AYOT, Alan (d.c.1416), of Shalstone, Bucks.
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Family and Education
prob. s. of Laurence Ayot of Shalstone by his w. Marion. m. bef. Mar. 1363, Agnes, wid. of Thomas de la Hay (d.c.1362) of Foscott, 1s. (prob. d.v.p.), 1da.
Tax surveyor, Bucks. Dec. 1380; collector Jan. 1392.
Commr. to put down rebellion, Bucks. Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of arrest Nov. 1383, July 1384; inquiry Feb. 1385 (obstruction of highways).
Alan’s branch of the Ayot family, an offshoot of the Ayots of Ayot St. Lawrence in Hertfordshire, had settled in the late 13th century at Shalstone, a manor which was to fall to Alan himself in or before 1377, in succession to Laurence Ayot. As an old man Ayot was to express his family’s expectations of inheriting the former Keynes estates (in particular, Dodford in Northamptonshire), should the line of his distant kinsmen the Cressys ever chance to fail; but such hopes were not to be fulfilled in his lifetime.1 He had been moderately successful in his attempt to advance his fortunes by marriage, for by this means he had acquired manors in Foscott (also in Buckinghamshire) and West Wickham (in Cambridgeshire), the properties of his wife’s previous husband, Thomas de la Hay. In 1363 he paid Maud, countess of Oxford, £10 as relief for two knights’ fees which de la Hay’s brother and heir Robert, a clerk, owed for West Wickham, having already begun to convert his wife’s life interest in the property into a permanent tenure for himself and his heirs. Even so, Ayot was never more than comfortably placed: according to the tax assessments made in 1412, his lands in Cambridgeshire and Buckinghamshire had an annual value of £20, while those at Brackley in Northamptonshire, across the county boundary from Shalstone, were worth no more than 6s.8d.2
In the early stages of his career, Ayot formed a close association with Roger Dayrell* of Lillingstone. Together, they provided securities for the good behaviour of a defendant at the assizes held at Edlesborough at Easter 1375; and, two years later, Dayrell named Ayot as a trustee of his manor of Hanworth in Middlesex. (This second transaction was to arouse considerable official interest subsequently, for its purpose was apparently to lease the manor to Nicholas Brembre†, whose condemnation for treason by the Merciless Parliament required, with a view to forfeiture, a thorough investigation into all his dealings.) Ayot witnessed a conveyance on behalf of Sir John Kentwood* in 1379, but otherwise would seem to have established few contacts of note. Nothing is known of the events which led in February 1386 to his being party to a bond in £160 made payable to the abbot of Westminster. His relations with a lesser Benedictine house, that of Luffield priory, near his home, were evidently far from cordial: three years later he and other inhabitants of Shalstone were arrested by the sheriff of Buckinghamshire after making threats against the monks. Nevertheless, Ayot was able to secure his release on bail, and no more is heard of the affair. Early in 1400 Ayot was twice associated with John Barton I*, the apprentice-at-law, as providing securities in Chancery for defendants in lawsuits, on the second occasion (in April) undertaking, on pain of 500 marks, that one Leonard Mallory, if freed from the Tower, would find more permanent guarantees for his appearance before the King’s Council.3
Ten years earlier, in 1390, Ayot had been made a trustee of the Northamptonshire manor of Hinton near Brackley, on behalf of William Doyly. It may well be that Doyly, who held the manor jure uxoris, was already being seriously harassed regarding his tenure by John, Lord Lovell, who in fact forcibly evicted him not long afterwards. Representations made against Lovell in the Parliaments of 1399 and 1401 had little effect, but at that of 1406 he agreed to submit to the arbitration of six named persons, including Ayot, no doubt chosen by Doyly. However, even among the arbitrators there was a general reluctance to reach a decision: on the appointed day (in August) only two of the six — Ayot and Thomas Chaucer* — put in an appearance in Chancery; and Ayot himself defaulted the following January, and had to be summoned in a hurry to London so that the matter might be resolved.