ARCHDEACON, Thomas (c.1380-1421), of Leigham in Egg Buckland, Devon.
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Family and Education
Commr. to raise royal loans, Devon Jan. 1420:
Thomas inherited his father’s land shortly before October 1400 when still a minor. His wardship and marriage were then sold for 40s. on the condition that the lands, held of the castle of Barnstaple and of the honour of Dartington, were worth no more than £3 p.a. In February 1401 his kinsman, John Bosom I* of Bosomzeal, was granted the wardship by the duke of Cornwall (Henry of Monmouth). Archdeacon came of age before 1408, when he laid claim to certain of the estates held by the three daughters and heirs of his uncle Sir Warin, on the assumption that an entail made by his grandfather in 1365 had restricted inheritance of these properties to the male line. The claim was proven, and Thomas received livery of all the property concerned, comprising lands and rents in St. Ives, Cornwall, and near Plymouth and Barnstaple in Devon. Before his death in 1421 he added to these holdings certain lands belonging to his nephew, Henry, for which he paid an annual rent of £4. These, too, were concentrated in the north of Devon. In the year before his death he arranged for the settlement of his most important property, the manor of Leigham, with its ‘members’ of ‘Manedon and Colrygg’, on his wife and their children.2
In 1415 Archdeacon was appointed as one of the farmers of the alien priory of Modbury in Devon. The grant was cancelled shortly afterwards, but he regained possession subsequently, and tenure then ceased only with his death. It seems likely that he owed the office more to the local standing of his family than to any personal ability. Archdeacon’s connexions with some of his fellow landowners are of interest. His property in the north of the county brought him in touch with Richard Hankford*, with whom in 1418 he was ordered to deliver 18 masts together with anchors and cables, which had been forfeited to the Crown at Ilfracombe, to William Soper* of Southampton, the surveyor of the King’s ships, for use in the war in France. He also had ties with the Courtenays: in 1415 he had provided securities for the feoffees holding the estates of Richard Courtenay, the late bishop of Norwich, and in 1418, along with the latter’s cousin, Sir Hugh Courtenay* of Bampton (who had earlier been married to Archdeacon’s cousin Philippa), he was granted the wardship of some of the Fitzwaryn estates during the minority of the heir.3
Archdeacon attended the elections held at Exeter castle in 1419 and was himself returned to Parliament in the following year. He died on 4 Feb. 1421, within a few weeks of the dissolution, leaving two sons, John and Thomas, and a daughter, Margaret. John was said to be aged 27 at the time of his father’s death, but this was evidently a mistake, for in a suit brought in Chancery sometime between 1443 and 1450 it was stated that in his will Archdeacon had stipulated that his widow should have the profits from his lands at Leigham in order to provide for ‘his children’, which implies that they were then all under age. By the time of the suit both sons had died, leaving Margaret, then the wife of Robert Kayl* of Ethy, Cornwall, as Archdeacon’s heir.4