CALDECOTE, Nicholas (d.1443), of Meldreth, Cambs.
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Family and Education
m. bef. Easter 1404, Joan, 3s.
Commr. of inquiry, Cambs. 1417 (homicide and assault), Feb. 1422 (false weights), July 1422 (state of the great bridge at Cambridge); array Jan. 1436.
J.p. Cambridge 14 Feb. 1422-Nov. 1423, 24 Nov. 1429-Dec. 1433.
Escheator, Cambs. and Hunts. 20 May 1422-13 Nov. 1423, 12 Feb.-5 Nov. 1430.
Steward of Royston priory by Easter 1440.
Caldecote, whose background is obscure, is not known to have resided in Cambridgeshire before 1403. It would appear to have been as an outcome of his marriage that he acquired ‘Veyseys’ in Meldreth and land at Melbourn and Coates, which he and his wife put into the hands of trustees a year later, although the property at Orwell and Wimpole and the manor at Bassingbourn known as ‘Caldecotes’, which came into his possession subsequently, were probably purchased. When income from land was made subject to taxation in 1436, towards the end of Caldecote’s life, he was said to be receiving as much as £50 a year from holdings situated not only in Cambridgeshire but also in Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire and Essex; yet of the whereabouts of his properties in these other counties there is now no trace.1 It seems likely that Caldecote became a landowner of substance because of his successful career as a lawyer in the service of a select number of clients, of whom the most influential was undoubtedly Sir John Tiptoft*, owner of a neighbouring manor at Bassingbourn. Caldecote acted as an attorney at the Cambridgeshire assizes for Sir John as early as 1403, and continued to be employed by him as legal counsel for upwards of 30 years. Another client of longstanding was Sir Walter de la Pole*, who named him as one of his attorneys at home during his absence in Ireland in 1406-7, and was to engage his services (for example as an agent at the Exchequer) on a number of occasions before his death in 1434. When Caldecote entrusted his goods and chattels to a group of well-wishers in 1410, de la Pole was numbered among them, but it may have been merely coincidental that his attendance at the Cambridgeshire elections of 1411 was the occasion of Sir Walter’s first return to Parliament.2
In November 1413 Caldecote provided securities at the Exchequer for none other than the treasurer of England, Thomas, earl of Arundel, then taking on the farm of the alien priory of Ware, but nothing is known of the background to this important connexion. More readily explicable is his association in 1416 with the widowed daughter-in-law of Richard Hasilden*, as her co-patron of the living at Shillingstone in Dorset and as guardian of her young son, William, the heir to the widespread Hasilden estates, the Hasildens being a prominent Cambridgeshire family. (Incidentally, it may well have been Caldecote who arranged William’s subsequent marriage to Sir John Tiptoft’s niece.) On occasion difficulties arose through Caldecote’s trusteeship of landed property, and there are hints of self-seeking. Thus, in 1419, he was enfeoffed of certain lands at Harlton and elsewhere by Ralph Bateman, but the purpose of the transactions was misunderstood, whether wilfully or unintentionally is not clear, and in July 1422 he was accused at the assizes of unlawfully dispossessing the grantor. The dispute had already become violent: both men were bound over in £40 to keep the peace, but in the following year, while Caldecote was at Cambridge, carrying out his duties as escheator, other members of the Bateman family set upon him and so badly wounded him that his life was considered to be seriously in danger. Nor were the Batemans the only people with grievances against Caldecote: on another occasion it was alleged in Chancery that he had purposely neglected to carry out the wishes of William Winslow (who had died at Harfleur) with regard to the deposition of his manor at Thriplow.3
Caldecote attended the Cambridgeshire elections held for the Parliaments of 1421 (Dec.), 1423, 1425, 1429, 1432 and 1433. During the first session of his own second Parliament — that of 1426 — his patron Sir John Tiptoft, recently created Lord Tiptoft, kept him busy as his attorney in the Exchequer court over the important matter of securing for his wife her full share of the former Holand estates, until recently held by her late half-brother, Edmund, earl of March. (He continued to act for the Tiptofts in negotiations with the Crown, especially in 1428 when dower was assigned to the earl’s widow.) In 1431 Tiptoft named him among the feoffees of his estates in Cambridgeshire and Middlesex. It is perhaps surprising that Caldecote never benefited directly from his patron’s position as a prominent member of the council of Henry VI’s minority, in the way of offices or leases of land in the Council’s gift. In the early 1430s he was acting as trustee of Sir Walter de la Pole’s property in London as well as of his manor at Sawston, and it seems likely that he played a part in the agreement whereby de la Pole’s grandson and heir, Edmund Ingoldisthorpe†, was married to one of Tiptoft’s daughters.4
Caldecote was among the gentry of Cambridgeshire who took the generally administered oath against maintenance, in the spring of 1434. Towards the end of his life he served as steward of the house of Augustinian canons at Royston, but the priory was not mentioned in his surviving will, made on 1 June 1443. In this document Caldecote asked to be buried in Meldreth church and made small bequests to the abbess and nuns at Chatteris and to the four orders of friars at Cambridge. The largest sum of money specified was £5, assigned for work on a new aisle at Meldreth. However, it is known that before his death on 20 June he made a deposition of his estates in another will, now lost, which no doubt reflected more fully his position as a relatively affluent country gentleman. He arranged that the feoffees of his manor in Bassingbourn, who included the former chief justice, Sir William Babington, should eventually transfer it to his youngest son, Thomas, while the eldest, John (b.c.1426), was to have ‘Veyseys’ and lands in Melbourn. However, in 1454, following Thomas’s death, Caldecote’s second son, Richard, had to resort to a suit in Chancery to obtain possession of the Bassingbourn property, for although the trustees were in agreement as to Caldecote’s intentions with regard to the manor and were prepared to hand it over to Richard, the will authorizing them to do so had been stolen from the chest kept by his executors by John Caldecote, who refused to return it.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
It is possible that the same Nicholas Caldecote served in Rutland as a j.p. Nov. 1399-Feb. 1407, Feb. 1422-34, and as commr. of inquiry June 1400, and of array Mar. 1419, but no evidence has been found to identify the recipient of these appointments convincingly.
- 1. VCH Cambs. viii. 16, 86; CP25(1)30/93/29, 41; CCR, 1409-13, p. 332; 1429-35, p. 289; EHR, xlix. 632.
- 2. JUST 1/1539 m. 18d; CCR, 1402-5, p. 279; 1405-9, p. 508; 1409-13, p. 168; CPR, 1405-8, p. 248; C219/10/6; E364/56 m. D.
- 3. CFR, xiv. 46; R.E. Chester Waters, Chesters of Chicheley, i. 214; CCR, 1419-22, pp. 131-2; JUST 1/1533 m. 3; CPR, 1422-9, p. 174; C1/7/48, 49.
- 4. C219/12/6, 13/2, 3, 14/1, 3, 4; CFR, xv. 128; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 223, 416, 437; 1435-41, p. 15; HMC Rutland, iv. 86-87; CPR, 1429-36, p. 465.
- 5. CPR, 1429-36, p. 385; PCC 33 Luffenham; C139/112/63; C1/22/50, 24/139-44.