Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wodehouse, Robert de

WODEHOUSE or WOODHOUSE, ROBERT de (d. 1345?), treasurer of the exchequer, was son of Bertram de Wodehouse, a Norfolk knight who fought with distinction against the Scots under Edward I, by his wife Muriel, daughter and heir of Hamo, lord of Felton. His eldest brother, Sir William Wodehouse, was ancestor of the present Earl of Kimberley (see Visit. Norfolk, Harl. Soc.; Blomefield, Hist. Norfolk, passim; Burke, Peerage).

Robert, who probably accompanied his father to Scotland, was presented to the church of Ellon in the diocese of Aberdeen on 9 Sept. 1298. He was king's clerk, and travelled into Scotland with money on the king's service in July 1306, receiving on 2 April 1307, as his reward apparently, the church of Staunton-upon-Wye. These preferments were among the first of a long series which Wodehouse received at the hands of three kings in succession, for most of the churches which were bestowed upon him had fallen, for some reason or other, into the royal gift. On 4 Dec. 1310 he was presented to the church of Plumbland in Westmorland, and from May 1311 onward he appears in numerous entries in the patent rolls as king's escheator both north and south of Trent. This office he seems to have vacated at the close of 1312. From this time his rise in the royal favour was rapid. On 7 Oct. 1314 he received the prebend of Ketton in Lincoln Cathedral, and two royal mandates, directed to the civil and ecclesiastical officers respectively, were issued for the repression of the opposition which the appointment apparently excited. On 16 Oct. 1315 he obtained a license for a grant of land at Bunny in Nottinghamshire. He was at this time pastor of the church of Torrington in Yorkshire, where he had a house, and on 15 Feb. 1317 received a grant of land in London. On 24 March the king gave him a prebend of York, on 30 March the church of Auckland belonging to Durham, and on 10 April the church of Hackney in London. Edward II also gave Wodehouse the custody for life of the hospital of St. Nicholas, Pontefract.

On 24 July 1318 Wodehouse was appointed a baron of the exchequer, and was summoned to parliament among the judges until November 1322, when he resigned or was removed, and became keeper of the wardrobe. He retained this office under Edward III (from 5 Sept. 1327 till 2 March 1328). He apparently held property in Ireland which he administered by attorneys. In 1328 Wodehouse became archdeacon of Richmond, and on 16 April 1329 was appointed second baron of the exchequer. On 16 Sept. following he was made treasurer of the exchequer. As treasurer he was brought into relations with the papal agents, for to him fell the duty of receiving from the papal nuncio, also a king's clerk, the king's moiety of the first-fruits; on 8 June 1331 the king ratified his appointment by papal provision to the prebend of Colewich in Lincoln Cathedral. Some time before this he had received the prebend of Northwell in St. Mary's, Southwell. On 28 Nov. 1330 Wodehouse gave up the treasurership to William de Melton (d. 1340) [q. v.], archbishop of York, only to receive the chancellorship of the exchequer on 17 Dec. The latter office he held merely for a few months, possibly for Robert de Stratford [q. v.], who was abroad part of the year; Wodehouse delivered up the seal to Stratford on 16 Oct. 1331. For a few years Wodehouse appears only once in the rolls, and then merely in connection with the duties of his archdeaconry. On 10 March 1338 he was again appointed treasurer of the exchequer, but delivered up the keys to William la Zouch [q. v.], from whom he had received them, on 16 Dec. of the same year. On 3 May 1340 he got license to alienate in mortmain certain lands for the support of two chaplains who were to perform divine service for his good estate in life and in death. He probably died about 1345, as his will was proved on 3 Feb. 1346 (Le Neve, iii. 138).

Wodehouse seems to have been a faithful if not an indispensable servant of kings, who held many arduous offices, but he was undoubtedly a notable pluralist. It is improbable that the above list of his preferments is an exhaustive one (Le Neve, Fasti, i. 591 et passim).

[The details of Wodehouse's biography are drawn almost exclusively from the recently published Calendars of Patent and Close Rolls, Edward I–Edward III; see also Le Neve's Fasti; Rot. Parl. vol. ii.; Blomefield's Norfolk; Foss's Judges.]

A. M. C.-e.