BAST, William, of Dartmouth, Devon.
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Family and Education
m. by 1380, Joan.
Bast’s life was punctuated by a series of lawsuits in which he always figured as the defendant. In January 1380 a commission of oyer and terminer was set up to bring him and his wife to trial for trespassing on Walter Cornu’s† estate at Shilstone, Devon, stealing his livestock and assaulting his servants. Five months later he was arrested in London for disobeying the King’s writ to relinquish the goods of certain Spanish merchants which had been illegally taken at sea, and for threatening the lives of the King’s officers. When sent before the Council he denied the charges, but was only allowed to return home after friends had provided £100 bail and after he had promised to reappear before the Council when so required. His name was cleared for a while and, in August 1382, he was granted the farm in Devon and Cornwall of the subsidies conceded by the Commons in the previous May to pay for naval defence. Of the money raised, £550 went to Bast himself for three months’ service at sea, as commander of a flotilla under the general direction of Thomas Beaupyne* of Bristol and John Polymond† of Southampton, the principal receivers of the subsidy in the western region. Such a mandate offered the opportunity to take valuable prizes; and it was no doubt to cover himself for attacks on friendly shipping that, on 5 Feb. 1386, Bast took out a general pardon for treason, breaches of truces and other offences committed at sea. In doing so he managed to secure the assistance of the queen’s chamberlain, Sir Richard Adderbury I*.1
Nor was Adderbury Bast’s only contact of note: in July 1388 he went surety at the Exchequer for Robert Cary*, esquire, the eldest son of the recently attainted chief baron, Sir John Cary†. Within a few months of his only return to Parliament (the one which met at Cambridge in September that year), Bast was imprisoned in London for defaulting on payments of £100 to certain merchants of the City and his lands were forfeited. Although he paid the debt and was released in February 1389, his troubles were by no means over. Four years earlier he had paid £40 for a royal licence to take prisoner a merchant of La Rochelle named John Tentenade, and to deal with him and his possessions as he pleased, only for the barons of the Exchequer to bring him to trial in 1390 for capturing Tentenade, his ship La Holygost of Sluys and 85 tuns of wine at a time of truce with France, as a result of which he was fined £100 and committed to the Fleet. During the Parliament that assembled in November following, the Council decided that Bast should pay £170 for the wine and £10 as damages to the merchant, but although Tentenade formally ceased all legal actions against him he was not released from prison until 29 Nov. 1391. In the course of his sojourn in the Fleet Bast stood bail for two of his fellow prisoners. It was probably in connexion with yet another lawsuit that in the following year he entered into recognizances for £80 with Hugh Bisley, a prominent Gloucestershire landowner, and when he is last (in 1393) recorded it was for failing to pay a debt of £106 13s.4d. contracted in the Staple of Westminster, with the result that his lands in Shilstone, Ludbrook, Whympstone, Dartmouth and ‘South Cokflete’ (said to be worth £9 1s.4d. a year) were handed over to his creditor.2 He died before 1409.3