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SMART (SMERT), Roger, of Kenilworth, Warws.
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Family and Education
Duchy of Lancaster forester of Kenilworth out-wood 1388-9; keeper 19 Nov. 1399-d.; lt. of the steward of Kenilworth by Feb. 1402.
Commr. to give livery of certain lands, Warws. Nov. 1399; of inquiry, Warws., Leics. Apr. 1400 (theft); array, Warws. Sept. 1403; arrest Apr. 1406.
Smart’s origins are obscure, although it was as ‘of Warwickshire’ that in 1389 he provided securities at the Exchequer for the prior of Hinckley. There can be no doubt that, being a man of little or no property and of comparatively insignificant status, he owed his election to Parliament for the county to his longstanding connexion with Henry of Bolingbroke. From the 1380s onwards he held a minor post at the duchy of Lancaster castle of Kenilworth, and in 1390 he joined Bolingbroke’s entourage for his expedition to Prussia. It may well have been because of his lord’s disgrace that, in 1398, when Henry stood accused of treason, Smart himself took the precaution of obtaining a pardon from Richard II. According to statements made in the first Parliament of Henry’s reign and confirmed by Smart under oath, in March 1399, soon after John of Gaunt’s death, Richard II’s councillor, Sir William Bagot* (a former retainer of Bolingbroke), on learning that the King had no intention of permitting Henry, as the new duke of Lancaster, to enter his inheritance nor indeed ever to return to England, dispatched Smart to France to inform his lord and in particular ‘to certefye hym that the Kyng was his full enemy and that he shulde helpe himsylff with manhode’. At the height of the crisis during the following summer Smart acted courageously on Bolingbroke’s behalf: from 2 June he held Kenilworth castle at the head of an armed garrison, in readiness for Henry’s landing in England. Subsequently, he was given custody of his lord’s jewels, which he brought with him from Kenilworth to London for the new King on 4 Oct.1
Rewards quickly followed: on followed: on 14 Nov. 1399, as one of Henry IV’s esquires, Smart was granted an annuity of 20 marks for life, charged on the issues of Warwickshire, and five days later another of similar amount from the duchy estate at Leicester; and at the same time he was appointed keeper of Kenilworth forest, a post worth £4 11s.3d. a year. He was now given administrative tasks to perform in his home county: for instance, he was commissioned with the sheriff to ensure that Elizabeth, Lady Clinton, and her husband, Sir John Russell*, might secure possession of Maxstoke castle and the other properties to which she was entitled; and he was instructed to inquire into a complaint made by a former nurse of Henry IV’s sons that some of her chattels had been stolen.2
Early in 1402 Smart appeared as the defendant in a suit brought in Chancery by John Prophet, who, already a member of the Council, was shortly to become the King’s secretary, their dispute arising over issues from the manor of Ansty (Warwickshire) of which Prophet had been granted custody. This can hardly have provided much of a set-back, however. He was now occasionally asked to act as a mainpernor in Chancery, doing so for a canon of Maxstoke priory and for Sir Hugh Despenser’s widow. More important, the following year saw him in the Welsh marches in the army led by Henry of Monmouth (receiving the prince’s wages for his services in June and July 1403); and at the same time he was entrusted with special tasks for the King, such as the delivery of a royal letter written at Nottingham on 14 July to the citizens of Coventry, asking them to help put down the Percy rebellion, and the conveyance of other messages considered too secret to be written down. He may well have been present at the battle of Shrewsbury on 21 July, and in September following he served on a commission to select the best soldiers of Warwickshire to join the royal forces for an offensive into Wales. In October he was apparently one of those who had charge of the earl of Northumberland, held prisoner on suspicion of treason. Early in the following year Smart was returned to his only known Parliament, no doubt being chosen by the community of Warwickshire because of his close personal connexion with the King. Yet, subsequently, he may have moved nearer to the prince of Wales, for he became an associate of Monmouth’s chamberlain, Hugh Mortimer*. In 1407 and 1408, along with John Hotoft* and the proctor of Lire abbey, Smart and Mortimer were granted the farm of the abbey’s extensive estates in England and Wales.3
Little has been discovered about Smart’s landed holdings in Warwickshire, although in his later years he may have acquired property in Tamworth for he had many dealings with the Archer family of that place. He and his wife sought to join the guild of the Holy Trinity at Coventry, but owing to their failure to pay the required entry fee they were not admitted.4 The date of Smart’s death has not been traced.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. CFR, x. 304; Derby’s Expeds. (Cam. Soc. n.s. lii), 118; C67/30 m. 11; Chrons. London ed. Kingsford, 53; Somerville, Duchy, i. 136, 137, 167; DL28/15 f. 69d.
- 2. CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 73, 237; DL28/15 f. 5; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 2.
- 3. Sel. Cases in Chancery (Selden Soc. x), 51-52; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 496; Somerville, 561; CPR, 1401-5, p. 39; E101/404/24 f. 7; Cal. Signet Letters ed. Kirby, no. 930; PPC, i. 216-17; Coventry Statute Merchant Roll (Dugdale Soc. xvii), 44; CFR, xiii. 83, 117.
- 4. CCR, 1399-1402, p. 487; CAD, iv. A8437; v. A10774; Reg. Holy Trinity Guild Coventry (Dugdale Soc. xiii), 65.