WINTERSHALL, Thomas (c.1364-1400), of Bramley, Surr.
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Family and Education
b.c.1364, s. and h. of Thomas Wintershall (d.1388) of Bramley. m. by 1392, Joan, 1s. 2da.1
Commr. of array, Surr. Dec. 1399.
This MP was a descendant of William Wintershall and his wife, Beatrice, who, during the late 13th century, built up an estate centred upon the manors of Burgham, Bramley, Puttenham Bury and West Clandon in Surrey, and Eastleigh and Frobury in Hampshire. Thomas Wintershall the elder inherited part of this property on the death of his elder brother, William, in 1361, but the rest remained in the hands of his widowed mother, Alice, who lived on until 1385. Thomas himself died three years later, leaving his son, the subject of this biography, a landed income then said to be worth £27 a year. The same estates were valued at £55 a year in 1418, so we may assume that Wintershall was one of the more affluent Members to represent Surrey during our period.2 He was about 24 years old when his father died, but nothing else is known of him before this date, save that he witnessed a deed at Winchester in the spring of 1386. Indeed, he remains a tantalizingly obscure figure until the dramatic events leading up to his execution for treason in January 1400. Over the year ending June 1390 he paid a relief of £5 for livery of his estates. His son, another Thomas, was born at Burgham in October 1392 and baptized at Worplesdon church, but there are no signs of his participation in local affairs until he sat in the Parliament of September 1397.3 That the electors of Surrey should return a man who had previously shown so little interest in the business of government or the activities of his neighbours is particularly significant in view of Wintershall’s subsequent decision to take up arms on behalf of Thomas, earl of Kent, in his abortive rebellion against Henry IV. Kent was one of the key members of Richard II’s council who worked to obtain the attainder of the Lords Appellant in the Parliament of September 1397, and there is a strong possibility that Wintershall was returned because of some private connexion with the earl. His position as a local landowner must further have recommended him to the electorate, who probably needed little persuasion to choose a candidate so acceptable to the court party.
By a curious irony, which Henry IV certainly cannot have foreseen, Wintershall threw in his lot with the earl of Kent’s followers barely a fortnight after receiving his first and only royal commission, dated 18 Dec. 1399, for the suppression of the insurgents. An inquisition held at Guildford during the aftermath of the rebellion found that he and other local men had ridden out with the earl, although one chronicle source states that he was executed not at Cirencester (where Kent met his death), but at Pleshey in Essex with the earl of Huntingdon, whose head was set next to his on London Bridge.4
A few weeks later, Wintershall’s confiscated estates, together with the marriage and wardship of his son and two daughters, were awarded to the King’s esquire, John Waterton*, who consolidated his title in April 1400 by making the widowed Joan Wintershall his wife. A marriage was subsequently arranged between the young Thomas Wintershall and Isabel Romayn, an heiress to land in Hampshire and Berkshire. Thomas died in 1420, just two years after entering his own inheritance, which was then divided between his sisters, Agnes Bassett and Joan, the widow of William Weston II* of Hindhall and future wife of William Catton* of Winchelsea. The two women were subsequently involved in a lengthy dispute with the Loxley family over other property once held by the Wintershalls, but without any apparent success.