FITZHERBERT, Nicholas (d.1422/3), of Tavistock, Devon.
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Family and Education
Controller of the stannaries, Cornw. 12 Mar. 1386-10 Dec. 1397.
Auditor of ministers’ accounts, duchy of Cornw. In Devon and Cornw. 18 Feb. 1392-12 Dec. 1399.
Tax collector, Devon Dec. 1417, Dec. 1421, Oct. 1422.
Fitzherbert’s background is obscure, and it is quite possible that he was not a Devonshire man by birth. He was already a ‘King’s servant’ by 1386 when appointed as controller of the Cornish stannaries in succession to Walter Reynell*, and he continued in royal service for the rest of Richard II’s reign. Meanwhile, on 9 July 1389, he was granted the office of the stampage or coinage of the stannaries, receiving an additional fee of £10 a year. In the course of this work he was brought into especially close contact with William Downbridge, one of the barons of the Exchequer: in 1387 Henry Broune, a notary, undertook not to molest Downbridge, Fitzherbert or any other of the King’s clerks; it was with Downbridge that in 1392 Fitzherbert acted as auditor of the accounts presented by the officers of the duchy of Cornwall; and two years later the baron named him as his executor.1 Meanwhile, described as ‘of Devon’, Fitzherbert had provided securities in Chancery for Henry Assheburne, clerk, and at the Exchequer for lessees of lands at Ipplepen. His offices sometimes made him a target for malcontents: in July 1397, for example, Robert Thorley and John Clerk were required to provide bonds in Chancery not to do him harm.2 Fitzherbert was replaced as an auditor of the duchy estates in 1399, very soon after they were granted to Henry, prince of Wales, and he then retired from public life for nigh on 17 years.
In March 1400 the treasurer of Exeter cathedral, John Dodington, bequeathed to Fitzherbert a silver cup (worth £2) and his second best horse, at the same time asking him to act as executor of his will. Fitzherbert witnessed an important conveyance at Tavistock in 1404, and through his marriage he acquired substantial holdings in and around the town, notably in Crebor, Hurdwick, Taviton, Whitchurch and Honeychurch, for which he owed suit of court to the abbots of Tavistock. He was patron of the rectory at Honeychurch in 1414.3 Fitzherbert’s only known election to Parliament took place very late in his career. He was appointed in December 1421 and October 1422 as a collector of the subsidies granted by the Commons at the dissolution, but he died soon afterwards, certainly before May 1423. He was buried in Tavistock parish church.4 Most of his lands then came into the possession of John Honeychurch (either the MP for Tavistock of 1453, or his father), though by what means is not known.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. CCR, 1385-9, p. 451; 1389-92, p. 385; CPR, 1388-92, p. 83; SC6/813/8; CFR, xi. 81.
- 2. CCR, 1392-6, pp. 125, 285; 1396-9, p. 194.
- 3. Reg. Stafford ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 179, 379; JUST 1/1519 m. 79d; CP25(1)45/77/45, 60; Devon RO, Bedford mss D16/1, D84/29 mm. 5, 8, 13, 15, S21 ff. 53, 65, 77, 84, 88, 90, 95, 125.
- 4. Devon and Cornw. N. and Q. 61-62.