BATAILL, Thomas (d.c.1396), of Otes in High Laver and Matching, Essex.
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Family and Education
Escheator, Essex and Herts. 10 Dec. 1376-26 Nov. 1377
Tax surveyor, Essex Mar. 1381.
Sheriff, Essex and Herts. 1 Nov. 1383-14 Jan. 1385
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Essex Oct. 1390.
Thomas may have belonged to a junior branch of the old Essex family of Bataill seated at Stapleford, whose male line had died out earlier in the century.3 Although he was a younger son, by 1373 he was in possession of property in Matching and Great Waltham, and through marriage he acquired the manor of Otes and land situated in the west of the county at Hatfield Regis, White Roding and Abbess Roding. To these holdings he later added the manors of Matching Barns and Brent Hall and more farmland thereabouts.4
The Bataills were tenants on the lordship of Clare and played a small part in the affairs of its noble owners. John Bataill (either the father or brother of Thomas) was named by the heiress Elizabeth de Burgh, duchess of Clarence (d.1363) as an executor of her will; early in 1366 Thomas himself was in Ireland in the company of Elizabeth’s former husband Lionel, duke of Clarence; and much later, in 1382, John the brother was to be appointed as steward of Clare and of other estates of the inheritance of Elizabeth’s grandson, Roger Mortimer, earl of March.5 The brothers established close connexions with other members of the gentry of Essex: they acted as feoffees-to-uses on behalf of Sir Walter Lee*; they had dealings with Sir Robert Tey† and his son Robert*, and they were often recorded in association with the brothers Sir John† and Sir Richard Sutton, notably in transactions concerning a manor in White Roding which, with their help, was settled on John Hende, the London draper. Hende in his turn was drawn into the Bataills’ more complicated dealings with regard to the manor of Bradwell near Coggeshall. In December 1379 Sir Nicholas Dagworth* formally conveyed this property to Thomas and John Bataill, but three months later it was seized by the escheator and, although the Bataills were subsequently permitted to farm it on condition that they would answer for the profits at the Exchequer should Bradwell be adjudged to the Crown, they were summoned with Dagworth and Hende to the Parliament of 1382 (Oct.) to defend their claim. The outcome is unclear.6
Bataill served a term as escheator of Essex and Hertfordshire and another as sheriff (during which he held the elections to both Parliaments of 1384), before his own first return to Parliament in 1390. By then it would appear that he was well known to a group of local gentry attached to Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, whose castle at Pleshey was not far from Bataill’s home. In the 1380s he had been on good terms with some of Gloucester’s retainers: he had acted as mainpernor for Sir John Lakenheath and Thomas Lampet (probably members of the duke’s council), as feoffee of the property of Robert Rikedon (a lawyer in the duke’s employ) and as witness to deeds for Sir John Gildesburgh* (Gloucester’s supporter) and for Robert Braybrooke, bishop of London (his friend). John Boys of Tolleshunt, later if not already steward of the duchess of Gloucester’s household, serv