Sir William Oldhall

OLDHALL, Sir WILLIAM (1390?–1466?), soldier, son and heor of Sir Edmund Oldhall of Narford, Bodney, and East Dereham, Norfolk, by Alice, daughter of Geoffrey de Fransham of the same county, was born about 1390. As an esquire in the retinue of Thomas Beaufort, earl of Dorset, afterwards duke of Exeter [q. v.] he was present at the siege of Rouen in 1418-19. He also served under Thomas de Montacute, earl of Salisbury [q. v.], in the expedition for the relief of Crevant, July 1423, and won his spurs at the hard-fought field of Verneuil on 17 Aug. 1424. About this date he was made seneschal of Normandy. By his prowess in the subsequent invasion of Maine and Anjou he further distinguished himself, and was appointed constable of Montsoreau and governor of St. Laurent des Mortiers. In the summer of 1426 he was employed in Flanders on a mission to the Duke of Burgundy concerning Jacqueline, duchess of Gloucester, then a prisoner in the duke’s hands. In October 1428 he was detached by the council of Normandy to strengthen the garrison of Argentan, then in danger of falling by treachery into the hands of the Duke of Alençon. He was present at the great council held at Westminster, 24 April-8 May 1434, on the conduct of the war in France, and also at the council of 24 Feb. 1438-9. In 1440 he was chamberlain to Richard, duke of York, and a member of his council, and the following year was made feoffee to his use and that of his duchess Cecilia of certain royal manors. In the disastrous struggle for the retention of Normandy he commanded the castle of La Ferté Bernard, which fell into the hands of the French on 16 Aug. 1449.

Oldhall was with the Duke of York in Wales in September 1450; was returned to parliament for Hertfordshire on 15 Oct. of the same year, and on 9 Nov. following was chosen speaker of the House of Commons, Indicted in 1452 for complicity in the injunction of Jack Cade and the subsequent rebellion of the Duke of York, he was found guilty, outlawed, and attainted on 22 June. He took sanctuary in the chapel royal of St. Martins-le-Grand, where he remained in custody of the king’s valet until after the battle of St. Albans on 22 May 1455, but obtained his release and the reversal of his outlawry and attainder on 9 July. He was again attainted in November 1459 as a fautor and abettor of the recent Yorkist insurrection; but on the accession of Edward IV the attainder was treated as null and void. He died between 1460 and 1406. Oldhall married Margaret, daughter of William, lord Willoughby of Eresby—buried in the church of the Grey Friars, London—by whom he had issue an only daughter Mary, whose husband, Walter Gorges of Wraxall, Somerset (ancestor of Sir Ferdinando Gorges q. v.), succeeded to Oldhall’s Norfolk estates, and died in September 1466. An alleged son, Sir John Oldhall, appears to be mythical. Besides his Norfolk estates Oldhall held (by purchase) the manors of East wich and Hunsdon, Hertfordshire. On the latter estate he built, at the cost of seven thousand marks, a castellated brick mansion, which remained in the crown, notwithstanding the avoidance of his second attainder, and was converted by Henry VIII into a royal residence. In 1558 it was granted by Elizabeth to Sir Henry Cary [q. v.] It has since been transformed into the existing Hunsdon House.

[Archæologia, vol. xxxvii. pt. ii. p. 334 et seq.; Blomefield’s Norfolk, ed. Parkin; Hall’s Chron. ed. 1801, pp. 117, 121, 127, 140–1, 225; Will. Worc. p. 89; Itin. pp. 160, 370; Letters and Papers during the Reign of Henry VI (Rolls Ser.), vol. ii. pt. ii. pp. 85, 385, 394, 411–12 [585], [622]; Proc. Privy Council, ed. Nicolas, iii. 201, 244, iv. 108, 210 et seq.; Brantingham’s Issue Roll, ed. Devon, p. 477; Rot. Parl. v. 210, 349, vi. 435; Ramsay’s Lancaster and York, ii. 163, 298; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner; Stubbs’s Const. Hist. iii. 158, 163, 179; Coll. Top. et Gen. v. 282, vii. 155; Cal. Inq. post mortem, iv. 335, No. 33; Clutterbuck’s Hertfordshire, iii. 179; Cussans’s Hertfordshire, ‘Hundred of Braughing,’ p. 45; Manning’s Lives of the Speakers.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 42
Oldhall, William by James McMullen Rigg

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