BOOTH, John I (d.1422), of Barton in Eccles, Lancs.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Collector of a tax, Lancs. Mar. 1396.2
Commr. of array, Lancs. Aug. 1402,3 May 1405; to prevent the spread of treasonous rumours May 1402.
Receiver of Lancs., Cheshire and Bowland for the duchy of Lancaster 27 Feb. 1405-10 Apr. 1413.4
J.p. Lancs. 17 Dec. 1411.5
The Booths had long been established members of the Lancashire gentry when Thomas Booth of Barton came to a violent end in 1368. Despite his widow’s attempt to obtain justice, at least one of the murderers secured a royal pardon, while another, the influential Robert Worsley*, remained suspiciously close to his victim’s second son, the subject of this biography, throughout his life. The latter shared with his two brothers bequests of grain and stock from the family estates at Barton and Bradford (Manchester), as well as receiving a personal legacy of £20. We do not know when John succeeded his elder brother, William, but he may already have entered his inheritance by 1380, at which date he and Worsley offered a recognizance for debt to a group of local men. Some two years later he joined with Sir Robert Urswyk*, Sir John Boteler* and Thomas Radcliffe* in making similar pledges to John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, but the purpose of this undertaking is not recorded. His relations with Gaunt were evidently cordial, for in January 1386 he was about to accompany the duke to Portugal and Spain. Preparations for another foreign venture, this time in the retinue of Sir John Drayton*, the castellan of Guines, were in hand during the summer of 1387, but in the event Booth decided to remain at home, and the royal letters of protection which had been issued to him, pending his departure for Picardy, were cancelled.6 In the following year he obtained the lease of a neighbouring estate in Boysnope from one of his relatives, thus beginning a gradual process of piecemeal expansion which led to the consolidation of his holdings in and around Eccles. The part played by Robert Worsley in his father’s murder seems to have given Booth little, if any, cause for concern. Indeed, in August 1390, he stood surety for Worsley as guardian of one of Gaunt’s wards; and not long afterwards he appeared as a juror at an inquisition on the possessions of one of his friend’s kinsmen. He again performed this function in July 1396, on the death of Henry Trafford, his brother-in-law. The precise date of his marriage to one of Sir Henry Trafford’s daughters remains unknown, but it clearly added considerably to his standing in county society, since his wife’s family exercised a good deal of influence in the Manchester area. The match may even have helped to bring him to the attention of Richard II, who, in March 1398, awarded an annuity of ten marks payable for life from the fee farm of Yorkshire.7
Despite his attachment to King Richard, Booth not merely survived the Lancastrian usurpation unscathed, but actually came to enjoy the patronage of the newly crowned Henry IV, perhaps because of his brother Henry’s staunch commitment to the latter’s cause. In February 1400 he obtained the wardship and marriage of the young Edward Weever, whose estates lay in the Adgarley area of Lancashire. Although he had to pay 300 marks for this concession, Booth did in return secure uninterrupted possession of the property for 13 years, and, moreover, married the boy’s widowed mother to his eldest son, Thomas. One year later he was further rewarded with the farm of land in Salford, Robert Worsley acting as one of his mainpernors on this occasion, and asking him, in return, to indemnify his transactions with the Cheshire landowner, Sir John Massey of Tatton. The year 1401 proved a busy time for Booth, since besides standing surety for three associates, one of whom was Sir Ralph Radcliffe*, he himself became embroiled in lawsuits at the Lancaster assizes over a reputed trespass and the theft of stock worth £10 from his estates.8 Worsley’s death in March 1402 brought additional responsibilities, since his son, Arthur, was pronounced insane and entrusted (together with his not inconsiderable inheritance) to Booth’s care. The latter obtained money from the Crown to offset the cost of supporting his charge, although his longstanding attachment to Worsley did not deter him from exploiting Arthur’s estates. Despite this cynical breach of trust, Booth was still fortunate enough to receive an annuity of £10 from the issues of Lancashire in return for his past services to the King. By now a man of notable wealth and status, he was able, in May 1403, to join with (Sir) Ralph Staveley* in underwriting a debt of £416 owed by the latter’s brother, Oliver, for the wardship and marriage of his young stepson, William Venables, a feudal tenant of the prince of Wales. Never one to miss an opportunity, Booth made the most of his friend’s gratitude, by securing a wife for his second son, Robert, who married into the Venables family, and eventually gained control of holdings at Bollin in Cheshire. Nor was this the end of Booth’s good fortune. In February 1405 he was made receiver of the duchy of Lancaster estates in Lancashire at an additional fee of £13 6s.8d.; and at some point before Michaelmas 1408 Henry IV bestowed upon him an annual pension to the same value from the duchy lordship of Halton in Cheshire. Throughout this period, too, he was extending his own possessions in Barton, Culcheth, Salford and Audley, which no doubt explains why he was the recipient of heavy securities from various local men. His first return to Parliament in 1411, followed shortly afterwards by his appointment to the county bench, provides a clear reflection of his position in the community.9
Although he replaced Booth as receiver of Lanashire in 1413, the newly crowned Henry V confirmed him in his various annuities and made sure that they did not fall too far into arrears. He also allowed him to retain control of the Worsley estates pending the outcome of a dispute with the Crown over ownership. Booth attended the elections for Lancashire to the Parliaments of 1413 (May) and 1416 (Mar.), during which time he took on another lease of royal property in the county.10 The involvement of his brother, Henry, in the unsuccessful lollard rising led by Sir John Oldcastle* early in 1414 temporarily upset this state of equilibrium, not least because Booth and his son, John, were called upon to underwrite the heavy securities of 1,000 marks demanded by the King as a guarantee of Henry’s good behaviour while a prisoner in the Tower. Booth’s decision to sue out a royal pardon in the following year may well have been influenced by this incident, although in fact Henry was soon rehabilitated; and in July 1415 he showed his gratitude by standing surety when two of his nephews became the custodians of land in Barton which had been forfeited in 1403 from the rebel Geoffrey Bulde. This award was later to involve the entire family in a quarrel with Bulde, whose claim to restitution was submitted in about 1420 to the arbitration of a panel of local landowners made up of Nicholas Blundell*, Richard Shirburne*, Ralph Radcliffe* and Sir Richard Radcliffe. The fact that Sir Richard, as sheriff, returned both Shirburne and Booth to the Parliament of December 1420, coupled with the first appearance in the Lower House of Henry Booth, who was then representing Derbyshire, suggests a concerted attempt by the family to mobilize a private lobby. Their efforts evidently met with little success, however, for in the following February Booth and his influential son-in-law, Sir John Byron*, were obliged to stand bail of 1,000 marks in Chancery on behalf of John Booth the younger, one of the chief protagonists in the affair. The latter’s evidence was still being examined several months later when, interestingly enough, Booth took part in the Lancashire elections which sent Byron and Shirburne as MPs to Westminster. Sir John had long been involved in the complex settlements of property made by Booth on his children, and had also, in 1418, guaranteed him as the farmer of crown estates in Bacup and Rossendale. Nor did he hesitate in calling upon the reciprocal services of his father-in-law as a mainpernor when the occasion arose. Booth’s efforts on his behalf were not always above suspicion, for in March 1415 the two men were implicated in an attempt to kidnap Byron’s mother and thus prevent her from alienating her extensive inheritance. The indignant Joan Byron certainly felt that Booth had master-minded the whole affair, and accused him before the court of Chancery of abduction, theft and fraud. Our Member had by then arranged the marriage of another of his daughters, Katherine, to Sir Richard Radcliffe’s son, Sir Thomas*, who took her as his second wife, and quite probably acted on his father-in-law’s behalf when he first entered Parliament in the spring of 1421. On his death she married another Lancashire MP, Nicholas Boteler*, thus extending the influence of the Booth family even further.11
Booth died in March 1422, shortly after obtaining a licence from the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield to make use of a private oratory. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Thomas, who was then over 40 years old. A prolific man, Booth left at least 11 other children, two of whom were destined for particular eminence in the Church. Both William (d.1464) and his reputedly illegitimate brother, Laurence (d.1480), rose to become archbishops of York; and both founded chantries at the family parish church in Eccles.12
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Harl. 2112, ff. 169, 176; VCH Lancs. iv. 33, 36; Trans. Lancs. and Cheshire Antiq. Soc. liii. 32-57; CFR, xiv. 130. Although Booth is said by various authorities to have married as his second wife Maud, daughter of Sir John Savage of Clifton, Cheshire, the match cannot have taken place on chronological grounds.
- 2. Chetham Soc. n.s. xcvi. 119.
- 3. DKR, xl. 531.
- 4. Somerville, Duchy, i. 493.
- 5. DKR, xxxvii(1), 174.
- 6. VCH Lancs. iv. 366; KB27/434 rot. 11v; Harl. 2112, f. 169; CPR, 1381-5, p. 393; 1385-9, p. 444; DKR, xxxii. 363-4; Vis. Lancs. 222.
- 7. Harl. 2112, f. 175; Chetham Soc. xiv. 43, 47; CPR, 1396-9, p. 324.
- 8. DKR, xxxvi(2), 43, 512, 513; xl. 529, 530; xliii. 2; Chetham Soc. n.s. lxxxvii. 26, 37, 38.
- 9. DL28/27/3; DL29/738/12100; DL42/15, f. 99; Harl. 2112, f. 176; DKR, xxxiii. 9; xxxvi(2), 446; xl. 531, 532; G. Ormerod, Palatine and City of Chester, ed. Helsby, iii(2), 866.
- 10. DKR, xxxiii. 11; C219/11/1B; DL42/17(1), f. 2v, (2), f. 58v; Chetham Soc. n.s. xcvi. 119.
- 11. CCR, 1413-19, p. 116; 1419-22, pp. 129, 137, 260; CFR, xiv. 130; Chetham Soc. n.s. xcvi. 121, 122, 137, 153; Harl. 2112, ff. 171, 176; C1/6/294; C219/12/6; Test. Ebor. iii. 320.
- 12. DKR, xxxiii. 24, 25; Chetham Soc. n.s. xciii. 12. Emden (Biog. Reg. Univ. Cambridge to 1500, pp. 73, 79) describes both William and Laurence as the grandsons of John Booth, although VCH Lancs. iv. 366-7, and Trans. Lancs. and Cheshire Antiq. Soc. liii. 32-57, argue more convincingly that he was their father.