BRAYBROOKE, Sir Gerard II (bef.1354-1429), of Colmworth, Beds., Horsenden, Bucks. and Danbury, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. bef. 1354, 1st. s. of Sir Gerard Braybrooke I*; er. bro. of Sir Reynold*. m. (1) Eleanor (d. 24 Dec. 1389),1 da. of Amauri, 4th Lord St. Amand by his 1st w., 1s. d.v.p.; (2) by June 1391, Elizabeth.2 Kntd. bef. June 1380.
Commr. to put down rebellion, Beds. Mar., Dec. 1382; administer oath in support of the Lords Appellant Mar. 1388; of oyer and terminer, Bucks. Feb. 1392, Northants. Nov. 1400; gaol delivery, Bedford May 1392; weirs, Beds. June 1398; to make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well May 1402; of array Sept., Nov. 1403, Essex July 1405; arrest June 1407; to raise royal loans Mar. 1422.
Keeper of Salcey forest, Northants. 20 Oct. 1391-d.
Constable of Pleshey castle, Essex, by appointment of Joan, countess of Hereford c. Oct. 1399-c. June 1400.
J.p. Beds. 16 May 1401-Mar. 1413, Essex 18 June 1402-Feb. 1407, 12 Dec. 1417-July 1423.
Tax collector, Beds. Mar. 1404.
Sheriff, Essex and Herts. 5 Nov. 1406-30 Nov. 1407.
The fourth Sir Gerard Braybrooke to represent Bedfordshire in Parliament was born before October 1354 when his grandfather, the second Sir Gerard (d.1359), named him as heir after his father to certain family lands in the county. He was not to come into possession of these or the other Braybrooke estates until after his father’s death nearly 50 years later, although he did inherit before then certain of his mother’s properties, such as Middleton in Norfolk. By 1412 he was holding family lands in Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire estimated to be worth £83 6s.8d., and he had also acquired properties in Essex worth a further £13 13s.4d., but this was by no means the full total of his income from land, for tax assessments of his estates in Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and elsewhere have not survived.3 During the lifetimes of his father and his uncle, Robert Braybrooke, bishop of London, Braybrooke was often recorded as intimately involved in their affairs. An early connexion was with their friend Sir Nigel Loring, sometime chamberlain to the Black Prince, and it seems likely that in his youth he saw service overseas with his father and Loring in the prince’s company. He was knighted before 1380. The bishop, who owed his rise to prominence to his friendship and kinship with Princess Joan of Wales, became closely associated after her death with her brother-in-law Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, whose castle at Pleshey he often visited, and it was no doubt through him that Sir Gerard first came to the duke’s attention. In November 1387 Bishop Braybrooke tried unsuccessfully to heal the breach between the duke and the King, and although the armies of the Appellants used the bishop’s wood at Harringay as a place of muster a month later, he avoided being identified with their cause. The nephew was not so cautious: he joined the duke’s forces in their attack on the King’s unpopular favourite, Robert de Vere, and their march to London. Significantly, it was then that he secured election to his first Parliament — the Merciless Parliament controlled by Gloucester and his fellows — and in March during the recess he was appointed to take oaths from the gentry of Bedfordshire in support of the Appellants’ rule.4
Over the years 1390-2 Sir Gerard was involved in his father’s purchase of the de la Pole estates in Northamptonshire and was party to settlements made on the occasion of the marriage of his younger brother, Sir Reynold, to the de la Pole heiress Joan, grand daughter of John, Lord Cobham. Although Cobham was a supporter of the Appellants, the Braybrookes maintained satisfactory relations with the King and lost nothing when he regained control of the government. Sir Reynold was a ‘King’s knight’ and in October 1391 he obtained Richard’s approval for the transfer of the keepership of Salcey forest, which he had been granted for life, to his brother Sir Gerard. The latter was also able to secure a share in the wardship of a Nottinghamshire heir.5 Nevertheless, over the years he grew ever closer to the King’s uncle, Gloucester, with whom his own uncle the bishop remained friendly. In 1394 he and Bishop Braybrooke were named among the feoffees of the duke’s estates in Sussex, and that same year Sir Gerard became a member of the fraternity of Llanthony priory, a house in Gloucester’s patronage. Then, in October 1395, he was one of those to whom the duke granted the wardship of the estates of his late son-in-law, Thomas, earl of Stafford. In February 1397 the Braybrookes secured from the Crown control of the inheritance of their distant kinsman John Neville, Lord Latimer, following the death of his mother Elizabeth, Lady Latimer and Willoughby, Sir Gerard’s own share being the wardship of certain lands in Bedfordshire. (He was later asked by Latimer to act as a trustee of his estates.) It was no doubt due to the tact and diplomacy of Bishop Braybrooke that Sir Gerard was able to weather the crisis of Gloucester’s arrest and murder that summer, though he made no attempt to disguise his attachment to the duke. Indeed, in October he stood bail for the release from the Tower of the duke’s chancellor, Thomas Feriby. He took the precaution of purchasing a royal pardon a few months later, this being specifically for the support he had given Gloucester and his fellow Appellants at the time of the Merciless Parliament, which was deemed by the King to be treasonous.6
The bishop and Sir Reynold Braybrooke sailed for Ireland with Richard II in 1399, but Sir Gerard and his father stayed behind. The younger man was elected to the ‘Parliament’ which deposed Richard, and he obtained prompt confirmation of his keepership of Salcey from the new King, Henry IV. It seems likely that he would have welcomed Henry’s accession because of his ties with Gloucester and the widowed duchess Eleanor, who as recently as 9 Aug. had named him as an executor of her will. By this time he had also established close connexions with Eleanor’s mother, Joan de Bohun, countess of Hereford (grandmother of the new King’s children), and these were now strengthened. After Eleanor’s death in October the countess took possession of Pleshey castle and immediately appointed Braybrooke as her constable there. Three months later, after the collapse of the Epiphany plot to kill Henry IV, one of the principal conspirators, John Holand, earl of Huntingdon, was captured in Essex, and the countess, who had sound reason to hate Holand for his part in the murder of her son-in-law Gloucester and the execution of her brother the earl of Arundel, sent Sir Gerard to secure him and bring him to Pleshey. The castle was besieged by a local mob bent on seeing Holand put to death, and after a parley at dusk on 15 Jan., during which Braybrooke apparently tried to persuade them to spare his prisoner to face trial before the King, the earl was led out of the castle, seized and beheaded.7 Braybrooke, already an eminent member of the countess’s household, was to remain indispensable as a leading member of her council right up to her death in 1419. In May 1401 the countess, Braybrooke and Thomas Feriby shared the wardship of the estates of Aubrey de Vere, late earl of Oxford, and four years later they obtained that of the heir of another Essex landowner. Together with one of his lady’s retainers, Sir William Marney*, in 1407 Braybrooke secured an Exchequer lease of a manor in Northamptonshire pertaining to the inheritance of John Mowbray, Earl Marshal, the countess’s ward, and in the following year both men were involved in Countess Joan’s foundation of a chantry on Foulness. She and her retainers endowed another chantry in 1412, this time in Little Dunmow priory and specifically to provide prayers for Walter, 3rd Lord Fitzwalter, a former adherent of the duke of Gloucester. A third religious house which benefited from the generosity of the countess and Sir Gerard acting in combination was Leighs priory. After the death of her nephew, Thomas Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, the countess named Braybrooke among the trustees of her portion of the Fitzalan estates, and as a consequence he was party to the sale of Chirk and Chirkland to Henry V in 1418, the year before Joan’s death. Such was her complete confidence in Braybrooke that she named him as an executor of her will.8
It seems likely that Braybrooke owed his two elections to Parliament for Essex to his connexion with the countess of Hereford, for this association clearly made him a figure of consequence in the shire. But he did own land there. Before his first return, in 1402, he and his relative Edmund Hampden* had acquired property at Danbury which they held in trust for Richard, son and heir of Henry, Lord Grey of Wilton (d.1396), a kinsman of the Braybrookes’ close friend Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin. Braybrooke obtained the wardship of certain of the estates of Lord Richard’s inheritance, and married his only son, Gerard, to Grey’s kinswoman, Parnell. It was in Danbury church that the young couple were to be buried. Danbury was not far from the countess of Hereford’s home at Rochford; and Sir Gerard subsequently held the manor of ‘St. Clare’ as her tenant. He apparently came to live in Essex, although he retained close ties with his home county, Bedfordshire. It was from the latter shire that he was summoned to great councils in 1401 and 1403, and he served on the bench there until 1413.9
Braybrooke’s connexion with the Greys always remained very close. With his father and uncle he had been acting as a feoffee of the extensive estates of Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, since 1391; he had been party to settlements of land on other members of that lord’s family, and on his behalf he was involved in complicated dealings with William, Lord Beauchamp of Abergavenny regarding the Hastings inheritance. In 1402 when Lord Reynold was taken prisoner by Owen Glendower it was his friends the Braybrookes who secured his release. Sir Gerard was quite probably the MP responsible for the petition which was presented by the Commons on 16 Oct., requesting the King’s assistance to those raising the ransom of 10,000 marks; and five days later he, along with his uncle and his father, obtained the royal licence necessary to sell some of Grey’s estates. As 6,000 marks had to be paid to Glendower before Martinmas in order to save Grey’s life, it seems clear that the Braybrookes put up the money themselves, intending to recoup it from their friend after his liberation, or else from the sale of his lands. Braybrooke continued to concern himself with Lord Grey’s financial affairs after the deaths of his father (in 1403) and uncle (in 1404), and in 1405 as sole surviving feoffee he conveyed the Grey estates back to their owner. That same year when Lord Reynold returned to Wales in the King’s service, Braybrooke undertook to act as his attorney at home.10
There can be little doubt that Braybrooke was an exceptionally devout man, for even in an age favouring chantry foundations the number of his benefactions was unusual. Besides helping Countess Joan to found chantries on Foulness and in Little Dunmow priory church, he was a patron of Harrold priory, Bedfordshire (along with other members of his family and Lord Grey); and it was his sustained efforts over the years from 1402 to 1412 which eventually achieved the creation of an important college of secular priests in Northill church, Bedfordshire, at the behest of Sir John Trailly†.11 In 1402 he and his brother-in-law Sir William Thirning, c.j.c.p., granted property in London to the college at Ottery St. Mary, Devon, to provide prayers for the soul of the founder, Bishop Grandisson of Exeter, and Nicholas Braybrooke (one of Sir Gerard’s uncles), a former canon of Exeter. They were probably acting on behalf of Bishop Braybrooke who, a year later, named Sir Gerard as an executor of his will. Before the bishop’s death Braybrooke and his fellow executors purchased the manor of Loft Hall in Orsett, Essex, and obtained a royal licence to use it to endow a chantry within the bishop’s private chapel in the episcopal palace in London. Then, in 1406, Braybrooke established a chantry of three chaplains in Chalgrave church, Bedfordshire, in fulfilment of the will of Sir Nigel Loring and in accordance with the last wishes of Bishop Braybrooke.12
Braybrooke’s services as a feoffee-to-uses and an executor were always much in demand, and besides those already mentioned he acted for Joan, Lady Fitzwalter and Burnell (d.1409), and for his sister Joan and brother-in-law Thirning (d. 1413). In 1410 he took out letters patent exempting him from further employment in royal offices against his will and thereafter he was named on fewer commissions, although he remained a member of the Essex bench until 1423. His continuing interest in the parliamentary representation of the county is suggested by his attendance at elections in 1419, 1421 and 1422, on each occasion heading the list of electors recorded in the indentures of return.13 Braybrooke’s retirement from public service after Henry VI’s accession may have been due to advancing age, his later years saddened by the death of his only son in 1422. Following the death of his first wife Parnell Grey (of the Wilton branch), young Gerard had formally assumed the title of Lord St. Amand in 1416, and had married Joan, daughter of Thomas Raleigh* (d.1404) of Farnborough, Warwickshire, and stepdaughter of his father’s friend Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin. But the match had produced no sixth Gerard to continue the line: St. Amand left three daughters by his first wife, and only one, Elizabeth, survived for long. She, Lady St. Amand in her own right, was married in about 1426 and probably by arrangement of her grandfather Sir Gerard Braybrooke, to the elder son of Sir Walter Beauchamp*, a former Speaker and member of the King’s Council.14 Since 1419 Braybrooke had held Castle Ashby and Chadstone, Northamptonshire, on a long lease from his sister-in-law Joan, Lady Cobham. Under an entail these estates were expected to fall to him on her death (since she had no surviving male issue by his brother), but in 1423 after his son’s demise he granted or sold his interest to Lord Grey. Subsequent transactions regarding Braybrooke’s other estates involved the dean and chapter of St. Paul’s as trustees, with the intention of facilitating Braybrooke’s bequests to the cathedral and the inheritance of his grand daughter Elizabeth Beauchamp.15
Braybrooke’s will (made on 12 Mar. 1428) and its codicil (dated 2 Apr. 1429) provide further indications of his piety. He had made arrangements to be interred in St. Paul’s cathedral and for his cousin, Master Reynold Kentwood, the dean, to perform the funeral service. Kentwood was named as an overseer of the will, while all four of the executors were also clerics. Braybrooke left £50 for the hire of three priests to go on pilgrimages on his behalf: one to Jerusalem, another to Rome and the third to St. Michael’s Mount (Cornwall) and then on to St. James of Compostella. The sum of £100 was set aside for the stipend of a chaplain to pray for him at the family seat at Colmworth, while the cantarist there was to continue to receive £2 a year and the priest at Horsenden £5. He left vestments and chapel furnishings to seven other churches, as well as £100 for the erection of a bell-tower at Horsenden. Bushmead priory was bequeathed 100 marks, Newnham priory £20, Burnham abbey £20 and the fabric of St. Paul’s £10. Some of Braybrooke’s other bequests showed more secular interests: £100 was left to mend ‘fowle ways’ near his estates, £100 to provide clothing, bedding and shoes for his poor tenants, and a total of £119 went to his servants. Mention of furs, silk bedding, jewellery, silver and a ‘halle of arras’ (this last left to Robert Darcy* a friend of many years and co-executor of the countess of Hereford’s will) indicate that Braybrooke had lived in considerable comfort. He died a wealthy man, able to leave sums of money amounting to over £1,100. The will was proved on 11 July 1429.16 Braybrooke was long remembered: in 1442 Darcy and Sir William Babington c.j.c.p. (one of the overseers of Braybrooke’s will) founded a chantry in Danbury church, and in 1445 a London fishmonger named Thomas Badby established another, both benefactions being in his memory.17
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. VCH Beds. iii. 188.
- 2. Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. ii. 61-73.
- 3. CPR, 1354-8, p. 104; Feudal Aids, vi. 393, 439, 464.
- 4. L.H. Butler, ‘Bp. Braybrooke and kinsmen’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1952), 53, 56-59.
- 5. CCR, 1389-92, p. 335; 1402-5, pp. 58-59; 1413-19, p. 488; CP, iii. 345; VCH Northants. iv. 233; CPR, 1388-92, pp. 122, 248, 492.
- 6. C115/K2/6684 f. 172d.; A. Goodman, Loyal Conspiracy, 43, 100, 103, 181; CPR, 1391-6, p. 512; 1396-9, p. 207; 1405-8, pp. 212, 337; CCR, 1392-6, p. 493; 1396-9, p. 155; 1413-19, p. 252; C67/30 m. 19; CFR, xi. 202.
- 7. CCR, 1396-9, p. 510; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 91; Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), ii. 269, 276; Testamenta Vetusta ed. Nicolas, 149; J. de Waurin, Chrons. ed. Hardy, 46-47; J. Trokelowe, Chron. ed. Riley, 328.
- 8. CFR, xii. 125, 306; xiii. 27, 84; CPR, 1405-8, p. 386; 1408-13, p. 411; 1413-16, p. 400; 1416-22, p. 172; Add. Roll 41523; Reg. Chichele, ii. 322.
- 9. CFR, xii. 151, 163; P. Morant, Essex, ii. 28; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 276-7; PPC, i. 158, 163; ii. 188.
- 10. Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 235; CCR, 1389-92, p. 516; 1399-1402, pp. 230, 234, 241, 266; 1413-19, p. 257; CPR, 1388-92, p. 514; 1399-1401, p. 444; 1401-5, pp. 171, 231-2, 270, 371; 1405-8, pp. 9, 85; RP, iii. 487.
- 11. Beds. Rec. Soc. xvii. 211-12, 218; CPR, 1391-6, p. 164; 1399-1401, p. 523; 1401-5, pp. 178, 479; 1405-8, p. 316; CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 174, 447; CPL, vi. 27, 102, 209; VCH Beds. i. 403.
- 12. CPR, 1385-9, p. 64; 1401-5, p. 239; 1405-8, p. 290; 1408-13, p. 10; Beds. Rec. Soc. xiv. 99; C143/434/7; CPL, vi. 154; Morant, ii. 271.
- 13. CCR, 1405-9, p. 446; 1422-9, pp. 145, 391; Reg. Repingdon (Lincoln Rec. Soc. lviii), 310; CPR, 1408-13, p. 153; C219/12/3, 5, 13/1.
- 14. CP, xi. 300-1; Harl. Ch. 47B 17; CFR, xii. 165; xiv. 426; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 356.
- 15. HMC 9th Rep. (pt. 1), 40-41; CCR, 1429-35, p. 188; VCH Northants. iv. 233; CP25(1)179/93/7.
- 16. Reg. Chichele, ii. 409-14, 419.
- 17. CPR, 1441-6, pp. 112, 357.