Name: Hugh FENNE , of Sculton Burdeleys & Braintree,Sir 1 2
Birth: ABT 1418 in Braintree, Essex, England
Death: BEF 30 APR 1476 in Scoulton Burdeleys, Wayland, Norfolk, England
Burial: Herringby Church, Norfolk, England
The following information was copied from Eileen Suggs, World Connect db=emsuggs. It has the father as Thomas, however Eileen has Hugh's father as Henry. (I have seen Hugh's father as Hugh, Thomas, & Henry):
Hugh atte Fenne so styled himself in his will and the family normally used that form of the name, but he was quite frequently called simply 'Fenne' and both forms have been used in this introduction. The Fennes were a quite prolific Yarmouth and East Norfolk family, with, as was normal in the fifteenth century, a restricted number of Christian names and Hugh is not, therefore, easy to place precisely in the family pedigree: it seems probable, however, that he was the Hugh, son of Thomas atte Fenne, who was appointed her executor by his grandmother, Christian Savage, in 1442. Christian's first husband had been Hugh atte Fenne, many times bailiff and three times parliamentary burgess of Great Yarmouth, who in his will, made in 1409, appointed as one of his executors Edmund Wyth, thus providing a link between the two wills printed in this volume. Hugh refers in the will to three sons, Thomas, Hugh and Miles. Miles disappears without trace and Hugh may have been the London fishmonger who made his will (with references to Yarmouth and to his mother, Christian, in 1420, but Thomas atte Fenne was a man of importance in Yarmouth, serving as troner and peser there from 1427 and as bailiff of the town in 1432 and 1440. Either he or a son and namesake was bailiff again in 1447, 1453 and 1457 and collector of customs there between 1451 and 1460. The will of Christian, who had remarried Peter Savage, refers to Hugh as the son of Thomas, and the identity of this Hugh with the exchequer official and the testator of 1476 is confirmed by the grant made by Thomas in 1438 of lands in Herringby and elsewhere, formerly of his father, Hugh, to Sir John Fastolf and others: these lands came to Hugh Fenne after Fastolf's death and formed part of the endowment of his alms-house.
In 1431 Hugh, son of Thomas atte Fenne, was fined at Yarmouth for not being in a tithing; possible this implies that he had recently reached the age of twelve and therefore was born about 1418. It is possible that he was educated at Cambridge and Gray's Inn but the evidence for this is largely inference drawn from clauses in his will, and the first certain reference to him, in 1447, is as 'Hugh atte Fenne of London' acting as mainpernor for Richard Gegh of Saham Tony. He was certainly an Exchequer official by this time and in 1450, when he was sent to Parliament to report on the state of Exchequer finances, he held office as clerk to John Somer, one of the auditors of the Exchequer.
In May 1450 Fenne was granted with Sir Thomas Stanley the keeping of Swaffham Manor in Norfolk and in July the keeping of Wratting Manor, Suffolk; he lost these by the Act of Resumption but was regranted Swaffham for 12 years in July 1451. The political upheavals of 1450 improved Fenne's position as his kinsman, Sir Jon Fastolf, increased his influence, and may have been responsible for his election to the parliament of November 1450 as burgess for Yarmouth. Fenne was in Norfok in May 1451 when the case brought by Fastolf and John Paston against Lord Moleyns was heard at Walsingham. In the following year he and Robert Gegh were granted goods of Richard Gegh which had been forfeited to the Crown as a result of Gegh's suicide. By the late 1450s Fenne held Gegh's former manor of Ickburgh and in a letter to John Paston appears to allude to Gegh as his uncle.
Early in 1453, on John Somer's death, Fenne was appointed by the treasurer, John, Earl of Worcester, to succeed him as auditor of the Exchequer. This was a big step forward, as the auditors were among the senior Exchequer officials, and Fenne was now in a good position to assist his friends and relations in their incessant legal and administrative business in London. He was to be particularly active on behalf of Sir John Fastolf and John Paston, shrugging away offers of reward, though Fastolf's servant, John Bocking, thought that 'he farith as a man wole sey he wold noo silvere and lokith awaywardes and takith a noble'. But this may have been over-cynical; Fenne was acting within the context of family and neighbourhood connections, and, as Margaret Paston wrote, 'he is called right feythfull and trosty to his frendes that trost hym'. His reward would come from reciprocal favours and assistance from these friends and there are several letters among the Paston correspondence in which Fenne sought aid from Norfolk gentlemen; as will be shown below he also relied upon neighbours in East Anglia as feoffees and executors, they similarly fulfilling the obligations of kinship and neighbourliness. Although Fenne was increasingly busy in the affairs of the Crown, his contacts and interest in East Anglia remained strong. He was appointed escheator of Norfolk and Suffolk for 1456-7 and was a J.P. in Norfolk from 1457 to March 1460, as well as sitting on other Norfolk commissions.
The Yorkist victory of 1460-1 brought him further influence. 'It is reportyed that he may do myche with the King and the lordes', wrote Margaret Paston in December 1461, and twice during the following decade he was appointed to the influential position of under-treasurer of England. He did not receive major grants from the Crown, though he and his kinsmen, William Jenney and William Essex, purchased valuable wardships-no doubt at a bargain price. Although he was not re-appointed to the peace commission, his Norfolk connections remained important and he still could be relied upon to assist kinsmen and friends in their search for patronage and victory in litigation. Relations with the Pastiness became a little more uncertain with the dispute over Sir John Fastolf's will. Fenne had been appointed one of the overseers of Fastolf's will and his own interests were involved, for Fastolf had not only owed him 200 marks but had apparently recognised that he had a claim to the Herringby lands conveyed away by his father. The manors of Herringby Spensers and Fennes were held by Fastolf at his death but both seem to have been acquired by Fenne during the following decade. He was also acquiring other lands in East Anglia as well as in Sussex, London and Middlesex, most of which he mentions in his will. It was normal practice for a successful royal official to use some of the profits of office to build up a landed estate, and it may be that Fenne had the intention of founding a substantial landed family in East Anglia. But if so he was disappointed; any son he had died young and the only child who survived him was a daughter, Margaret, for whom he found a prestigious match with Sir George, the son and heir of George Neville, Lord Abergavenny. But, as the will shows, she was to inherit only a part of his lands. He had destined his Herringby and associated lands for the endowment of a religious and charitable foundation, which will be described below.
Hugh Fenne was still active in the 1470s; indeed he was appointed to a commission to survey royal property at Windsor on 24 February 1476, the day on which his will is dated. According to the inquisition post mortem on his Norfolk lands taken two years alter, Fenne died on 23 February 1476, but the lengthy delay probably accounts for the error-not infrequent in the findings of juries. He certainly died before 30 April 1476, when his exchequer office was filled, and it is highly likely that he died during the last week of February.
Father: Hugh (Henry\Thomas) FENNE , of Braintree b: ABT 1400 in Braintree, Essex, England
Mother: Isabel PERSHALE b: ABT 1402 in Checkley, Cheadle, Staffordshire, England
Eleanor b: ABT 1420
- Margaret FENNE b: 1444 in Scoulton Burdeleys, Wayland, Norfolk, England
- Title: Magna Charta Sureties 1215, Frederick Lewis Weis, additions by Walter Lee Sheppard Jr, 5th Edition, 1999
- Title: Complete Peerage of England Scotland Ireland Great Britain and the United Kingdom, by G. E Cokayne, Sutton Publishing Ltd, 2000