FOLJAMBE, Thomas (d.1433), of Walton and Brimington, Derbys.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
2nd s. of Sir Godfrey Foljambe† (d.1376) of Darley, baron of the Exchequer and chief steward of the duchy of Lancaster, by his 2nd w. Avena (d.1382), da. and h. of Sir Thomas Ireland of Hartshorne. m. by 1388, Margaret (c.1362-1431), da. of Sir John Lowdham (d.1387) of Lowdham, Notts. by Isabel, da. and h. of Sir Robert Breton of Walton and Brimington, sis. and coh. of Sir John Lowdham (c.1357-1390), at least 2s. 1da.1
J.p. Derbys. 14 Apr. 1386-Dec. 1387, 10 Nov. 1389-99, 13 Feb. 1407-July 1423.
Commr. of inquiry, Derbys., Notts. May 1390 (lands of John, earl of Pembroke), Notts. Aug. 1390 (lands of Ralph, Lord Basset of Drayton), Derbys., Staffs. May 1399 (illicit use of hunting dogs), Derbys. June 1400 (petition from Joan, dowager countess of Kent, for the manor of Chesterfield), Mar. 1406 (desertions to the rebel army in Wales), Oct. 1408 (disorder at Chesterfield); to make arrests, Derbys., Notts. Feb. 1394, Jan. 1408, Derbys. Feb. 1416; enforce the Statute of Weirs June 1398; of oyer and terminer Mar. 1401 (poaching at Sir Walter Blount’s*. fishery at Willington), July 1401 (murder at Whitewells); array Apr. 1418, Mar. 1419; to raise a royal loan Nov. 1419.
Steward of the duchy of Lancaster lordship of the High Peak, Derbys. by 1392-5 Mar. 1399; surveyor of the forest of the Peak, 1396-7; constable of Castle Donington, Leics. for the duchy by 1400-8 Sept. 1403.2
Collector of an aid on the marriage of Princess Blanche, Derbys. Dec. 1401, of a royal loan Jan. 1420.
Alderman of the guild of St. Mary, Chesterfield by 1416.3
The Foljambes claimed their descent from a follower of William the Conqueror, and had owned land at Tideswell in Derbyshire from the 11th century onwards. The family could boast a long tradition of service in local government, and many of its members were returned to Parliament. Although he was a younger son, and thus heir only to his mother’s manor of Darley, Sir Godfrey Foljambe achieved considerable eminence as a baron of the Exchequer and senior official of the duchy of Lancaster. His post as chief steward of the duchy made him one of the most powerful figures in Derbyshire, and assured even his younger children of a prominent place in the community. His eldest son, Godfrey, predeceased him by one year in 1375, leaving a boy of eight to inherit, and as a result Thomas, the subject of this biography, became acting head of the family. His position was further strengthened when his nephew died in 1392 without heirs male; and although his female relatives all made good marriages (to such influential retainers of the house of Lancaster as Sir Robert Plumpton*, Sir Thomas Rempston I* and the son and heir of Nicholas Montgomery II*), he continued to be the senior representative of his line. The bulk of the Foljambe estates were, of course, assigned to his brother’s surviving issue, but he was none the less possessed of a modest inheritance. In March 1360, when he was still a child, his father had secured his title to land in the Derbyshire village of Pitsley, and to this was subsequently added a mill at Edensor.4
For at least two years after his father’s death, Foljambe was so busy executing his will and administering his estates that he evidently had little time for anything else. His legal training eminently qualified him for this task, however, and he was soon able to build up a flourishing practice. In 1379 he acted as a feoffee of land in Derby; and one year later Sir Nicholas Montgomery I* (whose grandson later married his niece) chose him to supervise his affairs in England while he was overseas. He again performed this service for Montgomery in 1386, having meanwhile named the knight as one of his bailsmen when he stood accused by the abbot of Dale of a variety of crimes ranging from trespass to attempted murder. Two of his other mainpernors belonged to the Tuchet family, with whom he maintained friendly relations throughout his life. Indeed, in 1392, John Tuchet (the future Lord Audley) retained him formally at a fee of four marks with a ‘suitable robe’ every year. In the face of such powerful opposition, it is hardly surprising that the abbot failed to substantiate his charges. Far from incurring any opprobrium for his unruly conduct, Foljambe was actually appointed to the county bench, albeit at first for a comparatively short period.5 Foljambe’s marriage, to Margaret, the elder daughter of Sir John Lowdham, took place in about 1388, and initially made little difference to his status as a landowner, bringing him rents worth £12 p.a. in Riby, Lincolnshire, but nothing in the way of property. The death of her childless brother, Sir John, two years later, marked a turning point in their fortunes, however, as the Lowdham estates were then partitioned between Margaret and her sister as the next heirs. The Foljambes were allocated land in the Derbyshire villages of Walton, Brimington, Whittington, Chesterfield, Brampton and Holme, as well as part of the manors of Lowdham and Bilsthorpe in Nottinghamshire and of Winkerton, Martin and Riby in Lincolnshire. We do not know how much Margaret’s inheritance was worth, but by 1412 Foljambe’s income from land in Derbyshire alone was assessed at £20 p.a. It is interesting to note, moreover, that his first return to Parliament followed almost immediately after Sir John Lowdham’s death and the division of his property. William Adderley, his fellow shire knight on this occasion, may well have been his brother-in-law or other fairly close kinsman, although he had already represented Derbyshire three times before.6
Between 1388 and 1391 Foljambe was involved as a trustee in a collusive suit and various other transactions arising from the partition of the Sulney estates between Sir Thomas Stafford* and Sir Nicholas Longford, the husbands of the two coheiresses. He was also a party, with Sir Nicholas Stafford*, to the endowment of a chantry at Tideswell where prayers were to be said for various members of the royal family as well as the founders themselves; and in 1392 he joined with his friends the Tuchets in making a grant in mortmain of land in Derby to a local nunnery. A lawsuit for the recovery of £20 owed to him by a chaplain named Hugh Aleyn also preoccupied him during the early 1390s, although the defendant persistently refused to appear in court and was eventually pardoned his sentence of outlawry.7
It was at about this time that Foljambe followed his father’s example by entering the service of Richard II’s uncle, John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, as steward of the High Peak. His appointment to this important office, as well as his own wealth and position in Derbyshire society, ought to have stood him in good stead when his wife’s title to the manor of Walton was challenged by Thomas Beckering, but he encountered unforeseen difficulties, largely because his adversary enlisted the support of the former condottiere, Sir Nicholas Clifton. The dispute may have already begun by February 1391, the date of a recognizance in £120 made by Clifton to Foljambe, Thomas Tuchet and the latter’s kinsman, Sir John Dabrichecourt*, although it was not until the following year that violence broke out. Shortly before August 1392 Clifton arrived at Walton with a force of 200 men, evicted Foljambe, and then returned to share out the spoils. Naturally enough, Foljambe turned to his own patron, the duke; and in February 1393 he and Sir Nicholas were bound over to keep the peace. Sureties of £500 were advanced on his behalf by John Tuchet and Sir Thomas Rempston I, while Clifton was required to pledge twice that sum as an earnest of his future good behaviour. As a prominent retainer of the Holand family (he was steward of the Derbyshire estates of Thomas Holand, earl of Kent, Richard II’s half-brother), upon whom the King looked with increasing favour, Clifton could, however, afford to ignore Gaunt’s displeasure. He continued to harass Foljambe, and when, in June 1393, he was indicted before the King’s bench at Derby, he used his royal connexion to secure an acquittal. Indeed, in 1396 he was formally retained by King Richard and made constable of Bolsover (just six miles from Walton), thus obtaining what was, in effect, official sanction for his misdeeds. Although Foljambe prudently sued out a royal pardon in the spring of 1398, he still continued to feel the full force of Richard II’s partisan conduct, not least because, as the pardon makes plain, he had previously given some support to the Lords Appellant during their attack upon the court party a decade before. In early March 1399, just a month after Gaunt’s death and the confiscation of the duchy of Lancaster by the Crown, he was deprived of the stewardship of the High Peak, and a few weeks later orders went out for his immediate arrest and detention, along with that of John Calell, who had also been involved in the feud with Clifton. He cannot have remained in prison for very long, because when Gaunt’s son, Henry of Bolingbroke, landed at Ravenspur in July to reclaim his inheritance Foljambe was, not surprisingly, there to welcome him with his own retinue of armed men. Once Bolingbroke had mounted the throne, an allowance of £30 was made to him for his expenses in providing a bodyguard then and at the Parliament held later at Westminster.8 His services were, in addition, rewarded with the constableship of Castle Donnington, although he did not keep it for long.
One of Foljambe’s many influential kinsmen was the Lancastrian retainer, Sir Walter Blount, for whom he acted as an attorney and counsellor. It was thus that he became embroiled in a dispute with Sir Alfred Lathebury, who claimed that he had maliciously procured his indictment on a false charge of poaching on Sir Walter’s land. Foljambe had indeed served on the commission of oyer and terminer which investigated the affair in 1401, and may have been rather less than impartial, although he strenuously denied any attempts at conspiracy. He and Blount had previously been active in founding a chantry for the souls of Sir Godfrey Foljambe and his wife; and Sir Walter’s choice naturally fell upon him when he came to appoint his executors. The task of recovering debts worth over £43 due to the deceased occupied Foljambe until at least 1411, again with remarkably little success. The early years of the 15th century were thus marked by an incessant round of litigation on his part, for besides suing various local men for trespass, and trying to recover £4 from a Grimsby merchant, he was himself arraigned on an assize of novel disseisin at Derby by Sir William Dethick*, and accused of abducting one of his tenants with the intent of forcing him into a prearranged marriage.9 Foljambe’s position as one of the leading landowners in Chesterfield led to his involvement in several property transactions in the town, and no doubt secured his election as alderman of the influential guild of St. Mary there. He was, moreover, generally in great demand as a trustee and witness to conveyances throughout this period; and he attested the indentures of return for Derbyshire to the Parliaments of 1413 (May), 1414 (Apr), 1414 (Nov.), 1419 and 1421 (Dec.), being joined on most of these occasions by his elder son, Thomas.10
Foljambe effectively retired from public life in about 1421, at which date he exchanged some of his estates near Bakewell with a local landowner. He was then suing a Newark mercer for debt, but this seems to have been his last appearance in the courts and he spent the rest of his life out of the public eye. He died on 7 Jan. 1433, some two years after his wife, Margaret; and her estates then passed to their son, Thomas. The latter married the daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Ashton and died in 1452, having earned a good deal of local notoriety because of his violent feud with Sir Henry Pierrepont*.11
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. C139/63/17; CIPM, xiv. no. 254; xvi. nos. 597, 1017; CFR, x. 355; xvi. 150-1; J. Foster, Yorks. Peds. i. (sub Foljambe); J.C. Cox, Notes on Churches Derbys. ii. 15-17; S.M. Wright, Derbys. Gentry (Derbys. Rec. Soc. viii), 214; R. Thoroton, Notts. ed. Throsby, ii. 253-4; Feudal Hist. Derbys. ed. Yeatman, ii (4), 328; Coll. Top. et Gen. i. 345-6 (where this MP has been confused with his son, Thomas, from 1433 onwards).
- 2. Somerville, Duchy, i. 382, 573; Coll. Top. et Gen. i. 334.
- 3. Coll. Top. et Gen. i. 345.
- 4. Somerville, 366, 373, 375, 377, 381, 523 (Somerville mistakenly states that Sir Godfrey’s widow married Sir Thomas Rempston I: in fact it was his widowed daughter-in-law); CIPM, xiv. no. 254; Foster, loc. cit. and sub Plumpton; Feudal Hist. Derbys. vi (10), 256; Derbys. Chs. ed. Jeayes, nos. 1860-1.
- 5. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiv. 228, 244; CCR, 1377-81, p. 205; 1381-5, p. 112; CPR, 1381-5, p. 82; Derbys. Chs. nos. 986, 2667.
- 6. Foster, loc. cit.; C139/63/17; CIPM, xvi. nos. 597, 1017; CFR, x. 355; xi. 50; xvi. 150-1, 342-4; CCR, 1429-35, p. 207; Cox, i. 39, 140; Feudal Aids, i. 276, 281-2, 292; vi. 413; Derbys. Chs. no. 505; Coll. Top. et Gen. i. 343.
- 7. C143/422/14; CP25(1)39/40/40; JUST 1/1501, rot. 76, 79; Cox, i. 283; Derbys. Chs. nos. 1867, 2357; CCR, 1389-92, pp. 342-3; CFR, 1391-6, pp. 136-7, 399.
- 8. C67/31 m. 12; DL42/15, f. 70v; DL29/11988; CCR, 1389-92, p. 320; 1392-6, pp. 109-11; 1396-9, p. 450; S.K. Walker, ‘John of Gaunt and his retainers, 1361-99’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1986), 246-8.
- 9. JUST 1/1514, rot. 69; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 463; 1408-13, pp. 9, 326; A. Croke, Fam. Croke, ii. 797; Derbys. Chs. no. 448; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xv. 109; xvi. 50; Feudal Hist. Derbys. vi (10), 256; Sel. Cases King’s Bench (Selden Soc. lxxxii), vii. 190-1.
- 10. C219/11/2, 3, 5, 12/3, 6; CP25(1)186/38/7; Derbys. Chs. nos. 814, 823, 1231, 2084, 2513; Belvoir Castle deeds 1039, 1379, 6153; Feudal Hist. Derbys. ii (4), 328; vi (10), 257; Coll. Top. et Gen. i. 345; Hist. Chesterfield ed. Riden and Blair, v. 113, 165; CAD, vi. C4773.
- 11. C139/63/17; Feudal Hist. Derbys. ii (4), 328; vi (10), 257-8; Belvoir Castle deed 1564; CPR, 1416-22, p. 359; Mon. Brasses, ed. Mill Stephenson, 81.