RUGGEWYN, John (d.1412), of Standon, Herts.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. Margery, at least 1s.1
Tax collector, Herts. Mar. 1377, May 1379, Mar. 1380, Nov. 1383, Mar. 1404; controller Jan. 1381.
Commr. of array, Herts. Apr. 1385, Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403; inquiry Mar. 1387 (wastes at Welwyn), Essex, Herts., Norf., Suff. July 1391 (estates of Henry Helyon), Herts. Feb. 1393 (Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford’s manor of Wells), Nov. 1401 (seizure of land from the free chapel of Puckridge); sewers June 1398; to make an arrest Jan. 1401.
Sheriff, Essex and Herts. 4 Jan. 1387-1 Dec. 1388.
J.p. Herts. 15 July 1389-Dec. 1390, 14 Feb. 1392-Mar. 1406.
Alnager, Herts. 20 July 1394-14 May 1396.
Escheator, Herts. 24 Nov. 1400-8 Nov. 1401.
No known references either to Ruggewyn or his family survive before 1375, in which year he witnessed three deeds, including one for Sir Walter Lee, his powerful neighbour and colleague in the Parliament of November 1390. He appears to have settled in Standon by the autumn of 1376, when one Roger Cook made him a trustee of property in Bury St. Edmunds.2 According to his inquisition post mortem, Ruggewyn’s possessions in this part of Hertfordshire were worth £9 a year, although no mention is made of the other holdings in Ware and Hunsdon which added a further £20 to his annual revenues. He had to fight a lawsuit in defence of his title to the manor of Doos in Standon, since his claim to have purchased it from the Bardolf family was contested, in 1386, by Sir Thomas Mortimer and his wife, Agnes, the widow of William, Lord Bardolf. The plaintiffs were, however, unable to prove their title, and Ruggewyn retained control of the property.3
For almost 30 years Ruggewyn played an active part in local government. He had already gained a considerable amount of experience in this field by the time of his first return to Parliament, but not without some loss to his reputation. His term as sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire was marked by a dispute with the burgesses of Colchester which brought him a serious reprimand from the justices of the King’s bench at Westminster, although the incident does not appear to have had any lasting effect upon his career. It began in May 1387 with the issue of a writ ordering Ruggewyn as sheriff to empanel a jury of ‘free and lawful men of the view of Colchester’for the trial of a case involving three local landowners. In collusion with these men, who were evidently his friends, Ruggewyn in fact returned ‘a certain other panel of foreigners ... to the deprivation of the burgesses of the town aforesaid and the manifest infringement of its liberty’. The bailiffs of Colchester took immediate action against this and a subsequent attempt at embracery on Ruggewyn’s part, successfully petitioning the Crown to intervene on their behalf. No more is heard of the affair after his interrogation at Westminster during the Michaelmas term of that year, and we may assume that matters were allowed to rest once the burgesses had upheld their privileges.4
Ruggewyn clearly suffered no more than a brief loss of face. In May 1389 he and John Rokele of Essex offered bonds worth £40 to one of his neighbours at Standon; and in the following July the two men joined with other prominent local figures (among whom were several MPs) in purchasing the manor of Sacombe in Hertfordshire which had been confiscated from Sir John Holt, one of the royal judges deprived of office and exiled by the Merciless Parliament. The latter recovered his property in May 1398 after the victory of the court party over the Lords Appellant, and it would appear from Ruggewyn’s presence in the two Parliaments of 1397 that he had by then come to share Holt’s political sympathies. He and his associates had none the less benefited from the distribution of spoils made available by the forfeitures of 1388. Robert Newport*, for example, was allowed to farm a couple of manors previously held by Sir James Berners* in Essex, and duly called upon our Member to stand surety for him at the Exchequer. The marks of royal favour extended to Ruggewyn took the form of two lucrative awards: the first being a grant of pavage from Wadesmill to Braughing in Hertfordshire for a term of three years ending in March 1393, while the second led to his appointment as alnager of the county soon afterwards. The 1390s saw Ruggewyn’s return to no less than six Parliaments, five of which were consecutive. He did not sit again after the Lancastrian usurpation, although his continued presence on the Hertfordshire bench, no less than his appointment as an escheator and royal commissioner, suggests that this was a matter of personal choice rather than political necessity. Both Sir Edward Benstede (his fellow Member in the two Parliaments of 1397) and Sir John Poultney approached him to act as one of their mainpernors at the county elections of, respectively, 1402 and 1406, so he did not entirely lose interest in parliamentary affairs.5
Ruggewyn had many influential friends, chief among whom were the Lees and their circle. His connexion with Robert Newport, Sir Walter Lee’s brother-in-law, has already been noted, and he was also on close terms with Sir Thomas Morewell*, the husband of another of Sir Walter’s sisters. He acted as a feoffee-to-uses for Morewell and his wife on their entry into part of the Lee inheritance; and in 1398 he witnessed one of the successive enfeoffments of property made by the recently widowed Alice Morewell. He was also connected with Sir Walter’s executor, Richard de la Pantry*, an esquire of the body to Richard II, being a trustee of the tenement in London which de la Pantry’s wife, Christine, and her first husband had received as a gift from Edward III. In January and July 1400, Ruggewyn again witnessed conveyances, this time of Thomas, Lord Morley’s property at Walkern in Hertfordshire. Not long afterwards he was suing the executors of a London brewer named John Senesterre for a debt of £100, but one of the defendants obtained a writ of supersedeas and the case disappeared from the record. Ruggewyn ended his life in relative obscurity, dying at Standon towards the end of October 1412. His son, John, who was then over 23 years old, had to wait until the following July before obtaining custody of his inheritance, and even then the Crown was only prepared to admit him as farmer to part of the estates. The ownership of his father’s holdings in Standon remained unsettled for some time, although the young man was eventually excused the payment of rent at the Exchequer.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Regewyn, Rigewyn.
- 1. Mon. Brasses ed. Mill Stephenson, 196; C137/89/4.
- 2. CCR, 1374-7, pp. 204, 257, 453; CAD, ii. A3620.
- 3. C137/89/14; J.E. Cussans, Herts. (Braughing), 172; Feudal Aids, vi. 461; VCH Herts. iii. 356; CCR, 1385-9, pp. 167-8.
- 4. Colchester Oath Bk. ed. Benham, 217-20.
- 5. Cussans, 176; CPR, 1388-92, pp. 80, 204; CFR, x. 285; C219/10/2, 3.
- 6. Herts. RO, M161; Corporation of London RO, hr 123/44; CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 111, 308-9, 329; 1413-19, pp. 177-8; CFR, xiii. 247; xiv. 23-24; C137/89/4; Mon. Brasses, 196.