BECKINGHAM, Thomas (d.1431), of Upton Russels in Blewbury, Berks.
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Family and Education
m. (1) bef. 1412, Agnes, 1s.; (2) bef. May 1418, Sibyl (b.1 Aug. 1401), 3rd da. and coh. of Thomas Childrey* of Childrey, 2s.
J.p. Oxon. 11 Oct. 1404-Feb. 1407, 8 Mar. 1410-Feb. 1412, 16 Nov. 1413-Apr. 1418, 12 Jan. 1420-Feb. 1422, July 1423-Nov. 1432; Bucks. 14 Feb. 1405-7.
Escheator, Oxon. and Berks. 22 Oct. 1404-1 Dec. 1405, 14 Dec. 1415-8 Dec. 1416, 13 Nov. 1423-6 Nov. 1424.
Keeper of Wychwood forest, Oxon. 14 Mar. 1405-aft. July 1412.
Bp. Beaufort of Winchester’s bailiff, Berks. by Mich. 1405-d., Witney and Adderbury, Oxon. 3 Feb. 1407-d.1
Commr. of inquiry, Oxon. July 1412 (waste in Wychwood forest), Som., Dorset Feb. 1416 (Chideock estates), Oxon. Feb. 1422 (false weights), Oxon., Berks. July 1428 (treasons and felonies); array, Oxon. May 1415, May 1418, Mar. 1419; to raise royal loans Jan. 1420.
Beckingham’s family background is obscure, although he was apparently related to a namesake, Master Thomas Beckingham, canon of Salisbury and archdeacon of Lincoln, with whom he was associated at Coventry in October 1404 when a clerk from Dorset released them both from all legal actions. That same month, Beckingham was not only appointed to the Oxfordshire bench, but also as escheator of Oxfordshire and Berkshire, although he is not known to have yet obtained possession of land in either county. His sudden emergence into public life in all likelihood resulted from his employment by Henry Beaufort, bishop of Lincoln, the King’s half-brother and at that time chancellor, for whom at the end of the preceding month he had acted as mainpernor at the Exchequer. Beckingham’s connexion with Beaufort (perhaps fostered by his kinsman’s position as archdeacon of Lincoln) had begun at least two years earlier, when he had been a member of the bishop’s entourage for his voyage to Brittany as escort for Henry IV’s new queen. Their association continued long after Beaufort’s translation to Winchester; indeed, on receiving the temporalities of his new see, Beaufort promptly made his esquire Beckingham bailiff of the episcopal estates in Berkshire, an office in which he was to be retained for the rest of his life. In January 1406 Beckingham again stood surety for his patron at the Exchequer, and a year later he secured from the bishop formal appointment as bailiff of two Oxfordshire manors, taking an annual fee of £10 for his services there and at Brightwell and Harwell in Berkshire. Meanwhile, it had been as a ‘King’s esquire’ that he had been granted the keepership of Wychwood forest (the only mention of him, however, as a royal retainer). In October 1413 Beckingham shared a lease at the Exchequer of the estates of the alien priory of Cogges, Oxfordshire, for which he was to pay 20 marks a year for the duration of the war with France; and in the following spring the head of another Benedictine house, Winchcombe abbey, named him as a proxy in the Parliament summoned to Leicester.2
In the course of Henry IV’s reign Beckingham had established himself in Berkshire as a man of property. Some time in or before 1412 he obtained from a Sussex knight, Sir Henry Hussey*, a lease of the manors of South Moreton and West Wittenham, to last for the lifetimes of himself, his wife Agnes and their son William; and these gave him an estimated £2 18s. a year clear after he had paid Hussey the agreed annual rent of £10. He also acquired land in Oxfordshire, situated at Pudlicote and Lyneham, as well as a tenancy on other property in the same region, close to Wychwood forest, and it was there that later generations of his family chose to make their home.3 Clearly, however, Beckingham’s second marriage did most to improve his standing as a landowner, for Sibyl Childrey was coheir to the property of her late father, Thomas, a former steward of the estates of the bishopric of Winchester. The marriage, which Beckingham probably procured from John Halle II*, took place before May 1418, when Sibyl made formal proof of age, and the Beckinghams, by subsequent agreement with Sibyl’s two coheirs and their husbands, took possession of the Childrey manors of Upton Russels, Buscot and Watlingtons in Habourne, besides a third share in the advowson of Childrey. A later transaction assured them also of property at Shrivenham and elsewhere.4
Beckingham’s election to Parliament in 1419 reflects his standing in the locality, both as an official on Bishop Beaufort’s estates and as a landowner of substance. And yet, despite such continued interest in parliamentary affairs as is shown by his attendance at elections held in Oxfordshire for that same Parliament as well as for those of 1421 (Apr.), 1429 and 1431, he was never to be returned again. Meanwhile, in 1423 he had been associated with Beaufort’s cousin, Thomas Chaucer*, as a co-feoffee of property at Walthamstowe; and in 1428 he had joined William Fynderne* (by then married to his wife’s eldest sister) as a trustee for a settlement on John Dabrichcourt of the manor of Stratfieldsay in Hampshire.5
Beckingham is last recorded on 11 Jan. 1431 as a witness to the parliamentary indenture drawn up at Oxford, and he died later that same year. He was buried at North Leigh church, Oxfordshire. His eldest son William took his place in local administration (serving as escheator of Oxfordshire and Berkshire in 1441-2), but it was William’s half-brother James (d.1475), a cleric by profession, who inherited those Childrey estates which had come to their father through his second marriage.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Hants RO, bp. of Winchester’s pipe rolls 159409-30; Reg. Common Seal (Hants Rec. Ser. ii), no. 95.
- 2. CCR, 1402-5, pp. 365, 474; Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. ed. Emden, i. 156; CFR, xii. 250; xiii. 24; xiv. 33; CPR, 1401-5, p. 498; SC10/45/2215; E101/320/38.
- 3. Feudal Aids, iv. 188; vi. 403; CPR, 1413-16, p. 140; CCR, 1429-35, p. 58; CP25(1)191/26/2, 19.
- 4. C138/35/55; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 469-71; VCH Berks. iii. 283, 480; iv. 279, 514; CP25(1)13/82/11; CPR, 1408-13, p. 413.
- 5. CCR, 1429-35, p. 38; CPR, 1422-9, p. 479; C219/12/3, 5, 14/1, 2.
- 6. C219/14/2; Mon. Brasses ed. Mill Stephenson, 409; C140/55/4.