BLICKLING, Roger, of Norwich, Norf.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Simon Blickling of Norwich by his w. Isabel. m. Anne (d.c.1421), 1s.
Bailiff, Norwich Mich. 1386-7, 1393-4, 1400-1.1
Constable of the Staple of Norwich by 26 Aug. 1391.2
J.p. Norwich 12 Apr. 1397-c. 1404.
Blickling’s family originally came from Blickling near Aylsham, Norfolk, but moved to Norwich before the end of the 13th century; and before Roger’s career began, four members of it had held office as bailiff in the city. Roger had come of age by 1380 when he was assigned a yearly rent of 10s. from two tenements in St. Andrew’s parish, and, together with his father Simon (five times bailiff of Norwich), he acquired a messuage in ‘Nethernewport Street’ in St. Giles’s, which they then leased out for £2 a year. Simon died shortly before 25 Sept. 1387, having instructed his executors to give his son first option of purchasing a certain messuage, so long as he paid them £20 to spend on masses for his soul. Subsequently, Blickling held property in the parishes of St. John Maddermarket, St. Botolph and St. Saviour as well. Yet he seems to have been intended for a career more suited to a landed gentleman than a townsman, for on 1 Sept. 1382 he had formally entered the service of Margaret Marshal, countess of Norfolk, who granted him custody for life of her park, warren and game on the manor of Lopham, Norfolk, yearly vesture as one of her esquires (or 13s.4d. in lieu), and 3d. a day from the agistment of Lopham park. The grant was confirmed to him by Richard II in 1385, and its financial provisions were ordered to be continued after the death of the lady (then duchess of Norfolk) in 1399. Meanwhile, certainly in 1394-5 and probably at other times, too, Blickling had acted as receiver of some of Margaret Marshal’s estates.3
It would, however, appear from Blickling’s personal involvement in the affairs of his native city, dating from the year before his father’s death, that he treated the countess’s grant as something of a sinecure and spent little time in her household. In addition to his service as bailiff of Norwich for three terms, he acted on the committee assigned at Easter 1390 to arrange a civic reception in honour of the duke of Lancaster, and in the following year he filled the post of constable of the local Staple, having recently contributed as much as 40s. towards the expense of securing it for the city. Placed by royal appointment on the Norwich commission of the peace in 1397, he then served as a magistrate for about seven years. In 1399 — probably in September — he was one of the citizens who deputized for the bailiffs during their absence in London for discussions with Henry of Bolingbroke, shortly to be made Henry IV, about proposals for a new charter whereby Norwich would become a shire-incorporate. Having been elected to Henry’s first Parliament, Blickling took the opportunity of a visit to Westminster to secure confirmation from the new King of the late duchess of Norfolk’s grants to him, her estates then being in royal custody owing to the minority of the heir, Thomas Mowbray, Earl Marshal. Obtaining a new charter for Norwich proved a more difficult and lengthy business. One serious obstacle was the opposition of the bishop of Norwich, Henry Despenser, who strongly resented the slurs cast upon him in certain letters addressed to Henry IV which, in February 1400, the citizens, at the instigation of Sir Thomas Erpingham, were unwise enough to sign and seal. When, therefore, in 1402 a deputation consisting of two of the bailiffs, the recorder and Blickling called on the bishop at his manor house in North Elmham it found him in no yielding mood; nevertheless, a reconciliation did take place, and he agreed to withdraw his opposition to the charter.4
It was perhaps Blickling’s position as a retainer of Margaret Marshal which had led to his being asked on occasion to act as a feoffee of landed estates in Norfolk. Thus, he had been a trustee of property in the now submerged parish of Shipden, near Cromer, and of the manor of East Carleton, to the south of Norwich, transactions regarding this last property bringing him into contact with Sir Robert Berney*.5 Blickling’s own landed holdings were fairly substantial, although they fluctuated in extent during the course of his career, perhaps owing to changing financial circumstances which remain obscure. He and his father were tenants of the manor of Markshall, some two miles from Norwich, which in 1386 they conveyed to Henry Limner*, although a few years later he had lands at Intwood and Dunston in the same neighbourhood. Both father and son presented to the living at Little Poringland, perhaps in right of ownership of property in Gowthorpe and Swardeston. Other members of the family held ‘Melton Hall’ in Little Melton, to the west of Norwich, a manor which apparently came into Roger Blickling’s own possession in 1408.6
On 15 Feb. 1405 Blickling had taken out royal letters of exemption for life from holding any royal office against his will. His name was put forward by the council of 80 in May 1408 for election as mayor of Norwich, but the 24 aldermen preferred the other candidate, Edward Warner*. Blickling is last recorded in October that same year, acting as a feoffee of property in the parish of St. Peter Mancroft, by grant of William Armyger, esquire.7 He died before October 1415. The ‘20 marks paid into the common chest of Norwich by the gift of Roger Blickling’ ten years later was presumably a bequest. His widow, Anne, made her will on 30 Nov. 1420 and died before May 1422. Whether Roger had been interred in St. John Maddermarket church (where Anne requested burial) or next to the tomb of his father in the collegiate church of St. Mary in the Fields, a place later enhanced with a marble pavement laid on the instructions of his own son Robert Blickling (d.1452), esquire, remains uncertain. The son had been made to pay £66 13s.4d. by John Mowbray, Earl Marshal, to secure manumission, but there is nothing in the evidence of Roger’s own career to suggest that he himself had ever been treated as a villein.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Norf. Official Lists ed. Le Strange, 97-98.
- 2. CIMisc. v. 370.
- 3. F. Blomefield, Norf. vi. 407; CPR, 1381-5, p. 528; CCR, 1396-9, p. 477; Norf. RO, Norwich enrolments, 14 mm. 6d, 7d, 17d, 24, 28; 15 m. 28; 16 m. 3d; R.E. Archer ‘The Mowbrays’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1984), 346. Roger’s relationship to the two William Blicklings who represented Norwich in 1368 and 1383 (Feb.), respectively, is not known.
- 4. Blomefield, iii. 113, 115, 119; Recs. Norwich ed. Hudson and Tingey, ii. 50; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 132.
- 5. CAD, iv. A9501; CP25(1)168/179/169.
- 6. Blomefield, v. 12, 47, 445; Feudal Aids, iii. 626.
- 7. CPR, 1401-5, p. 494; Blomefield, iii. 124; Add. Ch. 62332.
- 8. Norf. RO, Reg. Hyrnyng, ff. 95-96; Norwich Liber Albus, f. 13; Blomefield, iii. 141; iv. 179, 522; vi. 407; Archer, 226.