FITZHERBERT, Sir Edmund (1338-87), of Hinton Martell, Dorset and Ewhurst, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. Dynevor and bap. Llandyfeisant, Carm. 26 Jan. 1338, s. and h. of Reynold Fitzherbert (c.1312-1346) of Midsomer Norton, Som. by Joan, da. of Sir Edmund Hakluyt† of Dynevor. m. bef. Dec. 1365, Joan (d. 1 Jan. 1393), s.p. Kntd. bef. Aug. 1372.
J.p. Dorset 5 July-Dec. 1375.
Sheriff, Som. and Dorset 4 Oct. 1375-26 Oct. 1376, 24 Nov. 1382-1 Nov. 1383, Surr. and Suss. 25 Nov. 1378-5 Nov. 1379.
Commr. of inquiry, Dorset Oct. 1375 (services due to Frampton priory), Kent, Mdx., Surr., Suss. Feb. 1382 (wastes, temporalities of abpric.); array, Dorset Apr., July 1377, Mar. 1380, Suss. Apr. 1385; to make proclamation forbidding unlawful assemblies and put down insurgents, Surr., Suss. July, Oct. 1381, Suss. Dec. 1381, Dec. 1382; of sewers May 1382; arrest, Som. 1383.
Tax collector, Suss. Dec. 1380.
Edmund was named after his maternal grandfather, at whose home in Wales he was born. The prior of Carmarthen was his other godfather. Following the death of his father in 1346, when he was eight years old, his wardship and marriage were purchased from the Crown for 200 marks by Richard, Lord Talbot, who subsequently sold his interest to Thomas, Lord Berkeley. On coming of age in 1359, Fitzherbert took possession of most of his patrimony, which included two manors and the moieties of others in Dorset and parts of Midsomer Norton and Shepton Mallet in Somerset and of Luton in Bedfordshire, although his mother Joan (by then the wife of Sir Thomas Blount† of Compton Valence) retained her dower portions. Probably in connexion with his assumption of control over his estates, in 1360 he was associated with his stepfather and his uncle, Thomas Hakluyt, clerk, in bonds to Guy, Lord Bryan, the steward of the King’s household, for £280.1Following his marriage, his property at Shepton Mallet and manor at Broadmayne were settled on him and his wife and their issue in tail. The properties in Bedfordshire were to be sold in 1378, perhaps because of their isolation from his principal holdings.2
Meanwhile, in 1375, Fitzherbert had become coheir with John Brocas to the substantial estates of his great-uncle, Sir Andrew Peverel†, and Brocas’s death without issue two years later left him as sole owner. Despite having to pay off his young kinsman’s debts, Fitzherbert was made a wealthy man. The Peverel inheritance gave him two more manors in Dorset and another in Hampshire, as well as six manors and other property in Sussex, which, when added to his paternal estates together provided him with an annual income estimated at the time of his death as nearly £206. Almost half of this total was derived from his holdings in Dorset, although the Sussex lands, where he was engaged in sheep farming on a large scale, were evidently profitable, too.3
In August 1372 Sir Edmund took out royal letters of protection as being about to serve in the company of John of Gaunt on the naval expedition, vainly intended to be led by the King himself, to relieve La Rochelle. His earliest experience of local administration was as a j.p. and sheriff in Dorset (1375-6) and it was the chief lord of certain of his estates in that county—William Montagu, earl of Salisbury—whose retinue he joined for further service at sea in the summer of 1377. He represented Dorset in the first Parliament of Richard II’s reign. For a while his association with Earl William continued, for in February 1378 they appeared together at the Exchequer as mainpernors for the proctor of the leper house of St. Gilles, Pont-Audemere, then granted custody of the priory estates in Dorset. But he also established important contacts in Sussex, where he served a term as sheriff, starting a few days after the dissolution of the Parliament in which he first represented that county. Chief among these associates was Sir Edward Dallingridge*, for whom he stood surety at the Exchequer in 1380. He was probably already attached to Richard, earl of Arundel, of whose circle Sir Edward was a prominent member; and indeed, when up at Westminster for the Parliament of 1381, he acted as mainpernor for the earl himself. During his third shrievalty, in June 1383, Fitzherbert was among those ordered to leave all else and go to a manor of his nearest the coast in Dorset, there to abide with his household armed ready to resist the King’s enemies if they should invade those parts. Six months later he took out letters patent of exemption for life from holding royal office against his will. Fitzherbert’s name was recorded as a witness to a grant made early in 1385 by the earl of Arundel to the chapel of St. Laurence, Putney, and that summer he rode north in Arundel’s company to join the King’s army, which was about to invade Scotland.4 There can be little doubt that in the Parliament of 1386 Fitzherbert and Dallingridge, who was his fellow shire knight, were well disposed to support the policies of the earl and his colleague, the duke of Gloucester, when they attacked the court party and took control of the government.
Sir Edmund, not yet 50 years old, made his will at Ewhurst on 23 Feb. 1387. He requested burial in Christchurch priory (Hampshire) where five candles, each weighing 10 lb., were to burn around his tomb. Concern for his soul’s welfare prompted him to set aside £40 for funeral expenses, £10 for prayers on his burial day, and as much as £41 13s.4d. for the subsequent celebration of 10,000 masses. To other churches he left a total of £9, while £1 each was to go to six houses of friars. By contrast, his bequests to his sister Lucy (a nun at Shaftesbury) and to his half-sister, Thomasina Blount (a nun at Romsey), were £5 and £2, respectively. Fitzherbert’s will recorded legacies amounting to £131. Three weeks later he boarded ship in the force assembled by the earl of Arundel as admiral of England, only to meet his death on 20 Apr., not long after their victory over enemy fleets. His will was proved on 1 May. Fitzherbert died childless. Under the terms of an earlier settlement, Blatchington (Sussex) passed for life to his half-brother, Sir Thomas Blount*, the heir to the rest of his estates being his sister Alice, widow of Sir Thomas West†. In 1389 Alice brought a suit against her widowed sister-in-law, Joan, over the property at Shepton Mallet, to which Sir Edmund’s cousin (Sir) Leonard Hakluyt* claimed reversionary rights. Joan’s death in 1393 was followed by Alice’s two years later, whereupon the Fitzherbert estates descended to Sir Edmund’s nephew, Thomas, the future Lord West.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. CIPM, viii. 663; x. 474, 531; CPR, 1345-8, p. 202; CCR, 1354-60, pp. 565, 573; 1360-4, p. 124; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), vii. 82-83.
- 2. Dorset Feet of Fines, 117; Yr. Bk. 1389-90 ed. Plucknett, 160-6; CPR, 1377-81, p. 172; CCR, 1377-81, p. 119.
- 3. CIPM, xiv. 189, 314; xv. 8, 11; Misc. Gen. et Her. vii. 114; CPR, 1377-81, p. 602; CCR, 1377-81, pp. 337-8, 511; CFR, ix. 92; Suss. Arch. Trust, Lewes, Firle Place Chs. box 5, no. 5; Add. Chs. 30743-6; C136/46/3.
- 4. Reg. Gaunt 1371-5, no. 46; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, ii. 124; CFR, ix. 70, 180, 278; CP, vii. 4; CCR, 1381-5, p. 278; 1385-9, p. 6; CPR, 1381-5, p. 360; CAD, iii. D805.
- 5. Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Courtenay, f. 219v; E101/40/33 m. 1; CIPM, xvi. 400-3; CP, xii (2), 519-20; Yr. Bk. 1389-90, pp. 160-6; C136/75/8.