Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wrotham, William de

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WROTHAM, WILLIAM de (d. 1217), judge, was the grandson of Geoffrey de Wrotham of Baddenville, near Wrotham in Kent, a domestic servant of several archbishops of Canterbury, including Hubert Walter [see Hubert], who gave him lands near Wrotham, Kent. By his wife, Maud de Cornhill, Geoffrey was father of William de Wrotham (d. 1208?), who was sheriff of Devonshire in 1198–9, acted as justiciar in the reigns of Richard I and John, and married Muriel de Lydd. As he survived until about 1208, it is difficult to distinguish him from his son, but apparently it was the son who was custos of the stanneries of Devonshire and Cornwall from 1199 to 1213 (Madox, History of the Exchequer, ii. 132), and appears in 1204 as one of the bailiffs of the seaports and of the fifteenth of merchandise, and in 1205 as one of the ‘custodes galearum.’ On 30 Sept. 1206 he was acting as custodian, with Hugh of Wells, of the temporalities of the bishopric of Bath and the abbey of Glastonbury (Rot. Pat. p. 57 b); and on 4 Feb. 1206 he was appointed to inquire into the maladministration of the borough of London (Rot. Claus. p. 64). On 25 June of the same year he was custodian of the temporalities of the bishopric of Winchester (ib. p. 73b). He was also forester of the counties of Somerset and Dorset, and later of Somerset and Exmoor. He was a canon of Wells in 1204, and in the same year became archdeacon of Taunton (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, i. 166). Soon after he received the churches of Warden in Sheppey and East Malling in Kent. Le Neve, misreading ‘Tant’ for ‘Cant,’ makes Wrotham archdeacon of Canterbury in 1206. He paid two thousand three hundred marks for the king's favour in 1208, and he seems to have held the office of warden of the seaports during most of John's reign (see Rot. Claus. passim). He was constantly with the king in 1209–1210 and 1212–13, and is mentioned by Roger of Wendover as one of John's advisers during the time of the interdict. He must have left the country during the war at the end of the reign, but was permitted by Henry III to return in safety in 1217. He died in that year, being succeeded by his nephew and heir, Richard de Wrotham (Rot. Claus. i. 352–3). His chief grants of land were in Somerset, and, according to the pedigrees given in Collinson, he was ancestor of the Wroth or Wrothe family, a name said to be a contraction of Wrotham [cf. art. Wroth, Sir Thomas, (1516–1573)].

[Rot. Pat., Rot. Claus., and Rot. Chartarum (Record Comm. Publ.); Madox's Hist. Exchequer; Roger Wendover, Matthew Paris, ii. 533, Walter of Coventry (Rolls Ser.); Collinson's Somerset, iii. 63–5, &c. (see general index, 1898); List of Sheriffs, 1898; Foss's Lives of the Judges.]

W. E. R.