SCOTT, Robert (d.1441), of Abbotsley, Hunts. and Tempsford, Beds.

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

m. (1) by Mich. 1395, Eleanor, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) by 1412, Joan, da. and coh. of Sir William Hampton of Hampton, Herefs., wid. of Roger Elys (d.1396/7), of London, waxchandler, and of John Venour (fl. 1402), of Kingswood, Herts.; (3) Parnell, 2da.1

Offices Held

J.p. Hunts. 16 May 1401-Feb. 1405, 13 Feb. 1407-18.

Escheator, Cambs. and Hunts. 22 Oct. 1404-1 Dec. 1405, 7 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410.

Commr. to assemble and lead men against the Scots, Cambs., Hunts. May 1405; of array, Hunts. May 1418, Mar. 1419; to raise a royal loan Nov. 1419, Jan. 1420.

Parker of the park of Weston by Baldock and steward of the manor and lordship of Weston, Herts. confiscated from Thomas, Earl Marshal, by 14 June 1405.

Sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 22 Nov. 1405-5 Nov. 1406, 10 Dec. 1411-3 Nov. 1412, 30 Nov. 1416-10 Nov. 1417, 16 Nov. 1420-3 May 1423.

Verderer of the royal forests of Sapley and Weybridge, Hunts. to 20 Nov. 1415.

Lt. to John, earl of Huntingdon, as constable of the Tower of London 6 May 1422-27 Feb. 1429.2


This Member’s ancestors are known to have occupied Scot’s manor in Abbotsley from 1230 onwards, if not before, and at some point during the 13th century they also acquired land a few miles to the north in Offord Darcy. They held the first of these properties as feudal tenants of the earls of Huntingdon, which probably explains how Robert Scott initially became connected with his patron, the 14th earl. When or how he obtained the manor of Tempsford across the border in Bedfordshire is not known, but it seems reasonable to assume that he was in possession of it by 1417, when he first began to attend the parliamentary elections for that county. According to the tax returns of 1428 he was then exercising the lordship of the manor jointly with the master of the college of Northill; and arrangements for the administration of his estate, which were made in 1441, suggest that he had been living there for some time.3 In the absence of information about his immediate family background, a study of Scott’s career must begin in November 1387, when a commission of oyer and terminer was set up to investigate allegations that he and several others had launched an armed attack on the property and servants of Walter Sibille of Landwarde in Cambridgeshire. Further commissions were issued in 1389 and 1390, but evidently to no avail. Scott next appears in May 1392 as one of the witnesses called upon by Sir Hugh Zouche to testify in the court of Chancery that he, Zouche, had never been appointed to serve as a commissioner of sewers in East Anglia. The first of our Member’s three marriages took place during the early 1390s, and although his wife’s surname is not recorded, she evidently held some title to the manor of Conington in Cambridgeshire. This she and Scott conveyed in the autumn of 1395 to the Londoner, William Standon*, to whom she was possibly related. Scott’s comparative obscurity at this time may have been partly due to his youth, but there remains a distinct possibility that he was excluded from the business of local government for political reasons. His decision, in June 1398, to sue out a royal pardon assumes particular significance in view of his subsequent attachment to Henry IV; and even though he joined Richard II’s ill-fated expedition to Ireland as a retainer of Edward, the then duke of Aumâle, his real sympathies clearly lay with the house of Lancaster.4

Scott’s busy administrative career began, in May 1401, with his appointment to the Huntingdonshire bench. He had just represented the county for the first time in Parliament, and it may be that he was also by then serving Henry IV at Court as an esquire of the body. He had certainly achieved this situation by December 1405, when the King pardoned him the fine which he had incurred for allowing certain prisoners to escape from his custody as sheriff of Huntingdonshire, ‘in consideration of his great costs on the King’s journeys in Wales and Scotland and other journeys of the King after his coming into England, without wages or reward’. In actual fact, Scott’s loyalty had already earned him two offices on the Hertfordshire estates confiscated from Thomas, the Earl Marshal, in the previous June; and he was, moreover, probably made verderer of the royal forests of Sapley and Weybridge in recognition of these services. Other, more personal matters also occupied Scott’s attention at this time, for he was involved in two lawsuits, first as a defendant in a case of trespass, and secondly as the plaintiff in an action for debt. Neither suit reached a conclusion, however, and both were eventually dropped. His standing in the county community was such that, in January 1406, Philip Repingdon, bishop of Lincoln, awarded him a licence for the celebration of mass in his own private chapel. No doubt because of his growing influence locally and at Westminster, Scott was much in demand as a mainpernor in the court of Chancery and at the Exchequer, and from 1401 onwards his name appears quite often on lists of guarantors and persons offering bail, most notably for Nicholas Styuecle* (1408), Thomas Waweton* (1412), Sir John Beaufo* (1422), the Scottish merchant, Henry Conyngham (1426), and Sir John (now Lord) Tiptoft* (1426). he seems to have numbered Waweton and Styuecle in particular among his closest friends, along with Roger Hunt* and John Botiller*, who were parties with him to several of these undertakings.5 All these men were parliamentary colleagues as well as neighbours, and it is interesting to observe how closely involved they were in each other’s affairs. Scott was, for example, a feoffee-to-uses of Waweton’s manor of Great Staughton (alias Stockton), and he also acted with him as a trustee of land in Cambridgeshire. Hunt and Botiller shared Scott’s title to this and other property, such as the estates of John Herlyngton’s* widow, Joan, which she settled upon them all in 1409. A good deal of evidence about his relationship with Botiller has survived thanks to subsequent litigation between him and his friend’s widow. We know that both he and Hunt were present when Botiller married, being then made co-feoffees of his manor of Croxton in Cambridgeshire; and that they later stayed with him at various times during his last illness. The two MPs were present when he drew up his will, although they evidently refused to surrender the revenues from Croxton once he was dead. Scott alone had previously joined with Botiller in offering bonds worth 80 marks to two Suffolk men, but his reason for doing so is not recorded. Nor was this the only occasion on which he entered into obligations with or on behalf of his friends. In 1409, he and Sir Baldwin St. George* bound themselves in heavy securities to John Cockerell of Orford; and six years later we find him among the parties to a more formal undertaking whereby the bishop of Durham and Ralph, earl of Westmorland, took recognizances worth 500 marks from him and four others, including Hunt and Tiptoft.6

Scott’s own finances improved dramatically in, or just before, 1412, as a result of his second marriage. His new wife was not only coheir to the reversion of a substantial estate in Herefordshire, which had belonged to her late father, Sir William Hampton, but was also twice widowed and thus possessed of two separate dowries. By the terms of an arrangement reached with Olive, her sister, at this time, it was decided that their father’s widow, Margaret, and her new husband, John Abrahall*, would occupy the manor of Hampton ‘Mappenore’ for the term of Margaret’s life. In order to secure Scott’s acceptance of this transaction and make up for the revenues he had lost, he and his trustees (including Roger Hunt) obtained a moiety of the manor of Bodham in Norfolk from Olive’s husband, Edmund Wynter*. The two men sat together in the Parliament of 1420, and both shared a connexion with John, earl of Huntingdon. Other members of Scott’s immediate circle (such as Thomas Waweton and Sir John Tiptoft) were already associated with the earl in various ways, and it is worth noting that one of his successors as Huntingdon’s lieutenant constable of the Tower of London was Ralph Lampet of Stody, Wynter’s son-in-law. Marriage to Joan Hampton also gave Scott control of extensive holdings in London settled upon her for life by her first husband, Roger Elys. A former sheriff and alderman of London, Elys had invested the profits of his waxchandler’s business in rents, shops and tenements in at least four city parishes. One of Scott’s first acts after his marriage was to purchase part of this estate (comprising premises leased out by Joan at an annual rent of 20 marks) outright from Elys’s executors, and then to settle it upon his own feoffees, chief among whom were his friends, Hunt, Waweton and Botiller. The property again went on the market in 1416, when it was bought by Thomas and Elizabeth Frembaud. Scott may well have disposed of it in order to buy the manor of Tempsford, which was certainly of more use to him as a country gentleman and landowner, although this remains a matter of conjecture. Nor is it exactly clear what Joan obtained from her second husband, John Venour, by way of dower, but her position as guardian of their only surviving child, Navarina, proved to be even more of a financial asset. The girl, who was heir to the manor of Kingswood and a sizeable estate in the same area of Hertfordshire, was married to Scott’s son, Robert, in the hope of keeping so valuable a prize within the family, although his early death, in or before 1433, put paid to these dynastic ambitions.7

As a leading member of the Huntingdonshire gentry, Scott not only sat regularly for the county in the House of Commons, but also attended the elections to the Parliaments of 1407, 1413 (May) and 1427. Once he had established himself as a Bedfordshire landowner, he also began to play an active part in the parliamentary elections there, and despite the fact that he only sat once for the county (in 1420) he helped to choose the shire knights returned in 1417, 1419, 1421 (Dec.), 1425, 1435 and 1437. Although resident in both Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, and therefore eligible in a general sense to represent either county in Parliament, Scott was guilty on at least three occasions of infringing the strict letter of the statute of 1413 which required that the electors as well as the elected should actually be living in the county in question when the writs of summons were issued. In both 1419 and 1425, for instance, he appears on the list of Bedfordshire electors, even though he was himself then returned as one of the Members for Huntingtdonshire; and it was as sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, with responsibility for conducting the election there, that he was present at the Bedford county court when the election to the second Parliament of 1421 was held. Others, including his friends, Roger Hunt and (Sir) Thomas Waweton, were equally culpable in this respect, although Scott did not apparently become involved, as they did, in attempts at electoral manipulation.8 This was a period of intense activity on his part, for besides serving no less than four separate terms as sheriff and also sitting for almost 15 years on the Huntingdonshire bench, he had to shoulder other responsibilities in his capacity as an esquire of the royal body. Indeed, by November 1415, he felt obliged to relinquish his post as verderer of the forests of Sapley and Weybridge, being ‘too much occupied with divers business of the King to have leisure to exercise that office’. More personal problems, such as two lawsuits for the recovery of debts of £12 and £5 (both of which he abandoned) and the surrender of bonds worth 200 marks to creditors of his own, also occupied him at this time. So too did his nomination, in December 1419, as one of the Bedfordshire gentry best capable of taking up arms for purposes of military defence.9

By far the most onerous, and certainly the most financially unprofitable, of Scott’s various offices was that of lieutenant constable of the Tower of London, an appointment which he obtained in May 1422 through the patronage of John, earl of Huntingdon, the then constable. As custodian of several prisoners of war and various micreants, Scott had to meet certain routine epenses out of his own pocket without any immediate prospect of compensation. The government no doubt hoped to defray these costs by assigning him the ransom money demanded for some of the French captives, but this proved more difficult than had at first been anticipated. The ransoms could not be paid without preliminary negotiations, and these were, in turn, dependent upon the issue of royal letters of protection for the French agents involved. By July 1423, at least 13 such letters had been sent out, but Scott was none the less driven to petition the royal council twice in the following year

to consider the gret sommes that hym is owynge for the kepyng of prisoners that he hath in warde and hath had syth he came fyrste into office ... the which prisoners beyng yet with hym at grete costages and expenses every day more and more encresynge, with out any payement zet made to the same suppliaunt to his grete harme [and] hyndrynge.

Occasional payments, most notably one of £237 made the summer of 1423, had already come his way, but these were clearly insufficient.10 His expenses became even heavier in June 1423 with the arrival at the Tower of ten hostages surrendered under treaty by James I of Scotland. They remained in his custody until 1428, during which time he claimed to have spent over £919 on their upkeep. A few fairly modest assignments were subsequently made to him towards this sum, although as late as May 1438 he was still owed money by the Exchequer.11 Scott’s custodial duties also led to his brief involvement, in 1425, in the escalating quarrel between Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, and Bishop Beaufort. One of his prisoners was John Randolph, a man whom Gloucester clearly held in high regard. Randolph was a Franciscan friar of considerable intellectual wo had served for some years as confessor to Queen Joan of Navarre, widow of Henry IV. As a result of his allegations she had been found guilty in 1419 of practising witchcraft, but then Randolph himself had ended up in prison for his own treasonous use of ‘the Black Art’. Having publicily insisted that the friar should be kept ‘streytly and seurly’, Gloucester secretly removed him to his own lodgings. This was much to Scott’s fear and alarm, and he expressed is concern to Beaufort, who not only demanded that Randolph should be returned to detention at once, but also seized the chance to make political capital out of the affair by claiming that the duke, who was then Protector, had ‘token vpon himsylff fferrer thanne his auctorite streched vnto’. It was no doubt therefore with a great sense of relief that Scott left office in 1429, never again to assume administrative duties of any kind.12

Scott’s last years passed uneventfully. He is not known to have had any important financial dealings of a purely personal nature after 1423, when he bound himself in securites of £50 to Sir Ralph, later Lord, Cromwell. One of his servants became involved in a violent dispute with the Northamptonshire landowner, Henry Mulsho, but no other disturbances occurred to upset the peace of his retirement. He died intestate in, or shortly before, February 1441, when the bishop of Lincoln appointed two of his neighbours in Tempsford to supervise the administration of his estate. He had by then taken a third wife, named Parnell, who survived him, as did his two daughters, Elizabeth and Rose. Parnell remarried almost at once, and in 1443 she and her new husband, Thomas Pyttes of Tempsford, confirmed Rose in possession of Scott’s manor in Abbotsley, while Elizabeth kept the rest of the inheritance. Rose’s husband was Stephen Brown, a London alderman, who represented the City in the Parliaments of 1449 and 1453.13

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variant: Skot.

  • 1. CP25(1)30/91/137; Corporation of London RO, hr 141/88; Cal. Wills ct. Husting London ed. Sharpe, ii (1), 323; Beaven, Aldermen, i. 392; F. Blomefield, Norf. viii. 98; VCH Hunts. ii. 258; VCH Beds. ii. 252-3; CCR, 1429-35, pp. 251, 253; CPR, 1446-52, p. 559. We do not know which of Scott’s three wives was the mother of his daughters.
  • 2. PPC, ii. 332; iii. 47.
  • 3. Feudal Aids, i. 37; ii. 477; VCH Hunts. ii. 258; VCH Beds. ii. 251; C219/12/2; Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 172.
  • 4. CPR, 1385-9, p. 392; 1388-92, pp. 55, 140; 1396-9, p. 539; CCR, 1396-9, p. 122; CP25(1)30/91/137; C67/30 m. 14.
  • 5. VCH Herts. iii. 173; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 315; 1405-9, pp. 464, 480, 528; 1409-13, pp. 307-8, 398; 1419-22, pp. 259-60; 1422-9, p. 44; CPR, 1401-5, pp. 74, 469; 1405-8, p. 186; CFR, 127; xv. 159; Cal. Scots. Docs. iv. 1002; Reg. Repingdon (Lincoln Rec. Soc. lviii), i. 61.
  • 6. CCR, 1405-9, pp. 501, 509; 1413-19, p. 274; 1422-9, pp. 69-70; Hunts. Feet of Fines (Cambride Antiq. Soc. xxxvii), 98, 99; VCH Huns. ii. 357; C1/6/280.
  • 7. Blomefield, viii. 98; ix. 368; J.S. Roskell, Commons of 1422, pp. 237-8; Cal. Wills ct. Husting London, ii (1), 323; Beaven, Aldermen, i. 392; hr 141/88, 144/18; CCR, 1429-35, pp. 251, 253.
  • 8. C219/10/4, 11/1, 12/2, 3, 6, 13/3, 5, 14/5, 15/1; Roskell, 14-15.
  • 9. CCR, 1413-19, p. 237; 1419-22, p. 58; CPR, 1413-16, p. 309; 1422-9, p. 511; E28/97/2.
  • 10. Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, ii. 253-4; PPC, iii. 10-11, 38, 99, 137-8, 153-4; N.H. Nicolas, Agincourt, app. xv. 62; CCR, 1422-9, p. 73; E404/39/102, 308.
  • 11. Cal. Scots. Docs. iv. nos. 960, 974, 1060, 1080, 1109, 1116; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 104-5; Issues ed. Devon, 389; E404/41/147.
  • 12. Chrons. London ed. Kingsford, 80; K.H. Vickers, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, 276, 278.
  • 13. C1/26/210-11; CCR, 1419-22, p. 259; 1422-9, p. 76; CPR, 1446-52, p. 559; Early Lincoln Wills, 172; VCH Beds. ii. 252-3; VCH Hunts. ii. 258; Beaven, ii. 7.