STAPLETON, Sir Brian (d.1417), of Carlton, Yorks.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Sir Brian Stapleton (d.v.p. 1391) of Carlton by Elizabeth (1364-21 Dec. 1417), e. da. of William, 1st Lord Aldeburgh (d.1388), of Aldeburgh and Harewood, Yorks. and sis. and coh. of William, 2nd Lord Aldeburgh (d.s.p. 1391). m. Agnes (d. 31 Mar. 1448), da. of Sir John Godard*, 1s. Brian Godard†, 3da. Kntd. by 6 Mar. 1416.1
The most influential figure in this MP’s early life was his grandfather, Sir Brian, a formidable character who had built up the family estates to include the manors of Carlton Wighill, Walkingham, Rufforth, Farlington and Querneby in Yorkshire, and Kentmere in Westmorland. Moreover, in 1380, the earl of Salisbury, whom he had served loyally for years, rewarded him with a gift in perpetuity of the manor of Bamburgh in Lincolnshire and other property in and around Bampton in Westmorland and Carlisle in Cumberland. Sir Brian had distinguished himself during the wars with France, becoming captain and controller of Calais, and also serving on a number of diplomatic missions. On the death of his elder son (another Sir Brian), in 1391, it was therefore natural that he should assume custody of his infant grandson, although he himself lived on for only three more years. The young Brian Stapleton then not only stood as heir to all the above-mentioned estates, but he also expected to succeed eventually to his mother’s impressive holdings. The death without issue of her only brother, the second Lord Aldeburgh, in 1391, had left Elizabeth Stapleton in possession of half the valuable manor of Harewood with its extensive appurtenances in the West Riding, as well as other property in Holderness. She seems to have been an intelligent and interesting woman: from her friends in the Roos family of Ingmanthorpe she received various books, including the Legenda Sanctorum, while her father-in-law left her ornaments and medals dedicated to the cult of the Virgin (but only on the condition that she behaved well after his demise). Brian himself now became a pawn in the game of dynastic diplomacy, and before long his estates, marriage and person were entrusted by Richard II to Sir William le Scrope (the future earl of Wiltshire) and Sir Thomas Percy (later to become earl of Worcester). Having bought out Sir William’s share, Percy made a gift of the boy and his marriage, together with a maintenance allowance of £20 p.a. from the manor of Carlton, to his retainer, Sir Robert Hilton*. The latter’s father had recently married Sir John Godard’s widow, Constance, who was herself a sister-in-law of the late Lord Aldeburgh, so there were strong reasons for pressing the claims of Godard’s daughter, Agnes, as a suitable wife for Brian. She brought him a sizeable estate in the Lincolnshire villages of Conisholme and Cockerington, thus consolidating his position in the county.2
Round about 1397 Elizabeth herself decided to remarry, taking as her second husband the distinguished Westmorland knight, Sir Richard Redmayne*. Already a man of considerable authority, Sir Richard rose to occupy an important position in the north after the Lancastrian coup d’état. He was, naturally enough, anxious to reinforce his growing influence through the acquisition of property; and the birth of children to him and Elizabeth gave him a welcome pretext to further his territorial ambitions by disinheriting Brian in favour of his own offspring. In 1401 he obtained permission from Henry IV for Elizabeth’s share of the Aldeburgh estates to be entailed upon their two sons, thus leaving Brian with nothing more than a reversionary interest in the property. These arrangements were implemented over the next six years while Brian was still a minor. Although he could not gain permanent control of his stepson’s other estates, Sir Richard was at least able to use his connexions at Court to obtain temporary rights of wardship. In August 1403, the King permitted him to occupy the manor of Kentmere, which was then worth at least £46 p.a., rent-free, while paying £70 a year for the rather more productive manor of Carlton. Two years later, moreover, the farm was reduced even further, so that his only obligation was to meet the annual allowance of £20 already assigned to the boy’s guardian, Sir Robert Hilton. There is some reason to believe that Redmayne later regretted the shabby way in which his stepson was treated. In his will of 1425, for example, he settled the two manors of Kereby and Kirkby Overblow upon Brian’s young son and heir as compensation for his lost inheritance, although the grant was none the less made conditional upon his readiness to abandon any title to Harewood or the other Aldeburgh estates. Furthermore, Sir Richard took a keen interest in Brian’s career, hoping, no doubt, to atone for his earlier behaviour by exerting influence on his behalf.3
Sir Richard may well have been instrumental in helping Brian to obtain livery of his patrimony before he actually came of age. His mother retained the manor of Rufforth as dower, but fortunately for Brian only a modest settlement had been made upon her when she married his father, and the rest of the Stapleton estates descended directly to him. In November 1407, the Crown allowed him to enter the property without the necessary formalities; and in the following year he took possession, unopposed, of the Yorkshire holdings of his nephew, John Stapleton (who had died young). Nor do there seem to have been any official objections to plans set forward by Brian’s trustees in 1410 for the endowment of a chantry at Carlton, where prayers were to be said for King Henry and his first wife, Mary de Bohun. At about this time, Brian Stapleton offered securities of £200 in Chancery on behalf of William Dengaine, but otherwise he seems to have played little part in the affairs of friends or neighbours. His only son, Brian, was born at Carlton in November 1413, by which date he may already have been hoping to arrange a marriage for his daughter Elizabeth, then a child of nine. She was eventually betrothed to William Plumpton†, the eldest son of the Yorkshire landowner, Sir Robert Plumpton*, who agreed to settle an estate in Kinoulton, Nottinghamshire, upon the pair. Stapleton himself contracted in January 1416 to pay Sir Robert 360 marks, as well as maintaining the young couple in his own home, although some of their expenses were to be met by the Plumptons. He had by then been knighted, probably while serving with his half-brother, Richard Redmayne, on Henry V’s first expedition to France. During the autumn campaign of 1415, Brian took at least eight prisoners, each of whom subsequently received safe conducts from the King to enable them to negotiate their ransoms. Meanwhile, on 6 Nov. 1415, just two days after the opening of Parliament, Sir Richard Redmayne was elected Speaker for the Commons, probably because of his close connexion with John, duke of Bedford, the custos regni. By the time the next Parliament was summoned for March 1416, Sir Richard was, however, again in office as sheriff of Yorkshire, and thus in a strong position to influence the choice of representatives. Although not himself eligible to stand for Yorkshire, he at least ensured that both Sir Brian and his friend, Sir Robert Plumpton, were returned by the electors. Sir Robert, too, was one of Bedford’s retainers, and despite the fact that evidence of any formal contract between Sir Brian and the duke remains wanting, it seems more than likely that Sir Richard Redmayne had introduced his stepson into the ducal household. Certainly, on being received into the confraternity of St. Albans abbey in October 1417, Bedford’s first request was for prayers on behalf of Sir Brian, who had just been killed in France.4
The main aim of the first 1416 Parliament was to secure adequate funding for another, more permanent invasion of France. Sir Brian was naturally anxious to take part in such a venture, and even before the Commons assembled he had begun setting his affairs in order by appointing a new panel of trustees, headed by his stepfather, Sir Richard, towards whom he bore surprisingly little rancour. Although Henry V did not launch his second major offensive until the following year, Sir Brian seems to have resumed soldiering in earnest almost at once. In May 1416, for example, he sailed with the English fleet which dispersed a large contingent of French warships at the mouth of the Seine; and later references to desertions from his retinue in France suggest that he was on garrison duty at Harfleur or Calais during the following autumn. When the royal army set sail from Southampton in July 1417, Sir Brian and his following of 23 armed men mustered in the retinue of Thomas, earl of Salisbury, under whose command they went on to take the castle of d’Auvillars. Having captured Caen with comparative ease, the English forces set out to invest Alençon, and it was during this march, on 13 Oct., that Sir Brian met his death at the hands of the enemy. His body was sent home for burial at the church of the Dominicans in York.5
Since the young Brian Stapleton was then only four years old, the family again experienced another long minority. The boy became a ward of John, duke of Bedford, whom he was to serve loyally in both England and France. Brian eventually married a daughter of Sir Thomas Rempston II* (who was, in turn, closely connected with the Plumptons), and eventually represented Yorkshire in the Parliaments of 1437 and 1453-4. In addition to Elizabeth, already mentioned above, Sir Brian left two other daughters, one of whom became the wife of Sir William Ingleby. His mother did not long survive him, but his stepfather, Sir Richard Redmayne, lived on until 1425, retaining control of her dower properties in Rufforth, as well as the manor of Harewood, the descent of which he had, of course, previously secured for his own children. Perhaps anticipating his own early death, Sir Brian had made a generous settlement upon his wife, Agnes, who enjoyed a more than comfortable widowhood for the next 31 years.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
It is important not to confuse this MP with his kinsman and namesake, Sir Brian Stapleton of Ingham in Norfolk, who also fought in France during the reign of Henry V (H.E. Chetwynd-Stapylton, Stapletons of Yorks. 104-8).
- 1. Clay, Dugdale’s Vis. Yorks. 163-5; CP, i. 101-3; Chetwynd-Stapylton, 143; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. lxiii. 88; C136/85/36; C139/63/18, 130/14.
- 2. Chetwynd-Stapylton, 119-41; C136/85/36; CP, i. 101-2; Clay, 163-5; Cal. Scots. Docs. iv. no. 454; CCR, 1402-5, p. 326; C139/47/5, 130/14.
- 3. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 476; 1401-5, p. 253; 1405-8, pp. 42, 53-54; CCR, 1405-9, p. 302; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. iv. 91-93; xviii. 266.
- 4. CPR, 1405-8, p. 385; 1408-13, p. 289; CCR, 1405-9, p. 302; 1409-13, pp. 112-13; C139/63/18, 134/24; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. lix. 136; Plumpton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. iv), p. xliv; Cott. Nero DVII, f. 144; DKR, xliv. 579, 586-8.
- 5. Chetwynd-Stapylton, pp. 142-3; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. lxiii. 88; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 321-2; Gesta Hen. V ed. Williams, 267; Coll. Top. et Gen. iv. 76.
- 6. C138/26/27; C139/63/18, 130/14; CPR, 1416-22, p. 331; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. iv. 92-93; xviii. 266; Chetwynd-Stapylton, 143.