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LOPHAM, Thomas (d.1416), of Little Carlton, Cambs.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of John Lopham (d.1396) of Little Carlton ?by his w. Margaret. s.p.
Commr. of inquiry, Cambs. Feb. 1408, July 1413 (repairs to the great bridge at Cambridge).
Chief steward, estates of Anne, countess of Stafford, and her husband Sir William Bourgchier* by Mich. 1408-aft. Mich. 1409.1
J.p. Cambridge 25 Apr. 1415-d.
Steward, Cambridge univ. bef. d.2
Thomas Lopham’s father, John, was the royal serjeant-at-arms who in 1385 had been granted, at the request of the King’s uncle Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, a daily wage of 1s. payable at the Exchequer. His mother was perhaps John’s first wife, Margaret, who held property at Weston Colville and Ickleton in Cambridgeshire. Under the terms of his father’s will, made in July 1396, he received property at Little Carlton, which included a moated manor-house, and John, who asked to be buried in the church of St. Andrew Undershaft in London, also left him a robe trimmed with silver thread. Thomas and his stepmother, Isabel, were to act as executors. The premises at Little Carlton were estimated to be worth £10 a year when assessed for the purposes of taxation in 1412. By then Thomas also held property as a tenant of the duchy of Lancaster at Raunds in Northamptonshire, for which he had done homage a year or so earlier, and this was said to provide him with ten marks annually.3
Lopham’s career as a lawyer had begun by October 1397 when he guaranteed, under a penalty of £500, that William Clipston and his fellows would appear before the King’s Council to prosecute their bills against Sir Robert Denny*. Subsequently, he made further appearances in Chancery in connexion with other litigation originating in Cambridgeshire. In February 1400 he twice acted as a mainpernor at the Exchequer, first doing so for an Essex man who obtained custody of certain properties in London and Middlesex lately belonging to William Tamworth*, and then on behalf of the prominent royal retainer, Sir Thomas Erpingham, when he was granted the keeping of Framlingham castle and other Mowbray estates. This connexion with Erpingham had no noticeable effect on Lopham’s career, and five years elapsed before he himself benefited from royal patronage, which took the form of an Exchequer lease of the alien priory of Linton (Cambridgeshire). By 1408 Lopham had formed an association with William Allington*, then treasurer of Ireland: in February that year they received from William Clipston’s widow bonds in £200, probably in connexion with her suit against Denny’s son for the murder of her husband; and when, three months later, Allington was preparing to sail to Ireland with Thomas of Lancaster, Henry IV’s second son, he named Lopham among the attorneys who were to look after his affairs at home during his absence. It seems likely that by then Lopham had already entered the service of the ‘King’s knight’, Sir William Bourgchier, for by Michaelmas following he was holding office as chief steward of the widespread estates which Bourgchier had acquired through his marriage to the King’s cousin, Anne, countess of Stafford; indeed, the possibility should not be ruled out that his father’s links with Thomas of Woodstock had led, however indirectly, to his own employment by the duke’s daughter. In May 1409 he stood surety at the Exchequer when Sir William obtained the farm of the alien priory of Panfield, Essex, and its cell at Well Hall, Norfolk, and for a short time in the following year he himself shared the grant with Bourgchier, the countess, and other of their retainers. In January 1410 he was made a trustee of the manors which Sir William had inherited in Essex and Suffolk, he and his fellows being required to effect an entail on Bourgchier’s issue by Countess Anne. It was while Lopham’s only known Parliament was in session, in December 1414, that a royal licence was granted for the countess and her husband to enfeoff him as one of a distinguished group headed by her kinsmen, Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, and Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, of the lordship of Oakham in Rutland, with a view to its conveyance to Edward, duke of York.4
As well as occasionally serving on royal commissions in Cambridge, Lopham was sometimes also engaged on other business for the Crown. Thus, for instance, in February 1410 he and Nicholas Morys* had been given ten marks each to cover their expenses in dealing with certain matters in Cambridgeshire which had proved profitable to the King. He also became increasingly in demand as a feoffee-to-uses, among those for whom he acted between 1411 and his death being the royal esquires, Helming Leget* and James Hoget, and their wives (the coheirs of the Mandeville estates in Essex), Sir Richard Waldegrave* (the former Speaker), William Cressener, esquire (who later married one of the many daughters of the earl of Westmorland), John, son of Sir John Curson* of Norfolk, and the widow of Sir Andrew Cavendish†.5
Lopham was clearly marked out for promotion in his chosen profession: he must have become an apprentice-at-law well before his election to Parliament, and in July 1415 he was ordered, under penalty of £1,000, to be ready in the following Michaelmas term to assume the estate and degree of a serjeant. He had probably already been appointed by Cambridge university to act as its steward. But this promising career ended abruptly just a few months later, for Lopham died within six days of making his will on 5 Feb. 1416. In this brief and hastily conceived document, he directed that he should be buried in the graveyard of the nearest parish church, and he left 6s.8d. to a chaplain in St. Helen’s Bishopsgate, London, and robes to his clerk, his bailiff and two of his servants. His executors were instructed to spend the residue of his estate in ways pleasing to God and for the welfare of his soul.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
It is quite possible that he was related to Master Denis Lopham (d.1414), a distinguished canonist and civil lawyer who was employed by Richard II on several diplomatic missions, and was among those appointed on 30 Sept. 1399, in the great assembly of estates, to receive Richard’s abdication. A wealthy citizen of London, able to leave a number of properties to his young son, Thomas, Master Denis also had interests in Cambs. acquired through his 2nd wife, Alice: RP, iii. 416; Guildhall Lib. London, 9171/2, ff. 277-8, 290; CFR, xiii. 222.
- 1. Staffs. RO, D641/1/2/9.
- 2. J.H. Cooper, Annals Cambridge, i. 161, where Lopham’s stewardship is erroneously dated c.1418.
- 3. CPR, 1381-5, p. 551; VCH Cambs. vi. 150; Ely Diocesan Remembrancer, 1895, p. 19; CP25(1)29/85/106, 86/13; Guildhall Lib. 9171/1, f. 371; Feudal Aids, vi. 407, 497; DL4216 (pt. 2), f. 22d.
- 4. CCR, 1396-9, pp. 223, 234; 1405-9, p. 363; CFR, xii. 47, 54, 303; xiii. 148, 177; CPR, 1405-8, p. 433; 1408-13, p. 158; 1413-16, p. 270; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 255.
- 5. E404/25/197; CCR, 1409-13, p. 215; 1413-19, p. 276; 1419-22, pp. 120-3, 193; 1454-61, p. 10; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 265.
- 6. CCR, 1413-19, p. 216; PCC 31 Marche.