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The High Sheriffs of Devon, From the Conquest to 1472

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        What follows is a comparison of the list of the High Sheriffs of Devon compiled by Tristram Risdon in his "Survey of the County Devon", 1630, with what is considered the definitive list, compiled and published by the National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office ). The National Archives list is to be found in the "Lists of High Sheriffs", contained in the "Lists and Indexes, Vol. IX". It was first compiled in the 1890s and updated in the 1960s. Tristram Risdon (b. 1580 d. 1640) was a Devon antiquarian who wrote several books on Devon history and geography.

        There are many discrepancies between the two lists. Mr. Henry Summerson, of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and author of "The Crown Pleas of Devon Eyre, 1238", writes that Risdon..." simply wasn't equipped to get that sort of thing right (a shortcoming he shared with many of his antiquarian contemporaries), he wasn't careless or an inaccurate transcriber, as far as I can tell, and in that respect he was certainly better than Izacke, who copied much of his material from John Hooker and mangled it in the process." 

        The significance to our Bath, Bathe, de Bathe family name study lies in the absence from the Archive's list of three out of the four Walter de Bathons ascribed by Risdon as being High Sheriffs; in 1216 to 1219, 1290 and 1324. The former error has been identified as coming from a misdated contemporary record. Mr. Summerson identified this record as actually pertaining to the later Walter de Bathonia, High Sheriff from 1236 to 1251. From where Risdon derived his latter two entries is unknown. Did they perform some functions as sub-sheriff ? Did they exist at all ? There was certainly a Walter on the 1316 Parliamentary Rolls. The secondary sources reporting these individuals, particularly John Prince, apparently based their information on Risdon's work. In defense of Risdon's work we submit one of many examples from the lists, this one from the the reign of Edward III:

The List of Tristram Risdon The National Archives (PRO) List

John Ralegh of Churneys

14, 15

  John de Ralce of Charles 28 Jan. 1340

            The name of Ralegh (Raleigh) is well known, the Ralce surname does not exist. The village of Charney exists in the county of Berkshire, whereas there is no known place as Charles in England. By this we do not mean to denigrate, or refute the Archive's list, but it would appear that in this case, as in others, that Risdon got it right whilst the 1890 scholars simply recorded what they saw without question. One may also question the multiple individuals often ascribed to single years in the Archives list, some within a few days of each other. However, we are not in a position to pass judgment on either list.

       The High Sheriffs were appointed by the king and were the king’s representative in their county of jurisdiction. As such their powers were wide and often arbitrary. Their primary functions were those of chief law enforcement officer and tax collector, as well they were responsible for the security of the itinerant justices and raising armed forces for the King. As tax collector, each Easter and Michaelmas (21 March, 29 September) the Sheriffs were required to appear before the officers of the Exchequer and render their accounts for the previous period. The sums owed were negotiable and the difference between what they collected and what they turned over to the Exchequer went into their own pockets. As well, the Sheriff was housed and maintained by the royal castles and manors.  The appointed High Sheriff did not always assume the role in person. He could in turn appoint a sub-sheriff as Nicholas de Molis (Mules) did with Walter de Bathon (Bada) in 1234-5. De Mules was apparently involved in some of Henry III's diplomatic efforts at the time and when asked why his accounts were late replied that he knew nothing of them having left everything in the hands of Walter. Richard, Duke of Cornwall, brother to Henry III and the Elected Holy Roman Emperor is also unlikely to have performed the duties during his shrievalty in 1270.

           From the time of the conquest until the reign of Henry II (1154-1189) the Sheriffs were mostly appointed for life.       Risdon writes of this period ; "William Duke of Normandy, after his conquest over England, made that famous knight Baldwin de Brioniius, hereditary sheriff of Devon, who held the same his life., and the like did Richard his son; after him Adeliza, the sister of Richard , and daughter of Baldwin, held the same place, and stiled herself Vice-commitissa Devon. After the death of Adeliza, or Alice, king Henry II, placed the sheriffs which were as hereafter followeth:" The Archives list gives the following, some of which is written by hand, probably from the 1960's update (in blue font):

                                T.R.E.       Heche (Exon Domesday p. 301)

                                                   Baldwin of Exeter (Domesday pp. 100, 105b)

                                T.R.W.       William filius Baldwini

                                                   Richard filius Baldwini

              1129 and earlier        Geoffrey de Furnellis

                                1135-7        Richard filius Baldwini (Monasticon,v,378)

                                1137-42      Adelise                             (  "                "           )

                                 1142 -?      Alice                                 (  "                 "          )

              From Henry II onwards the sheriffs were normally changed or renewed on a yearly basis.

The List of Tristram Risdon The National Archives (PRO) List
   

The Reign of : Henry II  

(19 Dec. 1154 - 3 Sept. 1189)

  Mich. : 29 Sept.

East. : 21 March

High Sheriff 

Year

  High Sheriff 

Dates From :

Galfride de Furnel, or Furneaux

1

  Richard Redviers, earl of Devon Mich. 1154

 Richard Redvers, earl of Devon

2,3

  William de Boterellis Mich. 1157

William de Boterells

4,5,6

  Hugh de Relega Mich. 1160

Hugh de Ralegh 

7 – 13

  Robert filius Bernardi Mich. 1167

Robert Fitz-Barnard 

14 - 18

  Payne the Chaplain and Alan de Furnellis Mich. 1174

Reginald, earl of Cornwall

19 – 20

  William Rufus Mich 1175

William Rufus

21

  Hugh de Gundevilla East. 1177

Eustachius Fitz-Stephen

22

  William Briewere Mich. 1179

William Rufus 

23

     

Hugh de Gund

21 – 25

     

William de Brigwere

26 to the end

     
   

The Reign of Richard I

( 3 Sept. 1189 - 27 May 1199)

   

William de Bockland, (Cornwall also)

1 – 5

  The Count of Mortain (did not account). Mich. 1189

Henry Furnel, or Furneaux

6, 7

  Richard Revel, Henry de Furnellis Xmas. 1193
Richard Rivell, Allan de Furnell, alias Furneaux, sheriff of Cornwall 8 to the end.   Richard Revel in person, Mich. 1194
      Henry de Furnellis Mich. 1195
      John de Torintona and William de Wroteham. Mich. 1198
   

The Reign of John

(27 May 1199 - 28 Oct. 1216)

   
William de Wrockham, of Devon, and John de Toriton, of Cornwall

1

  Hugh Bardulf, Osbert filius Willelmi East. 1199

Osbert Fitz-William, of Devon, and Hugh Bardolph, of Cornwall

2

  William Briwere East. 1200

Ralph de Mora, of Devon, and Richard Fleming, of Cornwall 

3, 4

  Ralph Morin Mich. 1200

Ralph de Mora, of Devon, and William Brigwere, of Cornwall 

 5

  William Briewerre, Ralph de Mora East 1202

William Brigwere

6 – 10

  Robert de Veteri Ponte, Eudo de Bello Compo. Mich. 1209

William lord Brigwere, and Ralph de Mora in his place. 

11

  Henry de la Pomeray 13 May 1215

Robert Vepont, and Eudo Beaucampe in his place. 

12

  Robert de Erlegh 14 May 1215
      Robert de Curtenai, in possession.  
   

The Reign of Henry III    

(28 Oct. 1216 - 20 Nov. 1272)

   

Walter de Bathon

1, 2, 3 (1216 - 1219)

  William, earl of Salisbury (did not account) 14 Aug. 1217

Robert le Courtney

4, 5

  Robert de Alba Mara (did not account) 30 Mar. 1218

William de Puteo

6

  Robert de Curtenai (accounts from Mich. 1217) 8 May 1218

Walter de Poheir

 7, 8

  William de Lunet Mich. 1218

William le Brigwere, and Roger Langford in his place. 

9

  Walter le Pohier, or Poer (accounts from Mich. 1222) 12 June 1222

William Ralegh

10, 11

  William Briwer the younger, Roger de Langeford (accounts for Briwer from Xmas 1223) 4 Feb. 1224

Roger le Zouch, and Ralph Clark in his place.

12, 13

  William de Ralega (accounts from Mich. 1225) 20 Oct. 1225

Thomas de Cirencester

14

  Roger la Suche or Zuche 10 Nov. 1228

Roger lord Zouch, and Ralph Clark in his place.

15

  Adam de Cerne Mich. 1229

**************

16

  Ranulph de Cerne Mich. 1230

Peter de Rinallio

17

  Thomas de Cyrencestria, Thomas de la Wyle East. 1231

Robert de Villibus 

18

  Peter de Rivall (did not account) 11 July 1232

Nicholas de Mules

19, 20

  Thomas de la Wyle Mich. 1232

Walter de Bathon

21 – 35 (1236 - Easter 1251)

  Robert de Vallibus, Richard de Langeford Mich. 1233

Ralph Cornu 

36

  Peter de Russell (accounts from Xmas 1233) 15 Jan. 1234

William Englefield

37, 38

  Nicholas de Molis, Walter de Bada from East 1234. 26 May 1234

Ralph de Willington

39

  Walter de Bathonia, or Bada 25 Apr. 1236

Gervas de Horton & Henry his son and heir.

40, 41

  William de Englefeld East. 1251

Ralph de Willington

42

  Ralph de Wylinton 25 May 1254

William de Cirencester

43

  Gervase de Horton (his last accounts rendered by Henry his son and heir) 29 Apr. 1255

Ralph de Doddescombe

44

  Robert le Peytevin of Cridy 28 Mar. 1257

John de Mucegros

45 – 50

  William de Cortenay 3 Nov. 1258

Gervas de Horton

50

  Ralph de Doddiscomb Mich. 1259

John de Mucegros

51

  John de Muscegros (accounts from East. 1261) 9 July 1261

Ralph de Esse 

52

  Hugh Peverel Mich. 1264

William de Bickle

53

  Ralph de Esse 22 Oct. 1264

William Prous

54

  Ralph de Gorges Mich 1265

John Wiger

55

  William de Bykelay 23 Nov. 1267

Thomas de Pynn

56

  Simon de Grindham East. 1270
      Richard, King of Almain (did not account) 10 Aug 1270
      Roger de Pridias with Ralph de Teygnemue and John de Wiltone, clerks. Xmas 1270
      Roger de Pridias for the King of Almain Mich. 1271
   

The Reign of Edward I   

(20 Nov. 1272 - 8 Jul. 1307)

   

Thomas de Pynn  

1

  Thomas del Pyn, de Pino, or de Peyn 13 Sept. 1273

John Wiger

2

  John Wiger (his accounts rendered by Henry his son and heir) 12 Oct. 1274

Thomas Pynn

3

  Matthew de Eglesheyl (accounts from Mich. 1276) 15 Jan. 1277

Matthew Furneaux

 4

  Thomas del Pyn (accounts from Mich. 1277) 18 Jan. 1278

Matthew de Eglishull

 5

  Warin de Sicca Villa, or Sechevile 25 Oct. 1278

Thomas de Pynn

6

  Thomas de Pin 1 Oct. 1280

Waren de Backvill

7, 8

  Robert de Wodeton 13 May 1286

Thomas de Pynn

9, 10

  Matthew filius Johannis 17 May 1287

Robert Beaudin

11

  Gilbert de Knovill 16 Oct. 1294

Thomas de Pynn

12 – 14

  Robert de Uppeheye and Richard de Brankescumb, clerks Mich. 1296

Robert de Waditon 

15

  Gilbert de Knovil in person Mich. 1297

Matthew Fitz-John, Lord of Stokenham

16, 17

  Thomas de Ralee, or Ralegh (elected by county) 1 Oct. 1300

Walter Bathon

18 (1290)

  Ralph de Gorges 16 Apr. 1306

Thomas de Scobbahull 

19, 20

     

Matthew Fitz-John

 21

     

Thomas de Scobbahull

22

     

Gilbert de Knowil

23- 28

     

Thomas de Ralegh

29 – 34

     

Ralph de Gorges

35

     
   

The Reign of Edward II  

 (8 Jul. 1307 - 25 Jan. 1327)

   

Thomas de Ralegh, knt.

1

  Thomas de Raleghe 14 Dec. 1307

Nicolas Kirkham, knt.

2, 3

  Nicholas de Kyrkeham 5 Dec. 1308

Matthew Furneaux

 4, 5

  Nicholas de Tewkesbury 19 June 1309

Peter Gantston

6

  Matthew de Furneux 22 May 1311

Matthew Furneaux & Robert Horton

7, 8

  Robert de Horton 16 Jan 1315

Matthew Clevedon

9, 10

  Matthew de Clivedon 8 Oct. 1316

Matthew Clevedon & Robert Bonaden

11

  Robert Bendyn 15 May 1318

Robert Bonaden 

12

  Nicholas de Cheigne 10 June 1321

John Bigberry

13

  John Inge 30 Nov. 1321

 Robert Beauden & Nicolas Cheney

14

  Matthew de Crauthorne, or Crowethorne 30 May 1322

*************

15

  James de Cockynton 4 Oct. 1325

*************

16

     

Matthew Crawthorne

17

     

Walter de Bathon

18 (1324)

     

James de Cockington

19

     

Henry Tirrel

20

     
   

The Reign of Edward III  

(25 Jan. 1327 - 22 Jun. 1377) 

   

James de Cockington

1

  Roger Rodde (accounts from Feb. to Mich.) 15 Feb. 1327

William de Chiverston, Utrum Churston, haud scio.

2

  James de Cockynton (did not account) 2 mar. 1327

*********** 

3

  William de Chevereston (accounts from Mich. 1327) 19 Feb. 1328

William de Fauconbridge

4

  William de Faucomberge 5 Nov. 1328

*********** 

5

  Matthew de Cranthorne (accounts from Xmas 1330) 5 Dec. 1330

Matthew Crauthorne 

6

  Reginald de Monte Forti 20 Sept. 1332

Reginald de Mountfort

7

  William de Aumarle, or Alba Marla 7 Nov. 1333

William de Albemarle

8, 9

  John de Chiddeliegh, or Chudelegh 7 Oct. 1335

John Chidleigh

10, 11

  Hildebrand de London (ordered to surrender office on 5 Dec. following, being ineligible) 3 Nov. 1335

John Ralegh of Beudport, knt.

12, 13

  Peter de Veel 9 Apr. 1336

John Ralegh of Churneys

14, 15

  John de Ralegh of Beaudeport 25 Sept. 1337

Henry Tirrel 

16

  John de Ralce of Charles 28 Jan. 1340

William Pypard

17

  Roger Prideaux (accounts from the same day) 16 Mar. 1341

Walter de Horton

18

  Hervey, or Henry, Tirel (accounts from the same day) 2 May 1341

Henry Tirrel

19, 20

  John de Ralegh of Beaudeport (accounts from Mich. 1341) 10 Feb. 1342

Ralph Britt & Ralph Beaple, knt.

21

  William Pipard (accounts from Xmas 1341) 27 Mar. 1342

Almaric Fitz-Warren 

22 – 24

  William Chambernon (did not account) 29 July 1343

Robert de Hatch

25

  John de la Ryvere (did not account) 1 sept. 1343

William Auncell

26, 27

  Walter de Horton (accounts from Mich. 1343) 16 Oct. 1343

    

John Northcott & William Auncell & Richard Champernon

28

  James de Cockynton (did not account) 4 Nov. 1344

Richard Champernon

29

  John de Chiverston (accounts from 22 Nov.) 9 Nov. 1344

John Dabernon

30, 31

  Walter de Horton ( did not account) 26 Nov. 1345

William Yeo

32

  Hervey Tyre ( accounts from Xmas 1345) 30 Dec. 1345

Richard Branscombe

33 – 35

  Thomas de Ralegh (stated to have intruded by virtue of a pretended commission) 16 Jan. 1347

Almaric Fitz-Warren

36

  Richard Cogan (accounts from 17 Feb.) 22 Feb. 1347

Martin Fishacre 

37

  Ralph Beaupel (accounts from 2 Apr.) 20 Mar. 1347

William de Brightley

38

  Ralph Bryt  (accounts from 3 May) 28 Apr. 1347

 John Boyer

39

  Almaric Fitz-Waryn (accounts from 14 Feb.) 7 Feb. 1348

William Servington

40

  Robert de Hach (accounts from 14 Dec.) 14 Dec. 1350

Richard Branscombe

41, 42

  William Auncel ( accounts from Mich. 1351) 8 Nov. 1351

Thomas Champernon

43

  John de Northcote (accounts from 8 Dec.) 14 Nov. 1353

Thomas de Aiston

44   Peter de Ralegh (did not account) 10 Nov. 1354

Thomas Champernon

45   Richard Chaumbernoun ( accounts from 13 Feb.). 7 Feb. 1355

Nicolas Whiting

46   John Daubernoun ( accounts from 17 June) 30 May 1356

Richard Chisledon

47   John Daumarle of Flete (did not account)j 20 Nov. 1357

John Damerell & Nicholas Pomeray

48   William Yoo (accounts from 1 Jan. 1358) 13 Jan 1358

Richard Branscombe & William Ashthorpe 

49   Richard de Brankescombe (accounts from Mich. 1358) 3 Nov. 1358

Nicholas de la Pomeray

50   Almaric Fitz Waryn (accounts from Xmas) 10 Dec. 1361

John Ralegh

51   Martin Fishacre or de Fishacre (accounts from Mich. 1362) 18 Jan. 1362
      William de Brightelee (accounts from 14 May) 27 Apr. 1364
      John Fitzpayne (did not account) 10 Nov. 1364
      John Boys of Halberton (accounts from Mich. 1364) 5 Dec. 1364
      William Servyngton (accounts from Mich. 1365) 17 Nov. 1365
      Richard de Brankescomb (accounts from Xmas.) 16 Nov. 1366
      Thomas Chaumbernoun (accounts from Mich. 1367) 26 Nov. 1367
      Thomas Chaumbernoun (accounts from 27 Nov.) 27 Nov. 1368
      Richard Chiselden (did not account) 5 Nov. 1369
      Thomas de Afton (accounts from 29 Nov.) 29 Nov. 1369
      Richard Beaumont (accounts from Mich. 28 Nov. 1370
      Nicholas Wityng 5 Nov. 1371
      Richard de Chiselden 12 Dec. 1372
      John Daumarle, knt. 7 Nov. 1373
      Richard Bransecombe or de Brankescomb 12 Dec. 1374
      Nicholas de la Pomerey 4 Oct. 1375
      John Raley, knt. (found surities on 6 Nov.) 26 Oct. 1376
      James Chiddley (did not account) 7 Nov. 1376

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