MOIGNE, Sir William (c.1326-1404), of Great Raveley, Hunts.

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

b.c.1326, s. and h. of Sir John Moigne (d. by 1353) of Great Raveley. m. by May 1382, Mary (d.1411/12), wid. of Thomas Alberton (d.1375) of Skelton, Yorks., Thomas Kingston and John Pecche (d.1380) of London, fishmonger, s.p. Kntd. by 1384.1

Offices Held

J.p. Hunts. 20 Mar. 1361-4, 30 Nov. 1374-Dec. 1382, 14 Feb. 1384-Nov. 1397, 16 May 1401-d.

Commr. of inquiry, Cambs. Oct. 1361 (heir to the Colville estates), Beds., Hunts. Nov. 1377 (bridge repairs), Hunts. Sept. 1383 (illicit wine sales); to collect a parliamentary subsidy June 1371; of oyer and terminer July 1376 (disorder at Fenstanton), Sept. 1379 (disorder at Conington), Cambs. 1390 (withdrawal of labour services at Thorney); array, Hunts. Apr., July 1377, Mar. 1380, Apr. 1385, Mar. 1386, Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403; to suppress the rebels June 1381, Cambs., Hunts. Mar., Dec. 1382; enforce labour services July 1381 (estates of Thorney abbey and Ramsey abbey); take oaths in support of the Lords Appellant, Hunts. Mar. 1388; proclaim the King’s intention to rule justly May 1402.

Sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 25 Nov. 1378-5 Nov. 1379, 24 Nov. 1382-1 Nov. 1383.

Tax collector, Hunts. Dec. 1385.


One of the most distinguished men to represent Huntingdonshire in Parliament during the late 14th century, Moigne came of a leading county family which owed much of its initial good fortune to the generosity shown by Abbot Reynold of Ramsey to Sir Hervey Moigne (d.c.1135). The latter’s services as a knight of the abbey were rewarded by gifts of land in Great Raveley, Great Gidding, Sawtry and Liddington. Sir Hervey and his descendants also held estates in Upwood, Bradenach and Rowley, and were thus sure of a dominant position in local society. The MP’s grandfather, after whom he was named, seems to have been the third person in the family to hold office as sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. He sat in the House of Commons, too; and until 1348, when he was ‘broker by age and weak’, he served as verderer of the royal forest of Weybridge.2 Both he and his son, Sir John, were dead by the Whitsun of 1353, when the subject of this biography succeeded to the above-mentioned properties. His inheritance may also have comprised land in the Berkshire village of Eastbury, which we know to have been in his hands some eight years later. Two of his employees caused him particular trouble during this period. One committed a murder, for which he was pardoned in 1357, while the other refused to render an account for the not inconsiderable revenues which he collected as bailiff of Great Raveley. Moigne took the second miscreant to court, and eventually had him consigned to the Fleet prison. One of the trustees of his Huntingdonshire estates was Nicholas Styuecle the elder, the husband of his aunt, Juliana. The two men remained close until Styuecle’s death in about 1377, and were continuously involved in each other’s affairs. Both spent long periods campaigning overseas, and perhaps because of this they felt it necessary to make fairly complex settlements of their property at home. In 1371, for example, Moigne conveyed a life interest in his patrimony to the widowed Juliana Maudit, another of his relatives, although he had regained control of it by 1375, when he was back in England after military service in Gascony.3 Another series of enfeoffments followed his marriage, in or shortly before 1382, to one of the late Queen Philippa’s ladies-in-waiting, who, like her royal mistress, came from Hainault. Already three times widowed, she was able to add substantially to his estates, as well as bringing him the sum of 20 marks a year which had been granted to her for life by Edward III, and which, from 1390 onwards, was assigned directly out of the farm of the counties of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. She enjoyed an annual income of about as much again from the manor of Skelton, in addition to the profits of other holdings in Bookland, Berkshire, all of which had belonged to her first husband, Thomas Alberton. But the bulk of her revenues derived from the jointure settled upon her by John Pecche, a former mayor of London and a leading member of the politically powerful Fishmongers’ Company. This comprised the manor of Great Abington, together with rents and farmland in Steeple Morden and other neighbouring Cambridgeshire villages, and was confirmed to her and Moigne in 1386 by her stepson, Sir William Pecche*, who had previously made her a life estate of certain tenements and shops in the City as well. At some point over the next three years Moigne began lawsuit against two clergymen from Steeple Morden, no doubt as a result of his newly acquired interests there. We do not know how his wife obtained the manor of Little Sutton, but her Wiltshire property (which also included rents worth £5 a year from Warminster) may have been left to her as dower by Thomas Kingston, the second of her three husbands. By 1386, Moigne had completed his arrangements for the setting up of a new trust to the use of himself and his wife, who from then onwards enjoyed a joint title to all his possessions in Huntingdonshire.4 These had been consolidated in 1391 by the purchase of the manor of Sawtry Beaumes from one Thomas atte Hethe alias Grendale, who also sold Moigne the coat of arms of the Beaumes family (argent on a cross azure, five garbs or). The transaction was, however, fraught with difficulties and despite the exchange of substantial securities between the two men and their trustees, the MP did not obtain seisin for another four years, largely because of a round of litigation designed to free the property from the pre-existing entails.5

According to his own testimony, Moigne first assumed the profession of arms in 1346, being present with the victorious English army at Crécy, and subsequently witnessing the surrender of Calais to Edward III. He soon won for himself an enviable reputation as a soldier, and by the time of his first return to Parliament, in 1371, he had gained a wide range of military experience, most notably as one of the Black Prince’s knights bachelor. His gallantry at the battle of Poitiers in September 1356 was rewarded by the prince with a gift of 100 marks, although he had to wait over six years before recovering the whole sum. He was, meanwhile, recruited to serve in the King’s great winter campaign of 1359-60, which ended in peace negotiations at the French village of Bretigny. Three years later he again contracted to fight the enemy, this time in Aquitaine with a personal contingent of three archers and two esquires. Back at the theatre of war by 1367, he joined the cosmopolitan army which the Black Prince mobilized in support of Peter the Cruel, the dethroned King of Castile, and helped to inflict a crushing defeat upon the latter’s half-brother, Henry of Trastamara, and his French supporters, at Nájera in Spain. The same year saw his return to Aquitaine under letters of protection from Edward III, and we know that by 1375 he had spent at least two fairly protracted periods in Gascony.6 Commitments abroad did not, however, prevent Moigne from taking an active interest in affairs at home, and from 1361 onwards he sat, albeit intermittently, as a member of the Huntingdonshire bench. From the time of his coming of age until the very last years of his life he witnessed a wide variety of local property transactions, often for members of the Styuecle family, with whom he maintained strong connexions long after the death of his friend and kinsman, Nicholas Styuecle. The latter was, none the less, the only person for whom he is known for sure to have acted as a trustee. Mindful, perhaps, of the debt which he and his forebears owed to Ramsey abbey, he also attested various gifts of land made to the house during the 1390s.7

Although his eventful career as a soldier was not entirely over by the date of his entry into the House of Commons, Moigne began gradually to devote more and more time to regional government. The issue of a royal pardon to him at the very end of Edward III’s reign, in April 1377, may indeed be said to mark a period of transition in his life, since his two terms as sheriff at Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, his remaining eight returns to Parliament and almost all his service on royal commissions occurred after this date. The death of the Black Prince in 1376, as well as his own advancing years, no doubt prompted this change of career; yet it is worth noting that when he appeared to give evidence in the celebrated dispute in the court of chivalry between Richard, Lord Scrope of Bolton, and Sir Robert Grosvenor he claimed still to be active as a soldier. Among the many commissions addressed to Moigne by the Crown were three for the suppression of the Peasants’ Revolt in Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire. Prominent among the insurgents was one William Moigne, owner of a small manor in Great Abington, which, as we have seen, belonged to our Member’s wife, Mary. Although some quite important landowners were obliged under duress to support the uprising, it seems most unlikely that the shire knight himself had anything to do with it, especially as he subsequently played a leading part in punishing the ringleaders. Whatever personal antagonism he may have felt towards the rebels cannot, however, have extended to his namesake and putative kinsman, whom he may even have helped to secure a pardon from King Richard on the strength of his own royal connexions. Yet he was by no means an uncritical judge of the young King’s approach to matters of state. Even though he did not sit in the Merciless Parliament of February 1388, Sir William was clearly well disposed towards the Lords Appellant and their attempt to wrest control of the government from the court party. He acted as a commissioner for taking oaths in support of their cause, and a few months later he obtained from them letters of exemption from holding any official post against his will, a privilege which he seems but rarely to have invoked. Such an obvious connexion with the men whom Richard II regarded as his sworn enemies no doubt explains why he was promptly removed from the Huntingdonshire bench once the King had regained his lost authority, and why, in the summer of 1397, he offered bonds worth 100 marks to Richard as a guarantee for the payment of a forced loan. He also considered it expedient to sue out two separate royal pardons, which were awarded to him in May 1398, and for which he probably had to pay heavily, since they refer specifically to his activities as an adherent of the Appellants.8 Richard’s deposition enabled him to recover his recognizances: within a few weeks of Henry IV’s coronation he regained his position as a j.p., and began once again to serve on royal commissions. Perhaps in recognition of past services, the new monarch also rewarded Moigne and his wife with the gift of two tuns of wine to be taken annually from the port of Bishop’s Lynn in survivorship.

Active until the last, Moigne attended the two great councils of 1401 and 1403 as a representative for Huntingdonshire, being then almost 80 years old. He died in April 1404, and was buried in the church of All Saints, Sawtry, the advowson of which had belonged to his family for two centuries.9 In accordance with the settlement made upon her, his widow retained control of all his estates until her own death some eight years later. She left no children, and in November 1411 Henry IV gave her special permission, as an alien, to convey the manor of Sawtry Beaumes to her kinswoman, Mary Louthe, another native of Hainault who had come to live in England. The rest of the Moigne estates were divided between the three surviving descendants of Sir William’s aunts, including Joan, the wife of John Tyndale*, but were eventually almost all united again in the single ownership of John Hore I*, who married one of the coheirs.10

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Monachus, Moygne.

  • 1. Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 65; ii. 373-4; VCH Hunts. iii. 51, 204-5; CIPM, xiv. no. 323; xv. nos. 262-6; Hunts. Feet of Fines (Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xxxvii), 77; CCR, 1381-5, p. 66; 1385-9, pp. 274-5, 466; CPR, 1388-72, p. 246; Beaven, Aldermen, i. 387; Add. Ch. 33996.
  • 2. VCH Hunts. ii. 186, 198-9, 204-5; CCR, 1346-9, p. 455.
  • 3. Add. Chs. 33142, 33996-7; CIPM, xi. no. 219; CPR, 1354-8, p. 559; 1364-7, p. 172; CAD, i. A1365; VCH Hunts. ii. 198-9, 231; iii. 204-5.
  • 4. CIPM, xiv. no. 323; xv. nos. 262-6; Hunts. Feet of Fines, 93; Add. Chs. 33998, 34069; CPR, 1364-7, p. 126; 1377-81, p. 601; 1388-92, p. 246; 1399-1401, p. 45; CCR, 1381-5, p. 66; 1385-9, pp. 274-5, 466, 656; 1389-92, p. 482; 1392-6, pp. 255-6, 483; 1405-9, p. 137; CAD, ii. B3195.
  • 5. Add. Ch. 34070; Hunts. Feet of Fines, 95-96; VCH Hunts. iii. 206; CCR, 1389-92, pp. 517, 532.
  • 6. Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 65; ii. 373-4; Reg. Black Prince, iv. 249, 284, 327, 477; H.J. Hewitt, Black Prince’s Exped. 161; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, i. 155.
  • 7. CCR, 1360-4, p. 417; 1369-74, p. 575; 1374-7, pp. 230, 537-9; 1377-81, pp. 480-1; 1389-92, p. 534; 1399-1402, p. 112; Vis. Hunts. (Cam. Soc. xliii), 116; Add. Chs. 33929, 33938, 34117; Hunts. Feet of Fines, 77; Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. xvii. 143, 146.
  • 8. C67/28B m. 8, 30 mm. 3, 13; VCH Cambs. ii. 399, 402; CPR, 1385-9, p. 506; 1396-9, p. 179.
  • 9. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 43; PPC, i. 164; ii. 87; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 10; E213/386; Cal. Signet Letters ed. Kirby, nos. 515, 675; VCH Hunts. iii. 210-11.
  • 10. Hunts. Feet of Fines, 98; CPR, 1408-13, pp. 350-1; VCH Hunts. ii. 198-9; iii. 51; E326/4460; Add. Chs. 33999-34002, 34218; CAD, ii. B3030, 3032, 3204.