LEE, Thomas II (d.1391), of Waterford Hall, Herts.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Constable of Queenborough castle, Kent 25 Oct. 1384-27 Dec. 1387.
Commr. of inquiry, Kent Mar. 1385 (poaching on the Isle of Sheppey), Herts. Oct. 1387 (poaching at Berkhampstead), Nov. 1388 (holdings of William Grindecob and Sir Nicholas Brembre†).
Keeper and surveyor of the King’s woods at Berkhampstead 13 Sept. 1338-prob. d.; keeper of the royal park of King’s Langley, Herts. 20 Oct. 1386-d.
The widely held belief that this MP was the son of Sir Walter Lee, with whom he sat in the Parliament of 1386, can now be dismissed in view of the close proximity of their ages, although the two men were certainly related and may well have been brothers. If, as seems likely, Thomas was the younger son of Sir John Lee, his longstanding connexion with the Court probably began while he was still a boy and must have owed a good deal to his father’s influence. He first appears in the summer of 1377, when he served with Thomas, earl of Buckingham (later duke of Gloucester), on an expedition for coastal defence. Early in 1379 he was a party to a conveyance arising from the manumission of one of Sir Walter Lee’s villeins, and shortly afterwards Sir Walter acted as a feoffee for him on his acquisition of the manor of Waterford Hall. As a result of his marriage, which took place in or before June 1381, Lee obtained seisin of the Berkshire manor of Standen-by-Hungerford, albeit only during his wife’s lifetime.2 The stream of royal patronage, so marked a feature of his later years, began flowing his way in October 1383, when, as an esquire of the body to Richard II, he was awarded land worth £10 p.a. from the estates of the late Thomas Martell, together with the marriage of the young heir. A dispute ensued between him and Martell’s widow over the division of the property, and matters were not finally settled until the following July. By then in receipt of a regular annual allowance of 40s. for robes bearing the royal livery, Lee was shown further marks of favour by the King. In May 1384, for instance, the fine of £40 due from Ankaretta, the widow of Sir Henry Hussey (who had remarried without royal licence), was allocated to him, although a distraint had to be made on her estates and he did not actually receive the money for almost a year.3 A grant to him and two other crown servants in October 1384 of certain tenements in London confiscated from John of Northampton† was followed within a few days by Lee’s appointment as constable of Queenborough castle in Kent at a salary of £10 p.a., which was to be supplemented by a daily allowance of 6d. during periods of threatened invasion.4 His income rose even higher in 1385, thanks to the award of an annuity of £20, payable out of the fee farm of Essex, and to the settlement upon him of rents worth eight marks p.a. from forfeited property in Reading. Both grants were intended to continue for life, although it was not long before the annuity fell into arrears. Lee seems to have spent much of his time at Court; and with his kinsman, Sir Walter, he attended the funeral of the King’s mother, Joan of Kent, which took place in the late summer of 1385. By the date of his one and only appearance in the House of Commons in the following year, Thomas had become keeper of the King’s woods at Berkhampstead, and was also in possession of the marriage of Sir Giles Daubeney’s young heir.5 His return to Parliament, where he represented Hertfordshire together with Sir Walter Lee, may well have been brought about through the latter’s intervention, yet we must not forget that his own position as a local landowner, no less than his standing in the royal household, was itself enough to dispose the county electorate favourably towards him. Lee’s success as a courtier continued until his death. In October 1386, while Parliament was still sitting, he obtained the keepership of Richard II’s parks at King’s Langley. His wage of 4d. per day came from the revenues of the nearby royal manor, which, in the following June, was leased to him for ten years at an annual rent of so marks. His appointment in 1388 as a royal commissioner to inquire about the Hertfordshire property of William Grindecob assumes particular significance in view of the staunch opposition offered by Grindecob and his fellow insurgents to Sir Walter Lee on his ill-fated visit to St. Albans during the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381. Although required to surrender his interest in John of Northampton’s tenements in December 1390, he received compensation in the form of a tun of wine, to be collected annually from the port of London.6
In contrast to his well-documented public career, very little evidence about Lee’s private affairs has survived. Both he and Sir Walter appeared as plaintiffs at an assize of novel disseisin held at Stratford, Essex, in July 1386, and not long afterwards they became trustees of Thomas Bataill’s* newly acquired property in the same county. We know that he was also suing a Middlesex man for debt at about this time, but otherwise his personal life is shrouded in obscurity. He died at some point before 26 June 1391, having named Sir Walter as one of his executors. The Thomas Lee of Hertfordshire who stood bail in Chancery in 1406 may possibly have been his son.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. CCR, 1381-5, p. 425.
- 2. E101/38/2; CCR, 1377-81, pp. 231, 245-7; 1381-5, p. 425.
- 3. CCR, 1381-5, pp. 381, 431, 471; E101/401/2/42, 402/5/32; CPR, 1381-5, pp. 325, 401, 555; CFR, x. 60.
- 4. CPR, 1381-5, pp. 467-8, 472, 475, 491; CCR, 1381-5, pp. 485, 510, 517.
- 5. CCR, 1381-5, pp. 533, 544; 1385-9, pp. 6, 60, 72, 211, 214, 223; E101/401/16.
- 6. CPR, 1385-9, p. 234; 1388-92, p. 363; CFR, x. 182, 184; E364/23/8, 24/3; CCR, 1389-92, p. 302.
- 7. JUST 1/1498 rot. 16; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. no. 246; CCR, 1385-9, p. 436; 1396-9, p. 96; 1405-9, p. 125; CPR, 1388-92, pp. 446, 457.