John de Shriggeley

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Sir John de Shriggeley, whose family name is also spelled Shirggeley and Shryggeley (died after 1403) was an Irish judge who held several important judicial offices, including Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas. Despite committing two murders, he was a valued servant of the English Crown.

Family[edit]

He was born in County Dublin, son of John de Shriggeley senior. The de Shriggeley family are said to have been fairly recent arrivals in Ireland from Cheshire, and took their family name from the village of Pott Shrigley.[1]

Shrigley Hall, Pott Shrigley, Cheshire

Marriage[edit]

In 1385 married he Nicola, daughter of Nicholas Bathe, and widow of Sir Simon Cusacke of Beaurepaire, who was a substantial landowner in County Meath.[2] As the remarriage of a widow needed the Crown's consent, their marriage without a royal licence was technically an offence, but the couple quickly received a royal pardon, in consideration of John's "good service" to the Crown.[3]

Inheritance[edit]

Nicola brought John a very substantial dowry, but they had considerable difficulty in asserting their rights to her lands at Culmullen in County Meath, the ownership of which was disputed by various relatives of Nicola's first husband. In 1393 Shriggeley and Nicola complained to the Crown that they had been unlawfully dispossessed of their lands for more than seven years.[4] The dispute apparently turned violent over the following few years, as Shriggeley and one Geoffrey Cusacke (who was probably a nephew of Nicola's first husband Sir Simon Cusacke[5]) were bound over in 1394-5 to be of good behaviour, to find men of good social standing to act as sureties for their good conduct, and to pledge to do no harm to each other.[6] The Cusacke family continued the struggle to gain possession of Culmullen for at least another generation, long after Shriggeley's death.[7]

Judge[edit]

Shriggeley was appointed second Baron of the Court of Exchequer (Ireland) in 1382.[8] In 1385 he became Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas. He became Chief Escheator of Ireland in 1386, and at the same time he was made Chief Clerk of the Markets and Keeper of the Weights and Measures for Ireland.[9] He stepped down as Chief Justice in 1388.[10]

He was a trusted servant of the Crown, and in particular enjoyed the confidence of Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland, the prime royal favourite of King Richard II through much of the 1380s. However the Duke's downfall in 1388 does not seem to have harmed Shriggeley's career.[11] In 1389 in consideration of his seven years good service in the "Irish wars" and in "diverse offices", he was given a knighthood and granted lands at Drogheda.[12]

Murderer[edit]

It was no doubt his good services to the Crown which led to his being pardoned in December 1389 for killing Nicholas Cusacke and Richard Cormygan: he was pardoned after a plea for mercy from Geoffrey Vale (this was probably the Geoffrey Vale who was High Sheriff of Carlow in 1374).[13] Little is known of the details of the murders,[14] although Nicholas's surname suggests that it was connected with the long-running dispute over possession of the former Cusacke lands in County Meath, which were held by Shriggeley in right of his wife. The violence of this dispute, which continued for many years, even after Shriggeley's death, was a cause of great concern to the Crown in the 1390s.[15]

Last years[edit]

In 1390 he was granted the lease of "the watermill below Dublin Castle".[16] He was still alive in 1403 when he was described as living at Skryne, County Meath. In the same year he was appointed Captain of the Militia, Keeper of the Peace and a member of the Commission of Array.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Crooks. Peter Factionalism and Noble Power in English Ireland c.1361-1423 Ph.D Thesis University of Dublin 2007 p.213
  2. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol.1 p.165
  3. ^ Patent Roll 9 Richard II
  4. ^ Crooks p.212
  5. ^ Although his father Thomas Cusacke, Simon's half-brother, was said to be illegitimate: Crooks pp.212-3.
  6. ^ Crooks p.212
  7. ^ Crooks pp.212-3
  8. ^ Ball p.165
  9. ^ Crooks p.213
  10. ^ Ball p.165- there is a good deal of confusion during the 1380s about the precise dates on which the various holders of this office were appointed and replaced.
  11. ^ Crooks pp.212-3
  12. ^ Leland, John L. Aliens in the Pardons of Richard II Hamilton ed. Fourteenth-century Ireland 2006 Vol. IV p.142
  13. ^ Patent Rolls 12 Richard II
  14. ^ Leland p.142
  15. ^ Crooks p.212-3
  16. ^ Patent Rolls 14 Richard II
  17. ^ Patent Rolls 4 Henry IV