Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Waleys, Henry le
WALEYS, WALEIS, WALLEIS, or GALEYS, Sir HENRY le (d. 1302?), mayor of London, was alderman of the ward of Bread Street, and afterwards of ‘Cordewanerstrete’ (Cal. of Ancient Deeds, v. 2, 250; City Records, Letter-book A, f. 116). He was elected sheriff with Gregory de Rokesley [q. v.] on Michaelmas day 1270, and the sheriffs at once had a new pillory made in ‘Chepe’ for the punishment of bakers who made their loaves of deficient weight, these culprits having lately gone unpunished since the destruction of the pillory in the previous year through the negligence of the bailiffs (Riley, Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs, 1863, pp. 127, 131). He entered upon his first mayoralty on 28 Oct. 1273, and was shortly afterwards admitted by the barons of the exchequer (ib. p. 167). At the end of November Peter Cusin, one of the sheriffs, was dismissed from his office by the court of husting for receiving a bribe from a baker, upon which the mayor, sheriffs, and all the aldermen were summoned before the council and the barons of the exchequer. The citizens answered that they were not bound to plead without the walls of the city, and that they were entitled to remove the sheriffs when necessary; their pleas succeeded, judgment being given for them within the city, at St. Martin's-le-Grand.
Waleys followed up his proceedings against the bakers by ordering the butchers and fishmongers to remove their stalls from West Cheap in order that that important thoroughfare might present a better appearance to the king on his return from abroad. Great were the complaints of the tradesmen, who alleged before the inquest that they had rented their standings by annual payments to the sheriffs (Herbert, Hist. of St. Michael, Crooked Lane, pp. 39, 40). Walter Hervey, the popular leader and the predecessor of Waleys as mayor, championed their cause at Guildhall, where ‘a wordy strife’ arose between him and the mayor, with the result that Hervey's conduct was reported to the king's council. He was thereupon imprisoned, tried, and ultimately degraded from his office of alderman (Sharpe, London and the Kingdom, i. 109–10). Waleys next arrested several persons who had been banished the city by the late king four years before, but had returned. These he imprisoned in Newgate, but afterwards released on their promise to abjure the city until the arrival of King Edward in England (Riley, Chronicle, p. 168).
On 1 May a letter to the mayor, sheriffs, and commons from Edward I, who was absent abroad, summoned them to send four of their more discreet citizens to meet the king at Paris to confer with him, probably as to his approaching coronation (ib. p. 172). Waleys was the chief of the four citizens selected. Towards the close of his mayoralty he broke up the vessels employed as public and official standards of corn measure, and new ones strongly bound with brass hoops were made and sealed (ib. p. 173). Waleys had very close connection with France, and probably possessed private property or had great commercial interests in that country. This is evident from the fact that he was elected mayor of Bordeaux in 1275, the year following his London mayoralty (ib. p. 167).
Waleys was high in the royal favour, and this no doubt procured him his appointment as mayor of London for the second time in 1281, his second mayoralty lasting three years. On this occasion he appears to have been knighted by the king (Cal. of Ancient Deeds, ii. 258). His predecessor, Gregory de Rokesley, had held office for six years, and also succeeded him for a few months, when the king took the entire government of the city into his hands, and appointed a warden to fulfil the duties of mayor. In 1281 the king granted for the support of London Bridge three vacant plots of ground within the city; on two of these plots, at the east side of Old Change and in Paternoster Row, Waleys built several houses, the profits of which were assigned to London Bridge (Stow, Survey, pp. 637, 664). Waleys again proved himself a good administrator. He kept a sharp eye on the millers and bakers, being the first to give orders for weighing the grain when going to the mill, and afterwards the flour; he also had a hurdle provided for drawing dishonest bakers (Riley, Chron. p. 240). During this year he assessed for the king certain plots of land and let them to the barons and good men of Winchelsea for building (Calendar of Patent Rolls, 1281–92, p. 3).
In 1282 Waleys and the aldermen drew up an important code of provisions for the safe keeping of the city gates and the river. These ordinances embraced the watching of hostelries, the posting of sergeants ‘fluent of speech’ at the gates to question suspicious passengers, and the simultaneous ringing of curfew in all the parish churches, after which all gates and taverns must be closed (Riley, Memorials of London, p. 21). In the same year he made provision for the butchers and fishmongers whom he had displaced in 1274 from West Cheap by erecting houses and stalls for them on a site near Wool Church Haw, where the stocks formerly stood, now the site of the Mansion House. In the following year he built the Tun prison on Cornhill, so called from its round shape, as a prison for night-walkers. The building also served the purpose of ‘a fair conduit of sweet waters’ which Waleys caused to be brought for the benefit of the city from Tyburn (Stow, Survey, 1633, p. 207).
He also appears as one of the six representatives of the city sent this year to the parliament at Shrewsbury, these being the first known members of parliament for the city of London (Sharpe, London and the Kingdom, i. 18). A significant proof of his vigorous administration as mayor is afforded by the king's mandate to the justices on eyre at the Tower, and to all bailiffs, not to molest Waleys ‘for having during the king's absence in Wales, for the preservation of the peace and castigation of malefactors roaming about the city night and day, introduced certain new punishments and new methods of trial (judicia), and for having caused persons to be punished by imprisonment and otherwise for the quiet of the said city’ (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1281–92, p. 80). In 1284, the last year of his mayoralty, Waleys obtained from the king a renewed grant of customs for extensive repairs to the city wall, and for its extension beside the Blackfriars monastery (ib. p. 111).
His wide dealings as a merchant brought him and Rokesley into conflict with the barons of the Cinque ports as to claims through the jettison of freights during tempests (ib. p. 168). On 17 June 1285 he was one of three justices appointed for the trial concerning concealed goods of condemned Jews, involving a large amount (ib. p. 176). On 18 Sept. Waleys received a grant of land adjoining St. Paul's Churchyard, whereon he built some houses, but these, proving to be to the detriment of the dean and chapter, were ordered to be taken down, an enlarged site being granted to him for their re-erection (ib. pp. 193, 226).
Waleys was much employed in the royal service: in January 1288 he was detained beyond seas on the king's special affairs (ib. p. 291), and in June 1291 he was again abroad with a special protection from the king for one year. On 5 Oct. following he was engaged for the king in Gascony with John de Havering, seneschal of Gascony (ib. p. 446). In April 1294 he had to return to England, and nominated William de Saunford as his attorney in Ireland for one year (ib. 1292–1301, p. 66). On 11 Oct. he rented the manor of Lydel for three years from John Wake (ib. p. 96). In November 1294 he demised rentals of 30l. a year in value from properties in St. Lawrence Lane, Cordwanerstrete, and Dowgate, to Edmund, the king's brother (ib. p. 106). On 16 Sept. 1296 he received letters of protection for one year while in Scotland on the king's service (ib. p. 201). On 12 Jan. 1297 he was appointed at the head of a commission to determine the site and state of Berwick-on-Tweed and assess property there (ib. pp. 226–7). Waleys was commissioned to levy a thousand men in Worcester for the king's service on 23 Oct. 1297 (ib. p. 393).
In 1298 the aldermen and other citizens were summoned before the king at Westminster, when he restored to them their privileges, including that of electing a mayor. They accordingly elected Henry Waleys as mayor for the third time. He was presented to the king at Fulham, but shortly afterwards set out for Lincoln on urgent private business, after appointing deputies to act in his absence (Riley, Liber Albus, p. 16). He was soon afterwards summoned by the king into Scotland, and had to appoint a deputy (ib. p. 528). The safe conduct of the city had been a matter of concern to the king during the previous year, and the warden and aldermen had received a special ordinance on 14 Sept. 1297. This was followed by a further writ from the king addressed to Waleys as mayor on 28 May 1298 requiring him to preserve the peace of the city which had been much disturbed by the night brawls of bakers, brewsters, and millers (Riley, Memorials of London, pp. 36–7).
Waleys through his loyalty to the king incurred much enmity from his fellow-citizens. There appears to have been during his last mayoralty an open feud between him and his sheriffs, Richard de Refham and Thomas Sely. These officials appeared at a court of aldermen on Friday in Pentecost week 1299, and agreed to pay the large sum of 100l. if during the rest of the term of their shrievalty they should be convicted of having committed trespass, either by word or deed, against Waleys while mayor of London (Riley, Memorials, p. 41). About the same time (18 April) Waleys received from the king, as a reward for his long service, a grant of houses with a quay and other appurtenances in Berwick-on-Tweed, forfeited to the king by Ralph, son of Philip, and partly burnt and devastated by the king's foot soldiers, he being required to repair the premises and lay out upon them at least a hundred marks (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1292–1301, p. 408).
On 26 Dec. 1298 Waleys and Ralph de Sandwich [q. v.] were constituted a commission of oyer and terminer relative to a plot to counterfeit the king's great and privy seal, and to poison the king and his son (ib. p. 459). In March 1300, he being absent from England on his own affairs, Stephen de Gravesende was substituted for him on another commission concerning the theft of money, plate, and jewels from the house of Hugh de Jernemuth in ‘the town of Suthwerk’ (ib. p. 547). Waleys possessed much property in the city, including houses near Ivy Lane, Newgate Street (ib. p. 98), a house called ‘Le Hales,’ and St. Botolph's wharf (Riley, Liber Albus, p. 478); but his place of business was probably in the ward of Cordwainer, which he represented as alderman.
Waleys appears to have died in 1302, in which year his executors procured a grant for an exchange of property with the priory of Holy Trinity, under the provisions of his will. This was stated to have been enrolled in the court of husting, but no record of it can be found in the official calendar (Cal. of Ancient Deeds, ii. 47).[Orridge's Citizens of London and their Rulers; Thomson's Chronicles of London Bridge; Sharpe's Calendar of Wills in the Court of Husting; authorities above cited.]