BEAUCHAMP, Sir Roger (1362-1406), of Bletsoe, Beds. and Bloxham, Oxon.
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Family and Education
b. Bletsoe, 14 Sept. 1362, s. of Sir Roger Beauchamp (d.v.p. 1373/4), prob. by his w. Joan, da. and h. of William Clopton, wid. of Sir Walter Walcot† of Gunton, Norf.; gds. and h. of Roger, Lord Beauchamp of Bletsoe (d.1380), governor of Calais and chamberlain of Edward III’s household. m. Mary, at least 1s. suc. gdfa. 3 Jan. 1380; kntd. by 18 Feb. 1393.1
Sheriff, Beds. and Bucks. 8 Nov. 1401-29 Nov. 1402.
Commr. to prevent the spread of treasonous rumours, Dorset May 1402.
Controller of a tax, Beds. Mar. 1404; collector Apr. 1404.
The subject of this biography was the grandson and namesake of one of Edward III’s leading courtiers who had, from 1363 onwards, been summoned to Parliament as Lord Beauchamp of Bletsoe. Having set out in life as a younger son with little to hope for in the way of inheritance, the latter proved himself to be outstandingly able both as a soldier and an administrator, and by the end of King Edward’s reign he had occupied an impressive series of posts, culminating in that of chamberlain of the royal household. This appointment, no less than his nomination as a member of the newly constituted royal council demanded by the Good Parliament of 1376, reflects the high regard in which he was generally held, and from which his immediate successors derived considerable personal benefit. On the early death of his son and heir presumptive, Sir Roger, who may well have been killed in 1373 while fighting in France as a retainer of John of Gaunt, Lord Beauchamp took personal charge of his young grandson, the future MP. Roger’s well-being was clearly a matter of some concern to him, since in January 1380 he added a codicil to his will appointing two new guardians to succeed him. His executors, Andrew Waweton and the influential London merchant, (Sir) John Philipot†, were chosen to supervise the boy’s affairs ‘till he be come to his full age, helping (him) according to their power in all matters that belong to him or for him’. In anticipation of his ‘good work’ in this respect, Philipot was promised a bequest of 100 marks as well as a gold goblet which had been presented to Beauchamp by the king of Navarre, but he none the less found it impossible to comply with his friend’s wishes. Instead, in May 1380, not long after Beauchamp’s death, his grandson’s marriage was given by the Crown to the celebrated captain, Sir Hugh Calveley, while the family estates were farmed out at an annual rent of 250 marks to Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, who exercised rights of wardship over them and the heir himself until the latter obtained livery four years later.2
Among Lord Beauchamp’s many achievements was that of marrying a wife who was coheiress not only to the estate of her father, Sir John Patishull of Bletsoe, but also to those of her mother, Mabel Grandison. Although, as we shall see, Mabel’s title to part of the Grandison inheritance was only held in reversion, Beauchamp did take possession of the Wiltshire manors of Poulton, Lydiard Tregoze and Lydiard Tyes at the time of his marriage, and these properties together with land and rents in the Gloucestershire village of Dymock, the manors of Bletsoe and Keysoe in Bedfordshire and of Bloxham and Spelsbury in Oxfordshire, which also belonged to his wife, passed, on his death, to his young grandson. We do not know how he acquired the land in Ilsley, Berkshire, which also descended to Roger at this time, but it too may have once been owned by the Grandisons. Despite the fact that the manor of Bloxham was charged with an annual rent of £20 payable to the King, the above-mentioned estates were clearly very valuable, and from the date of his first entry, in April 1384, Roger Beauchamp stands out as one of the richest landowners to represent Bedfordshire during our period. In addition to his landed inheritance, he also received from his grandfather bequests of livestock, horses and armour. A further legacy of 200 marks was, however, made conditional upon his readiness to undertake ‘a service on the infidels’ in place of Lord Beauchamp, who had himself been required to take part in some crusading venture by one of his forebears, but had failed to do so. It is now impossible to tell if Roger ever discharged this particular obligation, although a protracted absence overseas might well explain why so little evidence survives about the next few years of his life.3
It is, none the less, clear that even before he came of age, Roger Beauchamp had already begun to experience various problems arising from his title to part of the Grandison estates. As early as 1376, some of the claimants went to law to assert their title to two Kentish manors, and a few years later all six of the coheirs of William Grandison (including Beauchamp) began litigation against John Eastbury† for the manor of Lambourn in Berkshire. They evidently won the second of these lawsuits, although Roger disposed of his share of the property not long afterwards. The partition of the Grandison inheritance was an extremely complex matter, not least because some of the land in question remained in the hands of the widowed Lady Margaret Grandison. Her death, in or before February 1393, brought Beauchamp additional property in Dymock, but rents of £2 8s.3½d. from the Dartford area of Kent which had also been assigned to him were retained by the Crown, and it was not until November 1399 that the local escheator received instructions to hand them over.4
Henry IV’s seizure of the throne in the previous September caused a dramatic improvement in Beauchamp’s political fortunes, since he had hitherto been given little opportunity to participate in the business of local government. This was probably because of his attachment to the Lords Appellant of 1388, with whom he appears to have become connected through his friends and neighbours, the two Sir Gerard Braybrookes*. The latter were feudal tenants of Beauchamp, who, in the early 1390s, granted them a licence to endow Harrold priory with certain rents which he had settled upon them (perhaps as trustees) in the Bedfordshire village of Carlton; and they in turn engaged his services as a witness to property transactions in the area. Although Beauchamp took part in Richard II’s Irish expedition of 1394 (when he appointed another Bedfordshire MP, Reynold Ragon*, as one of his attorneys), and may thus be said to have reconciled himself with the King, he still considered it expedient to sue out a royal pardon (specifically for his previous support of the Appellants) in May 1398, by which date the court party had reached the zenith of its power. His election to the first Parliament of the new reign, together with his appointment as sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in 1401 certainly suggests that he was a generally recognized supporter of the house of Lancaster, although Henry IV evidently did not see fit to offer him any direct patronage or preferment. If Blomefield is to be believed, two of Beauchamp’s half-sisters were, or had been, married to committed Lancastrians who sat with him in the Commons of 1399 and may have influenced him during the earlier years of his career. Katherine (d.c.1397), the daughter of his mother’s previous marriage to Sir Walter Walcot, had been the second wife of John Doreward*, a former retainer of Thomas, duke of Gloucester, one of the leading Appellants of 1388. Doreward served as Speaker in this, the only Parliament to which Beauchamp was returned, one of his colleagues being Sir Robert Berney of Witchingham, the husband of Katherine’s sister, Margaret. Beauchamp’s term as sheriff coincided with the spread of unrest in Wales, and in June 1402 he was ordered to recruit men ready to march against the rebel leader, Owen Glendower. His other administrative appointments were, however, fairly routine, although one royal commission took him as far afield as Dorset.5
Sir Roger Beauchamp spent his last weeks at Salisbury in Wiltshire. It was there, on 4 Apr. 1406, that he settled his Bedfordshire estates on the three men who, exactly three weeks later, he appointed to execute his will. He died on 13 May, having asked to be buried at the nearby Dominican house of Fisherton, to which he left a sum of ten marks. He made a few modest bequests to churches in his native Bedfordshire, but was otherwise content for his executors to perform pious works of their own choice. He was survived by a widow, Mary, and at least one son, Sir John, whose marriage to a daughter of the Northamptonshire landowner, Sir John Holand, he had arranged a few months before his death, settling upon them the manor of Bloxham. Sir John Beauchamp and his widowed mother divided the family property between them, and in Bletsoe alone they shared an annual income of at least £43. He did not, however, live long enough to enjoy his inheritance. Although the actual date and circumstances of his death (given by one source as April 1412) were much disputed at the time, the Beauchamp estates and the next heir to them were again held in wardship by November 1412; and on the failure of the male line in the mid 15th century everything passed into the hands of the St. John family.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. CP, ii. 44-45; CIPM , xv. no. 957; CFR, xi. 145-6; xiii. 57. The genealogy of the Beauchamp family given in Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 52 contains many errors largely as a result of the common name shared by successive generations of Beauchamps. Confusion between our Member, his father and grandfather is to be found even in the CP, where Joan Clopton is described as his wife, when she can only have been his mother or stepmother (F. Blomefield, Norf. viii. 120).
- 2. G.A. Holmes, Good Parl. 157-8; T.F. Tout, Chapters, iii. 299, 307; Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. ii. 5-17; Reg. Gaunt, 1371-5, no. 1209; CFR, ix. 201; CPR, 137