DABRICHECOURT, Sir Nicholas (or Collard) (d.1400), of Stratfield Saye, Hants.
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Family and Education
?s. of Sir Sanchet Dabrichecourt KG. Bro. of Sir John*. m. by 1370, Elizabeth (d. Sept. 1404), da. and h. of Sibyl, da. and h. of Sir Thomas Say of Stratfield Saye, wid. of Sir Thomas St. Leger, 3s. Kntd. c.1377.
Constable, Nottingham castle by July 1373-28 Oct. 1377.
Keeper of Caversham park, Oxon. 26 Nov. 1375-c.1377.
Chief forester, Sherwood forest 9 Oct. 1376-28 Oct. 1377.
Sheriff, Hants 15 Nov. 1389-7 Nov. 1390.
Commr. of inquiry, Berks., Hants Feb. 1390 (wastes at Stratfield Saye priory), Hants May 1390 (unlawful disseisin).
It seems likely that Nicholas was the elder of the two Dabrichecourt brothers, for he was the first Dabrichecourt of their generation to find favour at the court of Edward III. There, his career was no doubt promoted by his distinguished kinsmen, the Hainaulters Sir Sanchet (a founder member of the Order of the Garter) and Sir Eustace Dabrichecourt (the husband of the former countess of Kent), and perhaps the nationality which he shared with Queen Philippa and many of her entourage proved to his advantage.1 By 1363 he was in the service of the King as a yeoman of the Household; and on 1 Nov. that year he received from him a grant of ten marks p.a. for as long as he remained in royal service, or a pension of £10 a year in lieu should he retire from it with Edward’s leave to do so. Three years later he was called ‘King’s esquire’, and he continued to wear the royal livery until the end of the reign. In 1370 his annuity was raised to £20, initially payable at the Exchequer, then, from 1376, charged on the issues of the manor of Mansfield (Nottinghamshire).2
Between 4 July and 24 Dec. 1372 Dabrichecourt served at sea, sharing, with John Legget†, a serjeant-at-arms, leadership of a retinue of 30 lances and 30 archers. The next four years saw him constantly employed on the King’s business. In July 1373 he was paid £20 for riding to Devizes castle to take custody of the sons of Charles of Blois, duke of Brittany, and escort them to Nottingham castle, where he had been recently appointed as constable; and he subsequently received large sums of money for the maintenance of these royal hostages. Between 25 Aug. and 28 Sept. 1374 he was in Calais with Sir Philip de la Vache* on secret business of the King, during that period taking custody of some French prisoners at Ardres, whom he escorted to England. For this Dabrichecourt received wages of 13s.4d. per day which, with the costs of his passage and that of his servant and their horses, amounted to £26 13s.4d. Then, in December 1376, he was paid £7 for conducting Sir Peter de la Mare†, the Speaker of the Good Parliament of that year, from the royal manor of Havering atte Bower into imprisonment at Nottingham castle. For Dabrichecourt the last few years of Edward III’s reign were a period of success and royal favour, marked by grants of the custody of the alien priory of Stratfield Saye in 1373, the keepership of Caversham park during the minority of Lord Despenser and the reversion of certain properties in London in 1375, and a gift of as much as £100 at the Exchequer in 1376. The culmination of his career came in October 1376 when the constableship of Nottingham was conferred on him for life, and in addition he was appointed chief forester of Sherwood. About the same time he was knighted.3
All this came to an abrupt end with the death of Dabrichecourt’s patron, Edward III. Richard II did not confirm Sir Nicholas’s annuity, and its payment stopped immediately. Furthermore, Dabrichecourt, no longer a member of the King’s household, was promptly replaced at Nottingham and in Sherwood (despite his patents for life tenure); and, in May 1378, he was even deprived of his custody of the alien priory of Stratfield Saye. A subsequent inquiry found that he did not willingly hand over to his successor at Stratfield Saye: he kept stock and implements, destroyed buildings, cut down trees and crops and broke into the priory where he assaulted the new tenant. For the remainder of Richard II’s reign Dabrichecourt spent his time in semi-retirement and obscurity in Hampshire.4
Dabrichecourt’s connexion with Hampshire had begun with his marriage. In October 1367 he had secured at the Exchequer custody of lands which had been held by Sir Thomas St. Leger in right of his wife Elizabeth (grand daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Say), during the minority of his daughter. The latter died soon afterwards and Dabrichecourt married the widow, thus obtaining possession of her estates in Hampshire and Berkshire, which centred on Stratfield Saye.5 Although he was virtually ignored by the government, apart from in 1389 when he was made sheriff of Hampshire, Dabrichecourt did, nevertheless, retain connexions of importance. In the summer of 1380 he had served in the retinue of William, Lord Latimer, who accompanied Thomas of Woodstock on his expedition to Brittany; and in August 1384 he had acted as mainpernor for Thomas Holand, earl of Kent, the King’s half-brother, when he purchased from the Crown the marriage of the earl of March’s heir. Finally, and most important, on 31 Aug. 1391 he was retained for life by John of Gaunt, receiving from him a fee of £20 a year (which made up for the loss of his crown annuity). This last connexion possibly had its origins many years before, when Dabrichecourt had been custodian of Gaunt’s opponent in the Good Parliament, Sir Peter de la Mare, or when he had served under the duke’s supporter, Lord Latimer, but undoubtedly it owed much more to the influence of his brother, Sir John, long a prominent member of Lancaster’s entourage. In accordance with the terms of his indenture, Sir Nicholas served on campaign in Aquitaine with John of Gaunt in 1395. Here is a possible factor in Dabrichecourt’s one and only election to Parliament in 1399, a Parliament which endorsed the deposition of Richard II, who had shown him no favour, and acclaimed the accession of Henry of Bolingbroke, the son of his benefactor of more recent times. Henry IV confirmed Sir Nicholas’s annuity, charged on the Lancastrian estates, on 18 Nov., the day before the Commons were dismissed.6
Dabrichecourt died six months later, on 20 May 1400. His heir was his eldest son, (Sir) John Dabrichecourt. His other children were to receive handsome bequests from their uncle, the elder Sir John, when he made his will in 1415.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Top. et. Gen. ed. Nichols, i. 197, 200-3.
- 2. CPR, 1361-4, p. 412; 1367-70, p. 387; 1374-7, p. 389; CCR, 1374-7, p. 409; E101/396/2 f. 56, 397/5 f. 43, 398/9 f. 31.
- 3. E403/446 m. 32, 449 m. 14, 451 m. 5, 454 m. 20, 459 mm. 2, 30, 460 m. 2, 461 mm. 1, 24; E364/6 m. F, 8 m. Ad; E101/674/3; CPR, 1370-4, p. 331; 1374-7, pp. 96, 99, 200, 202, 349; CCR, 1374-7, p. 397; CFR, viii. 213.
- 4. CPR, 1377-81, pp. 34, 305; CFR, ix. 95; CIMisc. iv. 78; C260/194/4.
- 5. CPR, 1367-70, p. 7; VCH Hants, iv. 58; Reg. Wykeham (Hants Rec. Soc. 1896-9), i. 29.
- 6. CPR, 1381-5, p. 452; CCR, 1381-5, p. 572; C76/64 m. 4; DL 42/15 f. 16; C61/104 m. 9.
- 7. C137/47/16; Top. et. Gen. i. 197; Reg. Chichele, ii. 51-54, 108-10, 113-14.