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Robert Chesney
(Bef 1304-1361)
Sir Robert de Cralle
Margaret Peplesham
Richard Chesney of Shurland, Kent
(Bef 1352-)
Margery de Cralle
Sir William Chesney of Shurland, Kent
(-Between 1441/1441)


Family Links

1. Eleanore Salerne

Sir William Chesney of Shurland, Kent 2

  • Marriage (1): Eleanore Salerne before Feb 1405 1
  • Died: Between 31 May and 14 Jun 1441 1

  General Notes:

Family and Education
s. and h. of Richard Cheyne of Shurland by Margery, da. and event. coh. of Robert Cralle of Cralle, Suss. m.1 bef. Feb. 1405, Eleanor, da. and coh. of John Salerne I* of Iden, Suss. by his w. Agnes, 1s. John†.

Offices Held
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Kent Feb. 1412; arrest Oct. 1413; inquiry June 1414 (lands of Boxley abbey), Feb., July 1418 (estates of Sir John Oldcastle* and his wid. Lady Cobham), Dec. 1418 (wastes, Ospringe hospital), Apr. 1421 (shipwreck), July, Nov. 1422 (patronage and endowment of Boxley abbey); array Mar. 1419, June 1421, Dec. 1435; to raise royal loans Nov. 1419; sewers July 1428.

Sheriff, Kent 3 Nov. 1412-6 Nov. 1413, 13 Nov. 1423-6 Nov. 1424.

J.p. Kent 3 Feb. 1416-July 1420, 12 Feb. 1422-July 1423.

By the end of the 13th century the Cheynes were well established both in Kent, at Patrixbourne and Keston, and in east Sussex, at Street. Shurland in Sheppey, which became their principal residence, was added to their possessions through the marriage of William's great-grandfather Sir William Cheyne (d.1323), and the alliance of his father with Margery Cralle led to the start of a new branch of the family in Sussex, founded by William's younger brother Simon. Although William received no part of the Cralle estates, he did inherit the paternal manors of Patrixbourne and Shurland and was clearly well-to-do.2 His lands in Sheppey, although never quite free from the danger of incursions by the sea \emdash they were, in fact, flooded in the autumn of 1404 \emdash were productive enough to allow him to export grain; and his estates on the mainland of Kent had an annual value put at £60 by the assessors of the subsidy levied in 1412.3 Cheyne's marriage was made in the expectation that he would thereby obtain landed interests in the southwest of the county and in Sussex. By a settlement made in 1405 his wife's parents promised him and Eleanor tenure for life of lands and rents at Stone cum Ebony and Wittersham, beginning after their own deaths; and in 1420 the Cheynes were recorded as having a reversionary interest in the manor of Norwood in Sheppey in the event of failure of the line of Eleanor's half-sister. But there is no evidence that their hopes materialized in either case. Furthermore, when Eleanor and her sister Anne did inherit certain property in Hastings after their mother's death, they were evicted from it and had to petition Chancery for redress. Together with his wife and their son John, Cheyne was admitted to the fraternity of Christ Church priory, Canterbury, in July 1428.4

Cheyne is first recorded in 1398, as a witness to deeds of his neighbour, Sir Roger Northwood, at Norwood, and in later years he was party to transactions involving the sale of certain of the Northwood estates. It may have been he who in June 1408 took out royal letters of protection, valid until November, for service at sea with Edmund, earl of Kent, then admiral of England. About two years later he was made a feoffee for the performance of the will of John Freningham* of Loose, and in this capacity in 1411 he obtained a royal licence to grant in mortmain to the wardens of Rochester bridge certain premises in Dartford, and also made a settlement on John, son of Reynold Pympe*, of a major part of Freningham's estate. About four years later he himself was one of the benefactors of Rochester bridge, with the grant of a rent called 'Poytevyns' in Leysdown, Sheppey, worth £2 a year. In 1411 he had also begun to act as a trustee of the estates of (Sir) Roger Fiennes* of Herstmonceux, to whom he was related on his mother's side, and he continued to provide this service for Fiennes until after 1425 (in which year he was joined in the distinguished group of feoffees by his namesake the judge).5

When entering the Commons apparently for the only time in 1416, Cheyne may have found reassurance in the presence of his kinsman, Fiennes, then representing Sussex, and in that of a more experienced parliamentarian, elected as his companion from Kent, namely, John Wilcotes, receiver-general of the duchy of Cornwall, who had quite recently married his sister. It was on Wilcotes's behalf (and for young John Pympe's widow) that Cheyne acted as a surety at the Exchequer in December 1421. He attested the Kent electoral indenture for the Parliament of 1429. In November 1430 he obtained a royal licence to provide a new site on which to rebuild the parish church at Eastchurch which had collapsed, apparently through subsidence, and his further benefaction to the new church was to be a bequest of ten marks towards painting the rood and constructing pews. Not surprisingly, his name is to be found in the Kent list of those who in May 1434 were ordered to take an oath not to maintain malefactors. The King's Council considered him prosperous enough to be asked for a loan towards the cost of raising and equipping an army to be sent to France in 1436, and put him down for a contribution of £40.6

Cheyne's will, made on 31 May 1441, was proved just two weeks later, on 14 June. He was buried in the abbey church of St. Mary and St. Sexburga in Sheppey. Among his bequests was a fother of lead for the repair of St. Katherine's chapel in Minster (Sheppey) church, to which he also left £20 for prayers for his soul. Sums of ten marks and 20 marks were set aside to provide masses respectively in the Charterhouse, London, and in the church in whichever parish his widow chose to reside. Cheyne's son (Sir) John (d.1467), was to represent Kent in the Parliament of February 1449, while his grandson, another Sir John, was to be summoned to Parliament as Lord Cheyne in 1487.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger

Care has been taken to distinguish him from (Sir) William Cheyne, j.K.B. June 1415-Jan. 1424, c.j.K.B. Jan. 1424-39, who was knighted at Leicester in 1426 and died in 1443. He came from Suss. and his lands in that county and in Dorset were valued at £80 a year in 1436: DNB, iv. 222; PCC 15 Rous; EHR, xlix. 636.

1. The identity of the William Cheyne who married Margaret (d. 23 Aug. 1419), wid. of William Mowbray of Lincs. and Yorks., whose grave is in Hever church, Kent (W.D. Belcher, Kentish Brasses, i. 71; C138/42/73) remains something of a mystery. He was afterwards a knight (CCR, 1422-9, p. 441) but was not necessarily the judge, for, although the latter did have a wife named Margaret, she was buried in the church of St. Benet, Paul's Wharf.
2.Arch. Cant. xxiii. 87; xxviii. 202-3, 205-6; Suss. Arch. Colls. lxv. 47-49; VCH Suss. ix. 91, 207; E. Hasted, Kent ed. Drake, vi. 248; ix. 279; Feudal Aids, iii. 70.
3.CPR, 1401-5, p. 502; Feudal Aids, vi. 467; DKR, xlviii. 244.
4. CP25(1)112/263/248, 113/291/316; C1/4/78; BL, Arundel 68, f. 60.
5.CCR, 1396-9, pp. 240, 281; 1405-9, p. 360; 1429-35, pp. 45, 69; CPR, 1405-8, p. 449; 1408-13, pp. 284, 293, 324; 1413-16, p. 133; Kent Chantries (Kent Recs. xii), 125; M.J. Becker, Rochester Bridge, 65-66.
6.CFR, xiv. 413; C219/14/1; CPR, 1429-36, pp. 147, 388; PPC, iv. 328.
7.Reg. Chichele, ii. 584-5; CP, iii. 191-2. 1


• Manorial Estate: Shurland Manor, Eastchurch, Sheerness, Kent, ME12, GB. 3 MANOR OF SHURLAND, which had antiently owners of this surname; the first of whom, that is mentioned as being of note, is Sir Jeffry de Shurland, who resided here in the reign of king Henry III. in the 9th year of which he was constable of Dover castle. His son was Sir Robert de Shurland, who was a man of eminent authority in the reign of king Edward I. under whom he was lord warden, and in the 28th year of it attended that prince at the siege of Carlaverock, in Scotland, where, with many other Kentish gentlemen, he received knighthood. In the 10th year of that reign he obtained a grant of liberties, among which was wreck of the sea, for his manor here, as he did of freewarren in it in the 29th year of it; soon after which he died, and was buried under a tomb within an arch in the south wall of Minister church, with his effigies in marble lying at length on it, and a horse's head carved on the tomb on his right hand. The figure of the horse's head (which seems either part of the marble on which it lies, or at least to have been firmly fixed to it when the tomb was put up) has given rise to a tale, which has been reported among the common people for many years, that Sir Robert having upon some disgust at a priest, buried him alive, swam on his horse two miles through the sea to the king, who was then on ship-board near this island, and having obtained his pardon, swam back again to the shore, where being told, his horse had performed this by magic art, he cut off his head. About a twelvemonth after which, riding a hunting near the same place, the horse he was then upon stumbled, and threw him upon the scull of his former horse, by which he was so much bruised, that it caused his death: in memory of which, the figure of a horse's head was placed by him on his tomb. The foundation of which story is with more probability supposed to have arisen from Sir Robert Shurland's having obtained the grant of wreck of the sea, as above-mentioned; which privilege is always esteemed to reach as far into the water, as upon the lowest ebb, a, man can ride in and touch any thing with the point of his lance; and on this account the figure of the horse's head was placed by him. He bore for his arms, Azure, five lions ram pant, argent, a canton, ermine; which arms are on the roof of the cloysters of Canterbury cathedral.

He left an only daughter Margaret his heir, who marrying with William, son of Sir Alexander Cheney, entitled him to this manor, of which he died possessed in the 8th year of king Edward III. anno 1323. His grandson Richard Cheney, of Shurland, married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of Robert Cralle, of Cralle, in Suffex, by whom he had two sons, Sir William, of Shurland, and Simon, who was of Cralle, and ancestor of the Cheneys, of Higham, in this neighbourhood, and of Warblinton, in Suffex.

Sir William Cheney, the eldest son, possessed this manor, in whose descendants, who were at times knights of the shire and sheriffs of this county, it descended down to Sir Thomas Cheney, who was a man of great account in his time; in the 7th year of king Henry VIII. he was sheriff of this county, and served several times in parliament for it. He was elected a knight of the garter in the reign of king Henry VIII. in the 31st of whose reign, as well as in the 2d and 3d years of the succeeding one of king Edward VI. his lands in this county were disgavelled by the acts of those years. By king Henry VIII. he was appointed constable of Queenborough-castle, governor of Rochester, warden of the five ports, and treasurer of the houshold, in which office he continued in the next reign of Edward VI. of whose privy council he was one, and at his death espousing the cause of queen Mary, he was made again lord warden. Queen Elizabeth continued him treasurer of her houshold, and made him of her privy council. He new-built the mansion of Shurland with the materials of Chilham castle, where he before resided, and which he is said to have pulled down and brought hither, and he continued to reside here with great hospitality and sumptuous housekeeping, till the time of his death, which happened in the tower in the 1st year of that reign, and was buried, with great pomp and magnificence, in a small chapel adjoining to the parish church of Minster.

William married Eleanore Salerne, daughter of John Salerne and Agnes, before Feb 1405.1


1 J. S. Roskell and L. Clark, editors, <i>The History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1386-1421 </i>, 4 Volumes (N.p.: Boydell and Brewer, 1993).

2 Sussex Archaeological Society, editor, <i>Sussex Archaeological Collections </i> (N.p.: n.p., n.d.), Vol 65: 20-53; The Family of Chesney or Cheyney. L. F. Salzman.

3 Edward Hasted, <i>The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent</i>, 12 (Canterbury: W Bristow, 1799), 6: 245-258.

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