ROUS, John III (d.c.1454), of Baynton in Edington, Wilts.
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Family and Education
yr. s. of John Rous of Imber, Wilts. by Iseult, da. and coh. of Sir Philip Fitzwaryn† of Great Chalfield, Wilts. m. (1) bef. 1439, Joan, sis. of Robert Ashley* of Budbury, Wilts.; (2) Anne Gawen. 1s. illegit.1
When John’s father died in 1413 most of his property passed to his eldest son, William, although the manor of Baynton, valued at £5 p.a. in the previous year, together with that of Leigh in Westbury, were both inherited by the future MP. Besides these, he held in right of his first wife property in Wilton and Ugford, which, however, he was to relinquish in 1439 in return for a rent of five marks a year for the term of her life.2
Rous may have owed his only return to Parliament to his connexion with Sir Walter Hungerford*, in whose retinue he had served at the battle of Agincourt. His experience in this respect was no doubt recalled in December 1419, when the j.p.s for Wiltshire were required to send to the Council the names of 12 men-at-arms considered best able for military duties: John and his brother William both figured on the list compiled. John attended the Wiltshire elections to the Parliaments of 1422, 1425, 1426, 1431, 1433, 1447, 1449 (Nov.) and 1450, in the meantime, in 1434, being one of those gentry of the shire required to take the oath imposed by Parliament against maintenance of malefactors.3
In fact, Rous himself had already been party to lawless behaviour in the county. He had helped his brother to retain possession of the manor of Great Charfield in 1431, when the Beverleys came armed to support their title, only to lose control of it to another claimant, Thomas Tropenell†, later. William was accused in Tropenell’s cartulary of lechery and adultery. Certainly, bastards figured often in accounts of the family: not only did John’s father and brother beget several, but he himself produced an illegitimate son. (William also, allegedly through dissipation, disposed of most of the Rous lands to Sir William (by then Lord) Hungerford.)4 An earlier incident suggests that John’s lack of participation in local administration may be attributed to unacceptable conduct. In 1428 he had been accused of inciting the people of Edington not to pay the local vicar the customary offerings at marriages, burials and baptisms. The affair was serious enough for Bishop Neville of Salisbury to interview the parishioners personally. If Rous was indeed suspect in his attitudes to the Church he would, of course, have been regarded with disfavour by the secular authorities, too. Edington itself was no centre of loyalty to Church or State: in 1450 Bishop Aiscough was to be dragged from the church and murdered by the villagers. Meanwhile, in 1444, possibly as a token of reconciliation, Rous had given his manor of Baynton to the monastery of Bonhommes at Edington, in order to found a chantry there for prayers for himself and his first wife.5 After his death, which probably occurred soon after July 1454, he was buried in the south aisle of the priory church.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Tropenell Cart. ed. Davies, i. 272, 283.
- 2. CFR, xiv. 3, 73; Feudal Aids, vi. 531; Wilts. Feet of Fines (Wilts. Rec. Soc. xli), 520; Edington Cart. (ibid. xlii), 643, 645.
- 3. N.H. Nicolas, Agincourt, 351; E28/97/33; C219/13/1, 3, 4, 14/2, 4, 15/4, 7, 16/1; CPR, 1429-36, p. 370.
- 4. Tropenell Cart. i. 281-3, 285, 288, 294-5, 408; VCH Wilts. vii. 61; Hoare, Modern Wilts. (Heytesbury), 161.
- 5. CCR, 1441-7, p. 307; CPR, 1441-6, p. 266; Tropenell Cart. i. 271; VCH Wilts. iii. 322; Hoare, 162; E.F. Jacob, 15th Cent. 496.
- 6. Tropenell Cart. i. 283.