RYE, Roger (d.1425), of Canterbury and Eythorne, Kent.

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




Family and Education

m. bef. June 1414, Margery, s.p.

Offices Held

Abp. Chichele’s bailiff of the manor of Wingham by June 1414; steward of his liberty prob. by Easter 1419-d.1

Commr. of sewers, Kent Oct. 1415; inquiry Feb. 1419 (concealments), Feb. 142I (ownership of the manor of Capel), Calais Feb. 1422 (lands belonging to the castles in the march),2 Kent July, Nov. 1422 (patronage of Boxley abbey); to raise royal loans Jan. 1420; of kiddles July 1423.

J.p. Kent 3 Feb. 1416-Mar. 1418, 12 Feb. 1422-July 1423.


Although Rye’s background is obscure, it would appear that he came from Dover and is to be identified with the Roger Reye who was associated in 1392 with John Monyn* in the completion of a grant of certain properties to the local priory of St. Martin. Certainly, he was later nominated on Monyn’s behalf as an arbitrator in a dispute with a widow from Canterbury. Initially holding little or no landed property by inheritance, quite early on in his career he purchased the manor of Eythorne together with the advowson of the church and land in Kingston, Nonington and elsewhere, although it seems to have been to marriage that he owed possession of other holdings, in Stalisfield.3 Either he or his wife was related to the prominent east Kent mercantile family of Tonge, with which they were often associated. In 1406 Rye provided securities in Chancery for Richard Tonge, defendant in a suit for debt; two years later he witnessed a deed regarding the Tonge estates; and in 1414 he was named as an executor by Seman Tonge of Faversham, who left him a bequest of ten marks and his wife another of £1. Subsequently, in 1415 Seman’s daughter Isabel, wife of Henry Pay, transferred to Rye her reversionary interest in certain lands in Stalisfield, which Maud, wife of Roger Massy, esquire, was holding for life. Before long a conflict of interests led to a violent quarrel between Rye and Massy: in June 1416 the latter was bound over in £100 to cease molesting Rye and to appear in the King’s bench to answer charges; but a few years later he himself was the plaintiff in a suit in Chancery, alleging that an annuity of 20 marks which Rye had been supposed to pay his, Massy’s, wife, throughout her lifetime, had fallen into arrear.4

Roger may have been the ‘Rye’ (whose first name is missing) admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in the early years of the century. At that stage in his career he established friendly relations with a fellow lawyer, Richard Baynard* of Messing (the future Speaker), to whom he offered his services as a trustee of substantial estates in Essex and property in London, between 1403 and 1422.5 However, his clientele was mainly drawn from the gentry of Kent. Thus, he acted in 1410 as a feoffee of property belonging to Thomas Brockhill* for the completion of its sale to John Darell*; and similarly appeared on behalf of Richard Clitheroe I* in 1415 and for Robert Clifford* in 1418.6 He had also been employed as legal counsel by the city of Canterbury in 1410, in a dispute between the civic authorities and St. Augustine’s monastery; and from then on until his death the citizens retained him with an annual fee of £2 and a furred robe. Perhaps most important, in the context of Rye’s election to Parliament in 1417, was his employment by the archbishop of Canterbury. Shortly after Henry Chichele’s translation to the primatial see, Rye was appointed as his bailiff of Wingham, and this was to be followed, albeit at an unknown date, by promotion to the stewardship of the archbishop’s liberty. Such was the influence which his post as steward gave him, that his detractor, Roger Massy, asserted that no redress was to be had against him in the common lawcourts in Kent, he being such an ‘oppressor et meigntenor et ad tiel affinite parmy le pays’. In the years 1417-19 Rye acted as a trustee of various properties in the county with which, eventually, Archbishop Chichele was to endow All Souls college, Oxford; and he was often recorded in attendance on the archbishop, sometimes in his palace at Canterbury, and on other occasions in his mansion at Lambeth. Whether or not this connexion had an influence on the Kent electors, Rye was apparently only returned to Parliament the one time. He is known to have twice attended the parliamentary elections held at Rochester—in 1407 and 1419.7

Rye was admitted to the fraternity of Christ Church cathedral priory, Canterbury, on 19 May 1425. In his will, made on 21 Sept. following, he asked to be buried wheresoever it pleased the Holy Trinity; but his bequests especially favoured the parish churches of All Saints, Canterbury, and Stalisfield (including 20 marks towards building the latter’s nave), and he left instructions that a bowl was to be made into a chalice, ornamented with his shield of arms, for presentation to the church at Charing. The sum of £16 13s.4d.was set aside to pay for 2,000 masses to be said within a month of his death, for the welfare of his own soul and the souls of his parents and Seman Tonge. Each of his godsons bearing his name was to receive £1. Rye died before 2 Dec., the date of probate.8 He seems to have been unfortunate in his choice of executors, for two lawsuits were subsequently brought against them in Chancery. His predecessor as steward of the archiepiscopal liberty alleged that they had neglected to pay him £49 still owing from when Rye had first taken over the post; and Rye’s widow, fearing that his soul was in peril as a result of the executors’ failings, claimed that they had refused both to hand over to her the sum of 100 marks to fulfil his testamentary provisions and to pay her a debt of £20. The widow also had to resort to petitioning the chancellor for redress when Rye’s feoffees declined not only to grant her seisin of certain lands in Stalisfield, but also to assign her an annual rent of 20 marks. Left elderly and impoverished, she survived him by seven years or more.9

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Reye, Rie, Rys.

  • 1. Reg. Chichele, iv. 5; C1/5/38; CCR, 1419-22, p. 173.
  • 2. DKR, xliv. 632.
  • 3. CPR, 1391-6, p. 127; CCR, 1409-13, p. 353; CP25(1)112/269/384, 113/280/49; C1/5/38.
  • 4. CCR, 1405-9, pp. 113, 394; 1413-19, p. 358; Reg. Chichele, ii. 13-14, 29; CP25(1)113/283/114; C1/5/38.
  • 5. CCR, 1402-5, p. 295; 1405-9, p. 276; 1419-22, pp. 223-4; Corporation of London RO, hr 141/94; LI Adm. i. 3.
  • 6. Add. Ch. 16372; CCR, 1441-7, pp. 141-2; CP25(1)113/289/254.
  • 7. HMC 9th Rep. pt. I, 138; Canterbury Cathedral City and Diocesan RO, Canterbury accts. FA1, ff. 102d-73d; Cat. Archs. All Souls Coll. ed. Martin, 48; C1/5/38; Reg. Chichele, iii. 160; iv. 204, 209; C219/10/4, 12/3.
  • 8. BL Arundel, 68, f. 62; Reg. Chichele, ii. 323.
  • 9. C1/7/58-59, 11/315, 69/310.