THORPE, John (d.c.1399), of Thorpe, Surr.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of John Thorpe (d.c.1384) of Thorpe and Egham, Surr. prob. by his w. Alice. m. (1) by Feb. 1368, Felicity, prob. da. and h. of William Mawardyn† (d.1359) of Windsor, Berks. by his w. Felicity Pipard and wid. of Thomas Pentelowe†, at least 2s. 1da.; ?(2) by May 1398, Margaret, da. of Edmund Brooke† of Aldenham, Herts.1
Tax collector, Surr. Mar. 1388, Mar., Oct. 1393.
Commr. of inquiry, Surr. Jan. 1389 (public works near Staines).2
Because of the recurrent use of the Christian name John, it is sometimes difficult to speak with any degree of certainty about individual members of the Thorpe family, who cannot always be distinguished from one another. Our MP’s father served as verderer of Windsor castle until 1345, when he was found to lack the necessary qualifications for office. From 1346 onwards he drew a wage of 6d. a day, assigned to him as a yeoman-carrier of Edward III’s wardrobe. John Thorpe the elder was twice made a tax collector in the Surrey area, since it was here that the bulk of his estates lay. His family derived its name from the village of Thorpe, and he made other purchases in the surrounding countryside. During the Easter term of 1379, for example, he and his wife bought land in Egham, while by a separate transaction his son, the subject of this biography, acquired holdings there and in the neighbouring manor of Thorpe.3
John the younger was by this time a figure of some consequence, having been himself retained in April 1365 as one of the King’s yeomen at a fee of £10 a year, payable for life. That this grant was assigned to him and not his father is clear from the issue rolls of the Exchequer, which record regular payments until December 1398, when he was unable to receive the money in person.4 By February 1368, Thorpe had obtained custody of the land of the late William Mawardyn in Windsor, and was then attempting to recover part of the rent charged upon it by the Crown. Mawardyn had died in 1359 leaving various holdings in this part of Berkshire to his daughter, Felicity, then the wife of Thomas Pentelowe. Her mother, who was also called Felicity, was heiress to the manor of Hinton Pipard as well as appurtenances in the nearby villages of Hinton, Hurst and Ruscombe, and it is clear that one of these two women, almost certainly the daughter, married Thorpe at some point during the late 1360s. This estate, which evidently included unspecified property in Wiltshire and Buckinghamshire as well, was the subject of a protracted dispute between Thorpe’s descendants, although neither his nor his wife’s title was questioned at any time. In December 1376 a London chandler confirmed Thorpe, Felicity and their heirs in possession of all the land they had acquired from a local man in Chertsey and Steventon End, but they made no more purchases after this date.5
By March 1380, Thorpe had been promoted to the rank of King’s esquire, and as such he received royal letters of exemption from any kind of official appointment. He invoked these letters after being made a tax collector in 1388, although subsequent commissions were none the less addressed to him and duly executed. The 1380s appear to have been a litigious period in his life: for almost the entire decade he was involved in a suit over the ownership of property in Egham, brought against him by his neighbour, the abbot of Chertsey; and in December 1383 we find him suing two chaplains for trespass. This is the last occasion on which he is described as John Thorpe the younger, which suggests that his father died shortly afterwards. He again went to law in July 1392, this time in an attempt to gain redress from a servant who had left his employment before the accepted term.6 Perhaps because of his attendance on the King, Thorpe played very little part in local government, although his election to the Parliaments of September 1388 and January 1390 reflects his position in county society and cannot be dismissed simply as an act of royal intervention. Indeed, despite his evident standing at Court, he received no tangible marks of royal favour, and seems to have passed most of his life in comparative obscurity. In 1393 Thorpe was twice commissioned to levy parliamentary taxes in Surrey, but no more is heard of him until November 1397, when he acted as a mainpernor at the Exchequer for the farmers of certain royal property in Cornwall. His elder son, John, was by then of age, and it is not entirely clear which of them married Margaret, the daughter of Edmund Brooke of Aldenham in Hertford, at about this time. There is, however, a strong possibility that our MP made a second marriage in, or shortly before, May 1398, when Margaret Brooke and her husband, John Thorpe (not otherwise designated), were confirmed in possession of holdings in Kingston and Long Ditton, Surrey. An annuity of 20 marks from the revenues of this property was subsequently granted by Thorpe to Edmund Brooke for life.7
Thorpe’s royal pension was last paid on 17 Dec. 1398, when his son, John, collected it on his behalf from the Exchequer. It seems probable, therefore, that he died shortly after this date, leaving his estates to the young man. The latter, who enjoyed a landed income of at least £40 a year from his Surrey property alone, served on many local commissions and lived on until 1438.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. CCR, 1360-4, p. 413; 1374-7, p. 274; 1396-9, pp. 312, 385; 1429-35, pp. 229-30; CPR, 1367-70, p. 136; 1436-41, p. 351; CIPM, xi. 138; Sel. Cases in Chancery (Seldon Soc. x), 156; CP25(1)229/48/81.
- 2. Pub. Works in Med. Law (Selden Soc. xxxii), 207.
- 3. CCR, 1343-6, p. 598; 1345-8, p. 475; CFR, vi. 196, 269; Surr. Rec. Soc. xxi. 190; VCH Surr. iii. 438; CP25(1)229/48/81, 60/16.
- 4. CPR, 1364-7, p. 109; 1377-81, p. 157; E403/543.
- 5. CCR, 1360-4, p. 413; 1374-7, p. 274; 1461-8, p. 133; CPR, 1367-70, p. 136; Eton Coll. recs. W582-3; CIPM, xi. 138; VCH Berks. iii. 254; Sel. Cases in Chancery, 156.
- 6. CPR, 1377-81, p. 454; JUST 1/1491 rot. 32, 1498 rot. 9, 1503 rot. 81; CCR, 1381-5, p. 416; 1385-9, p. 395; 1392-6, p. 83.
- 7. CFR, xi. 73, 97, 240; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 312, 385. John Thorpe the younger had at least two wives: Joan, who predeceased him, and Alice, whom he left a widow (F. Turner, Thorpe, 26; PCC 25 Luffenham).
- 8. E403/543; Feudal Aids, vi. 518; CFR, xii. 115; xiii. 63, 91; xiv. 151, 416; xv. 6, 220; CPR, 1408-13, p. 310; PCC 25 Luffenham; C138/45/23.