BABELAKE, alias Wyndesore, John, of Petworth, Suss.
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Family and Education
This obscure esquire came from Oxfordshire, where, until a few years before his return to Parliament, he retained land near Standlake.1 His career was spent in the service of the earls of Arundel – Richard Fitzalan (d.1397) and his son Thomas (d.1415). As a member of the personal retinue of Earl Richard when admiral of England, he was on board the flagship of the fleet which put to sea in March 1387 and won a victory in the narrow seas. When the earl and his fellow Lords Appellant gained control over Crown patronage in the following year, Babelake was awarded a share in the Exchequer lease of the alien priory of Deerhurst, only to lose it in 1389 to one of the King’s knights. After Arundel’s execution for treason, Babelake took the sensible precaution of purchasing a royal pardon, in June 1398, which specifically related to the support he had given to the Appellants.2
It was probably Babelake’s connexion with Earl Richard which first brought him to Sussex, where the Fitzalans themselves held substantial estates, notably at Arundel and Lewes. He acquired a house and land in Petworth in 1395, and a few years later he is recorded as farmer of demesne lands belonging to Earl Thomas at Kirdford and Pallingham, not far away. Evidently he had attached himself to the young earl soon after Thomas’s return from exile in the company of Henry of Bolingbroke in 1399.3 At the Coventry Parliament of October 1404 Arundel was instructed to garrison his Shropshire castle at Oswestry to help safeguard that part of the Welsh march against Owen Glendower, and Babelake accompanied him there as a member of his retinue. In February following he was one of a party sent to the King’s Council bearing a letter from the earl to report his concern at the increasing strength of the Welsh rebels and his urgent request for reinforcements. Not long afterwards he was entrusted with a more delicate mission: in the spring he was despatched to Portugal with Sir John Wiltshire and Master John Snappe to represent Earl Thomas in negotiations for his marriage to Beatrice, the illegitimate daughter of King João I. At Lisbon the marriage was contracted by proxy that April, but Babelake remained in Portugal until October in order that he might then escort the countess to England. King João gave him a letter for his brother-in-law Henry IV, though he left it to him to describe in detail the ceremonies and marriage settlement to the King and earl. Babelake was still ‘dwelling with the earl of Arundel’ when, in December 1411, he conveyed to Sir Peter Bessels* and others (including a namesake) his holdings in Oxfordshire.4 There can be little doubt that Babelake owed his return to Parliament for Sussex three years later entirely to the influence of his lord, Earl Thomas, who was then at the height of his career as treasurer of the Exchequer and friend of Henry V. (Certainly, his only known connexions with the gentry of the shire were with members of Arundel’s personal affinity.) Unfortunately, the earl died in October 1415, soon after taking part in the siege of Harfleur, and Babelake is not recorded thereafter, unless it was he who in 1416 joined numerous others to act as trustee of the estates of Hugh, Lord Burnell. The close friendship existing between Burnell and the late earl of Arundel’s sister, Joan, Lady Abergavenny, makes this at least a possibility.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Not to be identified with John, nephew and h. of William, Lord Windsor, the lieutenant of Ireland, for that John Windsor died at Easter 1414: RP, iv. 17.
- 1. CCR, 1409-13, p. 300. The John Babelake of Oxon. who was a trustee of the estates of Robert, Lord Grey of Rotherfield, in 1379, was probably an older kinsman, perhaps the John Babelake ‘senior’ who made his will on 20 Dec. 1404; CIPM, xvi. 583; CPR, 1377-81, p. 334; Guildhall Lib. London, 9171/2, f. 54v (there is no record of probate).
- 2. E101/40/33 m. 1; CFR, x. 237; CPR, 1388-92, p. 71; C67/30 m. 2.
- 3. CP25(1)240/78/32; Two Fitzalan Surveys (Suss. Rec. Soc. lxvii), 110, 149.
- 4. PPC, i. 247; J.H. Wylie, Hen. IV, ii. 335; Letters Hen. IV ed. Hingeston, ii. pp. xxv, 93; CCR, 1409-13, p. 300.
- 5. CAD, ii. C2398; CPR, 1416-22, pp. 362, 371. Wylie (Hen. V, ii. 68) thought that John Bartlot, executor of the will of Earl Thomas, was ‘probably the enigmatic “Vabelate” or Bablake of the Portuguese negotiations’, but no evidence has been found to confirm this identification.