BRAYBROOKE, Sir Gerard I (c.1332-1403), of Colmworth, Beds. and Horsenden, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b.c.1332, s. and h. of Sir Gerard Braybrooke† (d.1359) of Colmworth and Horsenden by his 1st w. Isabel, prob. da. of Sir Reynold Hampden of Great Hampden, Bucks. m. (1) bef. Easter 1350, Margaret, da. and h. of John Longueville† of Orton Longueville, Hunts., 2s. Sir Gerard II* and Sir Reynold*, 1da.; (2) c. May 1369, Isabel (d. 25 Apr. 1393),2 uterine or bastard sis. of Ralph, 3rd Lord Basset, of Drayton, Staffs., wid. of John Peverel (d.1349), Richard Bradestone, Robert Rigge, Sir Thomas Shirley (d.1362) and Sir John Woodhill (d.1367), 1s. prob. d.v.p. Kntd. bef. May 1361.
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Beds. Feb. 1363, June 1371, Bucks. Jan. 1384; to collect parochial subsidies, Beds. June 1371; array Apr., July 1377, Mar. 1380, Dec. 1399; inquiry, Bucks. July 1378 (trespass), Beds. July 1381 (damage caused by Peasants’ Revolt), Bucks. Jan. 1386 (wastes, alien priory of Tickford), Beds. Oct. 1390 (conspiracies and maintenance), July 1393 (false weights); gaol delivery, Bedford Dec. 1380, May 1392; to put down rebellion, Beds. Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; hold an assize of novel disseisin, Bucks. Feb. 1388; make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well, Beds. May 1402.
J.p. Beds. 20 Feb. 1368-d.
Tax surveyor, Beds. Aug. 1379.
The Braybrookes of Bedfordshire were a junior branch of an old Northamptonshire family descended from Sir Henry Braybrooke, j.KB under Henry III. By the mid 14th century they were all but baronial in wealth, influence and social standing. Besides Clifton and moieties of the manors of Colmworth and Great Barford in Bedfordshire, they held property in Buckinghamshire (the manors of Swanbourne and Horsenden and land at Stewkley and Bow Brickhill), and in Hertfordshire (Ramerwick and lands in Pirton). Braybrooke’s grandfather, Sir Gerard (d.c.1326) was the first of four successive Sir Gerards to sit in Parliament for their home county, and between them those four attended no fewer than 29 Parliaments (including service for other shires) between 1301 and 1417. In this respect Braybrooke’s father, the second Sir Gerard, was the most important, for he sat on at least 16 occasions. In 1354 the latter entailed his property at Clophill and Cainhoe on his son Gerard, the subject of this biography, and his son Gerard II, and five years later our Gerard succeeded to the family estates (save for those held by his stepmother, Isabel Dakeney, who apparently lived for nearly 30 years longer).3 Braybrooke’s early first marriage, to a kinswoman, brought into his possession the other moiety of Colmworth and also the manors of Middleton-by-Lynn (Norfolk), Orton Longueville (Huntingdonshire), and Hacconby, Dunsby and Morton (Lincolnshire). Before 1361 he also acquired, perhaps by purchase, the Bedfordshire manor of Knotting.4
The path of Braybrooke’s career was influenced by connexions formed as a result of his grandfather’s marriage to Laura Wake, a member of the same family as Princess Joan of Wales, the wife of the Black Prince. The second Sir Gerard had fought at Crecy in the prince’s division, and Braybrooke himself soon joined the latter’s entourage as an esquire, serving both on the Gascon expedition of 1355-7, which culminated at Poitiers, and on a subsequent campaign, in 1359. He was knighted not long afterwards, perhaps by Prince Edward himself, and his first royal commission at home gave him the task of investigating his lord’s complaints about the theft of some goods in Bedfordshire. In 1363 he was retained to follow the prince to Aquitaine once again, and he was still there, accompanied by his brother-in-law, (Sir) John Kentwood*, three years later. As a reward for his loyal service in Spain and in particular at the battle of Najera, on 6 Nov. 1367 he was granted for life an annuity of £40, the prince requiring his future assistance in time of war. Accordingly, Braybrooke remained close to his royal master until the latter’s death in 1376, and he obtained confirmation of his annuity from the new prince of Wales, Richard, in February 1377 while attending Parliament for the first time.5
During a brief stay at home in 1369 Braybrooke had taken as his second wife Isabel Basset, Lord Basset’s half-sister, who was the widow of one of his own tenants, Sir John Woodhill. Isabel had been married at least five times before, and brought with her extensive dower lands in Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and elsewhere, her portion from Woodhill consisting of Durnford and ‘Tudderle’ in Wiltshire, Pattishall in Northamptonshire, and Woodhill (or Odell) and Langford in Bedfordshire.6 Shortly before the marriage took place Braybrooke purchased from Sir Richard Stury for 800 marks the wardship and marriages of Woodhill’s two daughters, and in 1372 he bought for 100 marks from John of Gaunt the wardship of estates in Derbyshire and Warwickshire of the inheritance of his stepson Hugh Shirley*. After the Woodhill girls both died in the winter of 1375-6, he came to a satisfactory arrangement with their uncle and heir, Nicholas Woodhill, ensuring that he and Isabel would retain Woodhill and Langford for term of their lives and Pattishall for Isabel’s lifetime, in return for a quitclaim of Isabel’s jointure in Wiltshire. Later in 1376, when Lord Basset made an entail of some of his estates, Braybrooke’s son Ralph was given a reversionary interest, but he probably died before his mother’s death in 1393.7
The accession of Richard II made possible the rapid rise to political power of Braybrooke’s brother Robert, whom the King’s mother Princess Joan valued highly as a kinsman and friend. Robert was Richard’s secretary from 1377 to 1381 and played an important part in negotiations for the King’s marriage to Anne of Bohemia, being made bishop of London in 1381 just in time to perform the wedding ceremony. But Sir Gerard enjoyed no comparable preferment. At best he could obtain (in 1379) an Exchequer lease of the manor of Wendover, Buckinghamshire, which had been forfeited by Alice Perrers, and (in 1380) letters patent exempting him from having to undertake royal offices and commissions against his will. As it happened, he was prepared to serve as a j.p. and on numerous other official bodies in the course of the reign, although he never took on the duties of a sheriff or escheator. Braybrooke retained connexions made in his youth: in 1385 Sir Nigel Loring, hero of Poitiers and Najera and sometime chamberlain to the Black Prince, named him and his brother the bishop as overseers of his will; and they and Sir Gerard’s eldest son and namesake were made feoffees of an advowson which Loring wished to grant to the Church.8 The same two kinsmen were both closely connected with Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, one of the Lords Appellant of 1387-8, and Braybrooke’s son-in-law, Sir William Thirning, was made a judge of the common pleas by the duke and his fellows. But he himself seems to have kept aloof from the political upheavals of the time, and his personal dealings with a prominent ally of the Appellants, John, Lord Cobham, were simply an outcome of his acquisition of the castle and manors of Castle Ashby and Chadstone in Northamptonshire and Chesterton in Huntingdonshire. Braybrooke’s wife Isabel had a dower interest in these properties, for they had once belonged to her first husband, John Peverel, who had died in 1349. Now, some 40 years later, in 1390, the Braybrookes entered negotiations with Cobham’s grand daughter Joan de la Pole, who had recently inherited the estates as being on her father’s side the grand daughter of Peverel’s sister and heir Margaret; and it was agreed that for payment of perhaps as much as £2,000 the Braybrookes could take possession. Chesterton was promptly settled on Sir Gerard’s daughter, Joan Thirning. Joan de la Pole was at that time the wife of Sir Robert Hemenale, but after the latter’s death in September 1391 Braybrooke seized the opportunity to secure her marriage for his son, Sir Reynold. The Northamptonshire estates were then made over to the couple in tail male after the life interest of Sir Gerard and Isabel. This was an important match for Braybrooke’s second son, following on after that made for his eldest, Sir Gerard, to a daughter of Lord St. Amand.9 The chief lord of Castle Ashby was Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, the leading landowner in Bedfordshire and a man with whom the Braybrookes had long been on close and friendly terms. Braybrooke, his brother the bishop and his eldest son were all feoffees of Grey’s estates, and in 1391 they assisted him in complicated transactions regarding his sizeable inheritance as heir-general to John Hastings, earl of Pembroke. It was to the Braybrookes that Grey always turned when settlements were to be made on members of his family, such as his mother-in-law, Beatrice, Lady Roos of Helmsley, and in 1394 he asked them to act as his attorneys while he was absent abroad.10
Despite their connexions with Gloucester and Cobham the Braybrookes weathered the period of Richard II’s autocratic rule from 1397 to 1399 apparently unscathed. Indeed, Bishop Braybrooke long retained the King’s confidence, and in February 1397 he, his brother and eldest nephew were able to secure from the Crown control of the inheritance of their distant kinsman, John Neville, Lord Latimer, after the death of his mother, Elizabeth, Lady Latimer and Willoughby. Sir Gerard served on the bench in Bedfordshire throughout this period and his purchase of a royal pardon in June 1398 seems to have been no more than a formality. Although he himself did not sail for Ireland with Richard in the summer of 1399, his brother the bishop and his friend Lord Grey both did so; and the duke of York was sufficiently convinced of his loyalty as to instruct him, on 10 July, to defend Rockingham castle against the forces of Henry of Bolingbroke. There is no evidence that he took up arms either for or against the usurper, but clearly he and other members of his family were not reluctant to change their allegiance. Bishop Braybrooke lodged Bolingbroke in his palace by St. Paul’s in September, and Sir Gerard II sat in the Parliament which acclaimed him as King. In November the elder Sir Gerard obtained royal confirmation of the annuity granted him by the Black Prince. By that time he had already established a friendly relationship with the King’s old retainer, Sir Hugh Waterton.11
In the course of his career Braybrooke had been a benefactor of certain local religious houses, the most important among them being Woburn abbey and Harrold priory.12 His interest in Harrold was shared both by Lord Grey, with whom he was always on amicable terms, and Sir Roger Beauchamp*, one of his feudal overlords, who seems also to have belonged to this intimate circle of friends. Together with Grey, he acted as a feoffee of the Bedfordshire estates of Sir John Trailly†; and in 1401 Braybrooke and other members of his family were involved in important transactions with William, Lord Beauchamp of Abergavenny, regarding the former Hastings estates (in which Grey had a major interest). In August that year Sir Gerard was summoned from Bedfordshire, along with his eldest son and their kinsman Edmund Hampden*, to attend a great council. When, in 1402, Lord Grey, acting as one of the prince of Wales’s lieutenants in North Wales, was captured by Owen Glendower, the Braybrookes took on the task of raising the huge ransom of 10,000 marks demanded for his release. Since 6,000 marks had to be found before Martinmas as the price of keeping Grey alive, it seems likely that they provided the money from their own funds; certainly they took control of their friend’s estates as security and obtained from the Crown a special licence to sell them if need be.13 In the midst of these concerns Sir Gerard died, on 1 Feb. 1403.14 He was succeeded by his son the fourth Sir Gerard Braybrooke.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. It may have been his son, Sir Gerard II, who represented Beds. in this Parliament, as he had done in a previous one, but the description ‘junior’ was not used on the return.
- 2. Procs. Soc. Antiqs. n.s. iv. 401.
- 3. L.H. Butler, ‘Bp. Braybrooke and kinsmen’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1952); Beds. Rec. Soc. xxix. 20-24; CPR, 1354-8, p. 104; CIPM, x. 511; VCH Beds. ii. 276-7, 323; iii. 230; VCH Herts. ii. 22-23; VCH Bucks. ii. 253-5; CFR, x. 292.
- 4. VCH Beds. iii. 140, 186-7; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 345; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), ix. 77-83; VCH Hunts. iii. 191-2; CCR, 1360-4, p. 253; CP25(1)287/43/447, 449A.
- 5. Scrope v. Grosvenor ii. 454-6; CPR, 1360-4, p. 360; CIPM, xii. 4; DKR, xxxvi. 51; H.J. Hewitt, Black Prince’s Exped. 198; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, i. 155; ii. 100; E101/29/4.
- 6. CPR, 1367-70, p. 245; CP, ii. 3-5; Coll. Top. et Gen. vii. 257, 392-3; CIPM, ix. 180; xii. 173; xiii. 83.
- 7. CCR, 1369-74, pp. 67-68; 1374-7, pp. 352-3; 1402-5, p. 45; Reg. Gaunt 1371-5, nos. 386-7; CIPM, xiv. 293; CPR, 1374-7, pp. 275, 358; CFR, xi. 83, 86.
- 8. CFR, ix. 137; CPR, 1377-81, p. 520; 1385-9, p. 64; Beds. Rec. Soc. xiv. 99.
- 9. CCR, 1389-92, p. 335; 1402-5, pp. 58-59; 1413-19, p. 488; CP, iii. 345; CP25(1)289/55/195; VCH Northants. iv. 233.
- 10. Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 235; CCR, 1389-92, p. 516; 1399-1402, pp. 230, 234, 241, 266; 1413-19, p. 257; CPR, 1388-92, p. 514; 1391-6, pp. 474, 498.
- 11. CFR, xi. 208; xii. 14; CPR, 1396-9, p. 554; 1399-1401, p. 69; 1401-5, p. 170; CCR, 1396-9, p. 510; Butler, 164-5; C67/30 m. 13.
- 12. Beds. Rec. Soc. xvii. 211-12, 218; C143/423/17; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 343, 536.
- 13. CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 174, 447; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 444; 1401-5, p. 171; PPC, i. 163.
- 14. C137/35/21.