KEMPSTON, Thomas I (d.1457/8), of Bedford.
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Family and Education
Under sheriff, Beds. May 1421.2
Mayor, Bedford 1426-8, 1440, 1446-50.3
With 11 returns—six of them to successive Parliaments (1429-37)—spread over a period of 29 years, Kempston’s parliamentary career was far longer than that of any other representative for Bedford during the Middle Ages. Yet he held a government appointment only once, as under sheriff of Bedfordshire, and it was in this capacity that he sent the return for the county election in May 1421 to the clerk of the Parliaments. Kempston was one of the spokesmen sent to Westminster in February 1425 by the burgesses of Bedford during their dispute with the rest of the community over liability for the payment of MPs’ expenses. A few months later, while sitting in the Commons for the third time, he offered sureties of £10 for the appearance of Thomas Peck before the court of Chancery. During his second mayoralty (1427-8), he played a prominent part in the feud between Hugh Hasilden* of Goldington, Bedfordshire, and the borough authorities, which eventually came to the notice of the royal council. Unfortunately for Kempston, Hasilden and his influential friend, John Enderby*, who had also been involved in the affray, had the support of both the duke of Norfolk and the earl of Huntingdon; and were thus emboldened to bring an action against him in the court of King’s bench. Their allegation that he had maliciously ‘raised the town’ against Hasilden was, indeed, examined at the Bedfordshire sessions, although the jury prudently did not pronounce a verdict.4
Kempston was already a wealthy man, and seems to have been growing even more prosperous at this time: in 1429, for example, he purchased two messuages in Bedford, where he owned other plots of land. Although he is not known actively to have sided with John, Lord Fanhope, in his celebrated struggle with Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, for local hegemony until January 1439 (when he took part in the notorious riots at the Bedford sessions house), Kempston may well have donned Fanhope’s livery before this date. His appearance along with his erstwhile enemy, John Enderby, a Grey of Ruthin supporter, among the feoffees of Thomas Rufford in July 1433 suggests that he was not yet one of