HELDE, Thomas atte, of Bletchingley, Surr.
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Family and Education
Helde was probably the son of Henry atte Helde†, a local farmer who was MP for Bletchingley in 1350, 1360 and 1368. Whatever his ancestry, he seems to have been one of the most substantial and, indeed, one of the most notorious burgesses to represent the borough during our period. In November 1378, described as ‘of Bletchingley’, he was accused of breaking into the archbishop of Canterbury’s park at Burstowe, Surrey, and stealing deer. Many years later, in 1404, he faced more serious charges of attempted assault on members of the bishop of Lincoln’s household, and on this occasion his mainpernors were called upon to offer heavy sureties of 500 marks in Chancery.1 Helde rented at least one tenement in the borough of Bletchingley from the earls of Stafford, and over the years he acquired a considerable amount of arable and pasture land in the surrounding countryside. In 1397, he and his son, Walter, bought property in the manor of Bletchingley from the Bagot family, and are also known to have occupied a number of more scattered holdings. Thomas was one of the jurors at the inquisition post mortem held at Bletchingley in February 1399 on the estates of William, 4th earl of Stafford.2