BARRE, Sir Thomas de la (c.1349-1419), of Barre's Court in Holmer and Rotherwas, Herefs. and Ayot St. Lawrence, Herts.
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Family and Education
b.c.1349, 3rd. s. and event. h. of Thomas de la Barre† of Rotherwas, by Hawise, sis. and coh. of Sir Richard Pembridge of Ayot St. Lawrence. m. by 1381, Elizabeth (d. 14 Dec. 1420), da. of Sir William Croyser of Stoke Dabernon, Surr. by his 1st w., wid. of Sir Ralph Camoys and of Sir Edward Kendale (d.1375), of Hitchin, Herts., 1s. 1da. Kntd. by 1373.1
Sheriff, Herefs. 11 Nov. 1384-10 Dec. 1385, 1 Dec. 1388-15 Nov. 1389, 9 Nov. 1395-1 Dec. 1396, Essex and Herts. 1 Dec. 1415-30 Nov. 1416.
J.p. Herefs. 9 Nov. 1385-Nov. 1389, 2 Mar.-Nov. 1399, 9 July 1419-d., Herts. 16 May 1401-Jan. 1414, 4 May 1419-d.
Escheator, Glos., Herefs. and adjacent march 13 July-Nov. 1388.
Commr. of inquiry, Herefs. Feb. 1391 (alienation of Eaton Tregoes), Herts. June 1406 (concealments); to make proclamation against adherents of Walter Brut, Herefs. Sept. 1393, of Henry IV’s intention to govern well, Herts. May 1402; survey lands of condemned Lords Appellant of 1388, W. Midlands and the march Oct. 1397; of array, Herefs. Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403, Herefs., Herts. Mar. 1419; oyer and terminer, Herts., Bucks. July 1403; to raise royal loans, Herts. Mar. June, June 1406, Nov. 1419.
Sir Thomas de la Barre’s family were originally citizens of Hereford, but by the time of his birth they had long since risen to gentility, and his father (another Thomas) served at one time or another as sheriff, escheator, j.p., tax collector and (in 1355) knight of the shire for Herefordshire. His mother, Hawise, was the second sister of Sir Richard Pembridge, whose only son Henry died childless in 1375, whereupon the Pembridge lands passed to the sons of Hawise and her sister Amy Burley. Thus, in 1376, the estates were divided between our Sir Thomas (whose elder brothers were by now dead) and his cousin Sir Richard Burley. Sir Thomas’s share included the manors of Ayot St. Lawrence (Hertfordshire), Mathern (Monmouthshire), and Clehonger and Mere Court with other manors in Herefordshire, as well as the manor of Burgate and the hundred of Fordingbridge (Hampshire); by November 1378, however, he had granted the Hampshire lands to Burley in exchange for more estates in Herefordshire.2
By 1381 de la Barre had further added to his lands by his marriage to Elizabeth, widow of Sir Ralph Camoys and Sir Edward Kendale, whose dower included the manor of Hitchin and other property in Hertfordshire, the manors of Wrestlingworth, Bedfordshire, and Shalden, Hampshire, and property in Norfolk. On his father’s death in June 1388, furthermore, Sir Thomas inherited the family estates in and around Hereford, including the manor of Rotherwas and lands at Tarrington, Holmer, Cobhall (in Allensmore), Little Marcle and Lyde, and he subsequently also acquired the manors of Lower Bullingham and Hillhampton, in the same region. He was, in short, a substantial landowner both in Herefordshire (where his estates at his death were valued at £46 a year) and in the south east Midlands (where, in 1412, his Hertfordshire lands were worth an annual £40 and those in Bedfordshire £18 p.a.).3
Perhaps due to the influence of his uncle, Sir Richard Pembridge, who was Edward III’s under chamberlain in 1371, Sir Thomas apparently began his career in the royal household, although he did see military service overseas in the retinue of Humphrey, earl of Hereford. He was knighted by 1373 and on 4 Jan. 1377 he was granted a life annuity of 40 marks. Three weeks later he received a royal pardon for his part in the death of one William Collyng. He was an intimate enough member of the Court to be called upon to give evidence at the trial before Parliament of Edward III’s mistress, Alice Perrers, which took place in December 1377, six months after Edward’s death. On that occasion he was called ‘of the Household’, and he appears to have become a favoured retainer of Richard II, who in May 1384 appointed him surveyor of the King’s hay at Hereford and, in the following November, confirmed his earlier annuity, transferring the charge of it from the Exchequer to the issues of Herefordshire. In the summer of 1385 he served on the royal expedition to Scotland, and in September (when he was granted a livery of mourning for Richard’s mother, Princess Joan) he was called a King’s knight.4 Nothing is known of his Household service between 1385 and 1394; and indeed he appears to have been much occupied in Herefordshire during that period, serving as sheriff, escheator, justice and royal commissioner.
In August 1394 Sir Thomas took out royal letters of protection to accompany Richard II’s expedition to Ireland, obtaining their renewal after a period of six months. He served throughout the campaign with a small retinue of two men-at-arms and three archers, receiving wages of war from 7 Sept. 1394 until 21 Apr. following. In February 1396 he was retained to stay with Richard II for life, being then accorded a further annuity of 40 marks. On 28 May 1397 this was confirmed as additional to his pension of 20 years earlier, and on the same day he was granted an annual gift of three tuns of red wine for life.5
Despite his closeness to Richard II, de la Barre apparently had no difficulty in adjusting to the government of Henry IV, who confirmed his annuities as early as 7 Nov. 1399, and in whose service he continued as a household knight. During the previous reign his local administrative activities had centred on Herefordshire, but from now on he appears to have divided his time between that county and his estates in Hertfordshire. In 1401 he was first returned to Parliament for Hertfordshire and shortly afterwards was appointed a j.p. there, having been dropped from the Herefordshire commission in 1399. However, he still remained active in the marches: in August 1402 he was ordered to supervise the Herefordshire levies and to lead them to the county town to join Henry IV’s expedition against Owen Glendower. Shortly afterwards he again represented Herefordshire in Parliament. What private links Sir Thomas had with other gentry of the area is not clear, for he did not often appear as a witness or surety, though in 1404 he was a mainpernor for (Sir) Leonard Hakluyt* (when the latter had a royal lease of lands in Herefordshire) and in 1405 he acted in the same capacity for Thomas Walwyn II* (who was then bound over not to assault Lady Despenser’s servants).6
In 1404 de la Barre was granted exemption from being appointed to any royal office against his will. The formal reason given was his ‘great age’ (he was then about 55), but this did not prevent him from serving on several further royal commissions, from acting as sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire in 1415-16, or from being returned to at least three other Parliaments. By about 1405, however, he had apparently ceased to be, even nominally, a household knight. All the same, his grants and annuities were again confirmed by Henry V. In September 1416 the dean and chapter of Hereford appointed him steward of four of their local manors.7
In October 1419, when de la Barre was once again serving on the Herefordshire bench, his son, Sir Thomas junior, appeared before him, charged with a series of crimes (including robbery, armed abduction, house-breaking and sheep stealing) committed in the county between 1414 and 1418, and was eventually sent for trial before the royal courts at Westminster. This embarrassing affair must have involved the elder de la Barre in his last public duties, for he died on 18 Dec. following.8
By an inquisition post mortem held on 24 Sept. 1420 it was established that his heir was his infant grandson, John†, the son of Sir Thomas de la Barre junior (who had died between July and September that year) and his wife Alice, sister of John Talbot, Lord Furnival, subsequently earl of Shrewsbury. Sir Thomas the elder’s widow also died in 1420, whereupon custody of all his lands, together with the marriage of the heir was granted to Lord Furnival and his sister.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: Charles Kightly
- 1. Herefs. RO, B56/2, f. 12; J. Duncumb, Herefs. (Hundred of Grimsworth), 88; CCR, 1377-81, p. 426; 1389-92, p. 136; CFR, x. 253; xiv. 335; C138/58/47; CPR, 1374-7, p. 208.
- 2. CIPM, xiv. 192; CCR, 1374-7, pp. 350-1; 1377-81, p. 215; 1389-92, p. 136; CPR, 1377-81, p. 345; 1388-92, p. 269; SC8/183/9144; CChR, v. 236.
- 3. CCR, 1377-81, pp. 426-7, 506-7; 141