CLITHEROE, Richard II (d.c.1463), of New Romney, Kent.

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

Family and Education

poss. s. of William Clitheroe*; nephew of Richard I* and bro. of John, bp. of Bangor (1423-35). m. Eleanor, at least 1s. d.v.p. and other ch.

Offices Held

Jurat, Romney 25 Mar. 1414-16, 1418-19, 1420-9, 1434-9, 1445-6, 1449-50, 1453-5;7 bailiff or dep. bailiff prob. 1429-33, 1439-42, 1446-8, 1450-3, 1462-3.8

?Coroner, Kent by Oct. 1414.9

Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1424, 1444.10

Controller of customs and subsidies, Sandwich 23 May 1431-23 Feb. 1435.

Commr. of inquiry, Romney Apr. 1445 (theft of a ship and merchandise).


Richard was one of the members of the family from Clitheroe in Lancashire who came south during Richard II’s reign in the footsteps of Richard Clitheroe I, encouraged by the latter’s undoubted success in making his fortune as a purveyor in royal service. The younger Richard, his namesake’s nephew, was associated with him in 1412 as mainpernor for a man from Barling, Kent. In his prominent kinsman’s will, in 1420, he was named as an executor, left a bequest of 100 marks and given land situated in Romney Marsh. Furthermore, it was stipulated that should his cousin Roger die without issue, he was to succeed him in tenure of the manor of Great Poulders. (In the event this was to be denied him, for Roger, at his death in 1455, left a daughter.) The task of administering Richard Clitheroe I’s estate brought the younger Richard into close contact with his fellow executors, who included Geoffrey Lowther†, lieutenant warden of the Cinque Ports, and John Darell*, Archbishop Chichele’s steward, both of whom, in their official capacities, had a certain measure of influence in the affairs of Romney. Clitheroe’s brother John achieved more than a moderate success in the Church, for before his election to the see of Bangor in 1423 he was a canon of Chichester and a clerk of the Apostolic Chamber at Rome. Bishop Clitheroe’s will, made in 1434, named his brother as chief executor, and left him not only one of his best horses and a black gown trimmed with beaver, but as much as £40 to provide marriage portions for his children. Richard’s wife Eleanor was bequeathed jewellery, together with a kerchief once belonging to Henry IV’s queen, Joan of Navarre, and his son William was to have the bishop’s bay horse and £5.11

Clitheroe’s own concerns centred on New Romney. From 1409 to 1411 he paid maltolts in Sharley ward and, having bought admission as a freeman for 6s.8d. in 1410-11, he then moved to Holyngbroke ward, where dwelt the leading townsmen, paying maltolts there until 1457.12 He was engaged in the administration of the town, usually as a jurat, but sometimes as a bailiff, whenever he was elected to Parliament. Whether it was he or his uncle who was one of the coroners of Kent in the autumn of 1414, and who, as Richard Clitheroe ‘armiger’ or ‘domicellus’, is recorded in 1415-16 and 1419-21 as paying Romney £2 a year ‘de annua contribucione’, is not quite clear.13 Little is known of his mercantile activities, nor of the extent of his interests as a shipowner, although in 1418-19 the town authorities owed him 3s.4d. for hiring them a vessel, and in 1421-2 he bought the town’s antiquated (‘vetusta’) barge for 33s.4d.14

Besides representing the borough in Parliament on at least 13 occasions, Clitheroe was often occupied on other business on behalf of the community. In 1429 he went with a man from nearby Lydd to Dover ‘pro inquirendo de Scottis’; and in December that same year, while up at Westminster for the Parliament, he attended Henry VI’s coronation as one of the barons of the Ports whose duty it was to bear the canopy over the King. In 1432 Romney gave him and William Warmyston† wine ‘in eorum adventu de Parliamento’, so it may be that he had replaced Thomas Smith III* as Warmyston’s companion during the session. Clitheroe is first recorded as representing his town at the Brodhull of the Cinque Ports (which convened regularly twice a year in New Romney itself) in December 1433, and was to do so again very frequently thereafter, down to April 1462. In 1435-6 he was appointed with James Lowys* to manage Romney’s finances and draw up its accounts, and in the course of the year he rode to Winchelsea to meet the clerk of the King’s ships, with whom it was finally agreed that Romney would pay £3 6s.8d. to provide a vessel for the duke of York’s crossing to France, as the Brodhull had ordered. In 1438 he headed a deputation sent to Dover to help settle that Port’s longstanding dispute with Faversham. At the end of the year he protested before the Brodhull about the pressure to which he and others had been subjected at Rochester by the justices of assize, who had violated the Ports’ liberties by trying to make them sit on juries, and had fined them £40 each when they excused themselves for fear of prejudicing the Ports’ privileges. The fines had given the Exchequer grounds for harassing the recalcitrants, and Clitheroe was at once put on a deputation to the warden, the duke of Gloucester, to request his support as defender of the Ports’ liberties. Perhaps as a consequence, in the following April he was again appointed to sue in the Exchequer over matters involving the franchise of the Ports, being given £5 as his expenses. And in July 1441 he was paid 78s. for other costs incurred on the Ports’ behalf.15 On at least two occasions, he also served the Ports as bailiff at the Yarmouth herring fair.

In 1441-2, probably while deputy bailiff of Romney, Clitheroe led a delegation of the townsmen sent to interview Archbishop Chichele’s steward at Canterbury (John Darell’s successor), to find out whether the archbishop would allow them to hold the bailiffship at farm, but apparently met with no success. In 1446-7 he visited Lydd to make inquiries as a royal commissioner about certain goods which Bishop Moleyns of Chichester had lost at sea; and two years later horses were hired for him to go to London to obtain a new charter. At some time in 1449-50 he was at Dover for discussions with the lieutenant warden of the Ports; perhaps this was when he went there in 1450 to inform the same official of the result of New Romney’s parliamentary election, for inclusion in the return.16

Clitheroe is twice recorded as a feoffee of estates in the region, both times in association with John Darell, Archbishop Chichele’s steward.17 Something of his standing is suggested by his receipt in June 1423, quite early in his career, of a papal licence to choose his own confessor. Over the years he accumulated wider interests in Romney Marsh. In 1431 he is recorded as holding land worth 46s.8d. a year in Burmarsh and West Hythe (which was perhaps the property left him by his uncle), along with a share in other holdings in the hundred of Bircholt. Moreover, by the time of his death, he owned, besides 100 acres at Romney and houses and shops there, additional properties in the parishes of Hope, St. Mary in the Marsh and Dymchurch. Clitheroe died in about 1463, having placed some of these holdings in the hands of feoffees, who included Sir Thomas Kyriel†, lieutenant warden of the Cinque Ports (1456-60), apparently in trust for his grandsons, William and Matthew. But when, after his death, the young men asked to take legal possession of the lands in question, the surviving feoffees, headed by Sir John Scott†, refused to relinquish them, and they were compelled to appeal for aid to Archbishop Neville, then chancellor.18

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Authors: A. P.M. Wright / L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Romney assmt. bk. 2, ff. 80, 82. He had reached London in Jan. before he heard of the prorogation.
  • 2. He was returned with John Adam*, but it was Thomas Rokeslee* and Thomas Smith III who actually received payment for attending the Parliament: ibid. f. 92.
  • 3. He and William Piers† received £8 16s.8d. for attendance: ibid. f. 98.
  • 4. Ibid. ff. 100, 103 — receiving £5 17s.6d. for attendance 18 Oct.-16 Nov. 1423 and 13-20 Jan. 1424 at 2s.6d. per day, and 30s. subsequently.
  • 5. He was paid at the reduced rate of 2s. per day for attendance in the Parliaments to which he was elected between 1429 and 1442; ibid. ff. 110, 121d, 125d.
  • 6. In 1448-9 he had 39s. to complete payment of his wages for this Parliament: ibid. 3, f. 4d.
  • 7. Ibid. 2, ff. 82-135; 3, ff. 9, 13, 21, 26.
  • 8. Ibid. 2, ff. 22, 32d; White and Black Bks. of Cinque Ports (Kent Rec. Ser. xix), 12-15, 44; Kent AO, NR/JBr/8 nos. 10, 12.
  • 9. C219/11/4.
  • 10. Romney assmt. bk. 2, f. 103; Add. 29615, f. 76d; White and Black Bks. 18.
  • 11. PCC 50 Marche; CCR, 1409-13, p. 320; 1435-41, p. 442; CPR, 1422-9, p. 513; Reg. Chichele, ii. 532-4; Rochester Bridge Wardens’ acct. 38.
  • 12. Romney assmt. bk. 2, ff. 68, 70d, 72, 73-130; 3, ff. 2-29.
  • 13. Ibid. 2, ff. 85, 92, 94. The younger man was not generally styled ‘armiger’ until 1430; ibid. f. 110.
  • 14. Ibid. ff. 90, 96.
  • 15. Ibid. ff. 110, 115, 121, 123, 125; White and Black Bks. 2, 44.
  • 16. Romney assmt. bk. 2, f. 131; 3, ff. 4, 9, 13; Lydd Recs. ed. Finn, 114.
  • 17. Suss. Feet of Fines (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii), no. 2962; CCR, 1441-7, p. 37.
  • 18. CPL, vii. 299; Feudal Aids, iii. 67, 74; C1/33/340.