SPARSHOLT, Edmund (d.1416), of Sparsholt's Court, West Hendred, Berks.

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



Feb. 1388
Jan. 1404
Apr. 1414

Family and Education

prob. yr. s. and event. h. of John Sparsholt (d.1360) of Sparsholt’s Court by his w. Maud. m. Christine, 1da.

Offices Held

Tax surveyor, Berks. Dec. 1380.

Commr. to put down rebellion, Berks. Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of inquiry, Berks., Glos. Mar. 1399 (Fitzwaryn estates), Berks. Aug. 1400 (rights of Henry IV’s sister Elizabeth to the manor of Ardington), Nov. 1402 (Fitzwaryn estates), Oct. 1409 (forfeited goods); array Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403; to suppress sedition May 1402.

Sheriff, Oxon. and Berks. 9 Nov. 1395-1 Dec. 1396.

J.p. Berks. 16 May 1402-July 1404, 4 Sept. 1413-d.


Coming from the family which had owned a manor in West Hendred since the 13th century, Edmund would appear to have been a younger brother of William (b.c.1341), the son and heir of John Sparsholt, who died in 1360, for he himself succeeded to this manor by 1381, when assessed at 8s. for the poll tax (of which he was a surveyor). He also acquired some of the family property in Sparsholt, a few miles to the west, as well as an interest in land at West Lockinge. In 1412 his holdings in Berkshire were to be assessed for the purposes of taxation at £20 a year.1

At the elections held in Berkshire for the Parliament of November 1384, Sparsholt acted as mainpernor for the knights-elect, Richard Brouns* and John Arches*, both of whom lived in the same part of the county as himself. Far less satisfactory were his relations with Sir Thomas de la Mare, another close neighbour under the Berkshire downs, where de la Mare owned the manor of Sparsholt. In 1391 James Sparsholt (probably Edmund’s brother) alleged in Chancery that de la Mare and his followers, armed to the teeth, had broken into his property there intending to kill him, and had continued to menace him in such a way that he was unable either to attend services at the parish church or to go about his business unmolested. Edmund was his kinsman’s surety for attendance in court that October, but on the 29th all three parties to the quarrel (de la Mare and the two Sparsholts) were constrained to find sureties under pain of £1,000 that they would keep the peace in future. The Sparsholts’ mainpernors, drawn from the local gentry, included Philip Fitzwaryn, William Golafre*, Robert James* and John Arches, with all of whom Edmund was long to remain on good terms. His friendship with Arches, for example, led to their both acting as trustees of property in London from 1394 to 1396 on behalf of a couple from East Hendred; and that with Robert James caused him to be listed among the witnesses to James’s private transactions on a number of occasions.2

In June 1398 Sparsholt took out a royal pardon, perhaps to escape any unpleasant consequences of his Membership of the Merciless Parliament ten years earlier. The fact that, in April 1399, he witnessed a charter whereby Roger Walden, the archbishop of Canterbury, granted to Richard II the manors of Steventon, Berkshire, and Westbury, Wiltshire, for the endowment of Westminster abbey, need not necessarily mean that he was known personally to Walden; rather it was an indication of his standing in the locality and the proximity of his home to Steventon. Certainly, there is no hint that he was opposed to the deposition of King Richard and the accession to the throne of Henry of Bolingbroke, both of which events he witnessed as a Member of the Commons later in the same year. Indeed, in January following, after the collapse of the earls’ rebellion against Henry IV, he not only took possession on behalf of the government of two horses and other goods belonging to the rebels, but also served as a juror at Oxford castle at the trial for treason of Sir Thomas Blount*. Furthermore, he was described as a ‘King’s servant’ when, in February 1401, he and others received a royal licence to sue for possession of the manor of Harpsden, Oxfordshire, forfeited when another traitor, Sir John Harpeden, had fled to France. (He was most likely acting as a trustee of Harpsden by nomination of a previous owner.) Sparsholt witnessed a charter for the King’s half-brother, Henry Beaufort, bishop of Lincoln, at Oxford in January 1402, and the evidence suggests that he was already included in the circle of close acquaintances formed by the bishop’s cousin, Thomas Chaucer* of Ewelme. He had several dealings with the latter’s friend, John Golafre, whom he accompanied to Parliament in 1407 and 1414. In July 1408 he attested Golafre’s conveyance of the manor of Tidmarsh to feoffees who included Chaucer and Robert James, and in 1412 he himself enfeoffed Chaucer and James, among others, of his property at West Lockinge, apparently so that it might be passed on to Golafre. He was present at the Berkshire elections of May 1413, when Golafre was returned to his sixth Parliament.3

Sparsholt made his will on 7 Aug. 1416, naming his wife Christine as sole executrix. After his death, which occurred some time between 12 Sept. (when he presented to the church at Fifehead Neville) and 2 Dec., the date of probate, he was buried in the graveyard of West Hendred church. His will does not mention any children, but he evidently left a daughter, Alice, the wife of Bernard de la Mare. If, as seems likely, Bernard was a younger son of Sparsholt’s neighbour, Robert de la Mare* (and therefore grandson of his adversary of 1391), the match may well have been arranged with the intention of healing the breach between the two families.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Authors: Richmond / L. S. Woodger


  • 1. CIPM, xi. 188; VCH Berks. iv. 304, 313; CAD, vi. C6030; Feudal Aids, vi. 403; E179/73/46.
  • 2. C219/8/11; C1/68/130; CCR, 1389-92, p. 499; 1396-9, p. 126; Boarstall Cart. (Oxf. Hist. Soc. lxxxviii), 121, 266; Corporation of London RO, hr 124/127/130.
  • 3. C67/30 m. 6; CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 319-20, 427; 1401-5, p. 232; E37/28; CIMisc. vii. 41; CCR, 1405-9, p. 400; CAD, vi. C6149; C219/11/2.
  • 4. PCC 36 Marche; Reg. Hallum (Canterbury and York Soc. lxxii), no. 629; The Gen. vii. 249.