previous owners after protracted litigation in Chancery and before the royal council.[footnote] Loveney faced a similar problem over the ownership of the manor of Dembleby, but here the Crown intervened to protect his title, which was confirmed by letters patent in December 1409.[footnote] His other purchases included land in London (said in 1412 to be worth £6 a year) and additional estates in the Brentford area. Both these acquisitions were at various times the subject of lawsuits before the justices of the King’s bench and the court of the mayor of London, with Loveney appearing to defend his title successfully on each occasion. Indeed, by July 1416 he was in a position to consolidate his holdings in Essex by buying up the manor of Little Wenden from John Fitzralph, who completed the sale three years later with a pledge of the customary sureties, this time to the value of £10 p.a.[footnote]
Although Henry V rewarded Loveney with a generous gift of plate from the royal chapel in April 1414, he did not hold him in the same regard as his late father had done. The impressive sequence of official appointments and grants of land which marked Loveney’s career during the previous reign was now at an end, and the former favourite had to rest content with his work as a commissioner and j.p. His administrative experience still made him useful to the Crown: in November 1415, for example, he was chosen by the royal council to deliver pay and supplies to the garrison at Harfleur and to report on the town’s defences.[footnote] The household maintained at Windsor for Henry V’s French prisoners was also placed under his supervision at this time. On the whole, however, he gradually withdrew into relative obscurity, and devoted the rest of his life to private matters rather than affairs of state. He frequently acted as a feoffee-to-uses for neighbouring landowners, particularly in Essex, where he appears to have made his home.[footnote] Yet he did not show much inclination to assume heavier responsibilities where his friends were concerned. This was perhaps because of his experiences as an executor of both (Sir) Roger Leche* and his widow, Katherine, the administration of whose wills had involved him in a protracted and costly lawsuit against Bishop Langley of Durham in his capacity as chancellor of England. The case was finally submitted to arbitration in October 1421, both parties having offered immense personal securities of 4,000 marks as an earnest of their readiness to accept the award.[footnote] Loveney’s past services were remembered at the beginning of the next reign, when, in December 1422, he obtained custody of the manor of Newport, Essex, at an annual rent of 45 marks. He must have been well over 60 by then, which probably explains why he is mentioned only once more in an official capacity. This was in May 1434, approximately one year before his death, when his name appears among the notables of Essex who were required to take the general oath not to assist persons disturbing the peace. His elder son, William, inherited the bulk of his estates, although the manors of Great and Little Wenden were settled upon the latter’s younger brother (when he married Sir Robert Wingfield’s daughter, Elizabeth), and Stratton upon their sister, Margaret. John’s efforts to recover his share of the Loveney estates brought him into conflict with his father’s trustee, John Barley*, who eventually lost his case.[footnote]
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Loneney(e), Loney(e), Lovenay(e).
- 1. OR, ii. 272 states that a John Loveney was elected to this Parliament, but William Loveney’s name is entered on the original return (C219/10/4) and the writ de expensis (CCR, 1405-9, p. 398).