NORTHBOROUGH, Hugh, of Northborough and Etton, 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



Sept. 1397

Family and Education

s. and h. of Sir Hugh Northborough (d. by 1390) of Northborough and Etton.1

Offices Held

Steward of the royal forest of Rutland 23 Oct. 1399-d.

Marshal harbinger of the royal household 5 Nov. 1399-d.

Commr. to make an arrest, Leics. Jan. 1400; of inquiry, Lincs. Nov. 1400 (attack upon a tenant of the duchy of Lancaster lordship of Bolingbroke).

Keeper of the royal park of Torpel and the warrens at Ufford and Upton, Northants. 11 Feb. 1400-d.

Feodary of the duchy of Lancaster honour of Bolingbroke, Lincs. to 27 Apr. 1402.2

Master forester of the royal forest of Rothbury, Northumb. 30 Nov. 1404-d.


This MP came of a distinguished family, which during the mid 14th century produced two eminent churchmen and officers of state. Roger Northborough, bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, who acquired the manor of Etton for his next heirs, was twice treasurer of England; and it was thanks to his patronage that his nephew, Michael, rose to become secretary to Edward III and then, by way of reward, bishop of London. Both men died long before the subject of this biography came of age, but his position in society clearly owed much to an influential name. Northborough’s father, Sir Hugh, was also a figure of some consequence, although he seems to have confined his activities to his native Northamptonshire, where he was constantly employed as a j.p. and tax collector until, in the spring of 1373, he was found to be too ‘feeble and incapable’ to perform his duties properly.3 He died at some point before May 1390, when Hugh, his son and heir, settled the manors of Northborough and Etton, together with estates in six Northamptonshire villages, and in the Thurlby area of Lincolnshire, upon trustees holding to his own use. Hugh retained Etton for at least six years, but by 1405 it had passed into the hands of Sir Thomas Rempston I*, who appears to have bought it outright.4

Nothing else is known about Northborough’s life before his one return to Parliament in September 1397—an event which seems rather surprising in view of his later career as a loyal and highly regarded supporter of Henry IV and the house of Lancaster. This Parliament was used by Richard II to exact his revenge upon the leading Lords Appellant of 1388; and although the future King escaped reprisals until after the end of the session, it is none the less strange that Northborough should have been returned on this occasion alone. His appearance in November 1397 as a mainpernor at the Exchequer for Edward, duke of Aumâle, suggests, however, that he may then have been on friendly terms with at least one important member of the court party, and that his attachment to the Lancastrian cause was a somewhat later development. Even so, he was among the first to benefit from the change of dynasty; and within a few months of Henry IV’s coronation he had not only become marshal harbinger of the royal household, steward of the forest of Rutland and keeper of the parks at Torpel, but had also been rewarded with an extremely generous annuity of £40, payable to him for life while he remained an esquire of the royal body. The stewardship of the forest of Rutland carried with it a fee of 40 marks p.a. as well as an estate in the manor of Lye, both of which had previously been enjoyed by Sir William Burgh. Although Burgh received compensation for his lost office, some ill-feeling evidently persisted between him and Northborough, whom he sued in 1400 for the detinue of two chests of muniments.5

Northborough spent much of his time at Court, and in 1402 he received an allocation of cloth worth 40s. from the royal wardrobe for new liveries for both winter and summer. He had by then resigned his post as feodary of the duchy of Lancaster honour of Bolingbroke, and there can be little doubt that the keepership of the forest of Rothbury, which came his way in November 1404, was little more than a sinecure intended to provide a more reliable source for his royal pension. We hear no more of Northborough after August 1405, the date of letters patent confirming him in this, the last of his many offices.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Norborwe, Norburgh, Northburgh.

  • 1. CCR, 1389-92, p. 175; J. Bridges, Northants. ii. 510.
  • 2. Somerville, Duchy, i. 580.
  • 3. DNB, xiv. 632-5; Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. ed. Emden, ii. 1368-70; CFR, vi. 414; vii. 45; viii. 193, 209, 230, 268; CPR, 1354-8, p. 550; 1358-61, p. 66.
  • 4. CCR, 1389-92, p. 175; Bridges, ii. 510; VCH Northants. ii. 487.
  • 5. CFR, xi. 239; CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 19, 46, 48, 196, 337; CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 48, 176, 242-3.
  • 6. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 203; 1405-8, pp. 49, 88; E101/404/21, 45.