CRACKENTHORPE, William I, of Brougham, Westmld.
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Family and Education
Escheator, Cumb. and Westmld. 12 Nov. 1403-10 Dec. 1404.
For most of his life William was somewhat overshadowed by his elder brother, John, who inherited most of the Crackenthorpe family estates and played a far more prominent part in local affairs. William’s share of his father’s property seems to have been confined to land in Brougham, which he occupied as a feudal tenant of his brother’s patrons, the Cliffords. He first represented Westmorland in 1395, and was returned again to the second Parliament of 1397, when Richard II so effectively revenged himself upon his former enemies, the Lords Appellant of 1388. Both he and John seem, however, to have sympathized with the Lancastrian cause; and both attended the Parliament of September 1399, which was summoned to witness Richard II’s deposition and acknowledge Henry of Bolingbroke’s claim to the throne. On this unusually important occasion William sat for the borough of Appleby while John served as a shire knight, but three years later William was again chosen by the county electors, having in the meantime been knighted. He was also nominated to represent Westmorland at a great council held at Westminster in August 1401, so he clearly stood well with the new regime.2
Not much is known about William’s personal life and connexions. Early in 1402 he twice stood surety for friends whose misdemeanours were being investigated by the government, offering comparatively heavy securities of £40 and £100 on their behalf in the court of Chancery. His appointment as escheator of Cumberland and Westmorland in 1403 evidently came towards the end of his life, for no more is heard of him after he left office in the following year.3