CHOLMLEY, Robert (d.1404), of Marsh Court in King's Somborne, Hants.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. by 1391, Joan.
Constable, Winchester castle 2 Dec. 1383-d.
Commr. to survey the defences of Portsmouth, Sept. 1386; of array, Hants Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403.
Sheriff, Hants 4 Oct. 1386-18 Nov. 1387, 21 Oct. 1391-18 Oct. 1392.
J.p. Wilts. 4 July 1391-4.
Tax collector, Hants Mar. 1404.
Cholmley’s origins are obscure. He is first recorded serving in Gascony, from November 1379 until May 1381, in the retinue of Sir John Sandys*, a former esquire of the Black Prince who had only recently acquired estates in Hampshire through marriage. Cholmley subsequently entered royal service, and on 8 Nov. following he was granted the lands, worth £20 a year, of a rebellious burgess of Bordeaux. (These were later awarded to a Gascon nobleman, but in their place Cholmley received an annuity of £20 from the issues of Hampshire.) He was described as ‘King’s esquire’ in 1383, when appointed as constable of Winchester castle for life, a post which did not rule out activity in other spheres of royal business, even sometimes overseas. In February 1384 he was appointed, with Sir Nicholas Dagworth*, to publish and maintain the truce in Aquitaine, and in May 1385 he received a reward of 20 marks for going as an emissary to the duchy on secret matters touching the King. In 1391 Cholmley visited Calais and two years later he rode to Scotland, receiving, as a reward for the latter journey, 20 marks. He obtained letters of protection to sail to Ireland to join the King early in 1395, perhaps to report to him the events of the Parliament, the second one he had attended as Member for Hampshire. Cholmley’s position in the Household resulted in his enjoyment of royal patronage: as a ‘King’s esquire’ he received, at the Wardrobe, a livery worth £2 a year; in 1390 he was granted for life the farm of the perquisites of the courts of four manors in Berkshire; in 1392 he was given forfeited goods worth 20 marks; and in February 1397 not only was he granted a tun of wine to be taken every year for life at Southampton, but his annuity of £20 was increased by a third (to £26 13s.4d.). Nevertheless, there is no evidence that Cholmley went with Richard II on his last expedition to Ireland, or that he came to his royal master’s aid during the summer of 1399. On the contrary, he clearly endeared himself to Bolingbroke, who, a week after his coronation (21 Oct. 1399), confirmed Cholmley in his office as constable of Winchester, and authorized the continued render of his annuity and the annual tun of wine. Ill-health prevented Cholmley from going on the expedition to Scotland in the summer of 1400, but a kinsman of his went in his stead, doing the King good service for which Henry IV personally thanked Cholmley ‘with all my heart’. In March 1401, during his fifth and last Parliament, Cholmley obtained an exemption from local administrative duties, and from taking up knighthood against his will; and he did, in fact, serve on only two more commissions before his death.1
Meanwhile, Cholmley had continued his friendship with Sir John Sandys (his fellow MP in his first Parliament), for whom he acted as a feoffee of estates in Sussex and Surrey. He also served as a trustee for another Hampshire landowner, Robert Dingley I*. The only property Cholmley himself is known to have held was a moiety of the manor of Marsh Court, of which by 1392 he and his wife had a tenancy for term of their lives. He had perhaps obtained it through marriage, and it was there that his wife’s funeral, attended by the mayor of Winchester, was conducted. Cholmley must also have spent some time in residence at Winchester castle, especially in the 1390s when extensive repairs needed to be carried out under his supervision. He evidently grew attached to the place, for in a petition for a grant of oaks to repair the bridge at the castle he called it ‘le pluis beale pounte dengleterre’. Cholmley, by virtue of his office at Winchester, would naturally have come into contact with Bishop Wykeham; and he is known to have dined with the bishop’s household on at least one occasion, in June 1393. In January 1402 Wykeham granted him a licence to have mass celebrated in his own chapel.2
Cholmley died shortly before 4 Dec. 1404.3
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Chameley, Cholmeleigh.
- 1. CPR, 1381-5, p. 363; 1385-9, p. 144; 1388-92, p. 300; 1391-6, pp. 71, 554; 1396-9, p. 78; 1399-1401, pp. 52, 192, 441; E101/38/27, 320/1; E403/508 m. 6, 533 m. 13, 543 m. 13; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, i. 170; SC1/43/99, 100; E364/30 m. C; Foedera ed. Rymer (orig. edn.), vii. 423.
- 2. CCR, 1389-92, p. 505; CPR, 1385-9, pp. 311, 313; 1391-6, pp. 98, 102; VCH Hants, iv. 473; Reg. Wykeham (Hants Rec. Soc. 1896-9), ii. 534; E28/6; CAD, i. C777; Winchester Recs. ed. Furley, 40; Winchester Coll. mun. 1.
- 3. CPR, 1401-5, p. 455.