Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lexinton, Robert de

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LEXINTON or LESSINGTON, ROBERT de (d. 1250), judge, younger and probably second son of Richard de Lexinton, baron [see under Lexinton, John de], was an ecclesiastic and a prebendary of the collegiate church of Southwell, and succeeded to the barony of his father, who was alive in 1216 (Dugdale; Nicolas). In February 1221 he wrote to Hubert de Burgh [q. v.] informing him of the route taken by the rebel Earl of Aumale and of the measures that he had adopted to secure the safety of the border. He was then acting as a justice in seven counties, and was employed in a like capacity in later years, being in 1225 the head of six judicial commissions. He was warden of the honour and castle of Peak and governor of Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, and also had charge of Orford Castle. He is described as a justice ‘de banco’ in 1226, and as one of the chief members of the king's court, or bench, in 1229, when he sat with other judges at Westminster to hear the case between the convent and the townsmen of Dunstable. There is reason to suppose that in 1234 he was the senior of the justices of the king's bench (Foss). In 1239 he is said to have been elected to the see of Lichfield, but, the right of election being then in dispute between the canons of Lichfield and the monks of Coventry, to have declined it (Annals of Dunstable, an. 1239; comp. Matt. Paris, Chron. Mag. iii. 542, where no mention is made of Robert, but only of William of Manchester, who was elected by the canons in opposition to the monks' choice, Nicolas of Farnham). When in 1240 Henry III sent justices itinerant through the whole kingdom in the hope of raising money by fines and the like, he appointed Robert chief of the justices for the northern division of England. When he and his brother-justices sat at Lincoln they were denounced by the dean of Christianity (or ‘rural dean’) for trying capital cases on Sunday. In return they abused the dean, and caused his goods and the lands of his nieces, his wards, to be seized on behalf of the crown. Bishop Robert Grosseteste [q. v.] wrote him a sharp rebuke for his presumption in dealing thus with a clerk. He again acted as a justice itinerant the following year. After having gained a high reputation and large possessions, he was seized with paralysis, and retired from office a few years before his death, spending the remainder of his life in prayer and almsgiving. He died on 29 May 1250, and was succeeded by his elder brother John. He founded three chantries in the chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr in Southwell Minster.

{{smaller block|[Foss's Judges, ii. 385; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 742; Matt. Paris's Chron. Maj. iv. 34, v. 138 (Rolls Ser.); Ann. of Dunstable ap. Ann. Monast. iii. 119, 122, 131, 149 (Rolls Ser.); Royal Letters, Hen. III, i. 171, 510 (Rolls Ser.); Epp. Rob. Grosseteste, pp. 266–8 (Rolls Ser.); Nicolas's Hist. Peerage, p. 285, ed. Courthope; Visitations of Southwell Minster, pp. 178, 179 (Camd. Soc.).]

W. H.