Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fortescue, Henry

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FORTESCUE, Sir HENRY (fl. 1426), lord chief justice of the common pleas in Ireland, was the eldest son of Sir John Fortescue, governor of Meaux, and brother to Sir John, lord chief justice of England [q. v.] It is probable that he was a student of Lincoln's Inn, and almost certain that he was elected member of parliament for Devon on 11 Nov. 1421 (Return of Members of the House of Commons, 1878, pt. i. p. 299). His appointment as chief justice of the common pleas in Ireland is dated 25 June 1426, and for a short period his name occurs several times in the ‘Calendar of the Irish Chancery Rolls.’ From these entries, which contain all that is known of his career, it appears that a salary was assigned to him of forty pounds per annum, which was soon afterwards altered to forty pence per diem, in addition to the custody of certain manors. Fortescue held his appointment only for seventeen months, and was ‘relieved’ from it by the king's writ on 8 Nov. 1427. Almost immediately afterwards he was commissioned by the Irish parliament to accompany Sir James Alleyn on a mission to England, to lay before the king the grievances of his Irish subjects. Again, in 1428, he was sent with Sir Thomas Strange by the lords and commons assembled in Dublin, with the concurrence of Sir John Sutton, the lord-lieutenant, with a number of articles of complaint to be laid again before the king. One of the grievances which he was instructed to represent related to the insults and assaults made upon himself and Sir James Alleyn during their former mission, from which it may be concluded that their first visit to the court had not met with much success. The other griefs for which the parliament prayed redress related to the frequent changes of governors and justices, to the debts left behind them by each successive lord-lieutenant, to the exclusion of Irish law students from the English inns of court, and to the treatment of Irishmen travelling in England. There is no further mention of Fortescue in the ‘Patent Rolls,’ nor is anything known as to his after life, beyond the record of an action brought against him to recover certain lands in Nethercombe, Devonshire. He was twice married, each time to an heiress, the first being Joan, daughter of Edmund Boyun and heiress of the estate of Wood, South Devonshire; and the second the daughter and heiress of Nicholas de Fallapit. He left sons by each wife, who each inherited their respective mothers' properties, and founded two branches of the Devonshire family of Fortescue.

[Lord Clermont's Hist. of the Family of Fortescue; Rotulorum Patentium et Clausorum Cancellariæ Hib. Calendarium, pp. 241, 243, 244 b, 246, 248, 248 b, 249.]

G. K. F.