GREEN, Sir Henry (c.1347-1399), of Drayton, Northants.

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



Jan. 1390
Sept. 1397

Family and Education

b.c. 1347, 2nd s. of Sir Henry Green c.j.KB of Boughton, Northants.1 by Katherine, da. of Sir Simon Drayton of Drayton. m. bef. Aug. 1364. Maud (b. 6 Nov. 1354), da. of Thomas Mauduit and gdda. and h. of Sir John Mauduit of Warminster, Wilts., 4s. inc. Ralph*, 2da. Kntd. by Mar. 1373.

Offices Held

Commr. of arrest, Notts. Jan. 1375, Northants. Dec. 1385; array Apr., July 1377, Mar. 1380, Mar. 1392; to put down rebellion Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; hear appeals against judgements in the ct. of chivalry, July 1391; of oyer and terminer, Worcs. Apr., July 1394; weirs, Hunts., Northants. June 1398.

J.p. Northants. 26 May 1380-July 1389, 1 Mar. 1397-d., Wilts. 26 Oct. 1397-d.

Member of the King’s Council 1 Aug. 1397-d.

Parlty. cttee. to complete unfinished business Jan. 1398.

Ambassador to Scotland 22 Mar., Oct. 1398, 5 Mar. 1399.2

Jt. keeper of Rochester and Leeds castles, Kent 7 July 1399-d., of Wallingford castle, Berks. 12 July 1399-d.


Henry’s father was the chief justice of 1361-5 who was allegedly dismissed for ‘heinous breaches of trust’. There is, however, no evidence of permanent disgrace, and when the judge died in 1369 the bulk of his estates passed without difficulty to his eldest son, Sir Thomas. Although a younger son, Henry was well provided for by his father who, five years before his death, had arranged that he should inherit the manors of Drayton and Lowick and property in Harringworth and Great Houghton (Northamptonshire), and also the manors of Chalton (Bedfordshire), and Woolstone, Wavendon and Emberton (Buckinghamshire). In addition, Sir Henry had purchased a reversionary interest in the manors of Comberton (Cambridgeshire) and White Roding (Essex), which he also settled on this younger son. (The reversion was destined to come into effect in 1388, on the death of Sir William Quenton’s widow.) Henry made Northamptonshire his principal place of residence, and in 1385 he obtained a royal charter to have a weekly market and an annual Whitsuntide fair at Lowick and free warren in his lands there.3 More estates accrued to him through his marriage, which had also been arranged by his father. Maud Mauduit was heir to her grandfather, Sir John, who died in 1364; but she did not come into full possession of her inheritance until 1379 when Sir John’s widow died. The estates Green held jure uxoris included the manors of Grateley (Hampshire), Buckworth (Huntingdonshire), Chepstow and a moiety of Mathern (Monmouth), and Warminster and a moiety of Fiddington (Wiltshire). It was probably through marriage, too, that he acquired the moieties of two Gloucestershire manors which he was to sell to John Cassy, the chief baron of the Exchequer, in 1397.4

At the time of their father’s death in the autumn of 1369, Sir Thomas and Henry Green were serving Edward III overseas, but both had returned by 2 Dec. when they did homage for their inheritances. By the spring of 1373 Henry, now a knight, had entered the service of John of Gaunt, in time to take part in the duke’s great chevauchée through France that summer. He was among the knights formally retained by Gaunt in October 1379, and by 5 Nov. he was receiving an annuity charged on the duchy of Lancaster lordship of Higham Ferrers. In 1381 the duke licensed his ‘trescher et bien ame bacheler’ to distrain on his tenants at Raund (Northamptonshire) for rents and services due to the duchy. According to the St. Albans chronicler, Thomas Walsingham, Green was one of a small group of Gaunt’s retainers who, in May 1384, viciously tortured and murdered John Latimer, the Carmelite friar who had accused the duke of treason. That same month Green was involved in recognizances whereby Robert Fitzralph undertook to repay the 400 francs which he had received from the French under cover of certain treaties made with them without royal licence. Whether Green himself had been party to the affair is not, however, recorded. Sir Henry was one of those who, on Gaunt’s behalf, advanced a loan of £1,000 to the king of Portugal in April 1386, prepatory to the invasion of Castile, in which he himself played an active role. Finally, on 6 Mar. 1391, Gaunt sealed indentures with Green, the latter contracting to be his ‘bachelor’ in peace and war, for which he was to receive an annuity from Higham Ferrers now set at 50 marks.5

Green’s connexion with Lancaster was undoubtedly the most important influence on his career in the early years of Richard II’s reign, and at this stage his services to the Crown were limited to a few commissions. Indeed, in 1381 he had taken out royal letters patent exempting him from holding any office against his will. Where Green’s political allegiance lay at the time of the struggle for power between the King and the Lords Appellant is difficult to ascertain, although much later (in May 1398), and in very different circumstances, he was to obtain a royal pardon for having adhered to Thomas, duke of Gloucester, and Richard, earl of Arundel, when they had assumed control of the government in 1386-7. The pardon may, of course, have been merely a legal formality, an insurance against proceedings by others of the Kings enemies, and one which Sir John Bussy* also saw fit to obtain. Certainly, although Green did have some contact with Arundel and his colleague Thomas, earl of Warwick, he was also connected with members of the King’s household who did not fare well at the hands of the Appellants. Thus, in May 1388 he stood surety for the release from the Tower of three knights of the King’s chamber: Sir Thomas Trivet, Sir William Elmham* and Sir Nicholas Dagworth*. (He later acted as a feoffee of Elmham’s estates.) Then, in December 1389 he was associated in an undertaking that Sir William Fulthorp would pay 1,200 marks for the recovery of lands forfeited by his father, Roger, one of the judges condemned for treason in the Merciless Parliament. Green’s summons to appear before the Council in the previous month was in connexion with a local dispute, and during the Parliament of January 1390 (in which he sat for the first time and for Huntingdonshire, where he held land jure uxoris) he was apparently more concerned with obtaining a ruling about a suit for trespass at Upton Scudamore (Wiltshire) brought against him by the prioress of Dartford, than about matters of greater political import. That February, however, he was involved in recognizances for the large sum of 20,000 marks entered into by a group headed by the earl of Arundel. In the following year he was engaged in transactions concerning the payment of 2,000 francs to the church of St. Martin-le-Grand, this being his first known association with William, Lord Beauchamp of Abergavenny, the earl of Warwick’s brother and Arundel’s son-in-law. Green was henceforth to be frequently linked with Beauchamp: on one occasion they together made a recognizance to John of Gaunt for 2,000 marks; in 1391 Green became a feoffee of the lordship of Abergavenny and other of Beauchamp’s extensive estates; and in 1394 Beauchamp provided securities on Green’s behalf. Furthermore, Green was among those friends of Beauchamp who were bound with him in sureties totalling £60,000 to pay his debts and perform other covenants on his behalf, and who in 1397 were entrusted to carry out the instructions contained in his last will. Green was also connected with William, Lord Zouche of Harringworth, his brother-in-law, in 1396 acting as a trustee for the performance of his will (a copy of which he had in his keeping). Green’s niece, Eleanor Zouche, married John, 6th Lord Lovell, whose father had appeared with Sir Henry in a case involving maintenance in Northamptonshire.6

It was apparently not until the Parliament of January 1397, in which Green sat for Northamptonshire, that he came to the personal attention of Richard II; but once known to the King he immediately won his confidence, and on 1 Mar., shortly after the dissolution, he was retained to serve him for life, receiving a fee of 40 marks a year. Richard showed his hand against the Appellants in July, and on 1 Aug. Green was charged to attend the Council, being granted £100 a year while so doing. In the Parliament which assembled in September, Sir Henry sat for Wiltshire, a county with which he had previously had little to do, but where he did hold property and seems to have occasionally resided. He took a leading role in the Parliament, where he joined Sir William Bagot in assisting the Speaker, Sir John Bussy, to manoeuvre the Commons into furthering the King’s plans; thus, at their instigation the charters of pardon granted to the Appellants were annulled. It is from this time that the three names, Bussy, Bagot and Green, take on a sinister aspect: ‘milites valde cupidi et ambitiosi et tumid’, as Walsingham was to describe them after their fall. Bussy and Green, in particular, now assumed a dominant place on the Council, and in October it was they who ‘reporterent au consail qe la volunte du Roy estoit’. Moreover, it was declared that for the negotiation of certain forced loans none should be present in the Council save the chancellor, the treasurer, the keeper of the privy seal and these three knights. Their loyalty met with rich reward from the estates forfeited by the Appellants: on 26 Sept. Green and Bussy secured possession of the household stuff of the earl of Arundel’s London inn along with the earl of Warwick’s barge; the following day Green surrendered his 40 marks; annuity in exchange for two of Arundel’s manors in Wiltshire and one of Warwick’s in Warwickshire, to be held for life free of rent; on the 28th he received a grant in tail of Warwick’s manors of Cosgrove and Preston Capes, Northamptonshire, and the reversion of Kibworth Beauchamp, Leicestershire (having already obtained the farm of the last at the Exchequer); and on 3 Oct. he shared with Bussy a grant of Lord Cobham’s inn in London. Finally, in April 1398, he obtained the wardship and marriage of Sir Andrew Luttrell’s heir.7

In the meantime, at Shrewsbury on 31 Jan. 1398, on the last day of the final session of the Parliament, Green and Bussy had been appointed to the important committee of 12 lords and six commoners set up to deal with parliamentary business left unfinished through lack of time, and to hear the charges of treason brought, the one against the other, by Henry of Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk. In the autumn he and Bussy were sent on an embassy to Scotland to redress infractions of the truce, and their negotiations reached fruition with a treaty signed on 26 Oct. On 18 Mar. 1399 Green was present when the parliamentary committee appointed in the previous year revoked the letters patent permitting Bolingbroke and Norfolk to appoint attorneys to receive any inheritance that might fall to them during their exile, and two days later, along with Bussy and the bishops of St. Davids and Salisbury, he was granted custody of all of Norfolk’s property in England and Wales. On the 23rd he obtained royal confirmation of his annuity from the duchy of Lancaster, now in the King’s hands following Gaunt’s death and the exclusion of Bolingbroke from his inheritance. In April he agreed at act as attorney in England for Edward, son of the duke of York and himself duke of Aumâle, and for Lord Lovell, who were about to depart for Ireland with the King. Green himself was to be a leading member of the government during the King’s absence, and his first task was the renewal of the truce with Scotland, which necessitated a journey north in May.8

The crisis came quickly. On 7 July the duke of York (guardian of the realm during Richard II’s absence) and other councillors appointed three of their own number, William le Scrope, earl of Wiltshire, Green and Bussy, as keepers of the royal castles of Rochester and Leeds, in order to defend Kent against Bolingbroke’s expected invasion. Four days later, however, along with Bagot they took direct control of Wallingford castle where the queen’s household was in residence. With the news of Bolingbroke’s rapid advance after his landing in Yorkshire, the earl and the three knights hurried to Bristol. Bagot made good his escape, but when, on 29 July, Bristol castle surrendered to Bolingbroke (with whom York now allied himself), Wiltshire, Bussy and Green were beheaded. Faced with imminent death, the conscience-stricken Green had admitted to unjustly keeping one Walter Parke of Upton Scudamore out of his property in Wiltshire for ten years, and hastily made over to the wronged man his best ox team there.9 Green’s estates were promptly seized, and in his first Parliament Henry IV declared that he and the other two executed at Bristol were ‘coupablez de toute le male q’avoit venuz au Roialme’. At the same time, however, the new King showed generosity to Green’s children, in seeking to ensure that the younger ones had adequate means of support, and in permitting the heir, Sir Henry’s eldest son, Ralph, to receive seisin of his estates when he came of age in the following year.10

Wiltshire, Bussy and Green were the only victims of the usurpation of any importance, and it would appear that they were sacrificed in the temporary panic which followed news of Richard II’s landing in Wales. Their more fortunate colleague, Bagot, lived on to obtain Henry’s pardon. There can be little doubt of their unpopularity, as expressed in contemporary lampoons, or of their identification with the worst aspects of Richard II’s personal rule, but they were perhaps undeserving of Adam of Usk’s description of them as ‘regis pessimi conciliarii et ejus malicie principales fautores’.11

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. R. Halstead, Succinct Gens. 153-4. T. F. Tout (Chapters, iv. 11) erroneously assumed that Green was the gds. of the chief justice.
  • 2. Foedera ed. Rymer (orig. edn.), viii. 47, 54, 69, 72.
  • 3. H. Knighton, Chron. ed. Lumby, ii. 121; Sel. Cases King’s Bench (Selden Soc. lxxxii), p. xxiv; VCH Northants. iii. 237-8; CIPM, xii. 355; xvi. 624-5; CCR, 1369-74, pp. 47-49, 53; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 143; VCH Cambs. v. 177; CChR, v. 300.
  • 4. VCH Hants, iv. 369; VCH Hunts. iii. 23; CIPM, xi. 593; xv. 122-3; CCR, 1399-1401, p. 177; VCH Wilts. viii. 97-98; x. 94; CAD, i. C597; Northants. RO, Stopford Sackville mss, 4119-20.
  • 5. CCR, 1369-74, pp. 48-49, 53; 1381-5, p. 444; CFR, viii. 48; Reg. Gaunt 1371-5, i. 32-33; 1379-83, i. 7, 44; ii. 352; T. Walsingham, Hist. Ang. ed. Riley, ii. 114; Tout, iii. 392-3; Foedera, vii. 548; Cam. Misc. xxii. 102; PRO List ‘Dip. Docs.’ 30.
  • 6. CPR, 1381-5, p. 64; 1388-92, pp. 168-9, 514; 1391-6, pp. 262, 697; 1396-9, p. 331; CCR, 1385-9, p. 397; 1389-92, pp. 95, 108, 316, 318, 353-4, 539; 1392-6, p. 260; 1396-9, pp. 66, 83; 1399-1401, pp. 236-7; PPC, i. 14; RP, iii. 258, 633-4; CP, xii (pt. 2), 943.
  • 7. CPR, 1396-9, pp. 87, 196, 198, 221, 226, 253, 277, 322, 332, 360; CFR, xi. 233, 236, 238; CIMisc. vi. 281, 301; Walsingham, ii. 224; J. F. Baldwin, King’s Council, 141, 253; PPC, i. 76; C81/1539/17; E28/4/46, 61, 63.
  • 8. RP, iii. 360, 368-9, 372; E403/561 m. 1; Cal. Scots. Docs. iv. 108-10; CPR, 1396-9, pp. 519, 522, 541, 580-1; 1399-1401, p. 164; CFR, xi. 296.
  • 9. Chron. Traison et Mort Ric. II, 162, 185-7; J. Trokelowe, Chron. ed. Riley, 243; Walsingham, ii. 232-3; CPR, 1396-9, pp. 588, 591; RP, iii. 656; E403/562 m. 14; E149/72/10; Huntingdon Lib. San Marino, Hastings mss, HAM box 70.
  • 10. RP, iii. 453; CPR, 1396-9, p. 596; 1399-1401, pp. 21, 127, 228, 328; CIMisc. vii. 259.
  • 11. Adam of Usk, Chron. ed. Thompson, 25; Pol. Poems and Songs ed. Wright, i. 363, 388, 436, 444, 462.