DUFFIELD, Richard, of Barton-on-Humber, Lincs.
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Family and Education
Collector of pavage, Barton-on-Humber 8 Feb. 1410-8 Feb. 1413.
Clerk of the peace, Lincs. (Lindsey) 1411-49.1
Although he lived at Barton-on-Humber, some miles to the north-west of Grimsby, this MP was almost certainly related to William Duffield (d.1422), a master mariner who was mayor of the town on no less than four occasions between 1394 and 1410. Another William Duffield sat with Richard in the Parliament of 1425, and may well have been his brother.2
There can be little doubt that Duffield was a lawyer, for besides serving as clerk of the peace in Lindsey for some 38 years, he was much in demand as an attorney and mainpernor. Between November 1406 and 1433, for example, he performed the latter service for at least 13 people, among whom were the influential Lincolnshire landowners (Sir) Thomas Cumberworth*, John Hatfield and Walter Tailboys†.3 Tailboys also employed Duffield as his attorney in 1437 in a dispute over the Northumberland estates of Gilbert Umfraville, titular earl of Angus, which he claimed as his inheritance. This was probably the most important lawsuit in which Duffield was retained to plead, although his experience was certainly considerable. From August 1409 onwards he appeared regularly at the Lincoln assizes where he represented a wide range of people in court. He numbered among his clients such local notables as Sir William Cromwell, Sir Richard Hansard*, various members of the Keighley family and Patrick Skipwith†, but he was quite prepared to act for yeomen and tradesmen as well.4 From time to time he discharged other quasi-legal duties. In May 1409 he delivered a summons on behalf of the sheriff of Lincolnshire; and he was also closely involved in the affairs of the abbot of Bardney, who chose him to be his parliamentary proxy in 1414 (Nov.), 1416 (Oct.), 1419, 1429 and 1431. On the first and last of these occasions he was himself returned to the House of Commons, his striking popularity as an MP being in part, at least, due to the reputation which he enjoyed locally as a lawyer, and a possible readiness on his part to forgo expenses when at Westminster. At some point before Michaelmas 1424, the corporation of Grimsby secured his services on an official basis by awarding him an annual fee of 13s.4d. for the rest of his life. In return for this he undertook such tasks as the payment into the Exchequer of municipal fines for the evasion of the currency laws.5
In contrast with his well-documented professional career, comparatively little is known about Duffield’s personal affairs. Throughout his life his home remained at Barton-on-Humber, where he enjoyed a close friendship with a neighbour named John Barnetby, for whom he witnessed deeds (in 1407) and acted as a trustee (in 1409). Despite his connexion with the abbot of Bardney he sided with his fellow parishioners during a dispute between them and the abbot over altar charges and other financial matters. The quarrel came to a head in March 1421, when he and others undertook to accept a compromise solution reached by arbitration. Although not particularly litigious on his own account, Duffield did once go to law for the recovery of a debt of 40s. which was owed to him by a clergyman. On the whole, however, his life passed without vicissitudes of this kind, and by 1431, if not before, he was able to enjoy uninterrupted the ownership of an estate worth at least £10 p.a.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. E101/569/38; E. Stephens, Clerks of Counties, 121.
- 2. Lincoln Rec. Soc. i. 6; HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 288; C67/31 m. 10.
- 3. CFR, xiii. 112; xiv. 261; xv. 57, 58; xvi. 44; CCR, 1405-9, p. 231; 1409-13, p. 178; CPR, 1429-36, p. 323.
- 4. JUST 1/1514 rot. 8, 100, 103, 1524 rot. 3, 1537 rot. 10 (bis); Yr. Bk. 1 Hen. VI (Selden Soc. l), 12; Arch. Aeliana (ser. 3), vi. 75.
- 5. SC10/45/229, 46/2256, 2293, 48/2390, 2400; CPR, 1408-13, p. 79; South Humberside RO, 1/600.
- 6. CP25(1)144/152; CCR, 1405-9, pp. 286, 288; 1422-9, pp. 147, 187; CPR, 1422-9, p. 148; Feudal Aids, iii. 343. The Richard Duffield who was elected MP for Grimsby on 31 Jan. 1447, but who was replaced by William Staunton† before the Commons met, may well have been Duffield’s son (Bull. IHR, xlii. 214). He took his seat two years later.