HAKEBECHE, Sir Robert (d.1445), of Hackbeach in Emneth, Norf., Whaplode, Lincs. and Litlington, Cambs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

m. Margaret (d.1456/7). Kntd. Nov. 1409.1

Offices Held

J.p. Lincs. (Holland) 7 June 1410-Feb. 1412, 16 Nov. 1413-July 1424 (all parts), 17 Oct. 1418-July 1423.

Commr. of sewers, Lincs. (Holland) Feb. 1412, (Holland and Kesteven) Feb., June 1416, May 1417, (Holland) Apr. 1418, Cambs. Dec. 1435; array, Lincs. (Holland) Oct. 1417 (Holland and Kesteven), Apr. 1418, (Holland) Mar. 1419; to raise a royal loan Nov. 1419.

Sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 6 Nov. 1413-Mich. 1414.

Collector of a royal loan, Lincs. (Holland) Jan. 1420.


Although nothing is known for certain about the parentage or early life of this MP, it is clear that he came of a family which from at least the late 13th century held estates in the villages of Hackbeach, Walpole and Walton (all in the marshlands in the extremities of north-west Norfolk). The property was probably in his hands by the very beginning of the 15th century; but he himself preferred to live not too far away at Whaplode, an ancestral manor where, by a licence of the bishop of Lincoln, dated September 1406, he and his wife were allowed to have mass celebrated privately. At some point before 1412, he also acquired land worth over £10 a year in the adjacent county of Cambridge, perhaps through marriage. At all events, when she died, in about 1457, his widow, Margaret, was seised of an estate there apparently in her own right.2 In addition to these holdings, Sir Robert had some property in Washingley, Huntingdonshire, but how he acquired it is not known. Although he held no administrative posts in Norfolk, Hakebeche was an active figure in the county community. His relations with other local landowners occasionally took a violent turn: indeed, the first reference to him concerns his involvement in a dispute with Sir John Littlebury. The latter was bound over, in June 1406, to keep the peace towards him, naming Edward, duke of York, and four prominent Norfolk tenants as his sureties. Some years later, Hakebeche witnessed deeds for his neighbours in Walton and became a trustee of the manor of Walsoken for Sir John Colville. He was, meanwhile, no less concerned with his territorial interests just across the border in Lincolnshire, and in November 1409 he managed to recover certain land in Whaplode and Holbeach which had been confiscated by the Crown some eight years previously when it ought properly to have reverted to him. Shortly afterwards he obtained a seat on the Lincolnshire bench, and soon began to serve on a series of royal commissions there. Although fairly compact, Hakebeche’s estates were, in fact, situated in four counties altogether, and this explains why he was also made sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. Just a few scraps of evidence now survive to illuminate the more personal aspects of his life, but these suggest that he had influential friends. In 1415, for example, he was called upon to witness the formalization of an arbitration award between the abbot of Croyland and some of his tenants; and, in May 1418, William Lord Harington, who had newly succeeded to the title, appointed him to act as one of his attorneys in England.3

Consequently, by the time of his one return to Parliament, in 1420, Hakebeche had acquired considerable experience of local government, and was no longer young. Indeed, he appears to have virtually retired from public life soon afterwards, surrendering his seat on the bench, and serving on only one more royal commission. Two lawsuits disturbed the peace of his last years. One concerned a debt of £40, claimed by Henry Welles, archdeacon of Lincoln, whom he in turn accused of fraudulently suing him for the recovery of a bond worth twice that sum when he had already offered to pay what he owed. The case was heard in Chancery, but the outcome is not recorded. On the second occasion, he himself went to law to recover £18 from a yeoman named John Temple, although the latter persistently refused to appear in court, was outlawed and eventually pardoned, and thus deprived Hakebeche of any hopes of success.4

Sir Robert died shortly before July 1445, having appointed Gilbert Haltoft, one of the barons of the Exchequer, William Haltoft, his kinsman, and John Boys as his executors. It seems likely that he left no issue, for his Norfolk estates became the property of Sir Andrew Ogard, who died seised of them some nine years later. As we have already seen, Hakebeche’s widow survived him, and retained control of the property he had occupied in Cambridgeshire.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Hackebeche, Hagbecche, Hagleche, Haukebecche.

  • 1. CFR, xix. 167; Reg. Repingdon (Lincoln Rec. Soc. lvii), 87; CCR, 1409-13, p. 14.
  • 2. F. Blomefield, Norf. viii. 403-4; Feudal Aids, ii. 476; iii. 613; vi. 408; CFR, xix. 167; Reg. Repingdon (Lincoln Rec. Soc. lvii), 87.
  • 3. CCR, 1405-9, p. 134; 1409-13, p. 14; 1419-22, p. 107; 1422-9, pp. 120, 144, 261, 380; CPR, 1413-16, p. 376; DKR, xli. 686.
  • 4. C1/7/33; CPR, 1441-6, p. 215.
  • 5. Blomefield, loc. cit.; CFR, xvii. 302; CCR, 1447-54, p. 237.