BOYTON, Richard (d.1422), of Currypool in Charlinch, Som.
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Family and Education
Collector of customs and subsidies, Bridgwater and ports of north Som. 17 May 1398-1413.
Dep. butler, Bridgwater, Combwich and Dunster, Som. 24 Oct. 1399-d., Weymouth 5 Mar. 1404-Nov. 1418, Melcombe 16 Dec. 1407-Mar. 1413, Topsham 18 Oct. 1408-d.
Constable of Taunton castle (by appointment of Bp. Wykeham of Winchester), by Oct. 1400-c. June 1406.2
Sheriff, Som. and Dorset 24 Nov. 1400-8 Nov. 1401, 17 Dec. 1405-5 Nov. 1406, 4 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410, 30 Nov. 1416-10 Nov. 1417.
Dep. clerk of the King’s works by 26 July 1408-c. 1413.
Commr. of inquiry, Som. Jan. 1412 (contributors to a subsidy), Som., Dorset June 1421 (Urswyk estates); array, Som. May 1415, May 1418, Mar. 1419, June 1421.
Boyton’s origins are obscure, for no family of that name was prominent in Somerset and Boyton’s property in the county was all acquired during his own lifetime. Earliest references to him concern his activities in the service of John of Gaunt. At Bayonne on 26 Mar. 1389 the duke retained Boyton for life to serve him in peace and war and ‘travailler ovec luy as quelles parties qil plerra a mesme le duc, bien et convenablement arraiez come a soun estat appartient’, for which duties he was to receive the normal wages of an esquire in the ducal household. Accordingly, Boyton was initially allowed ten marks a year from the issues of the Lancastrian honour of Leicester. (It is worth noting, in the light of Boyton’s subsequent career, that on the same day Thomas Chaucer* of Ewelme, nephew of Katherine Swynford, the duke’s mistress and future wife, was similarly contracted to serve Gaunt.) On 16 Aug. 1391 the duke granted Boyton an additional five marks a year, so bringing his annuity up to £10, and in April 1395, at Bordeaux, he gave him, for life, lands in the Bordelais to the value of £20. Gaunt’s son, Henry of Bolingbroke, confirmed the indenture of 1389 and grant of 1391 in October 1398, on the eve of his departure into exile, having himself promised to retain Boyton after his father’s death; and following his accession as Henry IV he also confirmed John of Gaunt’s grant of 1395. Certainly until 1406, and probably for several years more, Boyton continued to receive his annuity from the duchy of Lancaster property at Leicester. There were other rewards, too, for his services to the Lancastrians: in January 1400 he received from the King a crayer called La George worth 40 marks, which had been among the forfeited possessions of Thomas Holand, earl of Kent; and later that same year, and now described as ‘King’s esquire’, he was granted two tuns of Gascon wine a year for life from the prise of Bridgwater, where he himself had only recently been appointed deputy butler. In 1402-3 he was still wearing royal livery, and five years later he was made deputy to the clerk of the King’s works, Robert Rolleston. At the same time Boyton was also attached to the household of Henry IV’s half-brother, John Beaufort, earl of Somerset. On 1 June 1401 the earl had granted him an annuity of 20 marks from the manor of Martock (Somerset), and it seems likely that it was in order to join Beaufort’s retinue in Calais, where the earl held the captaincy, that in March following he took out official letters of protection as going overseas. He was certainly embarking for Calais in October 1409 when he received similar letters, and at the time of Beaufort’s death, in March 1410, he was acting as his lieutenant in the custodianship of the royal park of Clarendon. Boyton promptly secured confirmation of his annuity from Martock even though the lordship had now come into the King’s hands because of a minority.3
Meanwhile, before October 1400, Boyton had been appointed by Bishop Wykeham of Winchester as constable of his castle at Taunton, and it seems likely that he retained some kind of position there even after his replacement in office in 1406 by his old colleague, Thomas Chaucer, who then acquired the constable-ship from his cousin, the new bishop of Winchester, Henry Beaufort. Boyton may well have acted as Chaucer’s deputy, perhaps holding the post known as ‘clerk of the castle’; at all events, a ‘W. (sic) Boyton’ was said to be ‘constable of Taunton’ in 1419. Certainly, Boyton owed all his appointments as deputy butler in Bridgwater, Melcombe, Weymouth and Topsham from 1404 onwards to Chaucer, who was the King’s chief butler, and he continued to be closely associated with him right up to his death. In 1421, only four months before he died, Boyton witnessed a transaction concerning his patron’s estates in Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Another witness on this occasion was William Borde*, Chaucer’s then deputy at Taunton castle, who, again by Chaucer’s appointment, was to take over the deputy butlership at Bridgwater after Boyton. Besides Boyton’s connexions with the Beauforts and their kinsman, he also made the acquaintance of Elizabeth, countess of Salisbury, who in her will in 1414 had left him a silver salt-cellar.4
Most of Boyton’s landed interests in Somerset derived from his marriage. As dower Margery held Currypool, and her husband presented to the local church of Charlinch in 1402 and 1406, in accordance with the terms of a settlement which had given them half the advowson. (John Boyton, possibly his son, presented in 1408.) Similarly in his wife’s right, Boyton could present to the church at Highampton in Devon every third turn. According to the subsidy assessment of 1412, in which Boyton himself acted as a commissioner, his landed holdings were quite substantial, including the manors of Currypool and ‘Wythill’ and lands in Perdham, together valued at £40, and some unnamed properties in Devon worth 20 marks.5
Service four times as sheriff, widespread control in Somerset and other west country ports and connexions with the Beaufort circle must have made Boyton a figure of some importance in the locality. By virtue of his office as sheriff of Somerset and Dorset he held the parliamentary elections in both shires in 1410 and 1417. At the end of his final account as sheriff he was found to owe the Exchequer £10, and consequently, after his death, which occurred on 23 Feb. 1422, a messuage and 52 acres of land known as ‘Slyslond’ near Currypool were taken into the King’s hands. Boyton’s stepdaughter, Amy, widow of Sir Baldwin Malet, was made accountable for the debt.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Boydon, Boyghton.
- 1. Vis. Som. ed. Weaver, 45; Reg. Bubwith (Som. Rec. Soc. xxix), 39.
- 2. E159/195 Recorda, Trin. m. 9d.
- 3. CPR, 1396-9, p. 499; 1399-1401, pp. 179, 365; 1408-13, pp. 170, 414-15; 1413-16, p. 105; CCR, 1402-5, p. 244; J.H. Wylie, Hen. IV, iii. 305; E364/45; E101/404/21, f. 45; C76/86 m. 8, 93 m. 23; C81/655/7258; DL29/738/12031-7, 12099, 12100-1; Cam. Misc. xxii. 97-98.
- 4. Reg. Bubwith (Som. Rec. Soc. xxx), 354; Goring Chs. (Oxon. Rec. Soc. xiv), 215; Reg. Chichele, ii. 16.
- 5. Reg. Bowet (Som. Rec. Soc. xiii), 28, 64, 79; Som. Feet of Fines (ibid. xxii), 23, 159, 162; Reg. Bubwith (ibid. xxix), 39; Feudal Aids, vi. 503; CCR, 1409-13, p. 368; Reg. Stafford (Exeter) ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 34, 178; G.D. Stawell, A Quantock Family, 38.
- 6. C219/10/5, 12/2; E364/64 m. F; SC6/970/9.