WOOD, John I (d.1458), of Northwick, Worcester and Wolverley, Worcs.
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Family and Education
Alnager, Worcs. Mich. 1405-32.
Commr. to take into the King’s hands the estates of Sir John Mortimer, Worcs. Apr. 1416; of array Mar. 1419; to raise royal loans Nov. 1419, Jan. 1420, Mar. 1430, Mar. 1431, Mar. 1439, Nov. 1440, Mar. 1442, June 1446; of inquiry, Staffs., Herefs., Worcs., Salop, Glos. July 1427, Worcs. Feb. 1448 (concealments), Essex, Norf., Suff., Lincs., Yorks., Worcs., Glos., Wilts. June 1450 (concealed goods of suicides and deodands), Worcs. Dec. 1450 (escapes of felons from Worcester castle gaol); to assess a royal aid Apr. 1431; apportion tax relief Dec. 1433, Jan. 6; of gaol delivery, Worcester castle Nov. 1435, May 1448, Feb. 1449; oyer and terminer, Worcs. Jan. 1439; to treat for payment of a parliamentary grant Feb. 1441, Aug. 1450; organize the Worcs. complement of archers for defence of the realm Dec. 1457.
Bailiff, Worcester Mich. 1416-17.1
Escheator, Worcs. 8 Dec. 1416-30 Nov. 1417, 6 Nov. 1424-24 Jan. 1426, 26 Nov. 1431-5 Nov. 1432.
J.p. Worcs. 4 Dec. 1417-July 1458.
Dep. sheriff, Worcs. (by appointment of Richard, earl of Warwick), 17 Nov. 1425-13 Oct. 1426.
Although there is no definite proof of this MP’s parentage, the fact that he eventually came into possession of the Worcestershire estates of Sir John atte Wood, who had been five times the county’s representative in Parliament between 1372 and 1381, points to a close kinship between them. Possibly as a consequence of a marriage between a daughter of atte Wood and Sir John Beauchamp† of Holt, 1st baron of Kidderminster, the atte Wood properties in Gloucestershire (and perhaps those elsewhere, too) passed on his death in 1391 to Beauchamp’s 14-year-old son and heir, John*. Those in Shropshire were Sir John atte Wood’s for life only, and in 1416 a local jury professed itself ignorant about his rightful heirs. There may then have arisen some dispute over the inheritance, with John Wood making a claim as Sir John’s nearest male relation (perhaps even as his illegitimate son), for it was not until after Beauchamp’s death without male issue in 1420, that the principal atte Wood holdings in Worcestershire were conveyed to him. Significantly, in 1427 one Hamlet Smethwick, esquire, made a formal quitclaim to his ‘cousin’ John Wood of Worcester of the heraldic arms (gules, a lion rampant argent with a forked tail) previously borne by Sir John atte Wood.2
Long before then, Wood had made a reputation for himself as a highly competent lawyer and administrator in Worcestershire. His earliest royal appointment, of 1405, and its subsequent renewals, gave him control over the collection of the local cloth subsidies for nearly 30 years, during which period he occasionally found mainprise at the Exchequer for the alnagers of Gloucestershire (while attending Parliament for the first time) and Derbyshire. In July 1406, in association with his then fellow alnager, Henry Wybbe, he secured an Exchequer lease of property in Bromsgrove, and Wybbe subsequently made him an executor of his will. From February 1413 to 1416 Wood also enjoyed a lease from the Crown of land near his home at Northwick.3 His career as a lawyer was undoubtedly forwarded by Sir John Phelip*, whom he was to remember with affection in his will made many years after Phelip’s death, then referring to Sir John as his ‘master’. When the two men travelled together to Westminster for Henry V’s first Parliament (the one, Phelip, as representative for Worcestershire, the other for Worcester) Phelip was already a prominent figure at the new King’s court; indeed, he was counted among Henry’s personal friends. Then, during the Parliament which assembled in November 1414 (with Wood now sitting in the Commons as a shire knight), Sir John enfeoffed him, along with his fellow Member for Worcestershire, John Throckmorton, Phelip’s brother Sir William (then representing Suffolk) and his father-in-law Thomas Chaucer, the Speaker, in the extensive Grovebury priory estates recently granted him by Henry V. The following February, Wood appeared as Phelip’s attorney to receive seisin in his name of property in Berkshire, and in June he was named as one of the executors of his will. Following Phelip’s death from dysentery contracted at the seige of Harfleur, the trustees of his estates conveyed them to his widow, Alice, but this was by no means the end of Wood’s commitment, for 30 years later (in 1445) as the sole surviving feoffee of a manor of Phelip’s in Kent, he was to be required to transfer ownership to Alice and her third husband, William de la Pole, then marquess of Suffolk.4
Phelip’s patronage led to Wood’s appointment before July 1415 as one of the King’s serjeants-at-law, as such receiving a royal grant of a corrody for life from St. Mary’s priory, Worcester (which he was not to resign until some 27 years later). When, in 1420, he delivered the Worcestershire election return to the clerk of the Parliaments he was described as ‘commorans in medio templo’, but how much of his time was spent practicing in the central courts is difficult to discover. Certainly, he was in Worcester for the shire elections to the Parliaments of 1414 (Nov.), 1420, 1422, 1425, 1427, 1431, 1437 and 1449;5 and as a j.p. and a member of most of the other important royal commissions set up in Worcestershire over a period of 40 years he clearly made the affairs of the locality the focus of his attention. He appears frequently in the justices’ manual compiled in about 1422 holding sessions of the peace, figuring as one of the quorum and also serving as the custos rotulorum for the shire.6 Indeed, as one of a number of lawyer-administrators closely connected with Richard Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, he and his regular associates, John Throckmorton, William Wollashull*, John Weston and John Vampage†, give the impression of having formed a group of intimate friends who together took a large share of responsibility for the peaceful governance of the region. Both he and Throckmorton were also concerned with the administration of the Cokesey estates, not only as custodians of those in Worcestershire from 1419 during the minority of Hugh Cokesey†, the late Sir John Phelip’s stepson, but also as trustees, in association with the earl of Warwick, of those in six other counties from 1426 to 1441. To this Beauchamp attachment must be ascribed Wood’s appointment in November 1425, during his second of three escheatorships of Worcestershire, as deputy sheriff of the county, since the earl held the shrievalty in fee, and also his acquisition in March 1431 of the profitable marriage of Margaret, daughter of Roger Corbet* and grand daughter and heiress of Sir William Lichfield†, which pertained to Warwick as chief lord. On 12 Oct. 1433, the day before the start of the second session of the Parliament of that year, he and his fellow shire knight, Throckmorton, together with one of the Members for Worcester and Wollashull and Vampage, were appointed guardians of the temporalities of the bishopric of Worcester during the episcopal vacancy. Two years later he and Throckmorton stood surety for the Exchequer lessees of Abergavenny castle, shortly before it came into the possession of the earl of Warwick, and subsequently he acted as a feoffee of property in Coughton belonging to Throckmorton himself.7
Wood’s own landed estate in Worcestershire came to be considerable. His putative father had inherited part of Trimpley in Wolverley, which had long been in the family’s possession, and had obtained by other means lands in Kidderminster, Northwick and Worcester together with the manor of Rushock. According to Thomas Habington, Worcestershire’s 17th-century historian, these properties (excluding Rushock) were all conveyed to John Wood by feoffees in 1424-5, and later on James, Lord Audley, formally released to him and his son, Thomas, all his right of inheritance in the county by virtue of his kinship with the Beauchamps of Holt. The holdings Wood acquired included the advowson of the chapel of St. Mary at Trimpley (built by Sir John atte Wood) and Attwood park, which had originated from a royal licence granted to Sir John in 1362 to enclose 600 acres of his demesne lands.8 He presented to the chapel at Trimpley in 1450, although he recognized that Sir John Beauchamp’s daughter, Margaret, wife of the lawyer Sir Walter Skull†, kept an interest in the advowson, and as a consequence of a settlement he made on the couple, Skull acted as patron of the benefice in 1456 and 1467. Of Wood’s mansion in Northwick, Leland was to report that it was ‘bought of a bishop for lake of a house in Claynes [Claines]. It is moted and had a park’. It was quite likely through marriage to John Weston’s widow that Wood came in the 1440s to hold land in Barbourne and Whistones in Worcestershire and more at Weston-under-Wetherley, Alne and Stoneleigh, in Warwickshire, most of which had previously belonged to Weston, his former colleague in two Parliaments; but how he came by the holdings on the manor of ‘Frethfeld’ in Kent, mentioned in his will, is less easy to explain. The will, composed on 13 June 1458, reveals the full extent of his property in Worcester (which included ‘Beauchamp Hall’, ‘Berysin’, the Antelope Inn, the Foregate Tower ‘with the grete arche and all maner houses of offices longing thereto’, orchards and stables), as well as referring to his manors of Wolverley and Perdiswell.9
Wood requested burial in Worcester cathedral between the tombs of his first two wives and beneath a marble slab carved with his and their images and arms. He had previously arranged for masses to be perpetually said there for his soul and now exonerated the priory from arrears of the corrody payments due to him, at the same time bequeathing ornaments, vestments, candlesticks, property and the large sum of £100 to repair the ruinous infirmary—bequests such that Habington later declared ‘I may boldly say noe familie now flourishing in this shire hath byn soe devout to God and so charitable to his Church as the Attewodes’. Legacies to Bordesley abbey, Whistones priory and ‘Redminster’ parish church provided in particular for the remembrance of Sir John Phelip and Sir Hugh Cokesey, and in addition Wood arranged for the sale of certain properties by his feoffees ‘as dere as they maye’ to pay two priests to pray at Worcester for some of his deceased friends, including John Weston. His lands in Kent, too, were to be sold to the highest bidder and the profits disposed in alms for the benefit of Phelip’s soul. Valuable bequests went to Wood’s godson, John Stafford†, esquire, his three sons and his daughters, Eleanor, wife of Richard Perwych, and Anne, wife of Thomas Strange. (A third daughter, Alice, who had married Wood’s ward, Thomas Gower (d.1440), presumably predeceased her father.) Among the executors to the will was Sir Walter Skull, while Ralph, Lord Sudeley, and Master John Stokes, LL.D., chancellor to the archbishop of Canterbury, were named as supervisors. The testator left detailed legal instructions to the feoffees of his Worcestershire estates, who included Archbishop Bourgchier (formerly bishop of Worcester, 1435-43) and several eminent lawyers, and to those of his Warwickshire lands, headed by Richard Neville, earl of Warwick, with regard to future settlements. Indeed, he went to great lengths to ensure the continuance of the estates in the family by tail-male, stipulating that should any of his heirs interfere with his provisions they would be cut off from their inheritance, and if the feoffees were ‘troubled, served or lettyd ... by weye of action reale, personelle or by maintenance’ by any legatee, then they were to dispose of his portion. Should his widow, Lucy, refuse to act as his executrix or in any way frustrated probate, she was to receive nothing; but otherwise she was to have 100 marks from the issues of the estate at Northwick. Wood died before 10 Nov. 1458. His estates passed to his eldest son, Thomas, thereafter remaining in the family until 1592.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Often atte Wood.
- 1. Worcester Chs. (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1909), 193.
- 2. CCR, 1422-9, p. 378; T.R. Nash, Worcs. i. pp. xvi, xxvi; T. Habington, Surv. Worcs. (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1899), ii. 124; VCH Worcs. iii. 114; C136/69/4; C138/18/11.
- 3. CFR, xiii. 41, 259; xiv. 9, 10; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 95, 227, 235; CPR, 1416-22, pp. 36-37; PCC 15 Marche.
- 4. CPR, 1413-16, pp. 259, 281; CCR, 1413-16, pp. 234-5; 1441-7, pp. 367-8; PCC 43 Marche.
- 5. CCR, 1413-16, p. 280; 1441-7, p. 61; C219/11/5, 12/4, 13/1, 3, 5, 14/2, 15/1, 7.
- 6. B.H. Putnam, Treatises on J.P.s, 64-65, 71, 74-75; E101/592/20 mm. 2-5; E137/48/1.
- 7. CFR, xiv. 276; xv. 163; xvi. 171, 254, 264; VCH Worcs. iv. 267; CPR, 1436-41, p. 495; 1441-6, p. 391; CCR, 1435-41, pp. 346-7; 1441-7, p. 323; C139/49/33, 122/35; Warws. Feet of Fines (Dugdale Soc. xviii), 160-1; DKR, xxxvii (pt. 2), 156-7; Feudal Aids, v. 329.
- 8. Habington, ii. 124, 316-18; VCH Worcs. iii. 114, 569-71.
- 9. CP25(1)260/27/20, 26, 31, 44-46, 49; Feudal Aids, v. 327-8; Collectanea (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1912), 33, 44-45; Nash, i. 205; ii. 47, 60-61.
- 10. PCC 13 Stokton; Habington, ii. 48, 318-21; Nash, ii. 18-19; Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 60; C139/33/9.