MONTGOMERY, Sir Nicholas I (d.c.1424), of Cubley and Marston Montgomery, Derbys.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Sir Walter Montgomery (d. by 1374) of Cubley by his w. Maud (fl. 1385). m. (1) by Easter 1364, Anne, 2s. inc. Sir Nicholas II*, 1da.; (2) by Mich. 1413, Margaret (fl. 1435), wid. of Richard Baskerville of Eardisley, Herefs. Kntd. by July 1381.1
Commr. of inquiry, Derbys. Jan. 1377 (robbery at Glossop), Staffs. Apr. 1388 (murder at Newcastle-under-Lyme), Derbys. June 1406 (concealments), Nov. 1406 (estates of the late Henry Herville); to suppress the rebels Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; make arrests, Derbys., Cheshire July 1384, Derbys. Feb. 1388, Derbys., Notts. Feb. 1394, Derbys., Leics., Staffs. July 1394, Derbys., Staffs. Feb. 1409 (Hugh Erdeswyk* and other enemies of the duchy of Lancaster); enforce the statute of weirs, Derbys. June 1398; of array Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403, Derbys., Notts. May 1405, Derbys. May 1415, Oct. 1417, Apr. 1418, Mar. 1419; oyer and terminer Mar. 1401 (poaching on Sir Walter Blount’s* fishery at Willington), July 1401 (a murder), Staffs. Dec. 1405, Mar. 1406 (assault on the abbey of Burton-upon-Trent), Derbys. May 1416 (assault on Repton priory); to proclaim the King’s intention of ruling justly, Derbys. May 1402; raise a royal loan, Notts., Derbys. June 1406, Nov. 1419.
J.p. Derbys. 24 Dec. 1390-Jan. 1406, 13 Feb. 1407-10, July 1418-24.
Sheriff, Notts. and Derbys. 22 Mar.-21 Oct. 1391, 27 Jan.-5 Nov. 1406, 29 Nov. 1409-10 Dec. 1411, 6 Nov. 1413-Mich 1414.
Constable of Tutbury castle, master forester of Tutbury and Needwood chase, parker of Agardsley and Rowley, Staffs. for the duchy of Lancaster 23 July 1403-16 Dec. 1408.2
Keeper of the royal castle of Eardisley by 8 Sept. 1403.3
Assessor of a tax, Derbys. Mar. 1404; collector of a royal loan Jan. 1420.
In about 1350, while he was still a small child, Nicholas’s father settled upon him the reversion of the manors of Cubley and Marston Montgomery as well as extensive farmland in Snelston. The boy’s ancestors had lived at Cubley since the mid 12th century, and in 1365 Edward III confirmed an earlier royal grant permitting the Montgomerys to hold markets and an annual fair there. Nicholas was already by then married to his first wife, Anne, for in the previous year his parents had conveyed to them both lands worth £6 p.a. in Snelston and half the manor of Cubley, presumably by way of a marriage settlement. The rest of his inheritance (save for the land set aside for his mother’s dower) was in his hands by the autumn of 1374, and, in addition to the estates described above, brought him property in the Derbyshire villages of Somersal Herbert, Potter Somersal, Marchington and Sudbury. Much later, in 1412, his revenues from land in Derbyshire alone were assessed at £72 p.a., although, since he is by then said to have inherited the manor of Caverswall and other appurtenances in Staffordshire as well, his total income as a rentier must have been far higher.4
Little else is known about Montgomery before 1377, when he received the first of many appointments as a royal commissioner. Three years later he saw service overseas in the retinue of Thomas of Woodstock, earl of Buckingham, having entrusted the supervision of his affairs at home to his friend, Thomas Foljambe*. The latter again acted as Montgomery’s attorney in 1386 when he took part in John of Gaunt’s unsuccessful expedition to claim the throne of Castile; and in the meantime Montgomery agreed to stand bail for the lawyer during the course of a somewhat violent dispute with the abbot of Dale. Eventually Foljambe’s niece married our Member’s grandson, and in so doing further cemented a longstanding alliance between the two families. Although he was not formally retained by Gaunt until 1394 (at a fee of 40 marks p.a.), Montgomery’s association with the duke was sufficiently strong by 1388 for him to be enlisted (along with such other staunch Lancastrians as Sir Walter Blount, Sir John de la Pole* and Philip Okeover*) to lend support to Sir Roger Strange* in a dispute over the manor of Shenstone in Staffordshire. His political affiliations were also strengthened through more personal attachments. For example, his son and heir, also named Nicholas, took as his wife Joan, the daughter of Sir Nicholas Longford (d.1401), another of Gaunt’s retainers and a kinsman of the Montgomerys. By the terms of the marriage contract, which was drawn up in July 1391, Sir Nicholas Montgomery agreed to support Joan for four years after her marriage, and to pay the couple an annuity of 20 marks for life. Longford, in turn, contracted to deliver £153 to him and also to bear the cost of securing a papal dispensation allowing the marriage to continue despite the fact that Joan and Nicholas were doubly related in the fourth degree of kinship. The dispensation was duly accorded by the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield in the following February, Longford having, somewhat disingenuously, claimed ignorance of any pre-existing impediment to the marriage. A few months later the two fathers-in-law, Montgomery and Longford, acted together as witnesses to the endowment of a chantry where prayers were to be said for Gaunt; and, in November 1399, Montgomery was involved in arrangements concerning the estates of the late Ralph Longford, to whom he had become connected through his son’s marriage.5
Of even greater consequence for the Montgomerys was their alliance with John Curson* of Kedleston, whose eldest son and heir became the husband of our Member’s only surviving daughter, Margaret. One of the most influential servants of the house of Lancaster, Curson rose to enjoy high office and to command extensive reserves of patronage after Bolingbroke seized the throne in 1399; and he may perhaps have used his position to secure a variety of lucrative posts in the duchy of Lancaster for Sir Nicholas. Their association certainly dated back as far as 1396 (when Curson appeared with Montgomery and Sir Walter Blount as plaintiff in what seems to have been a collusive suit over the ownership of land in the Derbyshire village of Croxall), even though the first clear evidence of a marriage between their children does not occur until 1411, some six years after Curson’s death. This close circle of friends, further united by their unswerving loyalty to the house of Lancaster, also included the above-mentioned Sir Walter Blount, for whom Montgomery witnessed various deeds; and, significantly under the circumstances, when Blount fell, fighting for Henry IV at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, a number of his offices were immediately conferred upon Sir Nicholas.6
In view of his connexions and personal sympathies, Montgomery could hardly remain aloof from the political struggles of 1399, and in July of that year he was present (with Foljambe, Curson and Blount) at Ravenspur with a force of his own men to welcome Henry of Bolingbroke when he returned from exile to claim his inheritance. He also provided a bodyguard for Bolingbroke at the Parliament held later at Westminster, and was duly allocated a very handsome allowance of £66 13s.4d. from the revenues of the duchy of Lancaster to cover his expenses. An annuity of £26 13s.4d. was granted to him from the duchy lordship of Ashbourne in Derbyshire, and he was, moreover, permitted to farm the manor at a somewhat preferential rent of £45 p.a. (which soon lapsed into arrears). He attended great councils held at Westminster in July 1401 and 1403; and, as we have seen, obtained the constableship of Tutbury castle and other offices on the death of Sir Walter Blount. The keepership of Eardisley castle must also have been granted to him at about this time, for in September 1403 he was ordered to prepare its defences against the Welsh. His duties brought him into contact with the Baskervilles of Eardisley, a fairly affluent local family, and he thus met his second wife, Margaret, the widow of Richard Baskerville. They were married by 1413, when his stepson began litigation in the court of common pleas for the recovery of the manor. Although a growing burden of administrative work led him to surrender his various duchy offices in 1408, Montgomery was still viewed as an enemy by High Erdeswyk, John Mynors* and the unruly band of ruffians who had joined them in what was effectively a war of attrition against the local staff and tenants of the duchy. On at least two occasions in 1409 employees of his were physically assaulted by Erdeswyk’s men, and in September of that year an ambush was laid for Montgomery himself at his manor of Cubley. This vendetta may explain why he exploited his position as sheriff of Derbyshire to obtain a seat in the Parliament of 1411 (over 20 years since his previous appearance in the House of Commons and in direct contravention of the statute forbidding sheriffs to return themselves). It is certainly worth noting that Staffordshire was then represented by Sir John Bagot, for whom the gang had reserved their particular malice. Petitions about the escalating level of violence in Staffordshire and Derbyshire were repeatedly laid before the Parliaments of this period, and the malefactors were eventually indicted on a comprehensive range of charges. Although all the ringleaders managed to secure royal pardons, quiet was indeed restored, and by the date of his son’s appointment as constable of Tutbury in 1414, Montgomery had little to fear from this quarter.7
One of the most striking features of Montgomery’s career is his continuous involvement in some of the most arduous aspects of local government. His four terms as sheriff of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire (on the last occasion he obtained a reduction of £40 on the farm, which he claimed was excessive) are notable enough, but he also sat for over 25 years as a j.p. besides serving on a large number of commissions. During his later years, from about 1418 onwards, much of this work was done in partnership with his son, Nicholas, whose first return to Parliament, in April 1414, was, predictably enough, made by Montgomery in his capacity as sheriff, quite clearly with the intention of pressing home a positive litany of allegations against their enemies, the Erdeswyks. In view of all his administrative commitments, it is hardly surprising that only a small amount of evidence has survived about Sir Nicholas’s more personal affairs. He often witnessed deeds for his friends and neighbours (such as Sir Thomas Chaworth* and Sir William Dethick*), but he rarely acted as a trustee. In both December 1402 and the spring of 1408, however, he became involved in lawsuits at the Derby assizes, evidently in this very capacity; and not long afterwards he was a party to the endowment of Darley abbey. In later life he agreed to hold Sir John Cockayne’s* manor of Harthill in trust, although he had relinquished his title by 1420.8
Sir Nicholas Montgomery probably died in about 1424, when his name disappears from the Derbyshire commission of the peace. He was survived by his second wife, who retained dower properties in Derbyshire worth an estimated £26 p.a. As the executrix of his will she took receipt in February 1437 of the final instalment of a sum of 400 marks which various members of the Brugge family had promised to pay him and his son-in-law 14 years before.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Monegomery, Mongumry, Mountgomery.
- 1. CP25(1)39/37/177, 223; CPL, iv. 442; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiv. 228; J.C. Cox, Notes on Churches Derbys. iii. iii. 94, 316; Derbys. Chs. ed. Jeayes, nos. 931, 1505; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 279; CCR, 1435-41, pp. 116-17.
- 2. Somerville, Duchy, i. 539, 541, 546. DL29/402/6451 makes clear that it was not Montgomery (as Somerville states) but his son and namesake who became steward of Tutbury in 1416.
- 3. C47/2/49, f. 6.
- 4. Derbys. Chs. no. 931; CP25(1)39/37/177; Feudal Aids, vi. 431, 591; Cox, iii. 91-92, 315; Staffs, Parl. Hist. i (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), 269.
- 5. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiv. 228, 244; CCR, 1381-5, p. 112; J. Foster, Yorks. Peds. i. sub Foljambe; CPL, iv. 442; S.K. Walker, ‘John of Gaunt and his retainers, 1361-99’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1986), 245-6, 279; Derbys. Chs. nos. 1693, 1868; HMC Hastings, i. 110; Huntington Lib. San Marino, Hastings ms HAP box II.
- 6. JUST 1/1488 rot. 63, 1501 rot. 81; DL42/15, f. 152; Derbys. Chs. nos. 344, 1505. Cox (iii. 176) mistakenly believed that Margaret Montgomery married John Curson the elder.
- 7. DL28/27/3; DL29/402/6451, 738/12100; DL42/15, f. 70v, 16, f. 2v, 17 (pt. 2), f. 19; PPC, i. 162; ii. 88; CPR, 1402-5, p. 111; Peds. Plea Rolls, 279; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvi. 84-85; S.M. Wright, Derbys. Gentry (Derbys. Rec. Soc. viii), 212.
- 8. C143/441/12; JUST 1/1514 rot. 65, 66, 67, 69v; CPR, 1408-13, p. 197; 1413-16, p. 303; CCR, 1413-19, p. 271; Derbys. Chs. nos. 1585, 1692, 1984-5, 2131, 2415, 2714.
- 9. EHR, xlix. 632; CCR, 1422-9, p. 65; 1435-41, pp. 116-17; Cox. iii. 91-92.