STRELLEY, Sir Robert (d.1438), of Strelley, Notts. and Shipley, Derbys.

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

s. and h. of Nicholas Strelley*. m. (1) by c. 1409, Agnes, da. of Sir Richard Stanhope*, by his 1st w. Elizabeth, wid. of Henry Trafford, 1s. Robert Stanhope; (2) by Easter 1424, Joan wid. of Sir Thomas Harcourt (d. July 1420) of Stanton Harcourt, Oxon. and Ellenhall, Staffs. Kntd. by 1407.1

Offices Held


The electors of Derbyshire initially chose to be represented at the Gloucester Parliament of 1407 by Sir John Strelley, whose father, Sir Hugh, had died in 1391 seised of the manors of Hazelbridge and Repton in Derbyshire and Redenhall in Norfolk. In the event, however, he was either prevented from taking his seat in the House of Commons or else refused to make the long journey to Gloucestershire; and his kinsman, Sir Robert Strelley (whose father had previously been guardian of Sir John’s Derbyshire estates) took his place.2 Sir Robert later came to occupy a fairly important position in the local community, but he was still at this stage a comparatively young man without any particular responsibilities of his own. As the elder son of the Nottinghamshire MP, Sir Nicholas Strelley, he was, however, heir presumptive to the manors of Strelley, Oxton and Bilborough as well as extensive farmland in that county, together with the manor of ShipIcy and other property in MapperIcy across the county border in Derbyshire, not to mention various holdings in the Yorkshire villages of Friston and Ferrybridge. Yet although he could thus look forward to a landed income well in excess of £40 a year, his father’s remarkable longevity must have created some financial problems, for it was not until 1430, when he himself was nearing 50, that he finally entered his inheritance. Even then, the revenues from his Yorkshire estates were set aside for the purpose of implementing Sir Nicholas’s will, so he was still deprived of some of his patrimony.3

Strelley’s first marriage, to Agnes, the daughter of Sir Richard Stanhope (and widow of her kinsman, Henry Trafford), took place in about 1409; and in December 1411 he agreed to enter a bond worth £200 offered by his father-in-law and the latter’s client, John Tuxford, to Robert Morton*. This almost certainly concerned a protracted and potentially violent dispute over (Sir) William Meryng’s* manor of Little Markham, because just a few weeks later he and his maternal uncle, Sir Henry Pierrepont* (with whom he had already been involved in litigation at the Nottingham assizes), acted together as feoffees of the manor, which later became the subject of an arbitration award. No more is heard of Strelley until 1419, when he was summoned as one of the county representatives to take up arms in the interests of national defence. Together with his father and two other members of the Strelley clan, Sir Robert attended the Nottinghamshire elections to the Parliaments of 1422 and 1423. By the following spring he had remarried, thus effecting a considerable improvement in his fortunes, since his second wife was the widow of Sir Thomas Harcourt, whose father had settled upon her as a jointure the manor of Bosworth in Leicestershire, which alone was worth over £26 a year. Unfortunately for Joan, a royal grant of October 1420, entrusting her with the marriage and wardship of her young son, together with other properties valued at £52 p.a. or more, was revoked a few months later in favour of the King’s esquire, John Wilcotes*, but she did at least retain a substantial dower. In her capacity as executrix of her late husband’s will, Joan became involved in a lawsuit for the recovery of a debt of £40 brought against the deceased’s estate by Sir John Savage, and Strelley too was obliged to appear with her as a defendant.4

After his father’s death, our MP began to play a more active role in society and his career is correspondingly better documented. He seems to have encountered some difficulties in establishing his title to the manor of Strelley, for at about this time he accused the lawyer, Peter de la Pole*, of having made a re-enfeoffment of the property without his knowledge. De la Pole assured him that no such transaction had ever taken place, and managed to allay his suspicions. In 143I Strelley sold the wardship and marriage of William Eland of Adbolton in Nottinghamshire to Henry Kniveton for 50 marks; and two years later he again took part in the local parliamentary elections. It is hardly surprising to find him listed among the leading members of the county gentry who were to take the general oath of May 1434 that they would not support by maintenance any malefactors or disturbers of the peace. He had, indeed, by then become drawn into his uncle’s celebrated dispute with the Foljambe family, acting as a juror at a grand assize arraigned to examine the various charges of murder, mayhem, assault and insurrection laid against the chief protagonists. Although eventful, his own life was considerably less violent. Shortly afterwards two local men bound themselves to pay him 40s.; and it appears from subsequent litigation that his financial dealings were beginning to be conducted on a far larger scale. During the Hilary term of 1436, for instance, Strelley sued eight different debtors for sums totalling £57 6s.8d., albeit with a marked lack of success on all counts. He was himself charged at this time with stealing cattle worth £10 from a Sheffield man, but he likewise managed to escape the rigours of the law. In 1438 he was the recipient of two bonds pledging the future payment of £14, although he did not live to collect the money. His death occurred on 26 Nov. of that year, just a few days after he had taken on the lease of land in Newark from the prior of St. Katherine’s, Lincoln.5

Sir Robert had already entailed his manor of Strelley upon his son, Robert, who inherited this and all the other family estates. The latter was then aged about 26 and soon began to play an important part in local affairs, being greatly assisted by his marriage to Isabel, the sister of Cardinal Kemp.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Strellay, Streylley.

  • 1. C138/48/64; C139/93/42; Test. Ebor. ii. 3-4; Thoroton Soc. xii. 188-9; xvii. 6-8; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvii. 97; R. Thoroton, Notts. ed. Throsby, 244-5; Vis. Notts. 19-20.
  • 2. CIPM, xvi. nos. 1029, 1030; CPR, 1391-6, p. 56; CCR, 1405-9, p. 398; Feudal Aids, vi. 412.
  • 3. C139/48/28; Feudal Aids, i. 300, 307; iv. 127, 129-30, 188-9; CAD, iii. C3355; vi. C4348, 5331; CFR, xvi. 18.
  • 4. C138/48/64; C219/13/1, 2; E28/97/23; Thoroton, 244-5; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvii. 97, 109-10; CCR, 1409-13, p. 310; 1413-19, p. 51; 1419-22, pp. 90-91, 148; CFR, xiv. 355.
  • 5. C219/14/4; SC1/51/68; CPR, 1429-36, p. 409; CAD, vi. C4656, 4986, 6795, 6801, 6811, 6847; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. iii. 133 (bis ); S.M. Wright, Derbys. Gentry (Derbys. Rec. Soc. viii), 128-30;
  • 6. C139/93/42; Thoroton Soc. xvii. 6-8; HP ed. Wedgwood, 1439-1509, Biogs. 822.