MANNINGHAM, Thomas (d.c.1455), of Ardsley and Wrenthorpe, Yorks. and Wrestlingworth, Beds.
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Family and Education
m. by Feb. 1418, Katherine (b. by 1406), da. and h. of Katherine née Brown (d. Aug. 1436), of Gamelsby, Cumb., Puttocks Hardwick, Hunts., Wrestlingworth and London, poss. by her last husband, John Asplion (d. by 1417), at least 2s.2
Escheator, Beds. and Bucks. 23 Nov. 1419-16 Nov. 1420, 17 Dec. 1426-12 Nov. 1427.
Commr. to raise a royal loan, Bucks. Nov. 1419, Beds. Nov. 1440; of inquiry Nov. 1423 (repairs to the highway at Wrestlingworth) Apr. 1431 (persons liable to contribute to a royal grant).
J.p. Beds. 20 July 1424-40, 30 Dec. 1440-June 1455.
Assessor of a tax, Beds. Jan. 1436.
Thomas Manningham was almost certainly a Yorkshireman by birth, and although we do not know exactly how he came into possession of the substantial estate in and around Wakefield which eventually descended to his son, John, some of it, at least, may well have been inherited. Insufficient evidence about his early life has survived to determine if he and the ‘Manningham’ who became a member of Lincoln’s Inn shortly before 1420 were one and the same person, but his possible election as Member for Appleby to the first Parliament of 1416, and his definite return for Carlisle three years later could have owed more than a little to the fact that he had already established a base in London, and was, therefore, able to represent boroughs most distant from Westminster with the modicum of inconvenience. Manningham was evidently still living in Yorkshire in December 1416, when he acted as a mainpernor at the Exchequer for the farmers of a certain property in the county, but marriage led to a dramatic change in his circumstances, and just one year later he moved south to Bedfordshire as tenant of the manor of Wrestlingworth. This lucrative property formed part of the Raghton inheritance which had but recently reverted to his widowed mother-in-law, Katherine Asplion. Her initial plan, effected in February 1418 was to lease out the manor alone to Manningham at an annual rent of ten marks, but in the following November she decided to make over to him the rest of her Bedfordshire estates, together with the manor of Puttocks Hardwick and other farmland in the Paxton area of Huntingdonshire, and a number of holdings extending along the border between Cumberland and Lancashire. She retained certain shops and tenements in London for her own use, and in July 1431 Manningham was a party with her to the sale of an inn called Le Dragon on the Hoop in the parish of St. Botolph’s without Bishopsgate. Given that he had long been seised of the estates to which his wife was heir presumptive, his finances were not substantially affected by Katherine Asplion’s death in 1436, although her two remaining messuages in the City (worth four marks p.a.) did at last then fall into his hands. A year or so later he and his wife settled the Cumberland manors of Langholm and Gamelby, together with their widespread appurtenances in the north-west upon a distinguished body of trustees, including Robert Warcop*.3
Thanks to the generous settlement made upon him and his wife by Katherine Asplion in 1418, Manningham became a landowner of importance both in Cumberland and Bedfordshire; but even though he entered the House of Commons in the following year as MP for Carlisle his home and principal sphere of interest already lay in Bedfordshire. Just ten days after the close of the 1419 Parliament he began the first of two terms as escheator there, and very soon afterwards he was commissioned to raise a loan from the local gentry to help finance the war with France. So far as we know, he represented Bedfordshire only once, in the second Parliament of 1421, but he subsequently attested the returns made by the county to the Parliaments of 1427, 1432 and 1435.4 He became a j.p. in the summer of 1424, and sat almost continuously on the local bench for over 30 years. Somewhat surprisingly, in view of this busy administrative career, hardly any information has survived about Manningham’s more personal affairs. He seems to have been quite friendly with the lawyer, John Enderby*, who made him a trustee of his estates in the Stratton area of Bedfordshire, and also called upon his services as a witness to other property transactions. He appears on the list of Bedfordshire gentry who, in May 1434, were required to take the general oath that they would not support persons breaking the peace, but unlike many of his neighbours (including Enderby) he did not assume a partisan role as the bitter rivalry between John, Lord Fanhope, and Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, caused growing divisions in the county community over the next few years. Although he witnessed at least one property transaction for Lord Fanhope (in 1440), there is nothing to suggest that any closer connexion existed between the two men. The only other act that can definitely be ascribed to Manningham at this time is the issue by him, jointly with his wife, of an instrument confirming the free status of certain of his demesne tenants at Wrestlingworth subsequent to a search of the manorial records.5 Save for his service on the local bench, his last years were spent in relative obscurity; and it is thus difficult to establish his date of death with any degree of precision. He was certainly still alive on 26 June 1448, when he was re-appointed to the local bench, but his replacement by his elder son, John, on the next commission of the peace for Bedfordshire, sent out on 23 June 1455, suggests that he died at some point between the two dates. John Manningham had definitely succeeded to the family estates in Yorkshire by 14 July 1455, since he then conveyed them to a group of trustees, prominent among whom was the earl of Salisbury’s son, Sir John Neville. Like his father before him, however, he chose to live in Bedfordshire, serving as alnager there in 1454, and as sheriff three years later.6