REDMARSHALL, William (1354-1416), of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb. and Redmarshall, co. Dur.
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Family and Education
b.1354, s. and h. of John Redmarshall (d. by Mar. 1375) of Carlton and Redmarshall. m. Christine (d. by June 1416), da. and h. of Thomas Washington by Isabel (b.1341), sis. and coh. of Richard Usworth (d.s.p. 1362) of Little Usworth, Whickham and Moorhouses, wid. of William Chester (d. by Oct. 1413), s.p.1
Searcher of ships, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 18 May 1377-29 July 1385.
Collector of murage and portage, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 2 Apr. 1378-82, 26 Feb. 1395-1401, 22 Sept. 1403-6.
Pesager of wools and gauger of wines and oils, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 6 Dec. 1378-16 Dec. 1382.
Bailiff, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Mich. 1394-5, 1395-7;2 sheriff May-Mich. 1400, Mich. 1406-7, 1412-13.
Constable of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Staple 10 Jan. 1398-9; mayor 16 Apr. 1399-1400, 14 Dec. 1401-2.3
Commr. of inquiry, Newcastle-upon-Tyne May 1414 (concealments).
The subject of this biography was just 21 years old when, in March 1375, he inherited the land and tenements in Carlton and Redmarshall which his father, John Redmarshall, had previously occupied. He may also have succeeded to property in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where he witnessed a deed some two years later. He was certainly living there by May 1377, the date of his first official appointment as a searcher of ships along the Tyne. Redmarshall soon established himself as a prominent figure in the borough, although unlike most of the other men who played a leading part in local government his interest in trade was administrative rather than personal. Indeed, despite his various activities as an official of the Newcastle Staple and his service as a pesager of wools for the Crown, he himself is not known to have taken part in any mercantile ventures. He was, however, anxious to acquire property; and in 1379 he and his long-term associate, a chaplain named Thomas Herrington, bought certain rents worth four marks p.a. in Newcastle. Over the years he came into possession of a number of holdings in ‘Corwenarrawe’, some of which he leased from the Tyne bridge authorities. The latter found him an unsatisfactory tenant, since he refused to pay his arrears, allegedly propter conscienciam. The royal pardon accorded to Redmarshall in May 1382 may well have been intended to cover any irregularities in his accounts as a customs official, and was evidently little more than a formality. Five months later he attended his first Parliament, hoping, no doubt, to make use of his time at Westminster to discharge some of his duties as an executor and trustee of the Northumbrian landowner, John del Chamber.4
In March 1379, Chamber had conveyed a substantial estate centred upon the villages of Jesmond, Byker, Heaton and Little Newton, as well as numerous tenements in Newcastle-upon-Tyne itself, to a group of trustees, including Redmarshall and his friend, Thomas Herrington. Redmarshall was subsequently made an executor of Chamber’s will, and thus assumed particular responsibility for effecting a number of endowments for the soul of the deceased. The work involved proved costly, both in terms of time and money, as did the task of recovering debts owed to the estate by process of common law; but it was not until the death of Chamber’s young daughter, Alice, a girl of 18, in October 1385, that Redmarshall and Herrington, who were by then the only surviving feoffees, came into direct conflict with the Crown. Inquisitions held after Alice’s death revealed that a large part of her inheritance had been either alienated or mortgaged by the trustees, thus apparently depriving the King of his powers of wardship. A number of royal commissions were set up to investigate the scale of these losses and as late as 1406 the Exchequer had still to receive a full statement of account. Redmarshall and Herrington, meanwhile, defended their right to dispose of the land in question as they saw fit, and were at least allowed, in July 1393, to occupy what remained of Chamber’s property until the question of ownership could finally be determined. Although Redmarshall was eventually obliged to relinquish possession, his brother and heir, Richard, refused to give up the struggle, and as late as 1425 he was still questioning the findings of the inquisitions held 40 years earlier.5
Redmarshall was returned to the two Parliaments of 1397 while serving his third term as bailiff of Newcastle. So far as we can tell, he did not sit again in the House of Commons, although he continued for many years to play a notable part in the affairs of the borough, and was, indeed, the first person to hold office as sheriff when Newcastle was incorporated as a shire at the beginning of Henry IV’s reign. Not surprisingly, he became drawn into the dispute between Thomas Langley, bishop of Durham, and the people of Newcastle over the fortification by them of the Gateshead side of the Tyne bridge—an undertaking which Langley regarded as an infringement of his episcopal jurisdiction. In June 1410, Redmarshall travelled to London to present the burgesses’ case in the court of Chancery, and two years later he was one of the delegation of townsmen who attempted, unsuccessfully, to reach a compromise with the bishop and his council at the chapter house in Durham. Ever anxious to increase his influence as a landowner, Redmarshall seized the opportunity offered by the death of William Chester, in 1413, to marry his widow, Christine, the owner of estates in the Durham villages of Usworth, Whickham and Moorhouses, together with various properties in Gateshead. He thus, paradoxically, became a feudal tenant of Bishop Langley’s, although on a personal level their relations appear to have been cordial enough. Redmarshall remained active until the very end of his life, serving on a royal commission of inquiry at Newcastle in the spring of 1414, and taking part in the election for the borough to the November Parliament of that year. He was still alive on 15 Mar. 1416, when he witnessed the will of William Essington of Newcastle, but he died in the course of the next two months.6
The widowed Christine Redmarshall did not survive her husband for more than a few weeks at most, and was herself dead by 1 June. Her own estates descended to Thomas Chester, the eldest son of her first marriage, while Redmarshall was succeeded by his younger brother, Richard.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. DKR, xxxiii. 108, 125; xlv. 178-9, 255, 257; R. Surtees, Durham, ii. 46.
- 2. Surtees Soc. cxxxvii. 220.
- 3. C267/7/35-37.
- 4. DKR, xlv. 255; CCR, 1374-7, p. 532; Surtees Soc. cxxxvii. 74; C67/29 m. 11.
- 5. C143/399/6, 416/15; Procs. Soc. Antiqs. Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser. 3), iii. 196-7, 206-9; E. MacKenzie, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 241; CFR, xi. 70, 78-79, 89-90; xiii. 22; CIMisc. vii. no. 332; CPR, 1391-6, p. 181; 1396-9, p. 597; 1399-1401, p. 521; 1405-8, pp. 234, 253.
- 6. C44/27/2; C219/11/4; Surtees Soc. cxxxvii. 64-65; clxvi. 147; DKR, xlv. 178, 179; Surtees, ii. 46.
- 7. DKR, xxxiii. 125; xlv. 257; Procs. Soc. Antiqs. Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser. 3), iii. 196-7.