Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thorpe, Robert de (d.1372)

THORPE or THORP, Sir ROBERT de (d. 1372), chancellor, a native of Thorpe-next-Norwich, was educated at Cambridge, and appears as an advocate in 1340 and as king's serjeant in 1345. He was, Coke says, ‘of singular judgment in the laws of the realm.’ He was appointed the second master of Pembroke Hall or College, Cambridge, in 1347, and held that office until 1364. In 1355 and 1359 he sat as a judge to try felonies in Oxfordshire and other counties, and on 27 June 1356 was appointed chief justice of the common pleas. A grant of 40l. a year was made to him by the king in 1365 to enable him to support the honour of knighthood. When William of Wykeham resigned the great seal on 24 March 1371, the king appointed Thorpe chancellor, delivering him the seal on the 26th. He died somewhat suddenly, for he appears to have transacted business on 25 June 1372, and on the 29th, being in the house of Robert Wyville, bishop of Salisbury, in Fleet Street, was so sick that he had the great seal enclosed in a bag, sealed with his own seal and the seals of Sir John Knyvet, the chief justice, and others, and died there that night. It is evident from his connection with Pembroke College, and from his appointment to the chancellorship on the overthrow of the clerical ministers, that he was an adherent of John Hastings, second earl of Pembroke [q. v.], leader of the court and anti-clerical party. He married Margaret, daughter of William Deyncourt, and died without issue, leaving his property to be disposed of by his executors as they thought best. One of them, Richard de Tretton or Treton (afterwards master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge), caused forty marks to be given to the university of Cambridge to be spent in building the north side of the school's quadrangle. His brother and heir was Sir William de Thorpe, whose executors built the divinity school together with a small chapel, and in 1398 made an agreement with the university that commemorative services should be held for Sir William and his wife Lady Grace on 6 May and 19 Nov. of each year.

[Foss's Judges, iii. 527; Fœdera, iii. 297, 464, 911, 950–1; Abbrev. Rot. Orig. ii. 337; Cal. Inquis. post mortem, i. 322; Willis's Architec. Hist. of Cambridge, ed. Clarke, iii. 10; Masters's Hist. of C. C. C. Cambr. p. 37; Stubbs's Const. Hist. ii. 421, 424.]

W. H.