WELBY, Richard, of Moulton, Lincs.
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Family and Education
Commr. of sewers, Lincs. (Holland) May 1411, Feb. 1412, (Holland and Kesteven) June 1416, May 1417, (Holland) Nov. 1423, July 1428, May, Dec. 1432; array (Kesteven) Apr. 1418, Mar. 1427.
J.p. Lincs. (Holland) 12 Feb. 1422-Mar. 1444.
This This MP’s ancestors are known to have owned an estate in Moulton by the mid 13th century, if not before, but his father was the first member of the family to take a real interest in the business of local government. After serving a term as sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1396, Roger Welby obtained a seat on the bench in Holland, which he retained until his death 14 years later. He also acted as a royal commissioner and tax collector, and was thus a figure of some consequence. He had at least two sons, both of whom were appointed, with his widow, Margaret, to execute his will. Richard’s younger brother, Aldred, who was born in 1388, benefited considerably as a clergyman from his father’s influence, for it brought him successive papal dispensations to hold various livings in plurality, and enabled him to pursue a lucrative ecclesiastical career.2
Richard Welby first appears in December 1403, when he acted as a mainpernor in Chancery for a local man. No more is heard of him for the next six years, but in November 1409 he was a party to the endowment of the parish church of Boston in Lincolnshire. Not long after, he again stood surety in Chancery, this time for the vicar of Burton, who was being sued for debt. On the death of his father, in May 1410, he succeeded to the family estates in Moulton, and started to play a more significant part in local affairs, being appointed to his first royal commission in the spring of 1411, and also beginning to serve as a trustee for nearby landowners. His connexion with Boston seems to have been fairly strong, as in February 1412 he was instrumental in securing the grant in mortmain of a substantial estate to the guild of Holy Trinity there. Three months later he agreed to supervise the execution of the will of his neighbour, Adam Friday of Moulton, who died almost immediately afterwards. A somewhat enigmatic entry in the minutes of the royal council for Good Friday 1415 refers to a petition from Richard Welby and a chaplain from Holbeach (Lincolnshire) which was to be examined by the duchy of Lancaster council, but the nature of Welby’s complaint remains unknown.3
By the date of his one and only return to Parliament, in December 1421, Welby was thus a well-known figure in the local community, and it is rather surprising that he sat in the Commons only once. He was, however, one of the very few shire knights returned for Lincolnshire during our period actually to attend the parliamentary elections for the county, which he did in both 1423 and 1429.4 Some idea of his social position may be gained from that fact that in 1422 he and his wife obtained a papal indult for the use of a portable altar. He enjoyed considerable popularity as a feoffee-to-uses and witness, most notably for Walter, Lord Fitzwalter, who engaged his services in both capacities, besides appointing him, in 1425, to act as his attorney for the conveyance of estates in Lincolnshire and Essex. At some point before May 1430, Welby joined with other residents of Moulton in raising a loan of £22 for the Crown, repayment being then promised him from revenues due in the following autumn. Predictably, he was listed among the prominent Lincolnshire landowners who were to take the general oath, in 1434, that they would not support anyone disturbing the peace.5 He was at this time a trustee of the estates of his friend, Richard Pynchbeck of Boston (with whom he had been associated since 1409, if not earlier), and at some point before 1440 Pynchbeck chose him to execute his will. He thus became caught up in a complicated lawsuit with the administrators of the estate of his co-executor, John Baker, who took him to court for the recovery of a debt for which he disclaimed all liability. He sought redress in Chancery, in February 1441, naming his two kinsmen, Richard and John Welby of London, as his securities. Welby was himself sued in the same court by the sister of the Lincolnshire landowner, Roger Bate, who had previously made him one of his trustees. Katherine Bate alleged that he and his co-feoffees had refused to implement the terms of her deceased brother’s will, but there is no means of telling if these charges were true. This was an eventful period in Welby’s life, for in February 1442 a dispute arose between him and one Richard Rasyn of Westminster. The two parties agreed to accept the arbitration of the bishop of Lincoln, and offered mutual securities of ten marks as an earnest of their good faith. Rasyn was joined in his pledge by a stainer (or wood painter) named John Rasyn, while Welby called upon his elder son, Richard (d.1465), to support his guarantees.6
Although he obtained a royal licence in June 1442 exempting him from holding royal office of any kind, Welby was once again appointed to the bench in Holland in February 1444. He relinquished his seat almost at once, however, being replaced by his elder son, who eventually succeeded him as owner of the Welby estates. We do not know how he acquired his holdings in the Lincolnshire villages of Oxcombe and Farlesthorpe, but they were in his hands by 1431 and presumably passed to his descendants as well. The date of Welby’s death is not recorded: he may perhaps have lived to see his son’s return as Member for Lincolnshire to the Parliament of 1450.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Lincs. Peds. ed. Maddison, 1054-6; Reg. Repingdon (Lincoln Rec. Soc. lvii), 176-7; CPL, vii. 326. The MP and his son and namesake were both active from about 1440 onwards and in 1444 the young man took over his father’s seat on the Holland bench. The two are, however, carefully distinguished in the records, the son being known as ‘the younger’ throughout this period (CPR, 1441-6, p. 473; 1446-52, p. 189).
- 2. Lincs. Peds. 1054-6; Reg. Repingdon, 176-7; PRO List ‘Sheriffs’, 79; CPR, 1396-9, p. 234; CPL, v. 105, 416-17; viii. 151, 591.
- 3. CCR, 1402-5, p. 289; 1409-13, p. 109; 1419-22, p. 46; CPR, 1408-13, pp. 149, 362; CP25(1)144/153/29; Reg. Repingdon (Lincoln Rec. Soc. lviii), 256; PPC, ii. 149.
- 4. C219/13/2, 14/1.
- 5. CPL, vii. 326; CPR, 1429-36, pp. 61, 381; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 260-1, 263, 380; 1435-41, p. 174; CP25(1)145/156/25, 157/8; Harl. Ch. 52G 8.
- 6. C1/9/89, 253, 16/418; CCR, 1429-35, p. 182; 1441-7, pp. 58-59.
- 7. CPR, 1441-6, p. 69; Feudal Aids, iii. 341, 349; Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 190-1. HP ed. Wedgwood 1439-1509, Biogs. 927, states that Richard Welby the elder died in 1455, but cites no evidence for this.