BEAUFO, Sir John (d.1424), of Boughton, Northants. and Seaton, Rutland.
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Family and Education
m. Margaret, s.p. Kntd. by 18 Feb. 1420.1
The Beaufo family occupied estates in the Seaton area from the mid 13th century, if not before, and our Member was heir to the two manors of Up Hall and Thorpe-by-the-Water in this part of Rutland. Although nothing is known for certain about his parentage and early life, it seems likely that he was the grandson of the William Beaufo who represented Rutland in five Parliaments during the 1360s, and served as verderer of the royal forest there at about the same time. His father may well have been another William Beaufo, whose administrative experience was confined to a very short period as sheriff of Rutland in 1406 and two subsequent appointments as a royal tax collector.2 Since the MP was succeeded by a younger brother aged 27, he is unlikely to have been more than middle-aged at the time of his death, and we may thus be reasonably sure that references to a John Beaufo the younger, imprisoned in Oakham castle in June 1380 for poaching venison, concern another of his many kinsmen. So too, perhaps, do two royal letters patent of June and November 1393, awarding the King’s esquire, John Beaufo, an annuity of £10 and a further gift of £20 from the confiscated possessions of an outlaw. The first piece of evidence which can definitely be attributed to the subject of this biography occurs much later, in April 1412, when a royal serjeant-at-arms was instructed to arrest John Beaufo, esquire, and bring him immediately before the King in Chancery. The nature of Beaufo’s offence is not recorded, but this was certainly not the only occasion on which he fell foul of the law. In June 1416, for example, he was pardoned the murder of two farmers at Totnes in Devon committed by him and others during the previous summer. The victims’ friends and relatives were far less ready to forgive his crime, and in February 1421, Beaufo petitioned the Crown for a commission of oyer and terminer to investigate his ill-treatment at the hands of a group of ‘tradesmen and evildoers’ in Totnes. He claimed to have been assaulted in the town, robbed of goods worth £40, dragged off to Exeter and kept in prison there until his release was secured by a special precept from the King. Beaufo does not appear to have owned any property in the south-west, although he may, perhaps, have been billeted there on his way to fight with the royal army in France.3
Most of Beaufo’s time was, however, spent in the Midlands. He attended the parliamentary elections for Rutland held at Oakham in November 1414, and six years later was himself chosen to represent Northamptonshire in the House of Commons. He had probably by then moved to Boughton where he held an unspecified amount of property, perhaps through marriage. A deed of April 1421 by which he, his younger brother, William†, and other landowners with interests in Seaton released their rights in a common watercourse to William Sheffield* certainly suggests that he had left his Rutland estates to live across the county border, since he is then described as a resident of Boughton. In May 1422 he was bound over in personal securities of £400 (to which a distinguished group of mainpernors, including Sir John Cornwall, the future Lord Fanhope, (Sir) Thomas Waweton*, Sir John Knyvet* and Robert Scott*, added a further £100) that he would keep the peace towards the parker of Brigstock in Northamptonshire; and a few days later he and Scott entered similar recognizances on behalf of one John Braunspath, who seems also to have been involved in the assault. Beaufo subsequently swore an oath of good behaviour in Chancery, and his guarantors recovered their bonds.4 Save for his various brushes with the law, comparatively little is known about the MP’s history. He never held office in local government, although clearly qualified to do so, and rarely became involved in the affairs of others. The few surviving scraps of evidence relating to his activities in this respect are not, however, without interest, and, as with his dealings in Totnes, convey the distinct impression of a range of connexions extending far beyond his native Rutland. He was, on the one hand, ready to assist his neighbours, John Seaton and Roland St. Liz, in their property transactions, and on the other to join with James, earl of Ormond, in standing bail for the ‘traitor’, Sir John Mortimer, on his imprisonment in the Tower of London. His friendship with St. Liz, for whom he offered sureties of £200, in 1423, that he would perform the terms of an arbitration award, confirms his lasting association with William Sheffield, St. Liz’s son-in-law, who joined with him in making these pledges. He also appears in August 1416 among the feoffees to whom Drew Barantyn’s* widow, Christine, and the King’s knight, (Sir) William Porter II*, conveyed the manor of Exning in Suffolk.5
Beaufo died on 4 Nov. 1424, having at some point either inherited or acquired the manor of South Creake in Norfolk. He left a widow, named Margaret, but no children, and his estates thus passed to his younger brother. The latter achieved considerable distinction in Rutland: at various times he held office as a sheriff, j.p. and royal forester, as well as representing the county in at least two Parliaments.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Bello Fago, Beufo, Bewo.
- 1. CPR, 1419-22, p. 63; 1422-9, p. 168.
- 2. VCH Rutland, ii. 214, 218; OR, i. 173, 175, 177, 180, 183; CCR, 1364-8, p. 42; CFR, xiii. 62, 180; PRO List ‘Sheriffs’, 112.
- 3. CCR, 1377-81, p. 285; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 276, 381; 1408-13, p. 372; 1416-22, pp. 36, 260, 329.
- 4. C219/11/5; Northants. RO, Tryon of Bulwick ms. 202/2; CCR, 1419-22, pp. 259, 260; PPC, ii. 334.
- 5. Add. Ch. 22263; Lansd. Ch. 145; CPR, 1416-22, p. 41; CCR, 1419-22, p. 63; 1422-9, p. 362.
- 6. C139/14/6; VCH Rutland, ii. 214; PRO List ‘Sheriffs’, 112; CFR, xv. 96; CCR, 1422-9, p. 168; Feudal Aids, iv. 212.