TERRINGTON, William (d.1409), of Aspley Guise, Beds.

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



Jan. 1380
Nov. 1380
May 1382
Oct. 1382
Feb. 1383
Sept. 1388
Jan. 1390
Jan. 1397
Jan. 1404

Family and Education

s. of Geoffrey Barkworth of Terrington (prob. Norf.). m. (1) by Mich. 1367, Joan (d. aft. Apr. 1405), wid. of Robert Fitzwith (d. Oct. 1362) of Wigginton, Oxon. and Bubbenhall, Warws., and John Guise (d. by Nov. 1363), of Aspley Guise, at least 1da.; (2) by Dec. 1408, Anne.1

Offices Held

Commr. to suppress the insurgents of 1381, Beds. Mar., Dec. 1382; of array Apr. 1385, Apr. 1386, Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399, Sept., Nov. 1403; inquiry Feb. 1393 (value of the goods of a felon), July 1395 (concealments); kiddles June 1398.

J.p. Beds. 16 July 1388-9.

Sheriff, Beds. and Bucks. 21 Oct. 1391-18 Oct. 1392.


Although we know him to have been the son of Geoffrey Barkworth of Terrington, and to have changed his name to that of his place of birth, little direct evidence survives about this MP’s early life. One of his kinsmen (who was also his namesake) took holy orders, and, in 1374, agreed to act for him as a trustee of the manor of Aspley Guise. The latter may almost certainly be identified with William Terrington, a clerk of the privy seal and distinguished notary, who held office from 1350 to 1370, being duly rewarded with a variety of lucrative prebends and canonries. Another William Terrington subsequently prospered in the service of Richard II, and even though we cannot now establish what relationship—if any—existed between him and the shire knight, the possibility of some family connexion should not be ignored.2 There can, however, be little doubt that our man owed his position in the Bedfordshire community (which returned him to at least 11 Parliaments) to his first wife, Joan, who brought him extensive and profitable estates both there and further afield in Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. The couple were married by 1367, when they faced the first of a series of lawsuits from rival claimants to this property. Joan does not appear to have been an heiress in her own right, for her landed income came almost entirely from dower settlements and other gifts of land made upon her by her two previous husbands. From the second (John Guise) she obtained a life interest in the above-mentioned manor of Aspley Guise; and when he died, in 1363, she also became guardian of his grandson, Anselm. Once he came of age, the latter advanced a title to that part of the manor which had been held as dower by his late mother, and by the Michaelmas term of 1367 the dispute was being heard before the court of common pleas. The young man evidently lost his case, since, as we have already seen, Terrington and his wife made an enfeoffment of the whole manor in 1374, although they subsequently agreed (perhaps in accordance with an informal settlement) to grant him the reversion after Joan’s death.3

The problem of recovering the land which Joan had received as dower from her first husband, Robert Fitzwith, meanwhile proved far more serious. Her rightful third of the manors of Bubbenhall and Shotteswell in Warwickshire and Wigginton, Weston and Ardley in Oxfordshire had been seized in the early 1360s by her stepdaughter’s husband, Sir John Beauchamp† of Holt, a powerful and tenacious adversary who claimed that she had forfeited her title to the estate by deserting Fitzwith to live in adultery with one Roger Careswelle at St. Thomas’s hospital in Southwark. Although highly implausible, her own version of this escapade was accepted in court, and in the autumn of 1369 she obtained formal restitution of the property. Beauchamp later agreed to pay her an annuity of £20 in return for the land itself, and when he fell victim to the Merciless Parliament of 1388 this arrangement was upheld. Joan’s difficulties were not, however, at an end, for before his death Beauchamp had granted a life tenancy of the manors of Shotteswell and Bubbenhall to John Catesby*, who categorically refused to honour his commitment to pay part of the pension. Once again, Terrington and his wife went to law, winning their suit against Catesby in 1391 after considerable delays and prevarications. Much later, in April 1405, they were obliged to petition Henry IV for a special assize to be held after their eviction from the three Oxfordshire manors, but nothing seems to have disturbed their tenure of the property between these two dates.4

While still a comparatively young man, Terrington had taken part in various campaigns overseas, serving in the retinue of Humphrey, earl of Hereford. He first appears to have gone abroad in July 1366, when he obtained royal letters patent permitting him to appoint two attorneys to supervise his affairs at home. Together with his friend and future parliamentary colleague, Ralph Walton*, he fought under Hereford’s banner on two more expeditions, one of which, in the summer of 1371, resulted in a naval engagement with the French.5 He first entered the Lower House in January 1380, at which time he was involved in litigation with a local landowner who had arraigned him on an assize of novel disseisin. This was by no means his last appearance at the Bedford assizes, although on subsequent occasions he was acting as a trustee for, inter alios, the two Sir Gerard Braybrookes* and Robert Digswell*, and could thus remain fairly detached from the proceedings. Terrington was quite often a party to Digswell’s affairs, being a feoffee of the Herefordshire and Bedfordshire estates which belonged to the latter’s second wife, Margaret Boys. He also witnessed a number of local deeds, usually styling himself as ‘lord of Aspley Guise’, where he lived on after his second marriage, despite his earlier promises to Anselm.6 On at least three occasions he agreed to offer personal securities on behalf of friends and neighbours. The first of these is particularly interesting, since it suggests that he was connected, albeit somewhat tenuously, with Thomas Haxey, the royal clerk whose criticisms of the state of the royal household in February 1397 almost cost him his life. Terrington was, in fact, a Member of the Commons which presented Haxey’s ‘bill’ of proposed reforms to the House of Lords, and which was roundly chastised by Richard II for its temerity. His acquaintance with Haxey dated back to August 1388, when he had entered bonds of £20 as a guarantee of the clerk’s willingness to accept an arbitration award in a property dispute. In this he was joined by John Waltham, the keeper of the privy seal, who then employed Haxey as one of his clerks, and John Burton, the keeper of the rolls of Chancery. Waltham owed his appointment to the Lords Appellant of 1388, whose influence may well have lain behind Terrington’s brief appearance on the Bedfordshire bench. His prompt removal in July 1389, by which date the Appellants had relinquished much of their power, certainly confirms this impression, as, indeed, do royal letters of pardon accorded to him in May 1398, specifically as a supporter of their cause. Terrington meanwhile served on a few royal commissions and was, indeed, made sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in 1391, but he received very little in the way of royal patronage. In February 1393, he and two others were granted goods to the value of £40 from a felon, and a few days later he was actually commissioned to discover their whereabouts, yet this was the only reward which ever came his way. Perhaps because he was too old to exploit the opportunities which it offered, the Lancastrian usurpation seems to have made little real change to his life: Henry IV appointed him to two commissions of array, but by January 1404, the date of his 11th and last Parliament, he was evidently ready to retire, and his last years passed without incident.7

Terrington drew up his will on 22 Dec. 1408, and died at some point over the next six months. He wished to be buried in a side chapel in the parish church of Aspley Guise, where his tomb, with its fine panelled tracery, still stands. He had by then married his second wife, Anne, to whom he left the residue of his goods, and to whom, along with William Lawnsleyn, the family chaplain, fell the task of executing his will. He fathered at least one child, a daughter named Ellen, about whom little else is known.8

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Tiryngton and Tyryngton. The sketch biography of William Terrington given in Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. xxix. 93-94, confuses the Bedfordshire MP with a crown servant of the same name, an error which is perpetuated by A. Goodman in Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), ii. 275-6; and which leads him to assume, wrongly, that our Member must have been Thomas Walsingham’s informant about events in Queen Isabella’s household in January 1400. The subject of this biography may well have known the St. Albans chronicler, since he was intimate with his friend, Thomas Pever† of Toddington, Beds., but it is quite clear that he never held office at Court. The other William Terrington married Ellen Swinford in 1398 (at which time the MP’s wife, Joan, was still alive), and can usually be distinguished from his namesake because of the description ‘servant of the King’. He outlived our William by at least five years (CPR, 1413-16, p. 214). He appears to have come from Northants. where he was living in 1405 (ibid. 1401-5, p. 445), although his wife brought him extensive estates in Lincs. and Yorks. (Feudal Aids, vi. 480).

  • 1. C260/103/53; CP25(1)5/66/4, 12; PCC 19 Marche; CCR, 1360-4, pp. 491-2; 1389-92, pp. 374-5, 402; VCH Beds. iii. 339; VCH Warws. vi. 46; v. 148; W. Dugdale, Warws. i. 48; CIMisc. v. no. 152; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii. 76; Cal. Signet Letters ed. Kirby, no. 319; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 90-91.
  • 2. CP25(1)5/66/4, 12; Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. ed. Emden, iii. 1925; CPR, 1377-81, p. 27; 1388-92, p. 460; 1391-6, p. 484; 1396-9, pp. 120, 357, 450; 1401-5, p. 99.
  • 3. CP25(1)5/66/4, 12; Peds. Plea Rolls, 90-91; VCH Beds. iii. 339; CCR, 1360-4, pp. 491-2.
  • 4. C260/103/53; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii. 76; CAD, iv. A6641, 9265, 9736; v. A11523; Cal. Signet Letters, no. 319; CCR, 1385-9, pp. 567-8; 1389-92, pp. 374-5; CIMisc. v. no. 152; VCH Warws. v. 148; vi. 46; Dugdale, i. 48.
  • 5. E101/31/15, 32/20; CPR, 1364-7, p. 304; 1370-4, p. 93.
  • 6. JUST 1/1489 rot. 21, 1506 rot. 9, 30v, 1516 rot. 2; E326/4395; CCR, 1377-81, p. 382; 1389-92, pp. 319, 481, 538; CAD, ii. B2578.
  • 7. F.T. Tout, Chapters, iv. 17-19; v. 79; CFR, x. 281; CCR, 1385-9, p. 609; 1392-6, p. 478; 1396-9, p. 112; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 220, 239; C67/30 m. 3.
  • 8. PCC 19 Marche; VCH Beds. iii. 340.