MORE, Thomas II (c.1395-1461), of Cumcatch, Cumb.
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Family and Education
b.c.1395. m. (1) c.1419, Maud, wid. of William Sandford (d.c.1417) of Little Asby, Westmld., at least 1da.; (2) Margaret (fl. 1463).1
Sheriff, Cumb. 10 Feb.-5 Nov. 1430, 4 Nov. 1443-6 Nov. 1444, 9 Nov. 1447-8, 8 Nov. 1452-Mich. 1453.
Escheator, Cumb. and Westmld. 26 Nov. 1431-5 Nov. 1432.
Assessor of taxes, Cumb. Jan. 1436, Aug. 1450.
J.p. Cumb. 22 May 1447-Dec. 1459.
Conservator of a truce with Scotland 28 Apr. 1450, 16 Sept. 1451, 30 May 1453, 20 June 1457, 3 Feb. 1460.2
Commr. to assign money for the support of archers, Cumb. Dec. 1457; of inquiry Feb. 1458 (lands of Thomas, Lord Dacre of Gilsland).
On his own testimony, Thomas was born in 1395, so he must have been about 20 years old when, in May 1415, one of the deputy wardens of the east march was ordered to arrest him for breaking the truce with Scotland by taking part in illicit raiding parties over the border. We do not know when he married Maud, the widow of William Sandford and sister-in-law of Robert Sandford II*, but a settlement made by her in July 1419 of the manor of Little Asby (which she had received as a jointure) may well have preceded their wedding. Her feoffees included the earls of Northumberland and Westmorland, which suggests that she brought her new husband powerful connexions, as well as an estate in Westmorland. His own property lay in and around Cumcatch in Cumberland; and we know that on the day of the baptism of (Sir) John Skelton’s* grandson, in June 1421, he purchased other holdings in Branthwaite.3
Thomas first attended Parliament in 1420, although not much else is heard of him until, in November 1424, he obtained a lease from the Crown of land in the Cumbrian villages of West Farlam and Sebergham for the next 20 years. He took part in the county elections held at Carlisle to the Parliament of 1426, and was himself returned again in 1429, along with Sir William Leigh†, whose candidacy evidently displeased the sheriff, (Sir) Christopher Moresby*. The Parliament had initially been summoned to meet on 13 Oct., but a change of date to late September made it possible for Moresby to replace Leigh with a nominee of his own choice. Whereas the original return had been made, as the law demanded, before a full assembly of the county court, the second was drawn up by the sheriff without any consultation whatsoever, although it took the form of a normally attested indenture. Six days after Parliament met, a royal commission was set up to examine Moresby’s conduct, yet nothing seems to have been done, and investigations were still being held in the following July. By then Thomas had begun his first term in office as sheriff of Cumberland, and was also busy executing the nuncupative will of his friend, (Sir) Robert Lowther*. He had previously served on the jury at an assize held to determine the title of William Stapleton* to land in Black Hall, being thus embarked on a busy public career.4
Although he attested the returns for Cumberland to the Parliaments of 1431, 1432, 1437, 1442, 1447 and 1449 (Feb.), Thomas did not sit again as a shire knight until 1450. He none the less remained active throughout this period, during which he held a variety of local offices. Not surprisingly, he was among the leading Cumbrian gentry who were called upon to take the general oath of May 1434 that they would not support anyone who disturbed the peace; and late in the following year he gave evidence at the inquisition post mortem held on the estates of his kinsman, William More II*. He was clearly on close terms with Richard Restwold II*, who had acted as a mainpernor for him in 1424, and for whom he performed a similar service some 22 years afterwards, when the latter became farmer of the fair at Crowmarsh Gifford in Oxfordshire. He twice received royal pardons, in 1437 and 1455, no doubt to cover himself from charges of malpractice in office, for he did not retire from public life until the age of about 65. Indeed, the 1450s were a particularly strenuous time, marked by his appointment to no less than five embassies for the negotiation of truces with the Scots, continued service on the county bench, a fourth term as sheriff and election to two more Parliaments.5
Thomas died intestate well before April 1463, by which time Hugh Lowther, the former sheriff of Cumberland, had been outlawed for failing to appear in court to answer for a debt of £13 which he owed to the desceased’s estate. The administration of Thomas’s effects was undertaken by his second wife, Margaret, and two other local men.6