LECHE, Sir Philip (d.1420), of Chatsworth, Derbys.
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Family and Education
Steward of the duchy of Lancaster lordship of the High Peak, Derbys. c. Nov. 1416-d.; master forester of the High Peak c. Nov. 1416-d.2
Keeper of Horston castle, Derbys. 28 Jan. 1419-d.3
Capt. of Arques, France 12 Feb. 1419-d.; capt. of the castle of Bel and keeper of land in the bailiwick of Caux late of Joan Dartoys 28 Apr. 1419-d.4
Commr. to collect revenues from Cheshire and Lancashire archers, Evreux Mar. 1419; provision the royal army at Mantes May 1419; of array, Gisors Sept. 1419.5
As the only surviving son of one of the most influential figures to represent Derbyshire in our period, Philip Leche was assured not only of a prominent place in the county community but also of favour and preferment at Court. The knighthood conferred on him by Henry V at the time of his coronation was clearly bestowed in recognition of years of service loyally given by (Sir) Roger Leche, who had just assumed office as treasurer of the royal household. Little is known about Philip Leche before this date, although according to a lawsuit which reached the courts much later he was evidently of age by September 1404, when he and various others forcibly detained a Shropshire man in the goal at Leominster in order to extort from him a bond worth £50. At all events, his return to Parliament in April 1414 must have owed a good deal to (Sir) Roger’s dominant position among the Derbyshire gentry, since he himself was still without administrative experience by royal appointment at least. One year later his father managed to secure for them both a grant in survivorship from the Crown of the manor of Bolsover, for which they agreed to pay £36 13s.4d. a year in rent. At about this time Sir Philip began to act as a trustee for his neighbour, Edward Foljambe, but his attention was soon diverted by the prospect of warfare overseas, and in April 1415 he contracted to take part in Henry V’s first invasion of France with a personal retinue of three men-at-arms and nine archers. Although unable to moblize so large a force as was recruited and led by his father (who also fought on the campaign), Sir Philip distinguished himself as a soldier, and for the rest of his career he devoted himself largely to military affairs.6
Sir Philip spent at least part of 1416 on garrison duty at Harfleur, but he probably returned to England on his father’s death in late November of that year. His inheritance comprised a substantial bloc of property in the Derbyshire villages of Chatsworth, Tideswell, Repton, Bubnell and Newton Solney, although other estates both there and in London remained as a jointure in the hands of his widowed stepmother. He was, however, allowed by Henry V to succeed (Sir) Roger as steward of the High Peak, being granted in addition the subsiduary office of master forester there. He cannot have spent much time on his duties, for once plans got under way in 1417 for a second invasion of France he and his now considerable following of ten lances and 161 archers enlisted under the banner of Robert, Lord Willoughby. On 15 July he obtained permission to entrust his affairs to attorneys, and within a matter of weeks he was active in the theatre of war. By December he had begun to play a leading part in defending the northern ‘frontier’ of Normandy (between Bethune and the Breste) against attack by the French; and he was duly rewarded first with the captured town of Neufchâtel and then with a gift for life of ‘Les Wylondes’ in the High Peak—property worth about £24 a year which his father had previously held on the same terms. Moreover, in the following February, King Henry agreed that, contrary to established practice where foresters or parkers of the duchy of Lancaster were concerned, he might be allowed to farm all the grazing land in the High Peak for as long as he remained in the royal army.7 A deed of May 1418 conveying land in Bakewell to Sir Philip suggests that he may then have made a brief visit to his estates in Derbyshire, but he was certainly back in Normandy by the following June, when he was present at the capture of Louviers. By the time that the English army encamped before Rouen in late July he had joined the retinue of the earl of Salisbury with whom he remained for the duration of the siege. A few days after the capitulation of the city, in January 1419, he was made keeper of Horston castle in Derbyshire, although the other marks of royal gratitude which then came his way were all intended to help strengthen the English presence in Normandy. Within a matter of weeks the castles of Arques and Bel were in his hands, together with extensive property in Caux confiscated from so-called Norman rebels. His letters of attorney were renewed at this time, perhaps after another trip to England. Several members of his retinue were certainly anxious to return home, for in May a royal commission was set up to arrest the Derbyshire and Cheshire soldiers who were deserting him in quite sizeable numbers. He was, even so, able to take to the field in August for the siege of St. Martin-le-Gaillait, where he narrowly escaped death in what was effectively a rout at the hands of the French.8
Sir Philip last saw England in February 1420, when he obtained royal letters of protection pending his departure for yet another campaigning season in Normandy. Notwithstanding an order that fees paid to officers of the duchy of Lancaster should be kept at the pre-1399 rate, he then managed to secure King Henry’s sanction for an increase in his own case, even though his work was almost exclusively performed by deputies. The death of his stepmother in May 1420 brought a further improvement in his financial position, since the manor of Nether Haddon and the valuable property near Baynard’s Castle in London which his father had settled upon her then reverted to him. He did not long enjoy this new wealth, being killed at the siege of Melun in the following July while leading an attack on an outpost constructed by the defenders. His bravery was praised by French and English alike; and we are told that no less a figure than Duke Philip of Burgundy thought highly of his soldierly qualities. The task of executing his will fell to William Pirton (with whom he had previously acted as a trustee of land in Repton) and the Londoner, John Stokes. The latter had to pay a debt of £18 to Sir Philip’s brother-in-law, Sir Sampson Meverel†, and also supervise the division of his estates between his four sisters and coheirs. Although he had always proved generous to Sir Philip during his lifetime, Henry V had no compunction in seizing his lands at Repton until arrears of £40, due in rent from the manor of Bolsover, had been paid into the Exchequer.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. C1/9/330, 6/180; C115/K2/6682, f. 63v.
- 2. Somerville, Duchy, i. 551-2.
- 3. DKR, xli. 745, 761.
- 4. Ibid. 730, 780.
- 5. Ibid. 797; xlii. 315, 318.
- 6. C115/K2/6682, f. 63v; CP25(1)39/43/6; E101/45/5, 69/7/482; E404/3/166; William Salt Arch. Soc. xvii. 95; N.H. Nicolas, Agincourt, 381; CFR, xiv. 107.
- 7. DL42/17 ff. 58, 60; E101/47/39 m. 1; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 137, 142-3; R.A. Newhall, Eng. Conquest Normandy, 78 n. 222; DKR, xliv. 598; Gesta Hen. V ed. Williams, 268, 275-7; Rot. Normanniae ed. Hardy, 357.
- 8. DKR, xli. 711, 715, 717, 718, 720, 779; xlii. 322; xliv. 614; Belvoir Castle deed 1320; J.H. Wylie, Hen. V iii. 127; Newhall, 235; Gesta Hen. V, 246.
- 9. C1/9/330, 6/180; DL42/17 (pt. 2), f. 87; Belvoir Castle deeds 6241-2; DKR, xlii. 373, 389, 397; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, i. 239; Wylie, iii. 210; CFR, xv. 163; CPR, 1416-22, p. 333; CCR, 1422-9, p. 73.