ASHBY, Thomas (d.c.1435), of Lowesby, Leics.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Richard Ashby of Lubbersthorpe and Welby by Agnes, da. of William Breedon† and sis. and h. of Ralph Breedon of Breedon. m. Joan, prob. da. and h. of John Burdet of Lowesby, 1s.
Commr. to assess subsidies, Leics. Jan. 1412; raise royal loans Nov. 1419.
J.p. Leics. 12 Feb. 1422-Oct. 1432.
One of the proofs provided in 1379 that William, Lord Deincourt, had obtained his majority and might, therefore, be given seisin of his inheritance, was that he had been born in the same week at Christmas 1357 as had Thomas, son of Richard and Agnes Ashby. If this Thomas Ashby is to be identified with the future shire knight (and was not an older Thomas born to the same parents), then he had long to wait before succeeding to his own inheritance, for both Richard and Agnes were still living 20 years later. The property the MP subsequently held in Leicestershire included his father’s portion of the manor of Lubbesthorpe and his mother’s lands at Thringstone, Whitwick, Breedon and Whatton, while he may also have inherited the Breedon property at Chellaston, just across the Trent in Derbyshire. Lowesby, where Ashby made his home, had come into his possession by 1388, most likely as an outcome of marriage to the Burdet heiress. He retained these holdings for the rest of his life, with the exception of certain properties at Thringstone and Whitwick which he sold in 1424, ten years after successfully defeating another claim to them made in the court of common pleas.1
Ashby’s father had been appointed sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire in 1388, but he himself never attained that important local position, even though he came to be well regarded among the gentry of the latter county. In 1391 he provided securities at the Exchequer so that his father might secure custody of the Leicestershire estates lately belonging to Simon Pakeman†, along with the wardship and marriage of the heir, John Vilers of Brooksby. Such was the friendship which developed between the two younger men that in 1415, the year before his death, Vilers named Ashby and his son Thomas among the trustees of his estates. As a consequence, in 1419 Ashby, in association with a fellow trustee, William, Lord Ferrers of Groby, had to bring an action in Chancery to secure possession of certain lands seized by the Crown following the demise of Pakeman’s widow, though he successfully obtained a lease of the disputed estate pending the court’s decision. He continued to act as a feoffee in the interests of the Vilers family until 1427.2 Besides sharing a common concern with Lord Ferrers, Ashby also appears to have been on amicable terms with William, Lord Zouche of Harringworth, a fellow landlord at Lubbersthorpe, for in 1406 Zouche had allowed him to enjoy custody of another part of their sizeable manor during the minority of a tenant.
Before being returned to Parliament for the first time, Ashby attended the Leicestershire elections for the assembly of 1411, and he was later present at those of 1420, 1422, 1425, 1427, 1429, 1431 and 1432, on two such occasions being accompanied by his son Thomas junior.3 Other visits to Leicester in the years 1422 to 1432 were necessary for Ashby to carry out his duties as a j.p., and he began to take an interest in the affairs of the county town. In 1428, for example, he witnessed the settlement of a major dispute over a right of way to which St. Mary’s College in the Newarke had laid claim, and that same year he and his son Thomas received from one of the burgesses a grant of his moveable goods. Yet Ashby’s actions were not always beyond reproach: a few months after his dismissal from the bench it was alleged in a petition to the chancellor that he had refused to relinquish to the lawful heir certain lands in Aston which he held in trust.4 Ashby is last recorded in June 1434 when he and his wife Joan settled Lowesby and property at Newton Burdet on the younger Thomas in return for an annual pension of £13. It was as his widow and executrix that at Easter 1436 Joan brought a suit in the common pleas for 50 marks due from the estate of Isabel, widow of Sir John Berkeley II*. She was still living in July 1440.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Not to be confused with Thomas Ashby of Quenby, Leics., who was coroner of the shire in the 1380s, was tried and acquitted for treason in 1403, and who died in 1416: Med. Legal Recs. ed. Hunnisett and Post, 355-7, 359, 361; CPR, 1401-5, p. 125; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 532; Reg. Rep