RIGMAIDEN, William, of Blyth, Notts.

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

3rd s. of Thomas Rigmaiden (d. Oct. 1379) of Wedacre, Lancs. prob. by his w. Joan (fl. 1387). m. Isabel or Elizabeth (d. Mar. 1401), wid. of John Towneley (d. Sept. 1399) of Towneley and Cliviger, Lancs. Kntd. by Apr. 1418.1

Offices Held

Constable of Lancaster castle, Lancs. by Sept. 1401-aft. Mich. 1405.2

Escheator, Notts. and Derbys. 9 Nov. 1406-2 Nov. 1407, 12 Nov. 1414-14 Dec. 1415.

J.p. Notts. 13 Feb. 1407-July 1420.

Steward of the abp. of York’s lordship of Southwell, Notts. 20 Mar. 1407.

Sheriff, Notts. and Derbys. 15 Nov. 1408-29 Nov. 1409, 3 Nov. 1412-6 Nov. 1413, 30 Nov. 1416-10 Nov. 1417.

Commr. of inquiry, Derbys., Herts., Lincs., Northumb., Notts., Yorks. Feb., May 1414 (estates of Lord Darcy), Notts. Nov. 1421 (estates of Lord Scrope); array May 1415, Oct. 1417, Apr. 1418, May 1419.


The Rigmaidens first settled at Wedacre in about 1290, and had therefore built up considerable local influence by the time of William’s birth. As the third son of Thomas Rigmaiden, the then lord of the manor, he had little to hope for by way of inheritance, however; and the reversionary interest in Wedacre which his father settled upon him and his other brothers in the late 1360s should John, the eldest, have no issue, never fell into his hands. John’s early death none the less meant that when Thomas himself died in 1379 the family estates were held in wardship by his widow until the coming of age of their grandson, who was then only three years old. These circumstances may, perhaps, have helped William to establish himself more quickly by bringing him, as acting head of the family, to the attention of the Rigmaidens’ feudal overlord, John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, the most powerful landowner in the area. Their early relations were, in fact, far from cordial, in so far that Rigmaiden was at about this time summoned to appear at the Lancaster assizes on a charge of poaching on the duchy game reserves. The proceedings—and a subsequent sentence of outlawryy—were, however, suspended on the duke’s personal intervention, and by January 1390 Rigmaiden had been retained as an esquire by Gaunt’s son, Henry of Bolingbroke, earl of Derby. It was clearly as a result of this important new connexion that our Member then found himself in the privileged position of being able to intervene personally with Richard II to obtain a pardon for one of his men. Later in the year he travelled to Prussia with Derby on the first of his two expeditions in support of the Teutonic Knights, and while there received gifts worth 66s.8d. from the earl. He returned to England in February 1391, while Derby was still in Königsberg; and we then find him distributing alms on his lord’s behalf at Bridlington and Beverley in Yorkshire. After some weeks spent at Court in the following winter, Rigmaiden again prepared to sail for Prussia in July 1392, although on this occasion the expeditionary force behaved so riotously once it reached Danzig that Derby sent most of his followers (including Rigmaiden) home and proceeded with a small escort on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. William’s second brother, Richard, also appears to have attended Derby while he was in England, but he otherwise remains a rather obscure figure, about whom little else is known. He probably died before 1397 when William, alone of all Thomas Rigmaiden’s sons, was granted a reversionary interest in the manor of Kirkland in Lancashire. Throughout this period, William shrewdly maintained his links with Gaunt, whose patronage he evidently hoped to exploit for his own ends. On one occasion he actually travelled to Gascony to enlist the duke’s help in a local property dispute, feeling (with some justice) that he could not otherwise win his case.3

Because of his attachment to Henry of Bolingbroke, who, as one of the Lords Appellant of 1388, had been instrumental in the condemnation for treason of Richard II’s most important and valued friends, Rigmaiden deemed it expedient to sue out a royal pardon in the spring of 1398. The exile of his patron in the following September marked a low ebb in his fortunes, but Bolingbroke’s return and subsequent coup d’état brought him several lucrative rewards, the first of which, awarded just before the latter’s coronation, comprised an annuity of ten marks charged upon the duchy of Lancaster lordship of Knaresborough. A similar fee was subsequently granted to him from his native county of Lancashire, and at some point before September 1401 his income was further augmented by the salary of 20 marks which he drew as constable of Lancaster castle. Rigmaiden had, furthermore, been able to take advantage of his position as an esquire of the royal body to secure for himself the marriage of the widowed Elizabeth Towneley, whose first husband, John, was lord of the manors of Towneley, Cliviger, Hapton and Birtwisle, as well as of other property in Lancashire. Approximately one third of these holdings was assigned to Elizabeth as dower, but after her marriage to Rigmaiden Henry IV granted her the wardship of all the rest during the minority of her young stepson, Richard (who had by then also come into the estates of his maternal grandfather, William Rixton of Warrington). Although it deprived him of any legal interest in the boy’s inheritance, his wife’s early death, in March 1401, made little practical difference to Rigmaiden’s position, for within a matter of days the custody of all the Towneley estates to the value of 45 marks a year was transferred to him by the King in recognition of years of loyal service. Another mark of royal favour which came his way at this time was the guardianship of the land and person of his young godson and nephew, William Skillicorne, who was heir to the manor of Preese in Kirkham as well as various holdings in Lancaster which had been settled upon his mother (Rigmaiden’s sister, Margaret) as a marriage portion. Not long afterwards a rival claimant, Nicholas Preese, advanced a title to the manor, but Rigmaiden evidently managed to retain the property until 1407 when his nephew came of age.4

We do not know how Rigmaiden gained possession of the estates at Blyth in Nottinghamshire where he spent the rest of his life, but it seems likely that they came to him through a second marriage. His first appointment as escheator of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in 1406 probably followed soon after he left Lancashire, and before long he was heavily involved in the business of regional administration, serving three terms as sheriff and also sitting for 13 years on the Nottinghamshire bench. Somewhat surprisingly in view of his distinguished career as an employee of the Crown, he attended only one Parliament, in 1411, although he remained an active supporter of the Lancastrian cause. He must, indeed, have been well advanced in years when, in July 1415, royal letters of protection were accorded to him preparatory to his embarkation on Henry V’s first invasion of France. Four years later he attended as a juror at a local inquisition, and as late as 1421, after he had ceased to sit on commissions of the peace, he was still engaged on government business in the north Midlands. The last known reference to him occurs in January 1422, when a mercer from Newark, whom he had previously sued for a debt of 20 marks, was pardoned the outlawry which he had incurred because of his refusal to appear in court. The William Rigmaiden who acted in 1438 as a trustee of land in Blyth and who later became involved in litigation over the presentation of accounts for the manor of Wedacre, was almost certainly the MP’s son, although he never achieved the distinction of his father.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Rygmaden, Rygmayden.

  • 1. DL42/15, f. 88; DKR, xl. 526; VCH Lancs. vi. 458; vii. 316, 317; Chetham Soc. xcv. 12, 157-8, 160; CPR, 1416-22, p. 199.
  • 2. DKR, xl. 530; DL29/738/12100.
  • 3. VCH Lancs. vii. 313, 316, 317; Chetham Soc. xcv. 12; DKR, xxxii. 357, 363, 369; xl. 522, 526; CPR, 1388-92, p. 177; S.K. Walker, ‘John of Gaunt and his retainers, 1361-99’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1986), 156; Derby’s Expeds. (Cam. Soc. n.s. lii), 107, 117, 121, 135, 139, 268.
  • 4. DL28/27/3; DL29/738/12100; DL42/15, f. 88; 16 (pt. 1), f. 25; C67/30 m. 3; Chetham Soc. xcv. 75, 76, 91, 157-60; VCH Lancs. vi. 458; vii. 177; DKR, xl. 531.
  • 5. DKR, xliv. 572; CPR, 1416-22, p. 359; Thoroton Soc. iv. 166; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Clifton ms, CID no. 711; VCH Lancs. vii. 317.