HOLT, William II (d.1435/6), of Aston by Birmingham, Warws.
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Family and Education
Dep. sheriff, Worcs. (by appointment of Richard, earl of Warwick) 2 Nov. 1422-9 Nov. 1423.
After the death of Holt’s father, his mother ‘for greater security’ placed their manor of Aston in the hands of trustees, who included the overlord John, duke of Lancaster, and her own kinsman Sir William Bagot. Initially this proved to be a prudent move, for Bagot’s influence in Warwickshire was sure proof against the claims of Sir John Drayton* of Nuneham and allegations of maintenance made in the Parliament of 1394. William’s elder brother, John, then actually relinquished his title to the manor to Bagot (who by 1396 was calling himself ‘lord of Aston’), but in October 1399 when Bagot was in prison pending the investigation by Henry IV’s first Parliament of his activities as a councillor to Richard II, William himself was able to obtain from the new King a grant of the manor for term of his life. This was in return for some unspecified services he had performed for Henry, and indeed he was already a ‘King’s esquire’. Bagot’s imprisonment helped Holt to retain Aston, which in the year of his death was estimated to be worth £22 a year.2
Holt continued in Henry IV’s immediate employment: in September 1400 he raised a force of 120 men with whom he sailed from London to Scotland on a mission to take supplies of flour and herring to the King’s army; and when, five years later, in response to the Act of Resumption passed in 1404, Aston was seized by the local escheator, Holt had no great difficulty in securing its return to his possession. In March 1406 he took out letters of protection to accompany the King’s son Thomas of Lancaster to Ireland, but it may still have been he who later that year, having fled to the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields at Charing Cross after being outlawed, was removed from the sanctuary ‘by divers malefactors by force at night’. The affair may have had something to do with his precarious tenure of Aston; for since 1401 Sir John Drayton had intensified his claims in the lawcourts to the tenancy of the manor, and in 1405 Holt had been formally bound over before the justices of assize to keep the peace towards him. Furthermore, Bagot was also seeking to regain ownership; and in May 1407 he and Holt entered into mutual recognizances in £200 to abide by the award of Edward, duke of York, and Richard, earl of Warwick, in the matter. Bagot’s death, which occurred before a decision had been taken, finally settled the issue in Holt’s favour.3
Before the end of the reign Holt evidently came into contact with the influential Thomas Chaucer* of Ewelme, for the two men acted as co-feoffees of the manor of West Lokinge (Berkshire), but this connexion had no discernible effect on Holt’s career. He attended the Warwickshire elections to Henry V’s first Parliament and continued to be a ‘King’s esquire’, as such being retained on 24 May 1415 for service on Henry’s first campaign in France. His absence abroad had the advantage of securing a postponment of a suit brought against him in the court of common pleas by Bagot’s daughter, Isabel, and her husband Thomas Stafford*.4 By 1419 Holt had been accepted into the circle of the King’s friend, the earl of Warwick; he became a member of Warwick’s household and occasionally witnessed deeds for his councillor, John Throckmorton*. It seems likely that he spent some time in France in the earl’s company. His return to the first Parliament of 1421, which met during a brief period when Warwick was at home in England, may well have been made i