WALSH, Sir Thomas (bef.1346-1397/8), of Wanlip, Leics.

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

b. bef. 1346, 2nd s. of Sir John Walsh (d. bef. 1350) of Wanlip by Alice, da. and coh. of Henry Cliff,1 and h. to his bro. William. m. Katherine (d.c.1421), 4s. 2da. Kntd. bef. May 1370.

Offices Held

Commr. to distribute tax relief, Leics. Jan. 1373; of inquiry, Glos., Warws. Feb. 1375 (diversion of a stream), Leics. Feb. 1378 (murder), May 1378 (repairs to Leicester gaol); to survey tax assessments Aug. 1379; put down rebellion Mar., Dec. 1382; administer the oath of loyalty to the Lords Appellant Mar. 1388; of array Apr. 1385, Mar. 1392; oyer and terminer Mar. 1386, Sept. 1387, July 1388; to hold special assizes July, Sept. 1389.

Escheator, Warws. and Leics. 12 Dec. 1374-3 Nov. 1375.

Tax collector, Leics. Mar. 1377, Dec. 1384.

J.p. Leics. 5 Apr. 1381-July 1382, 28 June 1390-4.

Steward of the duchy of Lancaster honour of Leicester in Leics., Northants., Notts., Rutland, Warws. by appointment of John of Gaunt by 15 Aug. 1392-aft. 1393.2

Constable of Leicester castle by 10 Apr. 1394.


In the Michaelmas term of 1352, after the death of Thomas Walsh’s elder brother, Henry, duke of Lancaster, brought an action in the lawcourts against Sir Geoffrey de la Mare and others for abducting him from Wanlip, for the marriage of the boy—now heir to the lands of his father, Sir John Walsh—pertained to him. The landed holdings our MP stood to inherit were situated for the most part just to the north of Leicester, and included, besides Wanlip (which had been in his family since the early 13th century), property at Barkby-Thorpe, Thurmaston, Cropston and Syston. In addition, he was to be the feudal lord of certain lands at Hardwick in Rutland. He came of age before 1364, when he acted as a trustee of property at Shepshed.3

The tie of lordship which linked Walsh to the dukes of Lancaster strongly influenced the course of his career. It was under the command of John of Gaunt, Duke Henry’s son-in-law and successor, that he took part in the military expedition of August 1369 when the English army devasted the Pays de Caux, perhaps winning his spurs on this occasion. In August 1371, after representing his native shire in the first of no fewer than 15 Parliaments, he witnessed a grant made to Sir Robert Swillington, who was probably already a member of the duke’s council. The precise date of his engagement as one of Lancaster’s retainers and estate officials is not known, although such a role in the service of the unpopular duke might explain the attack made on his person at the time of the Good Parliament of 1376: the abbot and several canons of Leicester abbey, in alliance with men from the town of Leicester and the village of Barrow, allegedly lay in wait for him and violently assaulted him; they also fished in his fishery in the Soar at Wanlip. Walsh’s duties at home as a royal commissioner were interrupted by the two journeys he made to Scotland, in 1383 and on Richard II’s disastrous expedition of 1385, no doubt following the banner of the duke of Lancaster on both occasions. In the meantime, his standing in the community had led to his being asked in January 1385 to act as an arbiter in the disputes between Croyland abbey and its tenants at Wellingborough (Northamptonshire). While the Parliament of 1386 was in session at Westminster, Walsh and his colleague, Sir William Flamville, both gave evidence to the court of chivalry on behalf of Lord Scrope in the latter’s suit against Sir Robert Grosvenor.4

Walsh did not participate in John of Gaunt’s expedition to Castile which had departed in July 1386; perhaps the duke had required him to assist in the smooth running of his estates during his absence. The temporary estrangement between Richard II and Lancaster’s heir, Henry of Bolingbroke, may account for Sir Thomas’s dismissal from the Leicestershire bench almost immediately after his re-appointment to it in July 1387. Certainly, the Lords Appellant, of whom Bolingbroke was one, were to regard him as one of their foremost supporters, for at the end of the first session of the Merciless Parliament, which he attended, he was selected to administer in his home county the oath of loyalty to their regime. Walsh himself benefited indirectly from the judgements of the Parliament. Among those whose lands were declared forfeit was Sir William Burgh, j.c.p., and as a result the estates in four counties belonging to Burgh’s tenant, Sir John Boyville of Stockerston, fell to the Crown’s gift, with the further consequence that, in February 1389, while the Appellants still controlled the government, Sir Thomas received custody of them on condition that he paid 40 marks a year at the Exchequer and maintained the heir, Thomas Boyville. He took the opportunity of marrying his ward to his daughter, Elizabeth. Following John of Gaunt’s return to England later the same year, Walsh was re-appointed as a j.p. and it was perhaps due to the duke’s influence that, on 29 Nov. 1391, the King granted him and his heirs a charter of free warren in all their demesne lands at Wanlip and elsewhere. It is not known for how long Sir Thomas served Lancaster as steward of the important honour of Leicester, nor the duration of his term as constable of the duke’s castle at Leicester, although it is quite likely that he discharged both offices throughout the 1390s.5

In November 1395 Walsh and his feoffees made a formal quitclaim of their right to the manors of Astwell, Falcutt and Wappenham in Northamptonshire, while at the same time Edward, earl of Rutland, and Walsh’s son-in-law, Thomas Gresley* of Drakelow, made similar disclaimers. Both the background to Walsh’s interest in these properties and the nature of his connexion with the earl remain obscure, however. Just over a year later Sir Thomas made a settlement on Gresley of land in Monk’s Kirby (Warwickshire) and property at Leicester, Birstall and elsewhere in Leicestershire, in return for an annual rent of £29 payable for the rest of his life. In the event, Gresley needed to make payments for only a few months, for his father-in-law died before December 1398. Walsh was buried in the chancel of Wanlip church, for the building of which edifice he had been responsible.6

Walsh left four sons, but by the time that his widow, Katherine, made her will, in 1420, two of them had died without issue, and the third eldest, Thomas, had lost his wits. The Walsh estates were then committed first to Thomas’s sister, Margaret, and her husband, Sir Thomas Gresley, and then in 1440 to his kinsmen, the Boyvilles, eventually passing at his death to his nephew, another Thomas Walsh (d.1493).7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Peds. Plea Rolls, ed. Wrottesley, 164. Little is known about his mother’s family, save that her great-uncle was Master Henry Cliff (d.c.1334) the former keeper of the privy seal and of the rolls of Chancery. In 1385 Walsh and certain kinsmen on his mother’s side brought a suit against Sir William Burcester* and his wife Margaret (Lord Burghersh’s widow) for possession of the Burghersh manor of ‘Foxgrove’ in Kent, but they proved unsuccessful.
  • 2. Somerville, Duchy, i. 375.
  • 3. Leics. Med. Peds. ed. Farnham, 139-41; Charnwood Forest, 162-3; Leics. Village Notes, ii. 22-23; vi. 84; J. Nichols, Leics. iii. 1095; CIPM, xv. 925.
  • 4. Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 175; ii. 399-401; Wyggeston Hosp. Recs. ed. Thompson, no. 545; HMC Hastings, i. 60; CPR, 1374-7, p. 322; 1408-13, p. 447.
  • 5. CCR, 1385-9, p. 431; 1392-6, p. 212; CFR, x. 279-80; Leics. Med. Peds. 102; CChR, v. 326.
  • 6. Leicester Mus. Archs. Ferrers ms 26 D 53, nos. 619-21; CPL, v. 229; Nichols, iii. pl. opposite p. 1097, 1099; Warws. Feet of Fines (Dugdale Soc. xviii), no. 2367.
  • 7. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. i. 53, 292; Harl. 2044, f. 18A; CPR, 1416-22, p. 409; 1422-9, p. 4; 1436-41, pp. 371, 424; Leics. Med. Peds. 140; CCR, 1447-54, p. 108.