BLUNDELL, Nicholas (d.1422/3), of Little Crosby in Sefton, Lancs.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Henry Blundell (d.1406-7) of Little Crosby. m. by Aug. 1396, Ellen, da. of Nicholas Tyldesley of Tyldesley, wid. of Sir Henry Keighley (d.c.1384) of Keighley, Yorks. and Thomas Strangeways, 3s.1
Collector of a tax, Lancs. Dec. 1417.2
Commr. of array, Lancs. Apr. 1418.3
Blundell’s ancestors are known to have lived at Little Crosby from the mid 13th century onwards, and in about 1389, when he was probably still quite young, he and his father obtained an additional grant of property there from two distant relatives. Father and son again appear together in August 1396, this time as jurors in a property dispute at the Lancaster assizes. Nicholas had by then married the twice-widowed Ellen Tyldesley and was making a settlement of the manor of Lightshaw on her son (or stepson), Sir Richard Keighley, who claimed it as part of his inheritance. Besides occupying two separate dower properties in Lancashire and Yorkshire, Ellen was also in possession of her father’s manor of Tyldesley, so Blundell clearly derived considerable financial benefit from the marriage. His fortunes improved further in March 1398 as a result of a grant of ten marks p.a. made to him for life by Richard II, although the annuity, which was charged upon the issues of Nottinghamshire, soon fell into arrears. Blundell’s association with Sir Richard Waldegrave*, a knight of the royal body and former Speaker of the House of Commons, provides further evidence of his attachment to the court party. Waldegrave chose him to execute the will which he drew up in April 1410, and it seems likely that their friendship was of long standing. Such an obvious connexion with King Richard (a connexion shared by few other members of the Lancashire gentry) clearly accounts for the comparative obscurity of Blundell’s next years, since the many local supporters of Henry of Bolingbroke obtained a virtual monopoly of patronage and government office after he seized the throne.4
Although he inherited his father’s estates in, or just before, 1407, Blundell continued to live in virtual retirement; and little is known about him until his acquisition of more property in Sefton three years later. Only after the death of Henry IV, in 1413, however, did he begin to play any active part in the local community, and even then his role was a modest one. Having sat in the Leicester Parliament of April 1414 (which, so far as we know, marks his only appearance in the Lower House), he attested the return of Members for Lancashire to that of March 1416. Not long afterwards he was chosen with Ralph Radcliffe (his former parliamentary colleague) and (Sir) John Stanley* to arbitrate in a dispute between two local landowners. A mark of royal favour eventually came his way in the following year, with the award to him and Robert Halsall of the marriage and wardship of the late Hugh Aughton’s young son, for which they were to pay £200 to the coffers of the duchy of Lancaster. Hugh had previously leased from his mother, Millicent, certain estates in Warwickshire and Leicestershire, and before his death he had allegedly entrusted Blundell with the task of defending her title. According to Millicent, Blundell exploited his position to defraud her of the property and seize it into his own hands, leaving her no alternative but to petition the court of Chancery for redress. The outcome of the case is not recorded, although Blundell retained the wardship until his death.5
Blundell’s popularity as an arbitrator is evident from his involvement in two further attempts to settle private quarrels, both of which took place in the early 1420s. In one, which concerned John Booth I*, he acted in concert with Richard Shirburne* and his old friend, Ralph Radcliffe, while in the other he alone was chosen by the disputants (who were all members of the Tarbock family) ‘upon the high trust, truth and affection they had in him, a simple man of their kin, more than for any cunning that was in his person’. Blundell took his duties seriously, for in 1422 he made a special journey up to London to receive legal advice. It must, even so, have been difficult for him to remain impartial, since, on his own admission, he was dependent upon the good will of his powerful neighbour, (Sir) John Stanley, who had a personal interest in the case. Towards the end of his life Blundell referred deferentially to (Sir) John as ‘my sovereign master’, so he is unlikely to have risked causing any offence. He himself became caught up in litigation at this time, being accused and found guilty, along with his wife and Sir Richard Keighley, of evicting one John Holland from the manor of Golborne in Lancashire, although the suit may perhaps have been collusive.6
Blundell died shortly before the beginning of March 1423. He left at least three sons, upon whom fell the task of executing his will. For John, the second, he had already acquired land in Lydiate, while the rest of his estates passed to his eldest son, Henry, whose marriage to Joan, the daughter and coheir of Henry Rixton, brought the family property in Ditton.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. VCH Lancs. iii. 87-88, 149, 441; DKR, xxxiii. 34; Lancs. Feet of Fines, iii. 49.
- 2. Chetham Soc. n.s. xcvi. 132.
- 3. Ibid.
- 4. VCH Lancs. iii. 87-88, 149, 441; CPR, 1396-9, p. 321; CCR, 1396-9, p. 337; Chetham Soc. xcv. 42; Lancs. Feet of Fines, iii. 49; Test. Vetusta, i. 158.
- 5. Lancs. Feet of Fines, iii. 65; C1/5/121; C219/11/8; DL42/17(1), f. 71; VCH Lancs. iii. 232; DKR, xxxvii (2), 637.
- 6. Chetham Soc. n.s. xcvi. 133; VCH Lancs. iii. 180; CCR, 1419-22, p. 129; M.J. Bennett, ‘Late Med. Soc. in N.W. Eng.’ (Lancaster Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 458-9.
- 7. Lancs. Feet of Fines, iii. 79; DKR, xxxiii. 34; VCH Lancs. iii. 88.