BEAUCHAMP, Sir John (1377-1420), of Holt, Worcs.
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Family and Education
b. 6 Jan. 1377, s. and h. of Sir John Beauchamp† of Holt, 1st Baron of Kidderminster, by Joan, da. and h. of Robert Fitzwith of Bubbenhall and Shotteswell, Warws. m. (1) c.1397, Isabel da. of Henry, Lord Ferrers of Groby (d.1388), by Joan, prob. da. of Sir Thomas Hoo† of Luton Hoo, Beds., 1da.; (2) c.1410, Alice (d. bef. 1428). 2nd Baron of Kidderminster 1398-9. Kntd. c.1399.
Tax collector, Worcs. Mar. 1404.
J.p. Worcs. 8 May 1404-d.
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Worcs. July 1406, Dec. 1409; arrest Feb. 1412; inquiry Jan. 1414 (lollards); gaol delivery, Worcester, July 1416.
Escheator, Worcs. 9 Nov. 1406-2 Nov. 1407, 10 Nov. 1413-14 Dec. 1415.
Dep. sheriff, Worcs. (by appointment of Richard, earl of Warwick), 20 Dec. 1406-10 Nov. 1408, 11 Dec. 1411-2 Nov. 1412.
The Beauchamps of Holt were a cadet branch of the great family whose head was the earl of Warwick, and Holt itself (on the Severn five miles from Worcester) was held of the earl. John’s father rose to prominence at the court of Richard II, who made him steward of his household and on 10 Oct. 1387 created him by letters patent ‘Lord of Beauchamp and Baron of Kidderminster’. Although summoned to Parliament by personal writ two months later, he never took his seat, for the defeat of the royalists at Radcot Bridge precipitated a purge of Richard’s favourites. In the Merciless Parliament of February 1388 the Lords Appellant, who regarded Beauchamp as a commoner, procured his condemnation for treason, and he was executed on 12 May. With the exception of the earls of Suffolk and Oxford, Beauchamp was the wealthiest of those so proscribed. Fortunately for his heir he had entailed certain of his manors (Holt itself and those he had acquired by marriage: Shotteswell, Barnacle and Bubbenhall in Warwickshire, and Wiggington, Ardley and Weston in Oxfordshire, in all worth about £100 a year), so these were exempt from forfeiture; but other valuable estates (including substantial properties at Astley and Kidderminster), which he had purchased, were sold by the Crown, never to be recovered by his son. The latter, aged 11, was now an orphan, for his mother had died in January. His wardship and the custody of Holt and Shotteswell were successfully claimed by the overlord, Thomas, earl of Warwick, while other entailed manors in Oxfordshire were similarly claimed for the duration of Beauchamp’s minority by Sir Philip de la Vache*, of whom they were held. Beauchamp was Richard II’s godson, and when the King regained control of the government he granted, in July 1390, that the boy’s aunt Elizabeth might have a moiety of the late Sir John Beauchamp’s chattels for the maintenance of herself and her nephew, along with any lands concealed at the time of forfeiture. Further difficulties arose for Beauchamp after judgement was passed in the Parliament of 1397 (Sept.) against his guardian the earl of Warwick, and the earl’s own estates were confiscated. It was alleged that, because during his minority he had married the sister of William, Lord Ferrers of Groby, without Warwick’s permission, and because it had been agreed between Warwick and Ferrers that the former should retain Holt and Shotteswell until 250 marks had been levied for Beauchamp’s indemnification, the issues of these properties were now payable to the Crown. Beauchamp denied the allegation, claiming in the Exchequer in November 1398 that he had come of age on 6 Jan. 1397 (before Warwick’s forfeiture), that the Countess Margaret (his wife’s aunt) had approved of the marriage, and that there had been no such agreement between Warwick and Ferrers. However, perhaps because he had been untruthful (certainly with regard to his age), the matter was not settled satisfactorily from Beauchamp’s point of view for several years. Meanwhile, his father’s title, which had been specifically granted in tail-male, now fell to him following the reversal of the attainder of 1388, and small grants such as a lease of rents in Worcester and livery of certain other insignificant properties marked Beauchamp’s initial attempts to recover the forfeited estates.1
In the spring of 1399 Beauchamp took part in Richard II’s expedition to Ireland, and it was probably there that he was knighted. But further set-backs occurred following Richard’s deposition, for in Henry IV’s first Parliament the proceedings of the Merciless Parliament were re-affirmed, and Beauchamp was required to give up his title and all hope of recovering those estates his father had acquired by purchase.2 Beauchamp subsequently added to the lands he had inherited the manors of Shilton (Warwickshire) and Hanley near Tenbury, along with weirs and fisheries near Ombersley in Worcestershire, but he never became as wealthy as his father, nor took a prominent place in national affairs, preferring to lead the life of a country gentleman. That he was first returned to Parliament at the early age of 24 was perhaps due to his kinship with the earl of Warwick, the hereditary sheriff of Worcestershire. There are signs that he was on good terms with Thomas of Warwick, and, more especially, with the latter’s successor Earl Richard, an association perhaps strengthened by the fact that he included among his relations one of their retainers, John Catesby* of Ashby St. Ledgers (a cousin on his mother’s side) and John Wood I*, their legal adviser and a kinsman of Sir John atte Wood† (d.1391), whose heir Beauchamp had been. Beauchamp owed his three terms as deputy sheriff of Worcestershire to Earl Richard, and he included among the feoffees of his estates certain of the earl’s more important councillors, such as (Sir) William Mountfort I* and Robert Hugford*. He became a prominent local figure as a j.p. and escheator (twice), and headed the lists of the Worcestershire electors recorded on the parliamentary election indentures of 1407 and 1413 (May). It was only to be expected that he would take part in Henry V’s first expedition to France in 1415, and, furthermore, be enlisted in Warwick’s retinue for the second expedition two years later.3