BRAYBROOKE, Sir Reynold (c.1356-1405), of Cooling castle and Cobham, Kent and Castle Ashby and Chadstone, Northants.
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Family and Education
b. c.1356, 2nd s. of Sir Gerard Braybrooke I* by his 1st w. and bro. of Sir Gerard II*. m. between Sept. 1391 and Feb. 1392, Joan (d. 13 Jan. 1434), da. and h. of Sir John de la Pole of Chrishall, Essex and Castle Ashby by Joan, da. and h. of John, 3rd Lord Cobham, wid. of Sir Robert Hemenale of Polstead Hall in Burnham Norton, Norf., 2s. d.v.p. 1da. Kntd. between Oct. 1389 and Aug. 1390.
Keeper of Salcey forest, Northants. 13 Oct. 1389-20 Oct. 1391.
Commr. of array, Kent Jan. 1400, July 1402, Aug. 1403.
J.p. Kent 16 May 1401-d.
As a younger son Reynold could not expect to inherit the substantial Braybrooke estates in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and elsewhere, but his family promoted his career and obtained for him a marriage which was to make up for any deficiency in this respect. By September 1382 he was acting as marshal of the household of his uncle Robert Braybrooke, bishop of London, and it may well have been his uncle’s friendship with their distant kinswoman Princess Joan, the King’s mother, which facilitated Reynold’s entry into the Court as an esquire about a year later. He was to receive several marks of royal favour: in November 1388 he was granted a ten-year lease of the manor of Little Holwell (Bedfordshire), forfeited by one of the victims of the Merciless Parliament; in the summer of 1389 he obtained the marriage of the heir of William Cogenhoe and shared the wardship of the Cogenhoe lands in Northamptonshire; and that October he was made keeper of Salcey forest for life. By August 1390 he had been promoted to the status of ‘King’s knight’, receiving the manor and park of Banstead, Surrey, worth 40 marks a year, to support his new dignity. In the following year Little Holwell was granted him rent-free on condition that he paid annuities charged on the manor. It was only when Braybrooke married that he left the King’s household, at the same time relinquishing his keepership of Salcey in favour of his elder brother Sir Gerard and selling Banstead to a knight of the Chamber.1
It is remarkable that Sir Reynold was so successful in keeping on good terms with Richard II after he married into a family which the King had no reason to love. Since 1388 the heir to both the de la Poles of Northamptonshire and the Cobhams of Kent had been Joan, grand daughter of John, Lord Cobham, a supporter of the Lords Appellant. Sir Reynold’s father, uncle and elder brother negotiated with her in 1390 and 1391 for the purchase of the de la Pole manors of Castle Ashby and Chadstone in Northamptonshire and Chesterton in Huntingdonshire (for which they paid about £2,000), and the Northamptonshire properties were then settled on Sir Reynold’s father and stepmother for term of their lives. Opportunely, when Joan’s husband Sir Robert Hemenale died in September 1391 the Braybrookes promptly secured the marriage of the widow for Sir Reynold, and entailed Castle Ashby and Chadstone on the couple and their male issue. These estates were eventually to pass to them on Sir Gerard’s death in 1403, but before then they took possession of other parts of Joan’s inheritance, notably some 13 de la Pole manors in Bedfordshire, Essex, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk, Oxfordshire and Suffolk. And in addition they held her jointure and dower from the Hemenale estates: Polstead Hall (Norfolk), Radwinter Hall (Essex), and seven more manors in Suffolk. Sir Reynold had become a wealthy man.2
Braybrooke continued to be attached to Richard II, at least to the extent of taking part in the King’s first expedition to Ireland, for which he received the customary wages of war. He asked his father and his father-in-law Lord Cobham to act as his attorneys during his absence. Cobham was condemned to death by the Parliament of 1397 (Sept.) for his part in the events of 1387-8, only to be reprieved and banished to Guernsey, but clearly none of Richard’s rancour was directed at Braybrooke, for in May and December 1398 the latter obtained royal grants of custody of the forfeited Cobham estates in Kent, including Cooling castle, for which he was to pay £105 13s.4d. a year at the Exchequer. Braybrooke had remained close to his uncle the bishop: on occasion he borrowed money from him and in May 1398 he stood surety when Bishop Braybrooke purchased from the King the marriage of John Neville, Lord Latimer. It was in the company of his uncle that Sir Reynold crossed to Ireland with Richard in the spring of 1399.3
After the accession of Henry IV, Lord Cobham was restored to his estates and Braybrooke was discharged any sums owing for them at the Exchequer. But he continued to reside in Kent and began to serve on local commissions. He was summoned to attend a great council in about 1403 as one of five men selected from that county. After his father’s death in the same year Braybrooke and his wife came into possession not only of Castle Ashby and Chadstone, under the terms of their marriage settlement, but also of Orton Longueville (Huntingdonshire), which had once belonged to his mother. At the same time they began to encounter obstacles with regard to their continued tenure of the Hemenale estates in Suffolk, for the heir, Braybrooke’s stepson William Hemenale, who had been an idiot from birth, had recently died and the Crown now claimed possession. The Braybrookes recovered seisin after a hearing in Chancery, and in July 1403 they exchanged some of the de la Pole lands in return for greater security of tenure of the Hemenale estates. Nevertheless, the Exchequer continued to grant out the lands in question on lease, and the matter was not finally settled until after Braybrooke’s death.4
Braybrooke sat in his only known Parliament early in 1404, and that summer he served at sea against the French. In May 1405, described as ‘lord of Cobham’ (although his wife’s grandfather was still alive), he obtained papal indults both for plenary remission and a portable altar, and that same month he sailed with Thomas of Lancaster’s expedition to Flanders. During the unsuccessful attack on the citadel of Sluys he received a wound that was to prove fatal: he was carried to Middleburg where he lingered on for nearly four months, only to die on 20 Sept. His body was brought back to England for burial in Cobham church, where his fine monumental brass may yet be seen. Braybrooke’s two sons had both died before him. His widow Joan, who survived him by nearly 30 years, became suo jure Baroness Cobham when her grandfather died, and was married three more times: to Sir Nicholas Hawberk (d.1407), the notorious Sir John Oldcastle* (d.1417) and Sir John Harpenden (d.1458). On her death in 1434 her heir was Braybrooke’s daughter Joan, wife of the younger (Sir) Thomas Brooke* of Holditch, Dorset and Weycroft, Devon.