GOUSHILL, Nicholas (b.1394), of Barlborough, Derbys.
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Family and Education
Escheator, Notts. and Derbys. 30 Nov. 1417-4 Nov. 1418, 20 May 1422-13 Nov. 1423.
Commr. of array, Derbys. Mar. 1419.
J.p. Derbys. 8 July 1419-23.
On the death of his father, in July 1402, Nicholas Goushill was just eight years old; and before very long a number of disputes arose over the custody of his person and the ownership of his inheritance, which constituted the manor of Barlborough and land in Kynwaldmersh together worth at least £20 p.a. In August 1405 King Henry granted his wardship and marriage (then valued at 100 marks) to Sir Richard Stanhope* as compensation for certain ‘great losses’ sustained by him at the battle of Shrewsbury, but notwithstanding this award litigation continued in the court of common pleas between Sir Nicholas Longford* and Elizabeth Darcy, who both claimed Nicholas as their ward. A potentially more serious problem arose as a result of attempts by attorneys representing the boy’s two young cousins, the daughters of Robert Goushill and the former duchess of Norfolk, to gain possession of his Derbyshire estates, but the case was held over until the plaintiffs’ coming of age, and appears to have been dropped.2
Goushill achieved his own majority in about 1415, and promptly sought to revenge himself upon Sir Nicholas Longford’s mother, Margery, who had previously been involved with her son in trying to gain custody of the Goushill estates. Margery was, moreover, possessed of dower lands in Barlborough, and some local disagreement may perhaps have poisoned their relations even further. At all events, Goushill and his friend, Thomas Okeover (who later sat with him in Parliament), were accused by Margery’s second husband, Richard Clitheroe, of attempting to abduct her to Cheshire and of mobilizing a private army almost 200 strong with the intent of murdering him or driving him out of the county. The truth of these allegations cannot now be established, but they did not prevent Goushill’s appointment, in 1417, as escheator of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, nor his subsequent promotion to the bench. Meanwhile, in March 1419, he joined with his former guardian, Sir Richard Stanhope, the latter’s son and two other influential local landowners, Sir Thomas Chaworth* and Sir Ralph Shirley*, in offering bonds worth 200 marks to the widow of Sir William Thirning, although the precise nature of the transaction is not disclosed. Goushill sat only once in the House of Commons (possibly in order to help Stanhope present a petition against William, Lord Clinton), but he did attend the Derbyshire elections to the next Parliament, held in November 1422, by which date he was again serving as escheator. Little is known of his career over the next decade until, in December 1432, he and his wife, Margaret, obtained a papal indult to make use of a portable altar. Goushill was, understandably, named among the leading Derbyshire gentry who were to take the general oath of May 1434 that they would not support anyone who disturbed the peace; and two years later he was taxed on an estimated landed income of £26 p.a., which suggests that his revenues had increased somewhat since he entered his inheritance. His relations with Sir Richard Stanhope and his family remained cordial throughout this period, for the knight chose him, along with his own two younger sons, Thomas and James, to execute his will. The task of collecting debts owed to the deceased proved difficult, and as late as 1449 (13 years after Sir Richard’s death) pardons for outlawry were being issued to defaulters. Goushill himself was still alive in January 1441 when he was paid four marks for making a release of the property in Unstone, Derbyshire, which he held as a trustee, but no more is heard of him after this date.3