SKELTON, Sir Clement (b.bef.1345), of Stainton and Orton, Cumb.
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Family and Education
b. bef. 1345, s. and h. of Thomas Skelton† (d. Aug. 1365) of Skelton. m. by Sept. 1369, Joan (c.1345-1414), da. and coh. of Giles Orton (d. 3 Aug. 1369) of Stainton by his 1st w. Maud, 3da. Kntd. by Feb. 1383.1
Commr. to enforce statutes regarding salmon fishing, Northumb. June 1371; of inquiry, Cumb. June 1371 (murder), bef. May 1391 (illicit exports to Scotland), Nov. 1392, June 1397 (illicit fishing on the river Eden); array June, Aug. 1388;2 gaol delivery, Carlisle bef. Jan. 1390.
Collector of taxes, Cumb. Dec. 1373, Nov. 1374.
J.p. Cumb. 20 Dec. 1382-July 1389, 24 May 1395-Nov. 1399.
Dep. to John, Lord Neville, as keeper of Carlisle castle 28 July 1385.
Some uncertainty surrounds this MP’s early life, partly because it is easy to confuse him with another Clement Skelton (sometimes described as ‘the elder’), who was probably his grandfather. The latter served as a j.p. and sat on a variety of royal commissions in Cumberland during the middle years of the 14th century. Towards the end of his career, in 1363, he was made guardian of the temporalities of the see of Carlisle; and he was, moreover, a generous patron to the priory of St. Mary in the city of Carlisle itself. Besides acting as an executor for William, Lord Dacre (d.1361), he also kept on friendly terms with Ralph, Lord Neville (d.1367), for the salvation of whose soul he made an endowment to Durham priory in 1368, one year before his own retirement from public life. The will of Clement Clifton, which was drawn up at this time and witnessed by Clement Skelton the elder, contains a bequest of armour to the latter’s young namesake, the subject of this biography, so the two men clearly had connexions in common.3 If accurate with regard to the ages of those concerned, the surviving evidence suggests that Clement Skelton the younger was the child of his father Thomas’s first marriage. Thomas had at least two other sons by his second wife, Joan; and it was upon the elder of these, a boy named Richard, that the family estates in Skelton and Stainton were entailed. Certainly, when Thomas died, in August 1365, Richard, then aged 12, was pronounced the next heir, although neither he nor his young brother, John, survived for very long. Ten years later, in September 1375, another inquisition post mortem found that Clement, who was already at least 30, was now the rightful successor to the Skelton estates, most of which (with the exception of certain property occupied by his father for term of life only) descended to him. His widowed stepmother had, meanwhile, married her kinsman, John Denton, and was obliged to secure a papal dispensation because they were related within the three prohibited degrees.4
Clement himself married well, taking as his wife Joan, the daughter and coheir of Giles Orton. On Giles’s death, in August 1369, she and her two half-sisters shared between them the manors of Orton, Wiggonby and Great Stainton as well as holdings in Carlisle, although certain tenurial problems arose, and it was not until June 1374 that the Crown finally abandoned its attempts to prove that Joan and Clement had entered part of her inheritance without licence to do so.5 By then Clement had begun serving on a series of royal commissions in the north, and may have gained this concession as a reward. A few years later, in 1378, he entered Parliament for the first time; and by the close of 1382 he had not only taken a seat on the Cumberland bench, but had also been knighted. During Richard II’s expedition to Scotland in the summer of 1385, Sir Clement was chosen to deputize for John, Lord Neville, as keeper of Carlisle castle, with a retinue of 190 armed men, so it is hardly surprising that he later helped to array troops for the defence of the border. Yet evidence about his more personal affairs is hard to find, and save for his regular appearances on the county bench and his record of attendance in five Parliaments, he remains a rather shadowy figure. In November 1392 he and (Sir) Thomas Skelton* (who occupied the two manors of Threapland and Allensteads as a feudal tenant of Maud, Baroness Lucy) acted together as trustees of Sir Robert Muncaster*, and two years later he sat on a jury at the Penrith assizes. Otherwise, he played little part in the affairs of his colleagues and neighbours, either dying or retiring from public life at the time of his replacement on the bench in 1399. His widow, Joan, lived on until the autumn of 1414, and was succeeded by her three daughters, two of whom married the Northumbrian landowners, Sir John Middleton* and John Belasise, while the third became the wife of Sir Clement’s neighbour, Sir William Leigh*. The precise connexion between Sir Clement and John Skelton* cannot now be determined, but they were almost certainly related.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. C139/33/29; CIPM, xii. no. 401; xv. no. 199; CFR, xiv. 63.
- 2. Rot. Scot. ed. Macpherson etc. ii. 95.
- 3. Test. Karleolensia ed. Ferguson, 32-33, 92; CFR, vii. 250.
- 4. CIPM, xiii. no. 40; xiv. no. 199; CPL, iv. 200-1.
- 5. CIPM, xii. no. 401; CCR, 1374-7, p. 26; CFR, viii. 81; C139/33/29.
- 6. CPR, 1385-9, p. 10; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xii. 12, 18-19; tract ser. no. 2, pp. 174-5; CIPM (Rec. Comm.), iii. 244; CFR, xiv. 63; C139/33/29; JUST 1/1500 rot. 38.