BOOTH, Henry (d.1446), of Arleston and Sinfin, Derbys.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

Family and Education

3rd s. of Thomas Booth (d.1368) of Barton in Eccles, Lancs. by his w. Ellen; yr. bro. of John I*. m. (1) Elizabeth, 1s. 1da.; (2) by Mich. 1409, Isabel, da. of John Fynderne the elder of Findern, Derbys. by his w. Katherine.1

Offices Held

Escheator, Notts. and Derbys. 10 Feb.-12 Nov. 1403, 7 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410.2

Commr. to make arrests, Cheshire, Derbys. May 1419 (deserters from the army in France),3 Derbys. May 1425.

Biography

Shortly before his death at the hands of a group of local men, Thomas Booth drew up a will in which he divided all the livestock and provisions on his Lancashire estates between his three sons, as well as leaving each of them £20 in cash. Henry, the youngest, must still have been a mere child, and no more is heard of him until the late 1390s, by which time he had moved to Derbyshire. It was almost certainly through marriage that he acquired the manors of Sinfin and Arleston together with holdings in the villages of Littleover, Eckington, Twyford and Normanton. He was living at Littleover when, in June 1398, he obtained a royal pardon; and two years later he sued out a fine in the court of common pleas confirming his ownership of property there. Not long afterwards, he moved to Arleston, which became his principal seat. In the summer of 1408 he and his wife, Elizabeth, bought property in Derby, but she died soon afterwards leaving him in sole possession. He remarried almost immediately, conveying the tenements in question to his own trustees. He is not known to have made any further acquisitions, so the assessment of £26 p.a. upon which he was taxed in 1436 probably held good from the early years of the century onwards.4

Booth had already secured some powerful connexions by January 1395 when he was awarded royal letters of protection for a period of six months to be spent in Ireland with Thomas, duke of Gloucester. His association with one of the leading Lords Appellant of 1388 (who was murdered during the political reprisals of 1397) no doubt explains why he deemed it expedient to secure the above-mentioned pardon from Richard II, especially as he also appears to have been connected with Henry of Bolingbroke (another Appellant). When the latter landed at Ravenspur in July 1399, intent on reclaiming the inheritance which King Richard had confiscated from him, Booth was among the sizeable contingent of Derbyshire gentry who travelled to meet him. In the following November he was assigned a sum of £12 to cover his expenses as a bodyguard both then and at the Parliament which met later at Westminster. He may even have used his influence with the newly crowned Henry IV to obtain preferment for his elder brother, John, with whom he evidently maintained cordial relations. In about 1405 he offered the latter a bond in £20, perhaps as a result of dealings over the family inheritance.5 There can be little doubt that Booth was a lawyer, since from about 1400 onwards he was continuously in demand as a trustee and witness to local property transactions. He performed these services for a wide variety of people, including (Sir) Roger Leche* and his daughter, Denise, his in-laws, the Fyndernes, and two of Sir William Dethick’s* sons.6 As we shall see, he became involved in several unwelcome lawsuits because of his responsibilities as a feoffee-to-uses, but he was usually able to protect his own interests when necessary. Although he occasionally appeared as an attorney at the assize courts in Derby, it was almost always on behalf of friends or relatives. In the spring of 1408, for example, he represented his future father-in-law, John Fynderne, and was also engaged then and in the following year by members of the Fitzherbert family. Some years later, in 1416, he and John de la Pole* obtained the wardship and marriage of the young Nicholas Fitzherbert, for which they agreed to pay £40 as well as pledging themselves to safeguard the financial provisions made upon his sisters. Booth eventually arranged a marriage contract between his daughter, Alice, and the boy, whose main estates lay in Norbury in Derbyshire. Twice, in 1424 and 1437, our Member actually presented to the local parish church in the place of his son-in-law, in whose affairs he was closely involved.7 This valuable wardship had belonged initially to Henry V, who, in his capacity as duke of Lancaster, sold it to the two men. He had evidently by then forgiven Booth for his part in the unsuccessful lollard rising of 1413-14, although the latter’s fate had for some time hung precariously in the balance.

Henry Booth was one of the more distinguished captives (along with another Derbyshire MP, Sir Thomas Chaworth*) who were committed to the Tower of London after the failure of a coup d’état staged by the heretic, Sir John Oldcastle*, and his supporters late in 1413. Several of the ringleaders were hanged immediately, while Booth and his fellows were held in custody under sentence of death. On 8 Feb. 1414, Booth’s elder brother, John, and one of his nephews joined with his father-in-law to offer securities of 1,000 marks as a guarantee that he would not attempt to escape from prison if ‘irons and other distresses’ were removed. His detention lasted for several months until the two powerful Derbyshire knights, Sir Richard Stanhope* and (Sir) Roger Leche (his former client) bailed him out, probably on the condition that he should purge himself of heresy. This, however, he did not do until January 1418, perhaps because of administrative problems caused by the death of Bishop Burghill of Coventry and the subsequent absence of his successor at the Council of Constance. These events cast an interesting light on Booth’s religious and political beliefs, especially as he was further accused, in 1414, not only of receiving, supporting and maintaining a lollard priest named Walter Gilbert at his home, but also of preaching heresy himself at Littleover on various occasions. How far his views were influenced by his father-in-law, John Fynderne, is now impossible to determine, but it is worth noting that Fynderne knew Sir John Oldcastle, and, in 1418, offered securities for one of his adherents.8 Surprisingly, in view of the enormity of his offence, Booth suffered no further punishment, although his notable lack of involvement in the business of local administration from 1414 onwards may reflect a residual feeling of distrust on the part of the authorities.

Meanwhile, in July 1415, Booth repaid the kindness of his relatives in standing surety for him as a prisoner by performing a similar service when they took on the lease of estates in Lancashire, seised much earlier, in 1403, from the rebel Geoffrey Bulde. A few months later, on the intervention of Parliament, he and the other executors of the influential Derbyshire knight, Sir John Dabrichecourt*, obtained formal letters of pardon for any outstanding debts or fines owed by the deceased. Booth was himself returned to the House of Commons for the first time in 1420, having previously attended the Derbyshire elections of 1413 (May), 1416 (Mar.) and 1417. (He subsequently attested the returns of 1421 (Dec.), 1422 and 1426 as well.) He had strong personal reasons for seeking election to this particular Parliament, as the Lancashire branch of his family were then embroiled in a bitter dispute with Geoffrey Bulde, who was fighting to recover his confiscated property. Henry Booth’s return on this occasion (along with his brother, John, and Richard Shirburne, one of the arbitrators chosen to settle the quarrel) suggests that the Booths were making an all-out attempt to gain support for their case. Furthermore, another of the petitions considered at this time by the two houses concerned an attack launched upon Henry and his friend, William Pirton, by John Legh of Cheshire ‘ove grande poiar des gents du di Countee ... arraiez en manere de guerre’.9 We do not know if this appeal for redress proved successful, but it was certainly not the only dispute in which he and Pirton became involved. In 1423 the two men arraigned Sir Sampson Meverell and his wife on an assize of novel disseisin at Derby over the possession of certain land in Tideswell. Meverell retaliated by trying to intimidate the jury with a band of ‘divers malefactors and outlaws’; and then, once orders for his arrest had been issued, he laid plans for a murderous assault upon his principal adversaries. He finally retired to his manor house at Bobenhull, where, ‘in a defensible manner and with a strong hand’, he put up a spirited resistance against the local sheriff who had been sent to attach him. Booth and Pirton also began litigation against William Handesacre of Staffordshire, who fortunately proved a rather less formidable opponent. Their association seems to have been both close and long-lasting: in February 1424 the Bedfordshire landowner, William Atterworth, offered them both a bond worth £200, and some five years later they were charged by Richard Mynors with failing to discharge their duties as the trustees of (Sir) Roger Leche. Booth established other important connexions during this period, not least as a feoffee-to-uses of Sir John Cockayne’s* manors of Harthill. At about the same time, in 1421, he and (Sir) Thomas Blount II* appeared together as plaintiffs in a lawsuit (which was probably collusive) brought by the prior of Repton; and not long afterwards he was called in to settle a local dispute involving Ralph Hussey*. He acted as a mainpernor for the King’s knight, Sir Richard Vernon*, as well as being employed, in a professional capacity, in taking depositions preparatory to the divorce of Sir Nicholas Longford’s mother from her second husband. By 1428, when he gave evidence before a royal commission set up to reassess taxes in Derbyshire, he had settled his manor of Arleston upon his son, John, although it was not until 1439 that a formal entail of the manor was drawn up, naming Humphrey, earl of Stafford (steward of the honour of Tutbury, and thus the Booths’ feudal overlord) as remainderman.10

It was, no doubt, because of his expertise as a lawyer that Booth attracted so many clients, some of whom retained him formally through the payment of a regular fee. Ralph, Lord Cromwell, Sir Richard Vernon and Henry, Lord Grey of Codnor, each awarded him annuities: indeed, in 1434, when Grey and Vernon were indicted on a charge of distributing liveries illegally, Booth’s name was temporarily omitted from the list of jurymen serving at the sessions of oyer and terminer in Derbyshire because he, too, was involved in the case. He none the less remained active in Grey’s employment until at least 1441, the date of an allocation of expenses made to him as a councillor for ‘attending with his household servants’ upon his patron. The last clearly dated reference to Booth occurs in December 1441, when he was a party to various financial transactions concerning the Stathum family. He is said to have died five years later, and to have been succeeded by his son.11

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.

Notes

Variants: de or del Bothe, Bouthe.

  • 1. Harl. 2112, ff. 167, 176; J.C. Cox, Notes on Churches Derbys. iii. 486-7; iv. 22-23, 486-7; CP25(1)39/44/9. Although Cox states that Isabel Fynderne was the mother of Booth’s children, it is evid