SHIRBURNE, Richard (1381-c.1438), of Aighton, Lancs.

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



Dec. 1421

Family and Education

b. Stonyhurst, Lancs. 12 Oct. 1381, s. and h. of Richard Bailey alias Shirburne (d. by 1391) by Margaret, da. and h. of Sir Richard Shirburne (d.1364) of Aighton. m. by Aug. 1391, Agnes (d. Nov. 1446), da. of Sir William Stanley (d. by 1391) of Hooton, Cheshire, at least 4s. 4da.1

Offices Held

Assessor of a tax, Lancs. Mar. 1436.2


Shirburne was still a small child on the death of his father, who had assumed the name of his wife’s family at the time of their marriage. Through her he hoped to consolidate the estates in Aighton and Stonyhurst to which he was heir, but in the event he died young, leaving his son, Richard, a ward in the care of his paternal grandfather. The latter’s death, in May 1391, enabled Sir Nicholas Haryngton* to assert his feudal rights as the boy’s guardian, and despite the fact that he was not yet ten years old Richard was promptly betrothed to another of Sir Nicholas’s charges, the young Agnes Stanley. They had evidently married by the following August, when Richard’s mother, Margaret, and her new husband, William Dronsfield, confirmed them in the reversion of land in Longton then held by her as dower. In 1403, not long after his coming of age, Richard secured from his paternal grandmother the estates which she held in Aighton so that once he obtained formal livery of his inheritance, in the following year, he was sure of a reasonable landed income. Towards the end of his life, he was, moreover, seised of other property in Wiswell, Chorley, Stalmore, Clitheroe, Hambleton and Bolton, most of which he settled upon his wife as a jointure.3

Shirburne may well have seen action against the Scots while he was a young man, as in August 1400 he obtained permission to appoint attorneys to manage his affairs for a year during his absence on the border. Whatever the reason, he did not become involved in public life until November 1414 when he attended the parliamentary elections for Lancashire. Five years later he was summoned, as a representative of the county, to perform military service for the defence of England against the French, and also to attend a great council at Westminster. His first return to Parliament followed soon after, under circumstances which suggest an attempt at electoral management by the sheriff, Sir Richard Radcliffe. Together with the latter’s kinsman, Ralph Radcliffe*, and their friend, Nicholas Blundell*, he and Sir Richard (who were already connected as joint farmers of the fishery of Colne Water in Lancashire) had recently been chosen to arbitrate in a quarrel between the influential Booth family and Geoffrey Bulde over an estate at Barton. Sir Richard, a noted partisan of the Booths, exploited his position as sheriff to engineer the return to the 1420 Parliament of John Booth I, accompanied by Shirburne, who clearly belonged to his camp, and could thus be relied upon to rally support at Westminster.4 Interestingly enough, Booth’s brother, Henry, then took his first seat in the Commons as well; and it is worth noting that when Shirburne again represented Lancashire, in December 1421, he did so in the company of Sir John Byron, Booth’s son-in-law. Shirburne travelled to Lancaster for the elections to the next Parliament (November 1422), but henceforward played no recorded part in the choice of shire knights. Meanwhile, in January 1421, he was obliged to abandon a lawsuit for trespass which he had brought in the court of common pleas against a local man. His disappointment was, however, no doubt offset by the award to him shortly afterwards of a papal indult for the use of a portable altar and the acquisition of more land at Longton. The negotiation of a marriage contract between one of his sons and a daughter of the Yorkshire landowner, Laurence Hammerton, who agreed to pay him £86 13s.4d. in instalments, may also be regarded as a notable success. During this period Shirburne was busy helping to execute the will of Sir James Haryngton*, with whose family he had been connected since his days as a ward in the custody of Sir Nicholas. In March 1425 he served as a juror at an assize into the ownership of land in the Lancashire village of Chipping, but otherwise his life was spent quietly at home.5

This peaceful state of affairs was dramatically disrupted four years later on the outbreak of a violent feud between Shirburne and Sir William Assheton, the overlord of certain property held by him in Longton. In June 1429 the two men were bound over before the justices of the county palatine to keep the peace and abide the award of the royal council, while at the same time offering sureties of £4 and £100 respectively in the court of Chancery. No more is heard of the dispute, which presumably reached a settlement. Shirburne subsequently became involved in the affairs of another local landowner, Sir Ralph Langton; and in 1431 he was responsible (under guarantees of 300 marks) for the assignment of dower to his friend’s widow. His name also appears on the list of leading Lancashire gentry who were to take the general oath of May 1434 that they would not support anyone breaking the peace.6

Shirburne drew up his will on 3 Jan. 1436, being then ‘of hale mynde and seke of body’. He made elaborate provision for his funeral at the parish church of Mitton on the Yorkshire side of the river Ribble. The two brothers, Sir Robert and Thomas Haryngton, and his own son, James, were named as executors, while the task of supervision fell to Sir John Tempest of Bracewell in Yorkshire, his son-in-law. He died during the course of the next four years, leaving a widow, Agnes, and many children, of whom the names of eight are now known. Agnes lived on until November 1446 when she was succeeded by her young grandson, Robert, a boy of 12 who by then had already been married to a daughter of Sir Thomas Radcliffe*. Sir John Tempest and Thomas Haryngton were again called upon to assist in the administration of her estate, and she was buried beside her husband.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Schreburne, Shurburne.

  • 1. Test. Ebor. ii. 75-76, 105-6; Chetham Soc. lxxxvi. 201, 204; n.s. xcix. 52-53; xciii. 87-88; Lancs. Feet of Fines, iii. 38.
  • 2. DKR, xl. 533.
  • 3. Chetham Soc. xciii. 87-88; xcv. 44-45; xcix. 52-53; Lancs. Feet of Fines, iii. 38; DKR, xxxiii. 4.
  • 4. C219/11/4, 13/1; DL42/17 (2), f. 69; E28/97/16; VCH Lancs. vi. 549; Cal. Scots Docs. (suppl.) v. no. 2077; CCR, 1419-22, p. 129.
  • 5. CPR, 1416-22, p. 292; CPL, vii. 330; Lancs. Feet of Fines, iii. 82; Liverpool Univ. Palaeography Lib. no. 7872; Chetham Soc. xcix. 9.
  • 6. DKR, xxxiii. 19, 26, 40; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 456-7; CPR, 1429-36, p. 379; PPC, iii. 327.
  • 7. Test. Ebor. ii. 75-76, 105-6; Chetham Soc. xcix. 52-53, 60.