SOTHILL, Gerard (d.1410), of Redbourne, Lincs.
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Family and Education
poss. 3rd s. of Sir Henry Sothill† of Southill Hall, Yorks, by his w. Joan. m. (1) 1s. d.v.p.; (2) by Sept. 1397, Joan (d. 1 Apr. 1441), wid. of — Wasselyn of Wasselyn’s manor, Redbourne, 2s. 1da. Kntd. 11 Oct. 1399.1
Commr. of inquiry, Kent Oct. 1376 (wastes at Folkestone priory), Lincs. Nov. 1389 (petition from Sir Michael de la Pole for restitution of property), Lincs., Notts. June 1402 (goods of Sir John Bussy*); oyer and terminer, Lincs. Apr. 1383, July 1384 (withdrawal of labour services by tenants of Newstead abbey), July 1384 (thefts at Blyborough), Nov. 1385 (assault at Bonby), Derbys. July 1406 (thefts from Sir John Darcy at Eckington); sewers, Lincs. June 1383, Nov. 1388, Aug. 1391, Lincs., Notts., Yorks. May 1402; to survey Thornholme priory, Lincs. July 1384; of array (Lindsey) Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403; gaol delivery, Lincoln Apr. 1399;2 to levy men to resist the earl of Northumberland’s rebels, Lincs. July 1403; make an arrest Oct. 1403.
J.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) 18 June 1384-July 1389, 1 Feb. 1392-Nov. 1399, 16 May 1401-d., Yorks. (East Riding) 9 Feb. 1385-6.
Collector of a tax, Lincs. (Lindsey) Mar. 1388, Mar. 1404.
Sheriff, Lincs. 8 Nov. 1401 (did not account), 29 Nov. 1402-5 Nov. 1403.
As a younger son, Gerard Sothill had little to hope for by way of inheritance, and hardly anything is known about his early life. He is first mentioned in October 1365, when Sir Philip Lymbury, who was then going abroad, made him one of his attorneys in England. Six years later he acquired the manor of Redbourne, which became his home from then onwards (although one third of it was held by him in reversion only). He later managed to extend his territorial interests, most notably by purchasing a reversionary title to the Lincolnshire manor of Messingham, for which he and an associate paid £90. The manor had been granted for life to a retainer of Michael, earl of Suffolk, and on 1 Mar. 1390, just two years after the earl’s condemnation to forfeiture by the Merciless Parliament, King Richard agreed to sell the reversion to Sothill and his friend. Although he did not live to take possession of this property (which passed to his son in 1417), Sothill did manage to augment his income with revenues from Corringham and Harpswell in the same county, and Knottingley in Yorkshire. We know too that his second wife, Joan, held other estates in the Lincolnshire villages of Bigby, Hackthorn and Flixborough, some of which, like the manor of Wasselyn in Redbourne, had been settled on her by her first husband.3
Once he had taken up residence at Redbourne, Sothill began gradually to establish himself in the local community. In 1375, for example, he went bail for the notorious Maud Cantelupe and two of her accomplices, who were then being tried before the court of King’s bench for the murder of her husband, Sir William. Although clearly guilty, Maud was pardoned, and later married Sir John Bussy, with whom Sothill was appointed, in February 1384, as temporary custodian of the possessions of Thornholme priory, and with whom he later sat in Parliament. He had, meanwhile, gone surety at the Exchequer for the farmer of the manor of Boughton Aluph in Kent, a county where he also executed one royal commission at this time. His main connexions were, however, in Lincolnshire and east Yorkshire; and it was here that he served most often as a commissioner, as well as becoming a j.p. His friends, however, came from further afield; and one of the most influential was Philip, Lord Darcy, who joined with him at Kingston-upon-Hull, in 1386, in guaranteeing the good behaviour of Sir Nicholas Goushill the elder and his son. The two men were subsequently associated with the earl of Suffolk as trustees of an estate in Bonby; and twice, in October 1392 and July 1398, Sothill acted as Darcy’s attorney while he was absent on royal business in Ireland. He was also made an executor of his will. Other members of Sothill’s circle included Sir Robert Hansard, whom he assisted as both executor and feoffee, and (Sir) John Pouger*, whose manor of Eycote in Gloucestershire he likewise held in trust.4 There is, indeed, some reason to suppose that he was actually a lawyer, since he was continuously involved in the property transactions of his neighbours.5
In common with other leading members of the Lincolnshire community, Sothill and his brother, Robert, were required, in March 1388, to take an oath in support of the Lords Appellant. Gerard’s temporary removal from the bench in the following year can, however, hardly be seen as evidence of either political or personal disgrace, since he continued to receive royal commissions, and in November 1391 he entered Parliament for the first time. The session was still in progress when he once again agreed to act as a mainpernor in Chancery, this time for Sir Thomas Swinburne*, who was then involved in a family dispute. Sothill had himself just been to law in an attempt to recover 40s. from a local man, but he was no more successful here than in two other actions brought by him later against recalcitrant debtors, one of whom owed him £20. We know nothing about Sothill’s first marriage, save that it must have taken place by 1381, if not before, and that his first wife bore him at least one son. By September 1397 he had taken as her successor the widowed Joan Wasselyn, who then obtained a papal indult to make use of a portable altar.6 Although he lost his seat on the Lincolnshire bench for a second time after the Lancastrian usurpation, there is, again, no reason to believe that he had fallen foul of the authorities. On the contrary, Sothill appears to have been a supporter of Henry IV: not only was he one of the 46 men knighted by the King on the eve of his coronation, but his eldest son, Henry, became an esquire of the royal body. He was also on close terms with Sir Henry Retford, a prominent Lancastrian who was returned with him to the House of Commons in 1402 and duly elected Speaker. In November 1399 the two had offered joint recognizances in 500 marks to John Lynaston the elder, and a few years later Sothill witnessed deeds for Sir Henry at Burton-on-Humber.
Sir Gerard was, moreover, summoned to attend the great councils held at Westminster in August 1401 and 1403; and although his first appointment as sheriff of Lincolnshire, in November 1401, was terminated abruptly (perhaps because of an administrative error), he went on to serve a full term in the following year. A mistake at the Exchequer certainly led to his being charged almost £110 in excess of the customary farm, but he lost no time in petitioning for redress and was excused these additional charges. During this period, a dispute occurred between John Bosevyle, the dean of the chapel of St. Clement in Pontefract castle, and one of the ecclesiastical authorities in the town. Sothill and his eldest son, Henry, both of whom were evidently known to the dean, intervened to secure a private arbitration and offered personal guarantees of £100 as an earnest of his readiness to abide by the ensuing award. Sir Gerard himself acted as an arbitrator in September 1407, when he and Sir Richard Hansard* (the grandson of his old friend) were called upon to settle a quarrel between the prior of Newstead in Lincolnshire and his tenants.7 Having already lapsed into virtual retirement, he spent the rest of his life quietly on his estates, avoiding the public commitments which had occupied him for over 30 years.
Sothill died on 1 Aug. 1410, leaving as his successor his second son, Gerard, who was then said to be almost 12, but who did not in fact come of age until September 1426. His widow, Joan, obtained her dower immediately; and in October 1410 she agreed to pay £50 for the farm of the remaining family estates together with Gerard’s wardship. She also obtained the custody of his brother, John, whom she later married to (Sir) John Pouger’s daughter and heir, Joan. Such was her haste to gain control of the girl’s inheritance that she proceeded without the necessary royal licence, and was duly fined 200 marks by the Crown for her offence. She died in 1441, having been confirmed in possession of her estates in Bigsby by Robert Wasselyn, the son of her first marriage, to whom these properties now descended. Gerard Sothill the younger had, meanwhile, served two terms as escheator of Lincolnshire, although unlike his father, he never sat in Parliament.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Satell, Sedhill, Southill, Suthill, Sutylle.
- 1. Lincs. Peds. ed. Maddison, 914-15; C137/79/143; C139/31/70; CPL, v. 60; Chrons. London ed. Kingsford, 48. According to Maddison, Sothill had only one wife, who was reputedly the daughter of Sir Gerard Salvin. He must, however, have married twice, because his eldest son, Henry, was born in or before 1382, and Robert Wasselyn, the child of his widow’s first marriage, shortly before 1397 (C139/105/4; CCR, 1402-5, p. 169); Belvoir Castle deeds, 1824-5).
- 2. C66/351 m. 12v.
- 3. C143/375/5; CP25(1)143/146/58; CPR, 1364-7, p. 180; 1370-4, p. 86; 1388-92, p. 242; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 209, 409-10; Feudal Aids, iii. 247, 248, 267, 356, 363; vi. 598.
- 4. C137/55/50; CP25(1)143/146/35; Lincoln Rec. Soc. xxx. 146, 149-50; CCR, 1385-9, p. 144; 1405-9, p. 56; CPR, 1381-5, p. 378; 1391-6, p. 188; 1396-9, p. 382; CFR, ix. 219; R. Surtees, Durham, iii. 411; Test. Ebor. i. 132; Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 49, 98.
- 5. As, for example, CP25(1)144/149/7; CCR, 1389-92, p. 174; 1405-9, p. 19; CPR, 1405-8, p. 86; Lincs. AO, FL 3073, 3075, 3088, 3149, 3152.
- 6. RP, iii. 401; CPR, 1388-92, p. 453; 1396-9, p. 302; CCR, 1389-92, p. 508; 1402-5, p. 483; CPL, v. 60.
- 7. Chrons. London, 48; PPC, i. 160; ii. 86; CCR, 1399-1401, p. 99; 1402-5, p. 169; 1405-9, pp. 286, 288, 383-4; CPR, 1401-5, p. 334.
- 8. C137/79/43; C139/31/70, 105/4; CPR, 1408-13, p. 245; 1416-22, p. 343; CCR, 1409-13, p. 135; 1422-9, pp. 215, 307; Belvoir Castle deeds, 1737, 1773, 1824-5.