WYKEHAM, Thomas (d.1443), of Broughton castle, Oxon.
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Family and Education
3rd s. of William Perrot of Ash near Overton, Hants by Alice, da. of Agnes Champneys, sis. of William of Wykeham, bp. of Winchester; h. to his gt.-uncle. m. prob. bef. 1403, Elizabeth, da. of William Wilcotes* of North Leigh, Oxon.,1 2s. inc. William†, 2da. educ. New college, Oxford 1390-4. Kntd. bef. Nov. 1411.
Keeper, Witney chase, Oxon. by appointment of Bp. Wykeham 5 Feb. 1403-d.2
Tax controller, Oxon. Jan. 1404.
J.p. Oxon. 27 Jan. 1406-Mar. 1410, Feb. 1412-Nov. 1413, Apr. 1418-d.
Commr. of inquiry, Hants, Oxon. Mar. 1406 (withdrawal of services by tenants of God’s House, Southampton), Oxon. Mar. 1418 (concealments), July 1425 (wastes in temporalities of the bpric. of Lincoln), Berks., Oxon. July 1428 (treasons and felonies), Berks., Bucks., Oxon. Feb. 1436, Oxon. Feb. 1439 (concealments); array May 1418, Mar. 1419, Jan. 1436; oyer and terminer Dec. 1418, Mar. 1430; to raise royal loans Nov. 1419, Oxon. Berks. July 1426, May 1428, Mar. 1430, Mar. 1431, Oxon. Feb. 1436, Mar. 1439, Nov. 1440, Mar. 1442; assess a tax Jan. 1436; evaluate the honours of Wallingford and St. Valery Feb., May 1438; of kiddles, Berks., Bucks., Oxon. May 1438.
Sheriff, Oxon. and Berks. 6 Nov. 1413-10 Nov. 1414, 10 Nov. 1417-4 Nov. 1418, 12 Dec. 1426-7 Nov. 1427, 5 Nov. 1430-26 Nov. 1431, Hants 30 Nov. 1416-10 Nov.
Born Thomas Perrot, this MP early on adopted the name of his powerful great-uncle, William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester, the chancellor of England in 1368-71 and 1389-91 who is best remembered as the founder of the complementary establishments of Winchester school and New college, Oxford. The bishop no doubt assisted the boy to find a place in the royal household, where from October 1383 Thomas was a servitor in the pantry (receiving as such a grant for life of certain forfeited lands in Cambridgeshire which, although he was not destined to remain long in the Household, he yet retained until his death 60 years later). For a few years in the 1390s he studied civil law at New college (where his older brothers, William and John, also spent some time). However, he evidently still kept contacts at Court, for in September 1397 he and William were granted the sum of £10, and in December 1398 they shared with three others in a royal gift of forfeited goods worth £40.3 Meanwhile, their great-uncle, Bishop Wykeham, had resolved that the Perrots should be the heirs to a number of manors he himself had purchased, and expressed this wish in a series of entails made in the 1390s. Thus, by a settlement dated 1392, Thomas was to receive in tail-male, after the bishop’s death, the Oxfordshire manors of Broughton, North Newington, Wilcote and Standlake; and his brother William was to have on a similar basis four manors in Hampshire and also—in accordance with an arrangement completed in 1396 after his marriage to Alice, the daughter of John Uvedale†, a great personal friend of the bishop—the manors of Burnham and ‘Brene’ in Somerset. As it turned out, William died without issue in about 1401, and his widow six years later, leaving Thomas as next heir to their portion as well as his own. Furthermore, his great-uncle evidently relinquished his life interest in all these estates, for on 1 Oct. 1402, during his first Parliament, Thomas was able to obtain a royal grant of free warren in all the entailed manors in Hampshire and Oxfordshire.4
In the will made the year before his death in 1404, Bishop Wykeham left sums of money amounting to more than £825 to named relations alone; and although Thomas, designated one of the executors, received no more than his fellows (a bequest of silver vessels to the value of £50), as the bishop’s sole heir he was already undeniably wealthy. According to Lowth’s Life of William of Wykeham his landed inheritance was worth as much as £400 a year, and this may well have been the case, even though his holdings in Hampshire and Somerset were valued at only £90 p.a. by the tax assessors of 1412, while those in Oxfordshire were said to be worth some £110 by the jurors attending his post mortem many years later. Of course, the changes Wykeham made to the estate in his own lifetime had their effect on his income. He spent money on the crenellation of his manor-house at Broughton, as licensed to do in 1406; he purchased the manor of Appleton in Berkshire; and in 1418 while increasing his landed interest in the Banbury district by buying from the widow of Amauri, Lord St. Amand, the manors of Bloxham and Alkerton, a third part of Adderbury and the hundred of Bloxham, he undertook to pay her in addition to the purchase price the sum of 100 marks a year until she died.5
The precise date of Wykeham’s marriage is not known, but it most probably took place during his great-uncle’s lifetime, for his father-in-law, William Wilcotes, chief steward of the estates of Anne, Richard II’s first queen, was one of the bishop’s acquaintances. What the match lacked in immediate material advantage (Elizabeth Wilcotes came from a large family) was doubtless compensated by the influence and connexions enjoyed by his father-in-law during Henry IV’s reign. The administration of William of Wykeham’s will, with its bequests amounting to over £6,000, must have taken up much of Thomas Wykeham’s energies in the early 15th century, but in 1404 he began service on royal commissions which was to continue until his death nearly 40 years later, including more than 30 years’ membership of the Oxfordshire bench and five terms as sheriff. Although he was described as ‘King’s esquire’ in March 1406, when licensed to crenellate his house, and would appear to have accompanied the English delegation to the General Council of the Church at Pisa in the winter of 1408-9, there is no positive evidence that he ever occupied a place in Henry IV’s household. He may have owed his knighthood (conferred before the end of 1411) to military service of some kind, but once again the evidence is lacking. As sheriff in 1414 he conducted elections to two Parliaments, to both of which John Wilcotes* (probably his wife’s uncle) was returned for Oxfordshire, and the latter reciprocated by returning Wykeham to the Parliament of March 1416 (in which he himself was to sit for Kent). Sir Thomas was evidently close to his wife’s family, for his feoffees-to-uses in 1418 included his brothers-in-law, John Barton II* and John Wilcotes, junior. When, in April 1421, he was the first person to attest the indenture at the shire elections for Oxfordshire, the elder John Wilcotes was returned in the company of Thomas Chaucer, who was now to be Speaker. He was elected as Chaucer’s companion in 1422, and perhaps as a consequence became drawn into the circle of his colleague’s cousins the Beauforts—at least to the extent that his elder son, William, enlisted for service in France in Sir Edmund Beaufort’s retinue in 1427, and travelled overseas in Cardinal Beaufort’s train in 1431. But what, if anything, this reveals about his own political predilictions remains unclear; and it would be going beyond the evidence to assume that when, in the spring of 1434, he attended a great council convened to discuss the proposals of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, for the future conduct of the war in France he automatically supported the cardinal’s policies in opposition. Also in 1434, he headed the list of Oxfordshire gentry certified into Chancery as fit to take the oath against maintenance of men who broke the King’s peace. However, it would seem that he was not beyond manipulating the legal processes to suit his own ends, for on one occasion Elizabeth, abbess of Godstow, appealed to the chancellor after he had vexed her with numerous suits over land at Bloxham, taking advantage of his ‘gret myzgthe’ in Oxfordshire to defeat her attempts to seek remedy at common law. During Henry VI’s reign Wykeham served on eight royal commissions in the county to raise money for the Crown, and it is not surprising to find him being sent a request in 1436 for a personal loan of £40 to help finance the duke of York’s expedition to France.6
In his later years, Wykeham had close dealings with (Sir) Thomas Strange* (d.1436), who may just possibly have been his son-in-law, for in 1431 he settled the manor of Earlstone (Hampshire) in reversion on him and his wife, Elizabeth. Furthermore, Strange not only acted as a feoffee of certain of Wykeham’s other properties, but also appointed him an executor of his will. Wykeham’s co-executors were John Danvers* and his son, the lawyer