WIGAN, Hugh, of Shrewsbury, Salop and Hereford.
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Family and Education
prob. s. of Nicholas Wigan (d. bef. 1352), of Shrewsbury by Benedicta, da. of Walter Geoffrey of the same.1
An ancestor of Hugh Wigan’s of the same name appeared on the merchant’s guild roll of Shrewsbury for 1318-19, and he himself spent the first part of his career residing in the town, where he obtained an income from property on ‘Le Wyle’ between the King’s Highway and Bepston Lane. Although not apparently himself engaged in trade, Wigan was party in 1381 to a recognizance under the statute merchant in the exchequer of Shrewsbury. He was described as a resident of Shrewsbury on 6 Nov. 1386 when, being at Westminster to represent the borough in Parliament for the first time, he there entered into a bond for £30 payable to William Damiot, esquire. On 14 Mar. 1388, during the first session of the Merciless Parliament, which Wigan also attended in the same capacity, he, together with his fellow Member, Robert Thornes, stood surety for the Exchequer lessees of the abbey of Alberbury, Shropshire, namely, the prior and Sir Fulk Fitzwaryn. Throughout the decade the municipal government of Shrewsbury had been unsettled, with the consequence that disorder had become endemic. It was for this reason that an assembly of burgesses took place in the abbey church there on 29 June 1389 in the presence of Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, for the purpose of devising good and sufficient remedy’. The result of its deliberations was contained in an agreement, drawn up on 16 Aug. and later confirmed by Richard II in January 1399, by which one of the main sources of controversy, the mode of election of the bailiffs, was temporarily settled by the continuance in office of the existing bailiffs, Wigan and Thornes, and the formulation of regulations for their better government of the town. During this term of office Wigan twice visited London: first to account for the fee farm at the Exchequer and second to procure a royal grant of murage. In addition, he visited the earl of Arundel at Much Wenlock, no doubt in connexion with the new ‘composition’.4
Very soon after representing Shrewsbury in Parliament for the fifth time Wigan moved to Hereford, although why he did so is unclear. On 9 Mar. 1401, the day before the dissolution of his fourth Parliament for that borough, he took out royal letters of protection to serve under Sir Henry Percy (‘Hotspur’) in the defence of Berwick-upon-Tweed, but he did not depart immediately, for in April he witnessed a deed in Hereford as bailiff of Bishop Trefnant’s fee within the city. In the same year, and in association with his fellow Member of 1401, Thomas Whitefield, he was enfeoffed by one of the King’s knights, Sir Richard Arundel, in four manors in Northumberland, which in May 1402 they conveyed to Hotspur’s use, conditional upon his relinquishing the property when paid 500 marks. There is nothing to suggest, however, that this connexion led him to support the Percys in rebellion against the King in the following year. Late in his career, in May 1407, described as ‘of Herefordshire, esquire’, Wigan obtained further letters of protection, this time as a member of the prince of Wales’s retinue then employed in reestablishing order in the principality. In January 1409 he was enfeoffed by the heirs of John Wych* of their Hereford property, and later that year he took out a royal pardon for his failure to appear before the King’s bench to answer charges of debts amounting to £140, in a suit brought by Joan, widow of Sir Richard Vernon of Staffordshire, who had fallen in Hotspur’s company at the battle of Shrewsbury.5 He is not recorded thereafter.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Shrewsbury Lib. deeds 3743-6.
- 2. H. Owen and J.B. Blakeway, Hist. Shrewsbury, i. 526.
- 3. Cal. Hereford Cathedral Muns. (NLW 1955), no. 47.
- 4. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. ser. 2, xii. 196-7; ser. 3, ii. 280, 283; ser. 4, xii. 156; CCR, 1385-9, p. 288; CPR, 1396-9, pp. 472-5; CFR, x. 214; Owen and Blakeway, 168-72; Shrewsbury Lib. deed 6268; Shrewsbury Guildhall, box VIII, 349.
- 5. Cal. Scots. Docs. (supp.) v. no. 4633; Hereford Cathedral Muns. no. 1717; CPR, 1401-5, pp. 309-10; 1405-8, p. 324; 1408-13, p. 124; CCR, 1405-9, p. 504; CAD, i. C1756.