WAKE, Thomas (1379-1423/5), of East Deeping, Lincs. and Blisworth, Northants.
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Family and Education
b. 12 Mar. 1379, 2nd s. and h. of Sir Thomas Wake (d. 14 Aug. 1383) of Blisworth by Maud (d. 26 Apr. 1425), da. of Sir John Pigot (c.1313-Apr. 1361) of Cardington, Beds. m. Margaret, kinswoman of Sir John Philipot† (d. 25 May 1384), citizen and grocer of London, at least 1s. Thomas†.1
Commr. to hold a special assize, Northants. Apr. 1410 (ownership of the manor of Hinton by Brackley);2 of oyer and terminer May 1410 (withdrawal of labour services on the manor of Fawsley); inquiry Jan. 1412 (persons liable to pay taxes); to raise royal loans Nov. 1419, Apr. 1421, Northants. Mar. 1422.
Sheriff, Northants. 6 Nov. 1413-10 Nov. 1414, 4 Nov. 1418-23 Nov. 1419.
Collector of a royal loan, Northants. Jan 1420.
J.p. Northants. 12 Feb. 1422-July 1424.
The subject of this biography came of a distinguished and ancient family, being distantly related to the Holands, earls of Kent and lords Wake. He was a direct descendant of Sir Hugh Wake† a prominent figure in Northamptonshire society during the early years of the 14th century, whose immediate heirs had done much to enlarge their estates through marriage. His father, Sir Thomas Wake, had died young in 1383, leaving at least two sons, both of whom were still children. The wardship and marriage of the next heir, John, was granted almost immediately to the wealthy London merchant, Sir John Philipot, who also appears to have found the younger boy, Thomas, a wife from among his female relatives. At some point before April 1398, when he was just 19, Thomas himself succeeded to the family estates, almost all of which had until then been in the hands of his paternal grandmother, the lady Alice. Besides an extremely handsome jointure, comprising the two Wake manors of Blisworth and East Deeping, which had been settled on her for life by her husband, Sir Thomas, she also held the manors and joint advowson of Middleton and Collingtree together with land in and around five other Northamptonshire villages. This property had come into her hands in 1366 on the death of her only brother, Sir William Patteshull, and it too descended to the future MP. As the niece and eventual coheir of Otto Grandison, Alice was also able to leave her grandson part of the manors of Lambourne (Berkshire) and Dymock (Gloucestershire), as well as various small rents from the Dartford area of Kent.3
Many years later, in 1412, Wake’s Northamptonshire estates alone were said to produce £40 a year; while his holdings in Lincolnshire bore a separate valuation of £20. We cannot be absolutely certain that he was the Thomas Wake who then owned land in Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire worth a further £90, but in view of his family’s ambitions in the property market this is quite possible. Had he outlived his mother, who died soon after him in April 1425, Wake would have become even richer, since at the time of her marriage she had been given the manors of Wakes in Bromham (Bedfordshire), Chelsing (Hertfordshire) and Little Crawley (Buckinghamshire) as a jointure by her parents-in-law, while her own father, Sir John Pigot, had conveyed some of his estates in the Cardington area of Bedfordshire to her and her heirs (the rest eventually passed to her brother or half-brother, Sir Baldwin Pigot*). Yet although circumstances prevented him from enjoying the reversionary interests thus left to him by his forebears, Wake none the less remained one of the most affluent landowners to represent Northamptonshire during our period.4
Tantalizingly little is known about Wake’s own life, for despite his wealth and potential influence he appears to have devoted most of his time to running the family estates and performing the various routine official tasks which inevitably fell to a man of his position. Although he held the manor of Blisworth of his kinsman, Thomas Holand, earl of Kent, he was not tempted to follow the latter’s example in trying to overthrow the newly crowned Henry IV. On the contrary, by March 1401 he had become an esquire of the royal body, and it was as such that he joined with another of his relatives, John Philipot the mercer, to witness the granting of an annuity. Four years later our Member agreed to act as a feoffee-to-uses for William Palton†, who had just inherited an estate in the south-west, but he was not otherwise much involved in the affairs of others before his first return to Parliament in 1407. Then aged 28, he had still to gain experience in the field of local government, although his hereditary status in local society and his connexion with the Court were clearly recommendation enough to the Northamptonshire electors. Wake was perhaps already suing one of his employees for breach of contract by this date: his attempt to gain redress at law was, however, frustrated in the following year by the award of a writ of supersedeas to the defendant.
Wake’s attachment to Henry IV may well have resulted from the fact that some of his land in Northamptonshire was held of the duchy of Lancaster. This was certainly the case by May 1410, when the duchy steward received orders to take securities from him for the payment of a relief. From then onwards he began to serve as a royal commissioner, and twice held office as sheriff during the space of five years. The second of these terms was marred by his failure to produce a prisoner in Chancery for which he was reprimanded and fined 20s. He remained, meanwhile, on close terms with John Philipot, for whom he stood surety in Chancery at the beginning of 1413. A few weeks later he again appeared as a mainpernor, this time for John Hertwelle, on whose behalf he entered a joint bond of 500 marks. Margaret, the redoubtable wife of Sir John Trussell*, also asked Wake to stand bail for her, which he did in December 1417, together with her brother-in-law, Sir Alfred Trussell*. On the whole, however, the MP was not generally concerned with the activities of his friends and neighbours, although in March 1420 Ralph Parles*, did persuade him to become one of his trustees. The recognizance of £37 which Wake surrendered to Joan, the dowager countess of Kent, some three years later probably had something to do with his tenure of the manor of Blisworth, since this property had for some time been part of the dower settled upon her by Parliament.5
No more is heard of Wake after 30 Sept. 1423, when he attested the return of shire knights made at the county court at Northampton. His commission as a j.p. was not renewed in July 1424, which suggests that he had probably died by then, although no definite date of death can be established before inquisitions post mortem were held on his mother at Whitsuntide of the following year. His son, Thomas, was then found to be her next heir, and thus gained control of all the family estates. Known as ‘the Great Wake’, he married Agnes, daughter and coheir of Thomas Lovell* of Clevedon in Somerset, and like his father he pursued an active career in local government.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Northants. Fams. 319-21; VCH Northants. iv. 22-24; Beaven, Aldermen, i. 390; DNB, xv. 1045-7; C136/108/50; C139/15/20. Wake’s wife is generally said to have been Sir John Philipot’s sister, but this seems most unlikely on chronological grounds. She may well have been his niece or kinswoman, however, since their two families maintained a close connexion (CPR, 1399-1401, p. 408; CCR, 1409-13, p. 425).
- 2. RP, iii. 634.
- 3. Northants. Fams. 319-21; C136/108/50; VCH Northants. iv. 224-5, 242; CIPM, xii. no. 74; xvi. no. 180; Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 104; CPR, 1381-5, pp. 307, 315; CCR, 1396-9, p. 347; 1409-13, pp. 296, 304; CFR, x. 4; xi. 145-6, 295-6; xii. 34-35; xiii. 42-43.
- 4. C139/1