Henry Le Waleys: London merchant and royal servant.
London, because of its proximity to the seat of government at Westminster and because of its abundance of merchants who regularly supplied household and government needs, was a natural place from which to draw men for royal service. London's businessmen constituted a group of extraordinarily qualified and willing personnel available to serve the king.
The new administrators mainly arose from the merchant class, and in order to carry on their business activities, they must already have possessed some degree of education; perhaps their training was not as formal or advanced as that of clerics or lawyers, but it would have been sufficient for their work. In addition, some of these men had extensive experience managing the city's affairs, including administrative, legislative, and judicial matters. They had commercial contacts throughout the country and abroad, and regularly dealt with churchmen, nobles, and shire knights, as well as government and household officials. At least some of the recruits were "socially acceptable." As R. V. Turner noted in his study of Henry III's justices, these were not "men raised from the dust." The "second sons" of knightly families who settled in London probably retained their families' social standing. Richer de Refham (d. circa 1328), Lord Mayor at the time of the Ordainers, was more than likely a younger son of a Norfolk knight with ties to the Bigod earls of Norfolk. A few of London's leaders were knights before coming to London; for example, Gregory de Rokesle (d. 1291) held knight's fees in Kent before immigrating to the city. Some Londoners were awarded knighthood by the king, although it happened rarely. (3)
Londoners, dominant in the city's political and economic life, proved both willing and qualified to assume a role in royal administration. Appointment to royal commissions and offices conferred a degree of prestige on the recipient, especially if the appointment entailed responsibilities in either London or a person's place of origin. Richer de Refham, for example, became sheriff of Norfolk after his tenure as London's mayor. Employment by the crown often provided lucrative financial opportunities through contacts with government and household officials responsible for purchasing supplies. Sylvia Thrupp has noted the difficulty in determining whether a London merchant in royal service was primarily occupied in government affairs or remained primarily a businessman, and Anne Crawford has calculated that, "Four out of ten aldermen held important posts in the royal household." (4) Perhaps the distinction is not all that important. The crown found a useful group of men with extensive business, administrative, and political experience who took on a wide array of government responsibilities at a time when they were urgently needed for the functions of local and national government.
Henry le Waleys (d. 1302) was the sort of individual sought by the royal government and probably one who readily accepted appointments in order to enhance his prestige and further his business interests. Waleys enjoyed an unusually successful career in London's business community; he also had a long, active political career in London; and he regularly found himself involved in royal administration in England and abroad.
Henry le Waleys was a "new man" to London. According to Williams in his book, Medieval London, from Commune to Capital, he came from Chepstow, an early Norman outpost in the Welsh Marches. Caroline Barton, however, in her book London in the Middle Ages: Government and People, 1200-1500, suggests a Gascon origin. Possibly neither Chepstow nor Gascony was his place of origin. (5) Waleys is a more common surname than one might expect and is associated with people in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Worcestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Sussex, Buckingham, Norfolk, and Ireland. (6) There are even references to a John le Waleys or Galeys, merchant from Lucca. (7) There are contemporary Henry le Waleyses in various parts of England. One Henry le Waleys was provost of Bristol in 1233, and another Henry le Waleys was a Worcestershire knight. In 1266, a Henry le Waleys was murdered in Buckingham; and about 1282, a Henry le Waleys was murdered in Northamptonshire or Lincolnshire. Neither of these men was the London merchant, who did not die until 1302. (8) It is possible, however, that the Henry killed in 1282 was the Londoner's son. (9)
Waleys' reasons for settling in London and the date of his arrival are problematic. The most likely explanation is financial opportunity, an incentive which undoubtedly motivated many immigrants to the city. London had become the nation's business and commercial center. Its proximity to Westminster, the seat of royal administration, offered opportunities to sell goods to the king, his officials, and individuals who had business at Westminster. In addition, contact with the royal government opened the door to government positions and possible rewards.
People who came to London to advance their business careers often followed a family member to whom they looked for assistance. Besides his sons, Henry and Augustine, Waleys had a brother, Walter, and a nephew, Waiter's son Andrew, living in the city. Walter acquired substantial property in London and Andrew received an annual annuity of ten pounds from Edward, son of the Earl of Cornwall. Unfortunately, there is no indication whether Walter or Andrew preceded Henry to London, or that either relative in any way fostered his career. (10)
There were other Waleyses associated with London, including Lettice, several Williams, Roger, a butcher, Peter, a gurderler, Peter's son John, and Thomas, a pultere. (11) Several of these Waleyses were contemporary to Henry and might have been related. A William le Waleys from Strigiul (Chepstow) who willed London property to Henry was in all likelihood related to him, and this circumstance possibly ties Henry to Chepstow. That Henry le Waleys and Thomas le Waleys as well as several others together owed Richard Munsel ten pounds suggests a possible relationship between Henry and Thomas, but the evidence is tenuous at best. Perhaps this same Thomas held a commission to array Welsh troops in 1282. Another possible benefactor of Henry was Colin le Waleys, mentioned in documents as the queen's serjeant. Anyone associated with the royal family might have been in a position to help a relative make business, social, and political contacts in his early career; however, no evidence exists that Colin and Henry were related. (12)
Waleys probably arrived in London by the early 1250s, at which time he could not have been much more than twenty years old. (13) This estimation of his age is based on the assumption that when he died in 1302, he may have been in his seventies. A life expectancy of sixty-five to seventy years would not be unreasonable. Henry III was nearly sixty-five at the time of his death and Edward I nearly sixty-eight. Within a few years, Waleys established himself as a successful wine merchant with a rapidly growing business. During this period, he married into the Basing family, who were among London's old, wealthy, and influential patricians. (14)
Waleys' spectacular achievements in business and his fortuitous marriage raise the possibility that he had relatives unknown to us who had already achieved economic success and social stature and who helped him succeed. Family members often had different surnames; for example, Henry's son, Augustine, was known as Augustine de Uxbridge. It can therefore be difficult to establish family associations. Other possibilities are that his mother's family had London connections or that family friends had established themselves in London; any of these relatives or friends might have helped young Henry upon his arrival in London. (15)
In his article, "'Edward II in Italy': English and Welsh Political Exiles and Fugitives in Continental Europe, 1322-1364", J. R. S. Phillips examined the activities of a William le Galeys or Waleys who in the 1330s roamed around Germany and Italy, claiming to be Edward II. In his investigation of this personage, Phillips discovered that a Waleys family held estates in Gloucestershire and the vicinity of Chepstow during the reigns of Edward I and Edward II, and that the family had connections to branches of the important Beauchamp and Berkeley families of the area. Possibly Henry and his brother, Walter, were "second sons" of this gentry family from an earlier generation. Younger sons of nobles and knights were not necessarily left to fend for themselves. Fathers often divided their lands among their sons, or in cases where one son was the sole recipient of the family holdings, the heir often maintained his siblings in his household. Younger sons sometimes received financial settlements from their fathers which they could use for their personal advancement. Perhaps Henry and Walter, as "second sons," were given money as their share of the family inheritance and went to London to make their fortunes. This seems to have been the case for some immigrants to London by the thirteenth century. As a descendant of landed gentry with possible ties to important families and with some financial resources, Henry would have found it relatively easy to enter London's business world and associate with the city's social and ruling elite. (16)
Regardless of his origins, reasons for settling in London, and connections to the city, Henry le Waleys quickly established himself as one of the city's leading merchants. Soon after his arrival, Waleys became involved in the lucrative wine trade and apparently made a fortune rather quickly. He imported substantial quantities from Gascony, much of which he sold to the household of Henry III and later to that of Edward I. (17) He sold modest amounts in the early 1250s but by the late 1250s or early 1260s, not many years after his arrival in London, Waleys was selling hundreds of tuns of wine worth hundreds of pounds to the royal households as well as to other parties. His sales to the king led to his appointment as king's merchant and king's serjeant. (18) With Waleys' financial success, he followed the practice of many thriving London businessmen by investing in property, both London real estate and country estates. (19)
Because Waleys regularly acquired and disposed of London property over many years, it is almost impossible to determine the full extent or value of his holdings. It has been estimated that he held, by various tenures, property in fifteen London parishes. Not surprisingly, he became involved in numerous lawsuits. (20) Interestingly, after his death, Waleys' executors disposed of a large number of his London properties, many of which were acquired by Waleys' political rival and future mayor, Richer de Refham. Other portions of the estate were acquired by prominent early fourteenth-century Londoners Robert de Kelesey and William Leyer. (21) Equally interesting and mysterious, his wife and children were almost never mentioned in Henry's property transactions. (22)
Acquisition of country estates was a common practice for London's successful merchants. This was a matter of social prestige as well as profitable investment. They either sought to establish themselves and their families as part of the "country gentry" or, in some cases, reestablish links to their origins. There was also, of course, money to be made from exploitation of land and from selling goods to knights, nobles, and churchmen living in the vicinity of those estates. (23)
Over the years, Henry le Waleys added rural lands to his holdings. As early as 1267-68, he acquired Becheham Manor from Richard de Rupella, a quarter knight's fee in the manor of Shedesley, county Worcester, from Robert Mortimer, and unspecified lands in Beckswurth, county Surrey from John de Wauton. Waleys leased the manor of Lydell, county Cumberland, from John Wake and received during the minority of John Nevill's heir the manors of Great and Little Working, county Essex, as a gift from Edward I's mother and Amadeus Savoy. (24)
Properties in urban centers other than London also came into Waleys' possession. These included a quay and houses in Berwick from the king on condition that Waleys invest 100 marks for repairs, and lands and buildings in Boston for fourteen pounds. (25) In 1284, Edward I awarded Waleys the right to farm six bastides in Perigord for one hundred and seventy pounds. (26) Although the difficulty of determining the value of his holdings outside London equals that of ascertaining the value of properties in the city, given his astuteness as a businessman, Waleys' investments must have been profitable or potentially so.
Waleys' business interests extended beyond the wine trade and property investments. He engaged in moneylending, as did many of his contemporary London merchants. His loans to individuals, rather modest by comparison, ranged from as little as two pounds to more than twenty pounds. In 1291, he and several associates borrowed twenty-three pounds, twelve shillings, and eight pence. (27) Waleys engaged in several other business ventures. Apparently, he owned a mill in London and operated ships primarily to transport cargos of wine from Gascony, cloth from the continent to sell on the English market, and hides and wool which he shipped to the continent. One shipment of hides had the sizeable value of 410 marks. (28)
It is difficult to estimate Waleys' wealth in monetary terms; however, several references offer some indication. At times he was paid or owed as much as two or three hundred pounds as well as lesser sums in connection with his sales of wine to the household. (29) In 1289, Waleys contributed 100 shillings to a gift of 1,000 pounds made by London to the king, and Waleys and Philip de Northampton guaranteed ten pounds owed by Alice de Stistede for the upkeep of London Bridge. (30) To estimate the value and income from his properties would be mere guesswork; however, given the sort of businessman Waleys must have been, they were presumably profitable investments.
Following the pattern of many successful merchants, Waleys entered London's political arena. His marriage into the Basing family, his possible connections to the rural aristocracy, and his accumulation of wealth would have enhanced his opportunities for a successful political career in the city, which, in turn, would have opened doors to additional business. Waleys served as sheriff of London and Middlesex, held a seat on the aldermanic council for a quarter of a century, and between 1273 and 1299, served five controversial terms as London's mayor. His contacts with royal officials as wine merchant to the household in the 1260s and 1270s, his adherence to the royal cause at least during the late phase of the baronial conflict, and his political leadership in London, especially during his first terms as mayor, led to numerous and important assignments in the king's service.
If Waleys' early political activities and achievements are less mysterious than his origins and reasons for his business success, they are nevertheless somewhat ambiguous. In the early to mid-1260s, Waleys may have sympathized with the cause of Simon de Montfort and his London allies; however, he eventually aligned himself with Henry III's supporters. Williams suggested that his altered position resulted from his failure to secure the office of bailiff in 1265. (31) Possibly Waleys was less an idealist than an opportunist who calculated that Henry III would ultimately triumph over his adversaries and that his own business interests with the crown would suffer as a result of his adherence to the rebel cause. Perhaps other equally important factors motivated Waleys' change of heart. He may have allied himself with those who sought stability in London because he recognized the threat posed to the merchants' interests by radical leaders such as Thomas fitz Thomas and Walter Hervey, who fostered political, economic, and social unrest by the craft guilds. Family ties might have played a role in Waleys' decision to change sides. He had married into a patrician family which would not have found the conflict conducive to its, or to his, welfare. Basing family members may have helped persuade Waleys to abandon his support for the rebels. We may never know with certainty the depth of Waleys' support for the baronial cause or what prompted him to change his allegiance, if he did. What does seem certain is that before the conflict with King Henry III and his barons came to an end, Waleys had joined with leading Londoners such as Gregory de Rokesle, Arnold ritz Thedmar, John Ardien, John Gisors, and most aldermen in supporting the king. According to Fitz Thedmar's chronicle, these royalist supporters were marked for assassination by London radicals but were saved by news that De Montfort had been defeated and killed at Evesham. (32)
By 1269, if not earlier, Waleys began his active political career in London. He became alderman for Cordwainer Ward in 1269 and was to hold this seat for a quarter of a century. In 1270, Waleys and Gregory de Rokesle, a man with whom Waleys would be closely associated in London politics and royal service for many years, were elected sheriffs of London and Middlesex. London officials frequently failed to enforce various ordinances; however, during their one-year tenure in office, Rokesle and Waleys gained notoriety by enforcing regulations dealing with the quality of bread and prosecuting bakers for making substandard products. Waleys was elected mayor numerous times, serving from 1273-74, 1281-84, and 1298-99. Given his considerable political influence, it is noteworthy that he represented London in parliament only once, in 1283. (33)
Henry le Waleys' elevation to the office of mayor in 1273 occurred as a result of London's ongoing political struggles. He was supported by a faction of aldermen determined to depose Walter Hervey and install a mayor sympathetic to the interests of merchants. Hervey had supported Henry III in the initial phase of the baronial conflict; however, before the king's victory at Evesham, Hervey had become leader of a radical, pro-Montfort element in London. He vigorously backed efforts by craft guilds to break the political and economic domination of the city by the merchant guilds. To this end, Hervey attempted to empower craft guilds by granting them charters. (34)
Secure in his position as mayor and with his allies dominant in the aldermanic council, Waleys suppressed the craft guilds and eliminated Hervey as a political power in London. Waleys provoked a fight with fishmongers when he ordered them to clean up their operation in Cheap, and Hervey challenged his nemesis by supporting the fishmongers. Waleys and his aldermanic allies then used the situation to destroy Hervey and his friends. Hervey and several of his cohorts were arrested and imprisoned. Hervey was deposed from the aldermanic council and charged with bribery, fraud, and subversion of justice. There is no evidence that Waleys was motivated by a desire to crush all political opposition; rather, in the broad context of London life, he sought to maintain law and order in the city and to improve living conditions such as public health and sanitation. (35)
Waleys achieved some success in dealing with London's problems during his tenure as mayor before he vacated the office in 1274. Between 1274 and 1281, he undertook varied and numerous assignments for Edward I. (36) In 1281, Waleys returned to an active and controversial role in London politics. He was reelected mayor and served until voted out in 1284. (37) Law and order had remained a serious problem in London, and this situation raises the possibility that Waleys reentered London politics at the king's behest. Edward I already had embarked on a reform program which he hoped would bring law and order to the country, and he wanted to impose his will on London by forcing the city's compliance. Waleys certainly had the king's support; for soon after he assumed office, Edward I issued an edict directing the new mayor to take whatever steps were necessary to restore and maintain order. In an effort to thwart challenges to Waleys' actions, the king issued orders to royal justices forbidding them from interfering with the mayor. (38)
With single-minded determination and royal backing, Waleys undertook to enforce existing municipal ordinances as well as initiate sweeping reforms. He required that all trades register persons engaged therein and maintain a current list of addresses and wards in which they lived. Each alderman and two worthy men had to inquire into persons operating hostels and compile a list of all lodgers over the age of twelve and their respective occupations. Those persons deemed undesirable were compelled to leave the city. Waleys ordered that people fluent in languages be posted at the city gates while they were open in order to communicate with aliens and natives, and keep track of their activities in order to prevent trouble in the city. He imposed and enforced a curfew for the city. To enforce the curfew, six persons patrolled each ward, and gatekeepers were required to sleep at or near their posts. Special officers were assigned to Billingsgate and Queenhithe to keep watch on boats moored on London's side of the Thames. Each of these serjeants maintained a boat and crew of four to guard both sides of London Bridge so that no one could cross the river and enter London after curfew. (39)
Waleys directed the building of a new prison, the Tun, in order to confine malefactors. He imposed fines on those who violated city ordinances. For example, carpenters and masons who paid wages to employees contrary to ordinances faced a fine of forty shillings, and those who accepted the illicit wages faced imprisonment. A more drastic punishment awaited bakers convicted of fraud; they were dragged through London's streets. (40)
Waleys and the aldermen decreed that sheriffs should no longer place Middlesex County to farm, perhaps in an effort to guarantee proper accounting of revenues. (41) Attempts were made to insure that land pleas were effectively and honestly conducted. (42)
In order to control the mess and unsanitary conditions created by butchers and fishmongers plying their trade on London Bridge, Waleys established a special market, the Stokes, for the processing and sale of their victuals. The money raised by leasing stalls to those merchants was used toward the maintenance of London Bridge. (43)
A housing project near St. Paul's was initiated and carried out under Waleys' supervision. As with the Stokes market, revenue from the development was used to maintain London Bridge. The dean and chapter of St. Paul's protested the housing project, claiming that its proximity to the cathedral's churchyard wall prejudiced the interest of the bishop and chapter. Waleys, however, paid no attention to the complaints and pushed on with his building plans. (44)
London's walls had deteriorated and the city had received permission from the crown to collect customs to pay for repairs. Apparently, the work was incomplete, and additional revenues were needed. With Waleys' connections to the royal government he sought and received permission to extend the customs collection in order to finish the project. (45)
In his efforts to maintain law and order, carry out reforms, and support royal interests, Waleys frequently acted in an arbitrary manner. He often pursued his goals with little or no consultation with the aldermanic council. Waleys' ruthless administration of London and his unfailing support for royal policies with respect to the city ultimately led to his downfall as mayor in 1284. His reforms eventually antagonized many important Londoners and his loyalty to the king seemed to threaten the city's liberties. Although Waleys' reforms and administrative techniques were controversial at the time he left office and would remain controversial for many years, (46) it must be said, in fairness to him, that he attempted to deal with London's numerous and serious problems. His success at imposing law and order and dealing with health and sanitary conditions must have been limited, for many mayors who followed him had to contend with the same issues with no better success than Waleys had achieved.
In 1285, Edward I, taking advantage of the refusal by mayor Gregory de Rokesle and the aldermen to attend the royal justices at the Tower, revoked London's liberties and governed the city through royal custodians for the next thirteen years. In 1298, however, Edward was forced to restore London's privileges and right to elect its mayor in the aftermath of baronial resistance to the king's taxation and military expedition to the continent. Henry le Waleys was the first mayor elected after the restoration. There is little doubt that the election attempted to appease the king, who had planned to reappoint a royal custodian upon his return from the continent. Edward had not abandoned his efforts to force London to conform to his will. (47) Because of Waleys' reputation as a loyal servant of the king and supporter of royal interests in London, his election seemed an ideal means to derail the king's plan. To assure London's freedom, Waleys and other leading citizens agreed to pay a substantial sum to have the king confirm London's liberties and to remit other fines levied against the city. (48)
Waleys' tenure as mayor lasted one year and was as controversial as his previous years in office. He enforced royal writs to clear London of criminals and took action against millers, bakers, and brewers who were accused of cheating customers. In an attempt to deal with one problem, Waleys required that all grain be milled in the city to ensure quality and honest weight. (49) He prohibited some foreign merchants from transacting business in the city because they apparently failed to pay taxes, an action which prompted Archbishop Winchelsea to protest and to threaten Waleys with excommunication for violation of Magna Carta and Edward I's orders. (50)
Determination to carry out his program led Waleys to depose Hugh Bedel from the aldermanic council. Bedel faced charges of trespass against the mayor. Although trespass against the mayor was not explained, it may have meant that Bedel had resisted Waleys' policies. (51)
Waleys came into conflict with London's sheriffs, Richer de Refham and Thomas Sely. Although what led to the dispute remains unclear, Refham and Sely had to pledge before the aldermen not to commit any trespass against the mayor; if they did, they faced a fine of one hundred pounds. Refham and Sely seem to have retaliated; they accused Waleys of keeping fifty pounds levied against foreign merchants, money which he should have delivered to the sheriffs before leaving office. Although the outcome of the charges is unknown, Waleys had to appear before the Barons of the Exchequer to answer the accusations. (52)
In October 1299, Henry le Waleys was deposed as mayor of London. (53) The reasons for his downfall were similar to those which ended his tenure as mayor in the 1280s. He had succeeded in antagonizing many of his fellow citizens by the way he conducted London's government. His seeming subservience to the king's wishes to the detriment of the city's liberties and his arbitrary and ruthless manner of governance were foremost among the many objections to Waleys' continuation in office. Perhaps bakers, brewers, and millers considered his policies a threat to their economic welfare. Waleys' political career, however, was not entirely bound to London; rather he had a long, varied, and rewarding career in royal service.
Although Waleys had served Henry III as the royal wine merchant and had contacts with Edward I before his accession to the throne, Waleys' many years of royal service began when he first encountered the new king while Edward was in France on his way home from a crusade. The king summoned several prominent London merchant/politicians, including Waleys, to attend him. Edward sought their assistance in his negotiations for an Anglo-Flemish peace and trade treaty, calling upon these people because they represented England's leading commercial center. For Waleys, the meeting became an opportunity to serve Edward, something he would do for the next quarter century. (54) Apparently, Waleys' efforts to end London's chaotic condition and his loyalty to the new king and his late father so impressed Edward I that he appointed Waleys mayor of Bordeaux, undoubtedly hoping that the strong-willed Londoner would impose order on its citizenry. (55) Waleys, for his part, could not easily have rejected an assignment by his king, nor would he have wanted to. The appointment would enhance his prestige as well as bring him into contact with the king and many household and government officials. As a leading London wine merchant, Waleys could use his position in Gascony and contacts with royal officials in both England and Gascony to further his business interests. Although his tenure as mayor of Bordeaux was relatively brief, no more than a year, Waleys found himself engaged in other governmental work in Gascony. He became assistant to the seneschal of the duchy and seems to have had a hand in planning new towns in the region and farming taxes in several of them. (56))
Waleys became something of an expert in urban planning and renewal. In addition to undertakings in London, he helped draw up plans and ordinances for Berwick; and with Gregory de Rokesle and Stephen Penchester, warden of the Cinque Ports, he planned the new city of Winchelsea. The old town was becoming uninhabitable as it sank into the sea. (57)
Edward I nominated Waleys to numerous judicial commissions which included gaol delivery, oyer and terminer, and general eyre as well as a special tribunal to deal with property of condemned Jews. The various judicial appointments involved cases in London, Kent, and Surrey and dealt with robbery, trespass, counterfeit, conspiracy, and murder. (58)
One especially noteworthy oyer and terminer case indicated the confidence and trust Edward placed in Waleys and exemplified Waleys' association with powerful and influential people. The case in question, of great concern to the king, involved a plot against the king himself and Prince Edward. Waleys, along with Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, and Ralph de Sandwich, an important royal agent, dealt with charges brought by Landus Bonacurrsi of Lucca against Alderbrandis Malagaile and Brinus Maymund, merchants of Lucca. Bonacurrsi accused his fellow countrymen of conspiring to counterfeit the king's great seal and privy seal, as well as Prince Edward's seal, and to poison both the king and the prince. (59)
The royal government relied upon Henry le Waleys for numerous other assignments. For example, as early as 1269 or 1270, he assessed taxes in York. During his tenure as London's mayor in the 1280s, he received and recognized claims of debts, enforced ordinances against false and clipped money, conducted inquiries into forfeited Jewish property and merchants' and Jews' silver sheets and false silver sheets, and investigated lime kilns in Southwark and London suburbs to determine if they were causing pollution. Late in his career, he arrayed 1,000 soldiers in Worcestershire and held a commission to enforce ordinances regulating money in Dover. (60)
Loyalty and service to the royal interests enabled Waleys to gain influence with the king and his ministers. The special grants and favors bestowed on him by Henry III and, especially, by Edward I indicate Waleys' standing. Waleys served as Henry III's serjeant and received protection and safe conduct for overseas business ventures as well as exemptions from tallages, prises, prests, and service on various judicial panels in London and elsewhere. That these special exemptions were made at the request of Prince Edward suggests that Waleys was known to and had established a relationship with Edward before he became king. Henry III also granted Waleys exemption from various debts and fees owed to Jews on lands which he leased in London for seven years. Waleys' influence with Henry III enabled him to secure exemption from prises, prests, aids, and customs for those who purchased firewood and timber from a park which he had acquired from Richard de Rupella. (61)
Just as his father had favored Waleys, so too did Edward I with rewards and special concessions. When Edward showed antipathy toward London merchants by turning to alien merchants to supply the household, Henry le Waleys and Gregory de Rokesle, an equally loyal supporter of the king, continued to benefit from royal patronage by selling goods to the household. (62) Edward acquitted Waleys of a fine of 30 pounds levied by justices on eyre for allowing prisoners to escape during his tenure as sheriff. The king awarded him property, including those in Berwick and Perigord mentioned earlier, and lands in Surrey which the king had confiscated from Jews who had been expelled from England. Waleys was granted license to alienate in mortmain London property and remittance of a fine of six pounds imposed by London's sheriffs. Edward gave him license to let Lydel manor in Cumberland from John de Wake and ratified a grant of custody for Great and Little Working manors in Essex. (63)
Waleys seems to have been on intimate terms with the king and his officials. For example, he witnessed grants to Robert Burnell, the king's chancellor. The king honored Waleys and undoubtedly showed his good will toward him when he held a meeting of the royal council in Waleys' London residence. (64)
London aldermen referred to themselves as barons and considered themselves worthy of such an august title. The royal government recognized their use of the title; communications from the crown frequently addressed the aldermen as barons. Yet, when London representatives, including those who were aldermen, attended early parliaments, they sat with representatives from other urban centers rather than with the magnates or knights. Although knighthood was a desirable form of recognition of a person's status and importance, according to Barton, it was only rarely granted to Londoners by the king. Some Londoners might have assumed knighthood on their own or have been compelled to assume the dignity as a result of distraint of knighthood. If, as Crouch suggests, conferring knighthood by the king raised one into the ranks of the nobility, it was a means by which Edward I recognized and honored Waleys for his years of loyal and effective service, just as holding a meeting of the royal council at Waleys' residence must have been a sign of royal respect and honor. (65)
Henry le Waleys had connections with and access to numerous prominent people, including members of the royal family. He served on judicial commissions with Ralph de Sandwich, one of the royal custodians of London during the 1280s and 1290s, the Earl of Lincoln, and Edmund, Earl of Cornwall. (66) He witnessed transactions for Anthony Bec and Robert Burnell, both highly placed royal officials and ecclesiastics, and Roger Clifford, a close associate of the king. It is suggestive that on the lists of witnesses on some of these documents, Waleys' name appears along with those of leading political, administrative, judicial, and ecclesiastical figures. Among the names are Ralph Hengham, at various times chief justice of the King's Bench and Common Pleas, Anthony Bec and Thomas Bec, and John de Kirkby, royal treasurer. (67)
Business transactions brought Waleys into contract with a circle of prominent people. The Countess of Leicester borrowed fifty-six pounds from him. Robert Burnell and Waleys engaged in a land transaction in Southwark. Waleys and Robert de Colebrook owed Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, sixteen pounds. (68) Waleys seems to have had ties to Luke de Taney, a close associate of Edward I who attended him on his crusade, supported Henry III during the baronial uprising, commanded troops in the Welsh wars, and served as seneschal of Gascony. Waleys acted as an executor for Taney's will, and executors were usually people closely associated with the deceased. (69) The Archbishop of Canterbury appointed Waleys to oversee repairs to his residence at Lambeth, an assignment which perhaps resulted as much from Waleys' known experience in urban development in London, Gascony, Berwick, and Winchelsea as from any contacts Waleys had with the archbishop. (70)
As a result of his loyalty to the royalist cause during the baronial struggle and his business contacts with the government and household, Waleys established a relationship with Henry Ill and Edward I as well as other members of the royal family. The privileges Edmund of Cornwall secured for Waleys were "exemptions for life ... from prests, prises, exactions, and tallages" for his lands, tenements, and merchandise in London and outside the city. (71) Eleanor, the Queen Mother, and the king's kinsman, Amadeus of Savoy, granted to Waleys custody of the manors of Great and Little Working in Essex during the minority of the heir. Waleys' association with the Earl of Cornwall likely led the earl to grant an annual payment of ten pounds from the farm of Queenhithe to Waleys' nephew, Andrew. (72)
Henry le Waleys' life and career were, of course, unique. He probably came to London from the West Country and established himself as a successful merchant, primarily in the wine trade. He married into an old, prominent patrician family, achieved extraordinary political influence and power in London, and became a highly regarded and effective royal servant.
In a broader sense, however, Henry le Waleys' life and career provide a useful prosopographical study of the London merchant class in the thirteenth century. In many ways his background and accomplishments are similar to those of other Londoners such as Gregory de Rokesle and Richer de Refham. They were men seemingly of financial means who translated themselves from the country to take advantage of new financial opportunities and possibly establish relations with the royal government and household. They attained political power in London and became active in royal administration. Their, employment by the crown reflects expansion of governmental activities and the need for the royal government to enlist the services of men with extensive political and administrative experience. London's business and political elite provided the king with the manpower he needed to help him govern at both the central and local levels.
Before the end of the fourteenth century, men whose families came from an urban, business background were following the path established by Waleys and other similar figures, moving in the highest ranks of government and achieving extraordinary influence. Richard de la Pole, originally from Hull, and especially his brother, William, provide excellent examples of such men who became prominent during Edward III's reign. William's son, Michael, became Richard II's chancellor and was made Earl of Suffolk by Richard. The expansion of government on both the local and central levels had created a consequent demand for additional administrators. Combined with the availability of experienced businessmen who were able and willing to assume responsible positions, this growth brought about the rise of a powerful new entity, the indispensable administrator and royal servant drawn from the increasingly influential urban merchant class who was able to serve both his own interests and those of the government.
(1.) I am indebted to the Department of History, Florida Atlantic University, for summer stipend which enabled me to complete research on this project. A summary of this material was presented to the New College Medieval and Renaissance Conference, March, 2006.
(2.) Helen Jewell, English Local Administration in the Middle Ages (Newton Abbot, Devonshire: David and Charles, 1972), 7-12; Michael Prestwich, War, Politics and Finance under Edward I (Totowa, N.J.: Rowan and Littlefield, 1972), 38-40. Also see Michael Prestwich, Plantagenet England, 1225-1360 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005), 55-70.
(3.) G. Williams, Medieval London from Commune to Capital (London: Athlone Press, 1970), 330-1; Ralph V. Turner, Men Raised from the Dust: Administrative Service and Upward Mobility in Angevin England (Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988), 1-19; David Crouch, The Birth of Nobility: Constructing Aristocracy in France and England, 900-1300 (Harlow, UK: Pearson, Longman, 2005), 241,241 n. 44.
(4.) Sylvia Thrupp, The Merchant Class of London, 1300-1500 (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press, 1962), 534; Anne Crawford, A History of the Vintners" Company (London: Constable, 1977), 40.
(5.) Williams, Medieval London, 245, 334-5; Caroline M. Barron, London in the Late Middle Ages: Government and People, 1200-1500 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004), 22. Williams makes no mention of a possible Gascon origin, and Barton does not provide much in the way of proof.
(6.) Calendar of Patent Rolls [CPR], 1272-81,160, 179, 193,204, 206,208,289, 396,415,420, 445, 475 (London, 1891-1986); See indices in CPR, 1258-66 and Calendar of Close Rolls [CCR], 1279-88, 1296-1302 (London, 1891-1986) for other Waleyses; Knights of Edward I, vol. 5 (London: Harleian Society, 1932), 84: 139-42.
(7.) R. R. Sharpe, ed., Calendar of Letter-Books Preserved among the Archives of the Corporation of the City of London, 1275-1498, Books A-L, 11 vols. (London: Corporation of the City of London, 1899-1912), Letter-Book A, 113; CPR, 1292-1301, 449-50.
(8.) J.J. Stocken, Collection towards a Bibliographic Account of the Lord Mayors, Aldermen, and Sheriffs of the City of London, Guildhall Mss.; Knights of Edward I, vol. 5, 141; CPR, 1258-66, 680; CCR, 1279-88, 203; CCR, 1296-1302, 208.
(9.) A. B. Beaven, ed., The Aldermen of the City of London, Temp. Henry III-1908, 2 vols, (London: E. Francis & Company, 1908, 1913), vol. 2, 2, 375; Martin Weinbaum, ed., London Eyre of 1276 (London: London Record Society, 1976), no. 499.
(10.) Letter-Book A, 8, 27, 158; Letter-Book C, 191; Calendar of Deeds and Wills, Guildhall Record Office, 4/107, 5/19, 14/48, 14/49, 30/3; CPR, 1266-72, 210; Weinbaum, Eyre of 1276, no. 731; Helen Chew and William Kellaway, ed., London Assize of Nuissance, 13011431: A Calendar (London: London Record Society, 1973), 318; Williams, Medieval London, 334 n. 8. The earliest reference that I found for Waiter's presence in London is 1268; however, there are hints that he was in London before that date.
(11.) Weinbaum, Eyre of 1276, nos. 30, 67, 75, 142, 216, 581; Letter-Book A, 112, 119-120; Letter-Book , B 265; R. R. Sharpe, ed., A Calendar of Willis Proved and Enrolled in the Court of Hustings, A.D. 1258-1688, pt 1, (London: Corporation of the City of London, 1899), 168; Chew and Kellaway, Assize of Nuisance, no. 518.
(12.) CCR, 1296-1303, 580.
(13.) Williams, Medieval London, 333.
(14.) Sharpe, Cal. of Wills, pt. 1, 234; Weinbaum, Eyre of 1276, nos. 502, 517, 522; CPR, 1258-66, 145; Barton London in the Late Middle Ages, 22; Williams, 323-24; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 56, 799; Anne F. Sutton, The Mercery of London: Trade, Goods, and People, 1130-1578 (Burlington, Vt.: Aldershot, 2005), 29. See below for further discussion about Waleys' business activities and interests.
(15.) Weinbaum, Eyre of 1276, no. 502; Williams, Medieval London, 333-35.
(16.) J. R. S. Phillips, "'Edward II' in Italy: English and Welsh Political Exiles and Fugitives in Continental Europe, 1322-1364," in Thirteenth Century England, 10, ed. M. Prestwich, R. Britnall, R. Frame (New York: Woodbridge and Rochester, 2005), 209-222; David Crouch and Claire Trafford, "The Forgotten Family in Twelfth-Century England," The Haskins Society Journal 13 (1999): 41-64.
(17.) Calendar of Liberate Rolls, vol. 4, 481.
(18.) Liberate Rolls, vol. 4, 80; Barron, London in the Middle Ages, 86; Williams, Medieval London, 65, 245, 333; Knights of Edward I, vol. 5, 140.
(19.) CPR, 1258-66, 145, 161,162, 198,262; CPR, 1266-72, 90, 199,208,226,396,445; CPR, 1272-81,139, 212; CPR, 1281-92, 148; Liberate Rolls, vol. 4, 451,470, 494, 499; Liberate Rolls, vol. 5, 16, 22, 26, 27, 67, 73, 86, 248, 271, 278, 280, 297; A. H. Thomas, ed., Calendar of Mayors' Court, A.D. 1298-1307 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1924), 38.
(20.) F. M. Powicke, The Thirteenth Century, 1216-1307, 2d ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), 632.
(21.) For numerous property transactions, see Husting Rolls, Deeds and Wills, Mss., Guildhall Record Office; Calendar of Ancient Deeds, vol. 2, nos. A2008, A2179; Thomas, Cal. Early Mayors" Court, 83, 104; Letter-Book A, 112, 212, 155, 163; Letter-Book C, 6, 121, 191; Letter-Book D, 291; Letter-Book F, 20; CCR, 1272-79, 122-3; CPR, 1278-81,244; CPR, 1292-1301, 106, 140; Chew and Kellaway, Assize of Nuisance, no. 18; Weinbaum, Eyre of 1276, nos. 282, 482, 513, 515; Stocken, Collection; Knights of Edward I, 5: 140; Susan Reynolds, "The Rulers of London in the Twelfth Century," History, 57 (1972): 346; George Unwin, The Guilds and Companies of London, 4th ed. (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1963), 56; Williams, Medieval London, 245, 247, 334.
(22.) Deeds and Wills, 31/3, 4, 5, 8, 35, 43.
(23.) Reynolds, "Rulers of London in the Twelfth Century," 346.
(24.) CCR 1279-88, 262, 334, 463; CPR, 1266-72, 112, 208; CPR 1272-79, 114; CPR, 128192, 64; CPR, 1292-1301, 96, 459; Calendar of Charter Rolls, vol. 2, 403; Eilbert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Place Names, 4th ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960), 33, 416; Knights of Edward I, 5: 140; Unwin, Guilds and Companies, 56-57.
(25.) Unwin, Guilds and Companies, 56; Williams, Medieval London, 333-35. A mark is two-thirds of a pound.
(26.) M.W. Beresford, New Towns of the Middle Ages: Town Plantation in England, Wales, and Gascony (New York: Paeger, 1967), 73. Bastides were fortified new towns in France.
(27.) Letter-Book A, 33, 51, 134-5; Letter-Book B, 13, 83; Letter-Book C, 241; Recognizance of Debt Rolls, 13 Edward I, 1/27, 1/29, 1/120; 19 Edward I, 2/29; 20-21 Edward I, 3/29.
(28.) Weinbaum, Eyre of 1276, nos, 293, 493; Letter-Book A, 2, 69; Letter-Book C, 86; H. T. Riley, ed., trans., Liber Albus (London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1861), 421-2.
(29.) See above for discussion about wine trade.
(30.) Letter-Book A, 119, 208; Letter-Book C, 72-3; Beaven, Aldermen of London, vol. 2, 209.
(31.) Williams, Medieval London, 245, 333-34.
(32.) Sutton, Mercery of London, 62-63; Beaven, Aldermen of London, vol. 2, liii.
(33.) Sutton, Mercery of London, 62-63; Beaven, Aldermen of London, vol. 2, liii.
(34.) Beaven, Aldermen of London, vol. 1,263, 375; B. I'Anson, Collection of Mayors" Pedigrees, Guildhall Mss., c78; Weinbaum, Eyre of 1276, no. 3,221; Williams, Medieval London, 333.
(35.) I'Anson, Mayors' Pedigrees, c78; H. T. Riley, ed., Munimenta Gildhallae Londoniensis, Liber Custumarum (London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1860), 82, 117-18; Williams, Medieval London, 245-46, 251.
(36.) See below for discussion about royal service.
(37.) Michael Prestwich, Edward I (Berkeley, Cal.: University of California Press, 1988), 264; Unwin, Guilds and Companies, 56.
(38.) CPR, 1281-92, 80; Knights of Edward I, vol.5, 140; Prestwich, Edward I, 264.
(39.) H. T. Riley, ed., Memorials of London and London Life in the XHI, XIV, and XV Centuries, 1276-1419 (London: Longman and Green for the Corporation of the City of London, 1868), 21; Letter-Book C, 84-85.
(40.) I'Anson, Mayors' Pedigrees, c78; Letter-Book S, 184; Prestwich, Edward I, 264; Williams, Medieval London, 79, 252-53.
(41.) Letter-Book A, 206. Farm was a traditional levy collected by sheriffs.
(42.) Letter-Book A, 206.
(43.) Letter-Book C, 134; Letter-Book D, 281-2; Letter-Book E, 179, 186, 189; Letter-Book H, 241; Liber Custumarum, 274-75.
(44.) CPR, 1281-92; 23; Letter-Book A, 213; Williams, Medieval London, 86, 253.
(45.) CPR 1281-92, 111.
(46.) Prestwich, Edward I, 264-65; Williams, Medieval London, 252-53.
(47.) Letter-Book B, 213; Letter-Book C, 29; I'Anson, Mayors" Pedigrees, c 78; Williams, Medieval London, 261; Prestwich, Edward l, 265; Beaven, Aldermen of London, vol. 2, xiii. Beaven points out that Waleys was elected mayor although he was no longer an alderman.
(48.) Letter-Book B, 74; Letter-Book C, 38; CCR, 1296-1302, 303.
(49.) Riley, Memorials of London, 36-37.
(50.) Letter-Book C, 29, 31-32.
(51.) Letter-Book B, 87; Riley, Memorials of London, 41.
(52.) Letter-Book B, 88; Letter-Book C, 77-78; Sutton, Mercery of London, 81.
(53.) Williams, Medieval London, 262.
(54.) CCR 1272-79, 87, 142; Stocken, Collection; I'Anson, Mayors" Pedigrees, c78. See note 61 for references to early relations between Edward I and Waleys.
(55.) CPR 1272-81, 126; Prestwich, Edward I, 264; Williams, Medieval London, 246, 334.
(56.) Knights of Edward I, vol. 5, 140; Prestwich, Edward I, 308, 310; Williams, Medieval London, 246, 334.
(57.) CPR, 1281-92, 3, 81; CPR, 1292-1301, 226-27; Letter-Book B, 89; Caroline Shillabar, "Edward I, Builder of Towns," Speculum 13 (1947): 297-309.
(58.) CCR, 1279-88, 203; CPR, 1272-81; 371; CPR, 1281-92, 101, 143, 159, 173, 179, 255.
(59.) CPR, 1292-1301, 459; Knights of Edward I, vol. 5, 140.
(60.) CCR, 1279-88, 301; CPR, 1266-1272, 399,424; CPR, 1281-92, 128, 130, 134, 207, 227; CPR, 1292-1301, 313; Letter-Book C, 42.
(61.) CPR, 1258-66, 519; CPR, 1266-72, 99, 208-209; CPR, 1272-81,421; CPR, 1279-88, 364; Knights of Edward I, vol. 5, 140; Williams, Medieval London, 334. See succeeding discussions for significant associations with members of the royal family.
(62.) Williams, Medieval London, 117, 251; Powicke, The Thirteenth Century, 612.
(63.) CCR, 1279-88, 262; CPR, 1292-1301, 14, 408; Cal. of Charter Rolls, 403; Letter-Book B, 83; Beresford, New Towns of the Middle Ages, 73; Unwin, Guilds and Companies, 56-57; Knights of Edward I, vol. 5, 140. Statute of Mortmain (1279) prohibited granting lands to churchmen without the consent of the lord from whom the grantor held the land.
(64.) Williams, Medieval London, 247, 334.
(65.) I'Anson, Mayors" Pedigrees, c78; Letter-Book A, 78, 80, 155-56, 160-61; Letter-Book C, 39; Barron, London in the Late Middle Ages, 144; David Crouch, Birth of Nobility, 243-49. Distraint of knighthood required anyone holding land worth 20 [pounds sterling] to become a knight.
(66.) CPR, 1281-92, 98; CPR, 1292-1301, 459.
(67.) CPR, 1272-81, 381; CCR, 1279-88, 110, 112, 422-23.
(68.) CCR, 1279-88, 183,422-23; Letter-Book B, 90; Knights of Edward I, vol. 5, 140.
(69.) CPR, 1281-92, 334, 446; CCR, 1279-88, 242; Prestwich, Edward l, 70, 190-92, 228, 300-301,303-304, 310.
(70.) CPR, 1272-81,421; Unwin, Guilds and Companies, 56.
(71.) Williams, Medieval London, 246.
(72.) CPR, 1266-72, 8; CPR, 1281-92, 64, 92, 355; Williams, Medieval London, 334.
Dr. Boyd Breslow is an Associate Professor of History at Florida Atlantic University specializing in Medieval History with an emphasis on Western Europe and England.
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