HASILDEN, Thomas I (c.1322-c.1387), of Wakefield, Yorks. and Steeple Morden and Guilden Morden, Cambs.
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Family and Education
b.c.1322, ?s. of Christopher Hasilden.1 m. (1) 2s. Richard* and Thomas II*; (2) Joan (d. bef. 1433), da. of Sir John Burgh (1328-93) of Burrough Green, Cambs. and Swinton, Yorks. by his 2nd w. Katherine, da. of Sir John Dengaine† of Teversham, Cambs.; half-sis. and coh. of Thomas Burgh (d.1411).
Bailiff, free court of Wakefield 1365-c.1378.2
Commr. of sewers, south bank of river Aire, Yorks. May 1366; arrest Jan. 1369; inquiry, E. Riding Nov. 1372 (treason), Beds., Cambs., Norf., Northants., Yorks., Suss. Apr. 1380 (wastes on Mowbray estates); array, Cambs. Apr., July 1377, Mar. 1380, Apr. 1385; oyer and terminer, Yorks. Feb. 1379; to put down unlawful assemblies, Cambs. Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382.
Receiver of the estates of Edmund of Langley, earl of Cambridge, Yorks. 1 Sept. 1368-?
Controller of the household of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, by 8 Jan. 1369-aft. June 1383; his attorney-general c.1382-6.3
The duke of Lancaster’s steward of Babraham, Cambs. by Apr. 1372, of Bassingbourn by June 1372, of the fens, Lincs. by Apr. 1383.4
Constable of Liverpool castle 8 Apr.-10 Dec. 1374.5
J.p. Cambs. 20 Oct. 1376-c.1385.
Tax collector, Cambs. Dec. 1384.
Hasilden is first recorded in 1354 when, as ‘of the diocese of Yorkshire’, he obtained a papal indult to choose his own confessor. He came from Wakefield where ten years later he was holding a life tenancy of a tenement, garden and croft in the Northgate; and he subsequently acquired land outside the town at Sandal and Crigglestone.6Hasilden made as his particular sphere of expertise the administration of large estates and noble households, receiving his earliest training in the service of Henry of Grosmont, duke of Lancaster, who rewarded him with grants for life of the bailiwick and lordship of Snaith (a sizeable estate including a windmill, a fishery and the ferry over the Aire), in return for an annual farm of £15. By June 1360 he could be said to have done the duke ‘long service’. After Duke Henry’s death he was retained by his son-in-law, John of Gaunt, from whom he received in November 1367 a life annuity of £10 charged on the honour of Pontefract—an amount which was doubled in January 1369 to encompass his fee as controller of the ducal household. Hasilden was to occupy the post of controller for at least 14 years, and perhaps even until his death.7 Somehow, he contrived to combine his duties as a Lancastrian official with employment as receiver of the Yorkshire estates (including his home town of Wakefield) which belonged to Gaunt’s brother, Edmund of Langley, earl of Cambridge, who granted him as well as an annual fee of £10, livery and a liberal allowance of hay, fuel and litter for himself, his men and their horses, and a handsome commission of £1 for every £100 he brought or sent to the earl in London, this sum being ostensibly to cover his costs and expenses. In 1369 these estates came, for a while, into Edward III’s possession pending his son’s payment of a debt of 2,000 marks, yet Hasilden’s position remained largely unaffected, for he shared with another man official custody of the property. In 1376 Earl Edmund made him a gift for life of certain meadowland on the outskirts of Wakefield, on the banks of the river Calder.8
Yet it was not in his native Yorkshire that Hasilden chose to invest heavily in land. Since 1369 he had been building up interests in property in Cambridgeshire, concentrating on the villages of Steeple Morden and Guilden Morden, where from 1375 he was enabled by episcopal licence to have his own private chapels, and where from May 1377 he and his heirs were entitled by royal charter to rights of free warren on their demesne lands. Over the years he acquired three manors (‘Foxleys’, ‘Pichards’ and ‘Bondesbury’) in Guilden Morden, while his widow and sons were to consolidate the family holdings there with the purchase of a fourth. Before 1386 he bought the manor of Huntingfield in Litlington, having five years earlier also purchased Goldington Bury in Bedfordshire.9
The duke of Lancaster encouraged Hasilden’s acceptance into the community of Cambridgeshire by appointing him steward of his estates at Babraham and Bassingbourn, and by making him (in 1372) a trustee of those at Soham. At some stage in the previous winter Hasilden had sailed out to Bordeaux with a small troop of five archers to join the duke and his household, returning in his train in the spring. In August Lancaster, at his request, transferred his life annuities of £20 from Pontefract to Snaith, no doubt to facilitate collection. Hasilden evidently took part in his lord’s gruelling march across France from Calais to Bordeaux in 1373, and in the following spring he was among those of the ducal entourage to whom Pope Gregory XI sent letters exhorting them to use their influence in persuading Lancaster to make peace with his French adversary, Louis, duke of Anjou. On their return to England, John of Gaunt made Hasilden constable of Liverpool castle for life, as reward for good service as controller of his household, although in the event he was to relinquish the constableship after no more than a few months. That Lancaster had complete trust in him is clear from his inclusion, in the will the duke made in July 1378, as one of the executors charged with the task of administering all the duchy estates for one year after his death, and using the profits to fulfil the testamentary provisions.10
There can be little doubt that it was Hasilden’s position as a favoured retainer of the unpopular John of Gaunt which made his possessions a particular target for the rebels of 1381. The Cambridgeshire rioters appear to have entertained a bitter hatred against him, and as many as three separate groups—that of some 160 men from Cambridge and the gangs led by John Hanchach of Shudy Camps and Geoffrey Cobbe—joined forces on 15 June to attack his property at Steeple Morden and Guilden Morden. His manor-houses were destroyed, all his moveable goods were seized and sold, and Hasilden, reckoning the damage done at £1,000, claimed to be utterly ruined. He himself may well have been in the north of England at the time of the attack, for on the 29th the duke of Lancaster ordered him to bring 80 armed men to Berwick-upon-Tweed to help escort him to Knaresborough in a fortnight’s time. Meanwhile, he had obtained a royal licence to recover his stolen goods ‘howsoever he pleased’, and a few days later a special commission was set up for the arrest of those insurgents who had damaged his property. Clearly, at this dangerous time, John of Gaunt relied heavily on Hasilden, to whom he now referred as his ‘bachelor’, and on at least one occasion the controller had to venture to London to obtain loans for his master.11
Hasilden remained in Lancaster’s service for the rest of his days, receiving from him such perquisites as the stewardship of the fens in Lincolnshire and a five-year lease on the fenlands of Bolingbroke. By the time of his first election to Parliament in November 1384 he was a member of the duke’s council. But Hasilden was growing old: in February following, he was discharged from the task of collecting subsidies in Cambridgeshire, to which he had been appointed when the Commons dispersed, his release being on the ground that ‘he is too infirm to travail in such collection without bodily peril’. Even so, he was able to travel to Plymouth in June 1386 to assist in the embarkation of John of Gaunt’s army, bound for Castile, and it was there that he gave evidence on behalf of Richard, Lord Scrope, in his celebrated dispute with Sir Robert Grosvenor over their respective claims to bear identical heraldic arms. Hasilden then gave his age as 66. That autumn he was returned to Parliament again, and may well have been regarded as a representative of Lancaster’s interests during his absence overseas. Certainly, he was actively engaged on the business of the duke’s council in July 1387, when he is last recorded.12
Hasilden’s widow, Joan, presented one of his feoffees (a chaplain from Yorkshire) to the rectory of Abington Pigotts near Morden in 1392. She, who in due course inherited property in Yorkshire at Cawthorne, Heaton and Mirfield, which had once belonged to