Spigurnel, Henry (DNB00)

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SPIGURNEL, HENRY (1263?–1328), judge, born probably about 1263, was very probably a son or grandson of Godfrey Spigurnel, who, in a grant to him in 1207 (9 John) of five bovates of land and a mill at Skegby in Nottinghamshire, is styled ‘serviens noster de capella nostra’ (Rot. Chart. p. 169). The name ‘Spigurnel’ was originally given to the officer who sealed the writs in chancery; probably the office became hereditary, and supplied the surname of a family. Henry Spigurnel was summoned to perform military service in 1297, as possessing lands worth more than 20l. a year. He was also summoned to the parliament of that year, and to later parliaments of Edward I and Edward II. He first appears in a judicial capacity in 1296 (Abbr. Rot. Orig. i. 97). On 12 March 1300 he received protection for one year on going beyond seas on the king's service. He cannot have gone abroad for long, for on 15 April of the same year he received a commission as justice of oyer and terminer. He exercised this function as well as that of justice of the court of common pleas in many succeeding years. He was also one of the magnates sworn in the parliament of 1301 to treat of the affairs of Scotland (Palgrave, Documents, i. 240).

On 6 Sept. 1307 he was ordered to continue in the office of justice of the pleas coram rege by Edward II. In February 1311 he was sent by the king on a mission to the papal court, along with John de Benstede (Rymer, ii. 128). On 8 March 1312 he was sent with twelve others to the bishops and earls and barons of the province of Canterbury about to assemble at London to explain certain matters touching the ordinances. According to the credible statement of the ‘Gesta Edwardi de Carnarvon’ (Stubbs, Chron. of Edw. I and Edw. II, p. 43), he and William Inge, when on circuit in May 1312 (cf. Patent Roll, Edw. II), had Piers Gaveston brought before them by the Earl of Warwick, and condemned him by the authority of the ‘ordinances,’ ‘whose repeal was not fully known to that county.’ On 29 May 1314 he and five others were ordered to be at Westminster on 19 June, prepared to set out as the king's envoys beyond the sea. In January 1315 he was again acting as justice of assize. On 19 Nov. he and the other justices for holding pleas coram rege were ordered to sit permanently on the bench, and forbidden to absent themselves without the king's special order or for infirmity. He was summoned to the parliament of 14 Jan. 1316. Although he was over sixty years of age in 1323–4 (17 Edward II), he still continued to act as justice until as late as 17 Sept. 1327, the year before his death, which took place in 1328.

In the ‘Outlaw's Song of Traillebaston’ Spigurnel and Roger de Bella Fago, ‘gent de cruelté,’ are contrasted with William Martyn and Gilbert de Knovill, ‘gent de pieté,’ all four being named by a commission of 6 April 1305 commissioners to judge the trailbastons in the west of England (Wright, Political Songs, p. 233; Rymer, Fœdera, i. 970).

Spigurnel lived at Kenilworth, and, according to his own return in 1316, was lord or joint lord of various townships in the counties of Bedford, Buckingham, Oxford, and Northampton. He had also property in Essex and Leicestershire. His sons represented the county of Bedford in the parliaments of 1 and 14 Edward II.

[Foss's Judges of England, iii. 301; Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edw. I, 1292–1300, pp. 494, 549, 619, 629, &c.; Cal. of Close Rolls, Edw. II, 1307–13, pp. 41, 451, et passim, and 1313–18, pp. 24, 101, 145, 208, 316, 320, et passim; Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edward III, 1327–30, pp. 87, 206, et passim; Parl. Writs, vol. ii. div. iii., Alphabetical Digest, p. 1448; and authorities cited in text.]

W. E. R.