CHAMBERLAIN, Roger, of London and Huntingdon.
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Family and Education
m. by July 1406, Agnes, wid. of Lambert Farmer of London.1
Chamberlain was said to be living in London when, in March 1403, he offered sureties at the Exchequer for the farmers of the alien priory of St. Michael in the Vale, Guernsey. But on being pardoned three years later for his failure to appear in court at the suit of the London grocer, Ralph Say, for a render of 40s., he is specifically described as ‘of Huntingdon, late citizen and grocer of London’. His association with the borough was clearly of an earlier date, however, because he had already witnessed a deed there, in 1405, for John Denton*; and he may well have been related to the Richard Chamberlain who was admitted to the freedom in 1381.2 Whatever his origins, the grocer was clearly a man of substance, with property as well as a variety of commercial connexions in both London and Huntingdon. He had his wife Agnes to thank for some, if not all, of his possessions in the City, although by July 1406 the pair of them were involved in litigation over her title to a messuage in St. Olave’s parish which had belonged to her first husband, Lambert Farmer. It was presumably through him that Agnes also acquired certain rents in ‘Martlane’ in the same parish, conveying them to trustees in 1407 for extra security of title. The same motives then evidently led Chamberlain to settle his various holdings in Huntingdon (which included two shops) upon a distinguished group of local figures, most notably the lawyer, Roger Hunt, whom he helped to return as a shire knight to his first Parliament at this time. He and Hunt eventually sat together in the Commons of 1414 (Nov.); and it is also worth noting that, in 1411, he guaranteed the appearance of Nicholas Styuecle, another influential landowner, in the Lower House. Thus, within a short while of his move north, Chamberlain had successfully established himself as a person of consequence in the county of Huntingdonshire as well as the borough of Huntingdon, attending the parliamentary elections for both on a fairly regular basis.3
Affairs in London continued to claim Chamberlain’s attention, not least because he had left various bills unpaid. In May 1408, for example, he managed to evade a second action for debt, this time for a larger sum of £4, claimed by the chaplain of St. Dunstan’s in Fleet Street. It was, even so, only a matter of time before he himself represented his new home in Parliament, and he was returned in the autumn of 1414, just a few days after he had stood bail in Chancery for Robert Peck II*, who was having trouble with the terms of a crown lease. His hitherto highly successful career ends abruptly at this point, so it looks as if he died quite suddenly.4