WYBBURY, John (c.1364-1423), of Otterham, Cornw. and Chagford, Devon.
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Family and Education
b.c.1364, 2nd s. and h. of John Wybbury of Chagford. m. Lena (d. 16 Dec. 1462), da. of John Gorges, 1da.
Parker of Freemantle, Hants 29 Apr. 1407-d.
Commr. of inquiry, Cornw. Feb. 1422 (false weights).
John’s elder brother, Henry, was forced by their father to become a monk, thus leaving him as heir to the family estates. When, before July 1382, he succeeded to the same, he was still a minor and was accordingly placed in the guardianship of James, Lord Audley of Heleigh. Having come of age about three years later, he was described as lord of Chagford in 1390 and presented to the church there in the following year. Furthermore, in June 1393 as heir to Sir William Fitzwalter† (his grandfather or great. grandfather), he acquired ten knights’ fees in ‘Middlelond’, Cornwall, held of Launceston castle, as well as the manor and advowson of Otterham. In the tax assessments made in 1412, his property in Devon was listed as worth £40 p.a. By then it included moieties of the manors of Aveton Giffard and Stadburv and lands in Holbeton (all in the south) as well as the manor of Chagford on the edge of Dartmoor and properties around Torrington and Frithelstock (in the north). He also owned the advowson of Lustleigh and possessed ‘mansiones’ at ‘Northleigh’ in Morwenstow (Cornwall) and at Woodland in Little Torrington (Devon). Indeed, the 1412 valuation, which in any case took no cognizance of his Cornish holdings, was undoubtedly underestimated, for after his death his estates were said to be worth nearly £74 a year. However, in his lifetime his occupation of certain premises did not pass unchallenged: in 1412 Stephen Durneford of Plymouth, esquire, and his wife, Radegund, having laid claim to some of the Fitzwalter properties in Cornwall, prevented Wybbury from collecting rents amounting to £25, and then, ten years later, Geoffrey St. Aubyn and others broke into his manor-house at Northleigh ‘lay in ambush to kill him and inflicted great injuries and grievances, killed 40 sheep of his worth 100s., carried off two of his horses worth 100s., and assaulted, wounded and ill-treated his men and servants’.1
Wybbury had interests outside the West Country, too. In October 1399 he stood surety for the farmers of lands in Essex and Huntingdonshire which had belonged to the exiled Thomas, duke of Norfolk, and he was by then already in receipt of an annuity of £6 13s.4d. from the issues of the duchy of Lancaster manor of Kingston. This was certainly paid in the year running from Michaelmas 1399, but was withheld in the following year, after he failed in his duty to accompany the King on the campaigns in Scotland and Wales. His services between then and 1407 must, however, have proved satisfactory, because it was on their account that he was rewarded with the parkership of Freemantle. He was occupying this royal office in Hampshire at the time of his only recorded return as Member for Cornwall. Wybbury was one of the knights and esquires of Cornwall certified to the Council in January 1420 as best able and ‘sufficient’ to fight in the defence of the realm. He was present at the parliamentary elections held at Lostwithiel in November 1421.2
Wybbury died on 6 Feb. 1423. He left his widow Lena ‘great with child by him’, but it was not until 10 Aug. that she gave birth to his posthumous daughter, Joan. It had been his intention that Lena should receive a large share of his lands by means of settlements as well as dower, on condition that she remained unmarried and also maintained a chaplain at Little Torrington to pray for the souls of her late husband and his parents. But she was reluctant to stay single and soon broke the first condition by marrying Thomas Bonville, esquire (brother of Sir William Bonville II*), on 6 May 1425. Thomas purchased at the Exchequer, for a flat payment of 300 marks, the wardship of half the manor of Aveton Giffard together with the marriage of Joan Wybbury, his stepdaughter, whom he evidently then wedded to his son, John. Lena outlived her first husband, Wybbury, by nigh on 40 years.