GASCOIGNE, Sir William (d.1422), of Gawthorpe, Yorks.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Sir William Gascoigne (d. 6 Dec. 1419), c.j.KB, of Gawthorpe by his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Alexander Mowbray of Stokton-on-the-Moor. m. by c.1405, Joan, da. of Sir Henry Wyman, 2s. inc. William†, 3da. Kntd. by Oct. 1419.1
Steward, constable and master forester of Knaresborough in the duchy of Lancaster, Yorks. 17 Feb. 1422-d.2
William Gascoigne was born into a family noted for its attachment to the house of Lancaster. His father and namesake, one of the leading lawyers of the early 15th century, had served Henry of Bolingbroke as an attorney and trustee, so when his patron became King of England, in 1399, rapid promotion was assured. From 1400 until Henry’s death, 13 years later, Gascoigne held office as c.j.KB, the premier judge of the realm; and although the accession of Henry V brought his career to an end, he enjoyed a peaceful retirement, living in some state on his manor of Gawthorpe. The judge’s brother, Richard (d.1423), had also sat on Bolingbroke’s council; and he, too, received his due reward, becoming chief steward of the north parts of the duchy of Lancaster. The subject of this biography is first mentioned in 1417, when he obtained from his neighbour, Sir Richard Redmayne*, a grant of half the manor of Kelfield, which belonged to Redmayne’s wife, Elizabeth, a sister and coheir of William, 2nd Lord Aldeburgh. Relations between the Gascoignes and the Redmaynes remained cordial, and were later strengthened by the marriage of Sir Richard’s grandson to one of William Gascoigne’s daughters, who may actually have been betrothed at this time. Significantly enough, her sister, Anne, became the wife of William Ryther, the grandson of Lord Aldeburgh’s other sister, thus consolidating the connexion even further. Meanwhile, in keeping with family tradition, William gave his loyal support to Henry V, whom he accompanied to Normandy in, or shortly after, the summer of 1417, receiving a knighthood for his services in the field. By October 1419 he had taken at least one prisoner, an Italian fighting on the side of the French; and he was still abroad two months later when his father drew up his will. Such was Justice Gascoigne’s wealth that he was able to make generous provision not only for his wife (who received 500 marks cash and a large quantity of plate), but also for his three grand daughters, each of whom was promised £100. To their father, Sir William, went all the valuable livestock and agricultural equipment on the manor of Gawthorpe, as well as a large quantity of family plate, including two solid gold cups. He was also named first among the judge’s three executors, although since he may not have returned home until some time after the will was proved, on 23 Dec. 1419, most of the administration was probably undertaken by his uncle, Nicholas Gascoigne. His stepmother, Joan (who outlived him by several years), was assigned the manor of Wheldale, with its extensive appurtenances in the West Riding as her dower, but this still left him with an impressive and rich patrimony, which he entered at once. As well as the above-mentioned property at Gawthorpe, he took possession of the five other Yorkshire manors of Thorp Arch, Shipley, Cottingley, Burghwallis and Burton Leonard, as well as land in Narburn and houses in the city of York.3
Not surprisingly, in view of his wealth and the local influence enjoyed by his family, Sir William was returned by the electors of Yorkshire to the first Parliament of 1421. The session, which was attended by Henry V, began on 2 May and proved of short duration. While in London Sir William seized the opportunity to sue out a fine in the court of common pleas confirming him and his uncles in an estate near Leeds. The prospect of another expedition to France made him anxious to organize his affairs carefully. At the very end of May he drew up a brief will, naming his wife, Joan, and his two principal feoffees as executors. Since his elder son, William, was still a minor, his overriding concern was to place his estates in trust so that the Crown could not gain control of the property if he died during the campaign. Over the next three months his Yorkshire manors were settled as a jointure upon his wife; and some arrangement was evidently made for the support of their younger children until they came of age. Royal letters of protection were issued to Sir William at the beginning of June, and he probably crossed to Calais with the English army a few days later. It seems likely that he fell outside the walls of Meaux, for his death, on 28 Mar. 1422, occurred while the town was under siege.4