GOUSHILL, Sir Nicholas (d.1402), of Barlborough, Derbys.
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Family and Education
Commr. of inquiry, Derbys. 1396 (wastes at Bolsover castle); array Dec. 1399.
The principal estates of the Goushills were centred upon the manor of Hoveringham, which was their ancient family seat, although they had for many years occupied land in Stretton, Kynwaldmersh and Barlborough across the county border in Derbyshire as well. Sir Nicholas Goushill, our Member’s father, was a colourful character whose loyal service to Edward III in France, Scotland and Ireland stood him in good stead when charged with the many acts of criminal damage, mayhem and theft which he committed over the years.2 Sir Nicholas the younger evidently inherited the same unruly disposition, for in July 1373 the two men were together accused by William, Lord Furnival, of poaching and causing great destruction on his parks in and around Sheffield. Little else is known about him during his father’s lifetime, as he was very much overshadowed by his elder brother, Robert. In 1386, for example, the latter was involved with Sir Nicholas Goushill the elder in a murderous assault on one William Birkes, which resulted in a summons to appear before the court of Chancery. Sir Nicholas managed to obtain a royal pardon almost immediately on the ground that these and other charges were made ‘par enemyte et covyne de ses enemys’, but Robert had to wait until 1390, when Thomas Mowbray, the Earl Marshal (and later duke of Norfolk), intervened personally with the King to have him excused this and various other offences. Robert was, in fact, one of Mowbray’s most devoted supporters; and although we cannot now tell where his younger brother’s political sympathies lay, it seems likely that he too threw in his lot with the Lords Appellant of 1388. His one return to the relatively unimportant Parliament of 1393 (which met at Winchester on 20 Jan., just two days after the death of his father) may, perhaps, be seen as a reflection of his comparative lack of standing among the Derbyshire gentry, although we must remember that he was probably already in possession of the lands in Barlborough and Kynwaldmersh which constituted his share of the Goushill estates, and was thus sure of an income well in excess of £20 p.a. While serving as an MP, Sir Nicholas agreed to stand surety in Chancery for a neighbour called Robert Barle, who was bound over to keep the peace towards Thomas Foljambe* in the course of the latter’s celebrated dispute with Sir Nicholas Clifton, but he played no further part in local affairs until 1396 when he served on his first royal commission.3
For the rest of his life Sir Nicholas lived quietly on his estates, occasionally witnessing deeds (including one in 1398 for the son-in-law of his former adversary, Lord Furnival). In 1401 he joined with a group of distinguished Derbyshire landowners to become a trustee of land in and around Chesterfield, although he does not otherwise appear to have been much in demand as a feoffee. There is certainly nothing to suggest that he was himself affected by the far more dramatic vicissitudes of his brother’s career at this time, for Robert was first plunged into disgrace because of his attachment to Mowbray (who was exiled in 1398); rehabilitated as a result of the Lancastrian usurpation; and subsequently elevated in status through his marriage to Mowbray’s widow, Elizabeth, by whom he had two daughters. The latter, who were still infants, inherited his estates in 1403 after he died of wounds sustained at the battle of Shrewsbury. He had already survived Sir Nicholas, whose death occurred one year earlier on 22 July 1402. The MP was also succeeded by a mere child, and litigation began almost at once between the boy’s attorneys and those of his female cousins for the ownership of his inheritance.4