Ralph Parles, Sr., MP, Esq., of Shutlanger

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Ralph Parles, Sr., MP, Esq., of Shutlanger

Also Known As: "Ralph Parles", "Esq.", "MP"
Birthplace: Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, England
Death: before November 16, 1420
Northamptonshire, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Walter Parles, Sheriff and Alice Parles
Husband of Katherine Talbot and Elizabeth Parles
Father of Margaret Hervey; Walter Parles and Ralph Parles, II

Occupation: Verderer of the Forest of Whittlewood, Northamptonshire
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Ralph Parles, Sr., MP, Esq., of Shutlanger

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE11406Family and Education b.1335/6, s. and h. of Walter Parles† (d.1361) of Watford and Byfield. m. prob. (1) Joan, da. of John Talbot (1317-55) of Richard’s Castle, Herefs. by Juliana, da. of Roger, 1st Lord Grey of Ruthin, 1 da.; prob. (2) by Jan.1381, Elizabeth, at least 2s. (1 d.v.p.).2

Offices Held

Tax collector, Northants. Mar. 1381.

Commr. to suppress the rebels of 1381, Northants. Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of inquiry Jan. 1384 (claims to the keepership of Whittlewood forest), Dec. 1392 (repairs to the highway between Towcester and Silverstone); to make arrests Feb. 1386, May, Aug. 1408; of array Mar. 1392, Sept. 1403; kiddles bef. Sept. 1399; to proclaim the King’s intention of ruling justly May 1402.

Sheriff, Northants. 1 Dec. 1388-15 Nov. 1389, 24 Sept.-5 Nov. 1403, 15 Nov. 1408-4 Nov. 1409, 3 Nov. 1412-6 Nov. 1413.

J.p. Northants. 12 Nov. 1397-18 Feb. 1412.

Escheator, Northants. 9 Nov. 1406-30 Nov. 1407.

Verderer of the forest of Whittlewood, Northants. to 28 May 1413.

Biography Our MP’s career was remarkably similar to that of his father, Walter Parles, who represented Northamptonshire in at least six Parliaments, and also held office in the county as both escheator and sheriff. At the time of his death, in the summer of 1361, Parles owned the manors of Watford and Byfield, together with rents worth over 20 marks p.a., and these passed almost immediately to Ralph, who was then about 25 years old. It was in 1381 that Simon Daventry conveyed a substantial amount of property in Morecote near Buckby (Northamptonshire) to Ralph and his second wife, Elizabeth, possibly as part of their marriage settlement. We do not, however, know when he acquired the estates in Shutlanger, Helmdon, Wappenham and Yelvertoft (also Northamptonshire) which he eventually left to his young grandson, but most of them appear to have been in his hands by 1412, when his annual landed income was assessed at £40. He ended his days at Shutlanger, where he was licensed, in October 1420, by the bishop of Lincoln, to employ a chaplain of his own to celebrate mass privately.3

There is a strong possibility that Parles spent much of his early life abroad, since hardly any information about his career has survived before he began taking an interest in local government during the 1380S. His first marriage, to Joan, the daughter of John Talbot of Richard’s Castle and grand daughter of the 1st Lord Grey of Ruthin, shows, even so, that he was not without influence among the upper ranks of land-owning society; and their only surviving child, Margery, was herself regarded as a valuable commodity on the marriage market. She became the wife of the distinguished Bedfordshire lawyer, John Hervy*, but although she survived her father, his remarriage and the subsequent birth of her two half-brothers dashed her expectations as an heiress. Parles witnessed two Northamptonshire deeds in the summer of 1371 and October 1376 respectively, but otherwise disappears from the records until May 1380, when he obtained royal letters of protection pending his departure overseas in the retinue of Thomas of Woodstock, earl of Buckingham. The connexion between the two men may well have continued; and it is possible that Parles felt it expedient to buy a pardon from Richard II in June 1398 because of his former association with one of the King’s enemies.4 At all events, he was back in England again by October 1380, and from then onwards he held a variety of offices, most of which came his way after the deposition of King Richard. He was also much in demand as both a witness to local property transactions and a feoffee-to-uses, and over the years he acquired an interest in several neighbouring estates, notably those of his parliamentary colleague, Sir John Trussell.5 Given his almost continuous involvement in the property transactions of others, and his not inconsiderable experience of administrative affairs, it is rather surprising that Parles did not enter the House of Commons until 1404, when he must have been nearing 70 years old. He had by then attended the great councils of August 1401 and 1403, as well as sitting on the local bench and twice occupying the shrievalty of Northamptonshire. Ill health may perhaps account for his sudden replacement as a shire knight during the Parliament of 1406, for although he was evidently still sitting in May of that year, the writ de expensis was made out in favour of John Cope*. Parles was, in fact, one of the six Northamptonshire gentlemen chosen by that Parliament on 25 May to arbitrate in a dispute over the ownership of the manor of Hinton near Brackley. Neither he nor any of the others seem to have taken the assignment very seriously, however, and in March 1410 a special assize was set up to end the quarrel. Despite his advancing years, Parles apparently served two more terms as sheriff of Northamptonshire before his retirement from public life. He was still exercising that office when, in May 1413, he (or perhaps a namesake) received an order from the King to elect a new verderer of Whittlewood forest since he himself, as the current occupant of the post, had (ironcally under the circumstances) become too old to perform the duties properly.6

Parles and his son, Walter, were involved in an unsuccessful attempt, staged at the Northampton assizes in February 1417, to establish rights of common on Thomas Wydeville’s* manor of Grafton Regis (Northamptonshire). Walter’s death shortly afterwards led Parles to make a general settlement of his estates upon a group of trustees, including John Mortimer* and Thomas Wake*, who continued to act during the minority of Parles’s young grandson and heir, Ralph. On 16 Nov. 1420, barely a few weeks after the MP’s death, the wardship and marriage of the boy (who was then just II years old) were farmed out to three Northamptonshire gentlemen for a lump sum of £100, payable at the Exchequer. Parles had a second son, named William, whose descendants eventually succeeded to the family property.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421 Author: C.R. Notes

The apparent longevity of this Member (who did not enter Parliament until the age of 69, and last served as sheriff when he was 78) is certainly remarkable. The possibility that we are dealing with two men of the same name, one of whom was born in 1335/6 and was the father or elder kinsman of the MP who died in 1420, cannot be entirely dismissed; but any such evidence remains wanting. We are told that by 1413 Parles had ‘become blind and too aged’ to exercise his duties as verderer of Whittlewood (CCR, 1413-19, p. 12), an item of information which naturally casts doubt on his ability to undertake the far more demanding role of sheriff.

1. Although named in the return to the Parliament of 1406 as a Member for Northamptonshire, Parles was evidently replaced either during or after the second session by John Cope (OR, i. 269). 2. C138/53/107; C139/102/23; CP25(1)178/86/28; Mon. Brasses ed. Mill Stephenson, 5; CIPM, xi. no. 173; xiv. no. 213; VCH Beds. iii. 283; CP, xii (1), 630-2. 3. PRO, List ‘Escheators’, 98; ‘Sheriffs’, 92; CIPM, xi. no. 173; CFR, vii. 172; J. Bridges, Northants. i. 172, 609, 628; CP25(1)178/86/28; Feudal Aids, vi. 493; Lincs. AO, Reg. Flemyng XVI, f. 209v. 4. CCR, 1369-74, p. 312; VCH Beds. iii. 283; CP, xii (1), 630-2; Northants. RO, Knightley ch. 107; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, ii. 132; C67/30 m. 12. 5. C1/11/40; CP25(1)178/88/26, 91/50-51; CAD, iv. A8302; CPR, 1396-9, p. 338; CCR, 1377-81; p. 485; 1413-19, p. 370; 1419-22, p. 43; Add. Chs. 21797, 22409; Northants. RO, Knightley chs. 116, 120. 6. PPC, i. 160; ii. 88; RP, iii. 573, 633; CCR, 1405-9, pp. 188-9; CCR, 1413-19, p. 12. 7. C138/53/107; C139/102/23-24, 146/15; JUST 1/1524 rot. 37; CPR, 1416-22, p. 308

Ralph Parles, Esq. (1335/6-1420), of Shutlanger (in Stoke Bruerne), Northamptonshire, which individual was Knight of the Shire for Northamptonshire in 1404 and 1406, as well as Sheriff of Northamptonshire in 1388–1389, 1403, 1408–1409, 1412–1413.

"His first marriage, to Joan, [sic: KATHERINE], the daughter of John Talbot of Richard's Castle and granddaughter of 1st Lord Grey of Ruthin, shows, even so, that he was not without influence among the upper ranks of land-owning society." (1)

b.1335/6, s. and h. of Walter Parles† (d.1361) of Watford and Byfield. m. prob. (1) Joan, da. of John Talbot (1317-55) of Richard’s Castle, Herefs. by Juliana, da. of Roger, 1st Lord Grey of Ruthin, 1 da.; prob. (2) by Jan.1381, Elizabeth, at least 2s. (1 d.v.p.).2

From Doug Richardson:

In 1364 John Harewedon sold nine messuages, two mills, eleven virgates of land, etc. in Stoke Bruerne, Shutlanger (in Stoke Bruerne), Shaw (in Stoke Bruerne), and Alderton, Northamptonshire to Ralph and his wife, Katherine, and the heirs of Ralph for 200 marks of silver.

He married (2nd) before 20 Jan. 1381 (date of fine) ELIZABETH _____. They had one son, Walter. In 1380 he was serving abroad in the retinue of Thomas of Woodstock, Earl of Buckingham. In 1381 John son of Simon de Daventry conveyed to Ralph and his wife, Elizabeth, eleven messuages, one toft, and eleven virgates of land in Murcott (in Long Buckby), Northamptonshire for 200 marks of silver.

He married (3rd) ALICE _____. They had one son, Ralph. In 1411 he and his wife, Alice, and their son, Ralph, and his wife, Alice, were granted a license for the private celebration of divine services in the manor of Shutlanger (in Stoke Bruerne), Northamptonshire for three years. In 1415 Ralph and his wife, Alice, re-settled their estate at Shutlanger (in Stoke Bruerne), Northamptonshire. In 1417 he and his son, Walter, attempted unsuccessfully to establish rights of common on the manor of Grafton Regis, Northamptonshire. In October 1420 he was licensed to employ a chaplain to celebrate mass privately.

RALPH PARLES, Esq., died shortly before 16 Nov. 1420.


.... Thus, it would appear that Ralph Parles first wife was Katherine Talbot, not Joan Talbot, she being a daughter of John Talbot, Knt., of Richard's Castle, Herefordshire, by his wife, Juliane, daughter of Roger de Grey, Knt., 1st Lord Grey of Ruthin. Katherine Talbot's mother's descent from Geoffrey Plantagenet can be found in my book, Plantagenet Ancestry (2004).

Ralph Parles, Esq., and his wife, Katherine Talbot, had one daughter, Margery Parles, who married (1st) John Hervey, Esq., of Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, and (2nd) William Argentine, Knt., of Halesworth, Suffolk and Great Wymondley, Hertfordshire. Margery Parles had four known children by her Hervey marriage, but none by her Argentine marriage. There are many modern descendants of the Hervey marriage. ...


  1. Roskell, House of Commons 1386–1421 4 (1992)


Proceedings of the Bury & West Suffolk Archæological Institute 2 (1859): 293–425. Wigram, Chronicles of the Abbey of Elstow (1885) (Parles arms: Per pale indented or and azure). Repingdon, Reg. of Philip Repingdon 1 (Lincoln Rec. Soc. 57) (1963): 200. Roskell, House of Commons 1386–1421 4 (1992): 17–19 (biog. of Ralph Parles). VCH Northampton 5 (2002): 388. PRO Documents, Feet of Fines, CP 25/1/178/82, number 538; CP 25/1/178/86, number 27; CP 25/1/179/91, number 52; CP 25/1/179/91, number 53; CP 25/1/179/92, number 4 (abstract of fines available online at http:// www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk/fines/search.php).


view all 13

Ralph Parles, Sr., MP, Esq., of Shutlanger's Timeline

Thurleigh, Bedfordshire, England
Age 33
Norfolk, England
Age 54
Sheriff of Northamptonshire
Age 68
Sheriff of Northamptonshire
Age 72
Escheator of Northamptonshire
Age 74
Sheriff of Northamptonshire
Age 77
Justice of the Peace for Northamptonshire
Age 78
Sheriff of Northamptonshire