MAIDSTONE, Thomas (d.1415), of London and Isleworth, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

Jan. 1397

Family and Education

m. Elizabeth, at least prob. 5s.1

Offices Held

Assistant buyer for the royal household 20 Mar. 1368-Easter 1369, buyer at regular intervals from 3 July 1369-Mich. 1371, 6 Mar.- bef. 15 July 1376.

Dep. alnager, Kent 10 Nov. 1374-bef. 5 Feb. 1391.

Commr. to suppress the insurgents, Mdx. Dec. 1381; to take certain wards into the King’s hands, Kent Mar. 1389; of inquiry, Mdx., Essex Nov. 1390; array, Mdx. Nov. 1403; oyer and terminer Feb. 1405.

Tax collector, Mdx. Mar., Nov. 1404.

Biography

In March 1375 a crown servant named Thomas Maidstone was granted a corrody at St. James’s hospital, Maidstone, Kent, the master of the hospital being instructed to provide him with sustenance and admit him into the community. Such an award is unlikely to have been made to one who was still relatively young, although we cannot now establish the precise relationship between the recipient and the subject of this biography. Further confusion arises through the existence of a Thomas Eyston of Isleworth, who seems on circumstantial evidence to have been the same person as the shire knight. Not long after his death, some of Maidstone’s property in Isleworth was held by Eyston’s widow, who conveyed it to Syon abbey. Since Clement Maidstone, our Member’s son, subsequently entered the abbey as a Bridgettine monk, there is a strong possibility that we are dealing with a man known locally by both these names. On this assumption, Maidstone must have been the younger brother of William Eyston, lord of the manors of Worton and Aydestons, who alienated a considerable part of the family estates to Edward III in the mid 14th century.2 A possible connexion between Maidstone and William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester, has also been suggested, largely because at least one—and perhaps even four—of his sons were scholars at Winchester college over the years 1393 to 1406. However, as Isleworth church formed part of Wykeham’s endowment upon the college, their attendance need not necessarily have been due to family ties.3

On 15 July 1376, Maidstone was granted a life annuity of £5, payable from the Exchequer. He had by then become a yeoman of the royal household, but although his pension was confirmed to him both by Richard II (in March 1378) and Henry IV (in October 1399), he appears to have left the court on the death of Edward III. He received a second fee of ten marks a year (again confirmed by Henry IV) from Thomas, duke of Gloucester, but neither the date of this award nor the circumstances under which it was given are recorded. We do, however, know that he was recruited by Gloucester in 1392 to serve with him in Ireland, although in the event the expedition never set out. It is also clear that marks of royal favour were still regularly shown to him. In September 1376, for instance, he obtained custody of property in Saxmundham, Suffolk, which had escheated to the Crown; and this was followed in July 1383 by the lease of a water-mill and land in Ruardean and Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, which he was permitted to farm for 20 marks p.a. at the Exchequer. Almost six years later, the estate forfeited by Sir Robert Bealknap in Baldock, Hertfordshire, was committed to him for ten years at an annual rent of £6 16s.4d., no doubt thanks to the good offices of Duke Thomas, who had played a leading part in the judge’s downfall.4 Maidstone also owned property in London, although most of the premises to which he had a title were held by him as a feoffee-to-uses and did not remain in his hands for very long. As we have seen Maidstone’s interests in Middlesex were centred on Isleworth, and it was here, in January 1381, that he aroused considerable opposition by blocking a common fishery with a sewer of his own; he was indicted for his offence before a local jury, but the outcome of the case is not recorded. From this date onwards, Maidstone was regularly, if not continuously, involved in county matters, representing Middlesex in three Parliaments during the 1390s. His previous association with the Court may well explain his election, with Thomas Goodlake, another royal servant, to the first Parliament of 1397, although his longstanding association with the duke of Gloucester can hardly have endeared him to Richard II. The latter’s single-minded vendetta against the Lords Appellant of 1388 led to Gloucester’s murder by royal agents at Calais in September 1397, and placed Maidstone in an extremely vulnerable position. It was because of his now discredited political affiliations that he sued out pardons from the King in February and June of the following year and thus escaped the consequences of Richard’s wrath.5

Evidence of Maidstone’s more private affairs and connexions is somewhat fragmentary. On four occasions between November 1377 and October 1390 he acted as a mainpernor in Chancery; and from time to time he offered his services as a feoffee-to-uses, most notably for William Loveney*, the future keeper of the Great Wardrobe for Henry IV.6 In December 1382 he entered obligations to pay £5 to one Geoffrey Martin, a clerk of the Crown, this being the only reference to his financial transactions now known to survive. Three years later he received royal letters of protection for an absence of six months in the service of Sir Thomas Percy, captain of Brest castle, only to have them cancelled because he refused to go. Maidstone did not represent Middlesex in Parliament after the Lancastrian usurpation, although he remained on close terms with those who did. Henry Somer, who was soon to become chancellor of the Exchequer, named him as a surety on being returned in 1406 and 1407; and he was also present in May 1413 at the election of the Middlesex shire knights.7 Yet despite the advancement given to Richard Maidstone*, his son or close kinsman, by Henry IV, it is unlikely that Maidstone himself felt any personal attachment to the house of Lancaster. In the Historia Martyrio Ricardi Scrope,