BRAHAM (BRAME), Sir John (d.1420), of Brantham, Suff.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
s. and h. of Sir John Braham (d.1375) of Brantham by his w. Margery, wid. of Sir John Mounteney of Heywood in Diss, Norf. m. bef. May 1393, Joan ?née Spyce1 (d. 20 May 1431), wid. of Thomas Visdelou of Shotley, Suff., ?s.p. Kntd. bef. Mar. 1381.
The Brahams were lords of the manor of Brantham near the border of Suffolk and Essex, a manor which in 1364 was settled on John in reversion after the life interest of his parents. He was also to inherit half a knight’s fee in Capel, which his father held as a tenant of the earls of Oxford, but he was not entitled to the manors in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Hertfordshire which his mother held for her lifetime as jointure from her former marriage to Sir John Mounteney. Before his death Braham came into possession of the manor of Boynton Hall, near Brantham, and property in Bergholt, Wenham and Wenham Combust, all situated in the same area of south-east Suffolk. These holdings gave him an annual income of at least £17.2 When Braham’s father died in 1375 he was a comparatively wealthy man, able to leave each of his three daughters 100 marks. But his only bequests to young John, who was clearly intended for a military career, were his armour and a horse. Braham first saw service in the retinue of Michael, Lord de la Pole, the admiral of the northern fleet which put to sea in October 1377, and it was perhaps on the voyage that he was knighted. In March 1381 he took out royal letters of protection as going overseas, most likely on the expedition to Portugal due to leave in June under the command of Edmund of Langley, earl of Cambridge, the overlord of his principal manor. In 1385 he again travelled abroad, and in April 1386 he was preparing to accompany John of Gaunt’s army to Spain.3
There is no evidence that Braham made a fortune from his career as a soldier, or, if he did, he spent it too freely. There were several occasions in his life when he was brought before the royal courts on charges of debt: for instance, in 1390 Robet Neel of Surrey began one such lawsuit against him, and he had to ask the help of his half-brother Sir Robert Mounteney and the Suffolk lawyer Robert Hethe* to provide securities on his behalf in Chancery. Bra-ham’s prospects seemed to be improving when, two years later, on 16 Mar. 1392, he was formally retained by Richard II with a life annuity of £20 payable at the Exchequer. In the following December he and Mounteney shared custody of part of the manor of Sheringham, Norfolk, a valuable property for which they paid an annual rent to the Crown of £30. As a ‘King’s knight’, Braham naturally came into contact with more prominent members of the royal household such as Sir John Stanley, for whom he stood surety at the Exchequer in 1393. In the spring of 1396 he sailed on the King’s service to Ireland, where he may have remained until Richard’s deposition three years later.4 It is remarkable that although Braham was considered to be worthy of a fairly substantial annuity he was never appointed to any royal commissions, not even to those of a military nature in which he might have been expected to show some competence.
Braham encountered no difficulty in obtaining confirmation of his annuity from Henry IV, this being granted on 30 Oct. 1399. But there is no evidence that he offered the new King any tangible service before November 1403, then setting out in the company of the King’s lieutenant in South Wales, Edward duke of York (the new overlord of Brantham), whose task was to help quell disorder in the principality. Five years later Braham shared a grant of the administration of all the fruits and provents of the church of Docking (Norfolk), parcel of the alien priory of Minster Lovell, for which he was to render £27 13s.4d. a year at the Exchequer. But this was the last occasion that he secured benefit from royal patronage, and after a while payment of his annuity at the Exchequer ceased; it is not known to have been authorized after April 1410. Throughout Henry IV’s reign Braham was pursued by creditors, most notably for large sums owed to certain London drapers, and it is clear that he was living beyond his means.5
Henry V evidently saw no reason to retain Braham, and did not confirm his annuity. It was not until the end of this undistinguished career that, in 1417, when the King was abroad in France, Braham was elected to his only Parliament, as shire knight for Suffolk. He died in 1420.6 Shortly before his death, in February that year, he had put his landed holdings into the hands of trustees, who included Robert Tey* of Marks Tey, Essex, like him a former member of Richard II’s household. They were to ensure that Braham’s widow, Joan, would retain possession of his property for the rest of her life. Joan survived until 1431, when her heirs were found to be her two daughters, both of whom were named Margaret and aged well over 30. It seems likely that they were the offspring of Joan’s first marriage, to Thomas Visdelou, and that Braham himself had died without issue. The process by which some of his properties came later into the possession of John Lancaster II’s* son John (d. 1469/70), is now obscure.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. CP25(1)223/107/23. She and Braham had many dealings with Clement and Roger Spyce of Essex: e.g. CCR, 1392-6, p. 109; 1422-9, p. 463.
- 2. CP25(1)221/94/25; CCR, 1374-7, p. 106; CIPM, xiii. 125; C139/54/30.
- 3. Norf. and Norwich RO, Reg. Haydon, f. 103; E101/37/10; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, ii. 135, 148; Foedera ed. Rymer (Hague edn.), iii (3), 198.
- 4. CCR, 1389-92, p. 161; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 39, 701; CFR, xi. 68, 102.
- 5. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 41; 1401-5, pp. 72, 305; CCR, 1405-9, p. 377; 1409-13, p. 117; CFR, xiii. 133; E404/25/269.
- 6. J. Copinger, Suff. Manors, vi. 23.
- 7. C139/54/30; Norf. and Norwich RO, Reg. Jekkys, f. 180; Suff. Green Bks. xvi(2), 188-9, 199, 201.