Pole, William de la (d.1366) (DNB00)

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POLE, Sir WILLIAM de la, called in English William atte Pool (d. 1366), baron of the exchequer and merchant, was second son of Sir William de la Pole, a merchant of Ravenser Odd (Ravensrode) and Hull, who is described as a knight in 1296 and died about 1329, having made his will in December 1328. The father married Elena, daughter of John Rotenheryng, ‘merchant of Hull,’ by whom he had three sons, Richard, William, and John.

The eldest brother, sir Richard de la Pole (d. 1345), was, in 1319, attorney for the king's butler at Hull (Close Rolls, Edward II, p. 67), and a mainpernor for certain merchants of Lübeck (ib. pp. 170, 180). He was collector of the customs at Hull in 1320 (Palgrave, Parl. Writs, iv. 1305), and was M.P. for that town in the parliaments of May 1322 and September 1327 (Return of Members of Parliament, pp. 66, 79). Through the influence of Roger Mortimer he became the king's chief butler in 1327, and, in conjunction with his brother William, obtained the office of gauger of wines throughout the realm for life on 22 May 1329, and a similar grant of the customs of Hull on 9 May 1330 (Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1327–30, pp. 391, 518, 1330–4, pp. 29–41). The two brothers are frequently mentioned as advancing money for the king. After the fall of Mortimer they lost the post of gauger of wines, but Sir Richard continued to be chief butler until 1338 (ib. pp. 70, 434, 511). He was a guardian of the peace for Derbyshire, and served on a commission of oyer and terminer in Leicestershire in 1332 (ib. pp. 304, 391). About 1333 he seems to have moved to London, and in his will and elsewhere is styled a citizen of London. He was knighted in 1340, and, dying on 1 Aug. 1345 at his manor of Milton, Northamptonshire, was buried in the Trinity Chapel at Hull. His will is printed in ‘Testamenta Eboracensia,’ i. 7–9. By his wife Joan he had two sons, William and John, and three daughters: Joan, wife of Ralph Basset of Weldon, Northamptonshire; Elizabeth, a nun; and Margaret. His son William (1316–1366), who is carefully to be distinguished from his uncle, married Margaret, daughter of Edmund Peverel, and held property at Brington and Ashby, Northamptonshire. He died on 26 June 1366, leaving a son John, who married Joan, daughter of John, lord Cobham; by her he was father of Joan, baroness Cobham and wife of Sir John Oldcastle [q. v.] (Napier, Hist. Notices of Swyncombe and Ewelme, pp. 262–70). The arms of this branch of the family were azure, two bars wavy, or.

Sir William de la Pole, the baron of the exchequer, first learnt the business of a merchant at Ravenser Odd, but afterwards moved to Hull, and is mentioned as a merchant of that town in 1319 and 1322 (Cal. Close Rolls, Edward II, 1318–23, pp. 136–551). He was associated with his elder brother as gauger of wines in 1327, and in supplying money for the royal service. During the regency of Mortimer and Isabella they advanced large sums to the government: 4,000l. on 12 July 1327 for the abortive Scots campaign, and 2,000l. six weeks later as wages for the Netherland mercenaries, who had landed to effect Edward II's deposition. As repayment they received the issues of customs in London and other principal ports. They also received a grant of the manor of Myton in Yorkshire for their good services in 1330, and on 2 Aug. were appointed joint wardens of Hull. On the fall of Mortimer their position was endangered, and they lost the office of gaugers of wine. But they kept aloof from politics, and their wealth insured their pardon. On 15 July 1331 William de la Pole, then described as the king's yeoman and butler, was granted repayment for his advances to Queen Philippa out of the customs of Hull (Cal. Patent Rolls, Edward III, p. 107). In 1332 he entertained the king at Hull, and obtained from Edward the title of mayor for the chief magistrate of the town, being himself the first to fill the office, which he retained for four years till 1335. Pole represented Hull in the parliaments of March 1332, September 1334, May and September 1336, and February 1338 (Return of Members of Parliament). During 1333 and the two following years he was employed on various negotiations with Flanders, with which, as a wool merchant, he had commercial relations (Fœdera, ii. 862, 872, 875, 907–908; Cal. Patent Rolls, Edward III, 1330–4, p. 479).

On 29 Sept. 1335 he was appointed custos of the tables of exchange, established to prevent the export of gold and silver, and receiver of the old and new customs of Hull and Boston. In consideration of the latter appointment he undertook to pay the expenses of the royal household at 10l. a day (Abbrev. Rot. Orig. ii. 97, 100; Fœdera, ii. 922). In 1337 he was charged to build a galley for the king at Hull, and on 1 Sept. of this year was associated with Reginald de Conduit in purchasing wool to be sent abroad for the king (ib. ii. 958, 988). On 14 Nov. 1338 Edward gave him an acknowledgment for 11,000l. advanced, and for 7,500l. for which he had become bound; and this same year, in consideration of other moneys advanced by Pole, granted him various manors in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, including the lordship of Holderness, together with the rank of knight-banneret, the reversion of one thousand marks in rent in France when the king recovered his rights there, and the houses in Lombard Street, London, which had belonged to the ‘Societas Bardorum’ (ib. ii. 1065; Abbrev. Rot. Orig. ii. 123, 128, 142; Chron. de Melsa, iii. 48).

The ‘Chronicle of Meaux’ also states that Pole's appointment as baron of the exchequer was in reward for the same services. The date of his appointment as second baron was 26 Sept. 1339, and as one of the judges he was present in the parliaments of October 1339 and April 1340 (Rolls of Parliament, ii. 103, 112b). He was a commissioner of array for Yorkshire in 1339. During this and the following year he was much employed by the king in commercial and financial business. In 1339 he was a hostage for the payment of the king's expenses at Antwerp (Knighton, col. 2573). In 1340 he undertook to obtain wool for the king's aid, and to advance three thousand marks (Rolls of Parliament, ii. 110 a, 118 b, 121 b; Fœdera, ii. 1072, 1085). But his conduct of affairs did not satisfy the king, and when Edward returned in haste to London on 30 Nov. 1340, William de la Pole, his brother Richard, and Sir John de Pulteney [q. v.] were among the merchants who were arrested (Murimuth, p. 117). Pole's lands were taken into the king's hands and he was for a short time imprisoned at Devizes Castle (Aungier, French Chron. of London, pp. 84–5, Camden Soc.; Chron. de Melsa, iii. 48). The particular charge against Pole arose out of his commission with Reginald de Conduit three years before; but though judgment was given against them in the exchequer, the whole process was annulled in the parliament of July 1344 (Rolls of Parliament, ii. 154 a). Sir William de la Pole survived to enjoy the king's favour for more than twenty years, but he does not again appear in a prominent position. About 1350 he founded a hospital, the Maison Dieu, outside Hull, which he had at first intended to be a cell of Meaux, but afterwards converted to a college for six priests. In the last year of his life he obtained license to change it to a house for nuns of the order of St. Clare, and eventually, in 1376, his son Michael established it as a Carthusian priory (Chron. de Melsa, i. 170; Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, vi. 19–22). Pole died at Hull on 21 April or 22 June 1366, and was buried, like his brother, in the Trinity Chapel (cf. Napier, Swyncombe, &c., p. 284). His will is printed in ‘Testamenta Eboracensia,’ i. 76–7.

He married Katherine, daughter of Sir Walter de Norwich [q. v.], who survived him, and, dying in 1381, was buried at the Charterhouse, Hull; her will is printed in ‘Testamenta Eboracensia,’ i. 119. Pole had four sons: Michael, earl of Suffolk [q. v.]; Walter and Thomas (d. 1361), both of whom were knights; and Edmund (1337–1417), who was captain of Calais in 1387, when he refused admission to his brother Michael lest he should be found false to his trust. The Edmund who fought at Agincourt was probably his grandson (Walsingham, Hist. Angl. ii. 169; Nicolas, Agincourt, pp. 128, 354; Archæologia, iii. 18). Pole had also two daughters: Blanche, who married Richard, first lord le Scrope of Bolton [q. v.]; and Margaret, married Robert Neville of Hornby, Lancashire. Sir William de la Pole's arms were azure, a fess between three leopards' faces or. The ‘Chronicle of Meaux’ (iii. 48) describes him as ‘second to no merchant of England.’ He is memorable in English commercial history as the first merchant who became the founder of a great noble house. His own and his wife's effigies, from the tomb in the church of the Holy Trinity, Hull, are engraved in Gough's ‘Sepulchral Monuments,’ i. 122.

[Information supplied by Professor T. F. Tout; Chronicon de Melsa, i. 170, iii 17, 48 (Rolls Ser.); Rymer's Fœdera, Record ed.; Rolls of Parliament; Calendars of Close Rolls, Edward II, and Patent Rolls, Edward III; Testamenta Eboracensia (Surtees Soc.); Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 182; Frost's Hist. of Hull, pp. 31, 85; Tickell's Hist. of Hull, p. 21; Poulson's Holderness, i. 56, 63, 64; Foss's Judges of England, iii. 478–81; Napier's Hist. Notices of Swyncombe and Ewelme, passim.]

C. L. K.