HOLT, Thomas, of Canterbury, Kent.
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Family and Education
m. bef. Jan. 1408, Joan.
Commr. of inquiry, Kent Feb. 1386 (wastes in the earl of March’s manor of Erith), Mar. 1388 (inability of Faversham to provide ships for royal service as required by its charter).
Holt was living in Canterbury by 1372, and in the course of the next 20 years he acquired a number of properties in the city, situated for the most part near Westgate. That his career as a lawyer proved financially rewarding is further suggested by his ability to purchase land in several places in east Kent, concentrated on the Isle of Thanet and in the area between Canterbury and Sandwich.1 Holt’s professional training had ended by the early 1370s, for he then began to make appearances in the court of common pleas for the purpose of registering conveyances of estates in Kent. On several occasions subsequently he acted as an attorney at the assizes held at Rochester and Canterbury, and as a surety for Kentish defendants engaged in litigation in the central courts.2 His competence as a trustee won him such clients as Henry Burton, a London citizen who in 1375 included him among those to whom he gave all his goods and corn, so that the grantees might dispose of them as their own. In 1377 Holt joined others in obtaining a royal licence to grant to the Charterhouse in London an estate near Canterbury, which they held in reversion expectant on the deaths of Sir Laurence Brenle and his wife; and in a more personal act of benefaction in 1380 he was associated with certain neighbours of his in Canterbury in securing another such licence, this time to sanction a gift of a plot of land next to the west gate of the city so the Augustinian canons of St. Gregory’s priory might have a site on which to build a new church of Holy Cross. As a feoffee he appeared in 1381-2 on behalf of Roger, de jure Lord Northwood, making arrangements for the sale of his client’s reversionary interest in certain parts of his landed inheritance; and in the same year he was also party to the settlement of an annual rent on Northwood’s daughter, Agnes, at the behest of Richard, Lord Poynings.3
It may well be that Holt’s activities as a lawyer rendered him unpopular in certain sections of the community. On 10 June I381, at the onset of the Peasants’ Revolt, insurgents from Canterbury and elsewhere, led by a certain tailor who as one of Holt’s neighbours probably bore him a personal grudge, ransacked his house at Westgate and made off with goods worth £40. Nor was this the last of his troubles, for in the following year the Crown began proceedings against him for having failed to produce in court a certain defendant for whom he had stood bail pending his appearance in a suit for trespass. In December 1386, shortly after the dissolution of the only Parliament in which he represented Canterbury, Holt appeared in Chancery as a mainpernor for James Peckham*, undertaking with others on pain of £1,000 that the former shire knight would keep the peace. In the following year Edmund Staplegate of Canterbury made Holt a custodian of all his goods and chattels. Not long afterwards Holt himself was a defendant in an assize of novel disseisin regarding the estate of the late Richard Faversham, in which his own interest was as a tenant or feoffee, but judgement was given for the plaintiffs in 1392.4
Holt is last recorded in 1408 as dealing with property in Sittingbourne, to which his wife laid claim. He died at an unknown date before 1417, for Robert Reynhull, the vicar of St. Cross, Westgate (of which Holt had been a benefactor) then bequeathed a small breviary to the priest already engaged there to pray for his soul.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. CP25(1)107/195/1927, 198/2021, 201/2093, 108/206/2212, 208/19, 109/221/334, 231/577, 233/641.
- 2. CP25(1)107/195/1944; CCR, 1377-81, p. 473; 1385-9, pp. 157, 484; JUST 1/1491 m. 1.
- 3. CCR, 1374-7, p. 269; 1377-81, p. 510; 1381-5, pp. 244-5; CPR, 1374-7, p. 434; 1377-81, p. 450.
- 4. CCR, 1381-5, pp. 241-2; 1385-9, pp. 280, 447; 1389-92, pp. 446-7, 462, 464-5; Arch. Cant. iii. 74, 86.
- 5. CP25(1)112/268/370; Reg. Chichele, ii. 119.