Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pickering, James

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PICKERING, Sir JAMES (fl. 1383), speaker of the House of Commons, was son of Sir John Pickering of Killington, Westmoreland, by Eleanor, daughter of Sir Richard Harington of Harington, Cumberland, and grandson of Sir James Pickering of Killington. The family had been established at Killington since 1260. It was probably the future speaker who was one of the knights of the shire for Westmoreland in the parliament which met on 13 Oct. 1362, and was again returned in the parliament of 20 Jan. 1365. On 20 Dec. 1368 he was a commissioner of array in Westmoreland, to choose twenty archers to serve under Sir William de Windsor in Ireland. Afterwards he accompanied Windsor to Ireland, and was employed as a justiciar; in this capacity he was charged, in 1373, with being guilty of oppression, and of having given Windsor bad advice (Fœdera, iii. 854, 977–80, Record edit.) On 13 Oct. 1377 he was again one of the knights of the shire for Westmoreland, and in the parliament which met at Gloucester on 20 Oct. 1378 he occurs as speaker. The protestation which, as speaker, he made for freedom of speech, and declaring the loyalty of the commons, was, on this occasion, for the first time recorded in the rolls (Rolls of Parliament, iii. 34 b). Pickering sat for Westmoreland in the parliaments of 24 April 1379 and 6 Oct. 1382, but is not described as speaker in the rolls. In the rolls for the parliament of 23 Feb. 1383 he is referred to as ‘Monsr. Jacobus de Pikeryng Chivaler qu'avoit les paroles pur la comune’ (ib. iii. 145 b), and his speech is again recorded. In this parliament, as in those of November 1384, September 1388, November 1390, and September 1397, he was one of the knights of the shire for the county of York. Pickering was an executor for William de Windsor in Sept. 1384 (Duckett, Duchetiana, p. 286).

Pickering married, first, Mary, daughter of Sir Robert Lowther, by whom he had a son James; and, secondly, Margaret, daughter of Sir John Norwood, by whom he had a son Edward, who was a controller of the royal household. Through his elder son he was possibly ancestor of the Pickerings of Titchmarsh, Northamptonshire.

[Manning's Speakers, pp. 5–7; Nicolson and Burn's Westmoreland and Cumberland, i. 262–3; Return of Members of Parliament; authorities quoted.]

C. L. K.