MUSGRAVE, Sir Thomas (d.1409), of Great and Little Musgrave and Hartley, Westmld.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

s. of Sir Thomas Musgrave (c.1337-1372) of South Holme, Yorks., gds. and h. of Thomas Musgrave (d. by 1385), Lord Musgrave of Hartley. m. (1) by Nov. 1372, Mary (d. by Aug. 1380), da. of Alan Strother of Crookdean in Kirkwhelpington and Sweethope, Northumb. by his 1st w., s.p.; (2) 1s. Kntd. by Apr. 1380.1

Offices Held

Commr. of inquiry, Westmld. May 1389 (felonies at Kirkby in Kendale), Yorks. Sept. 1398 (malpractices at St. Nicholas’s hospital, Richmond), Mar. 1401 (thefts from St. Nicholas’s hospital), Cumb. Mar. 1406 (desertions to the Welsh rebels), Westmld. June 1406 (concealments); array Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403; to make arrests June 1398, Yorks., Westmld. Nov. 1398; prevent the spread of treasonous rumours, Cumb. Mar. 1406; raise royal loans, Westmld. June 1406.

J.p. Westmld. 28 June 1390-26 Nov. 1392, 15 May-3 Aug. 1395, 28 Nov. 1399-14 Mar. 1403, 16 Feb. 1405-d.

Sheriff, Cumb. 18 Oct. 1392-17 Nov. 1393.

Collector of taxes, Westmld. May 1398, Dec. 1402; of an aid on the marriage of Princess Blanche Dec. 1401.


The Musgraves were a family of considerable antiquity, which, over the years, acquired the manors of Crosby Garrett, Great and Little Musgrave, Hartley, Orton, Murton, Sandford and Soulby, all in Westmorland, and South Holme in Yorkshire. Not surprisingly, in view of their influence as landowners, they came to play a notable part in local administration. Sir Thomas Musgrave, the father of this MP, for example, not only represented Yorkshire in Parliament but also held office as escheator and sheriff there, although he was removed from the latter post in 1366 because of his notorious malpractices. He died young, in the lifetime of his own father and namesake, whose remarkable record of service in a variety of senior appointments and commands along the Scottish border earned him many rewards, not least being his elevation to the ranks of the baronage, in 1358, as Lord Musgrave. His marriage to Isabel, the widow of Robert, Lord Clifford (d.1344), gave him temporary possession of one-third of the Clifford estates, so he was indeed a force to be reckoned with in the north. On his son’s death, in 1372, he appears to have become the guardian of his young grandson and heir. In November of that year he negotiated a marriage contract for the boy, who was betrothed to Alan Strother’s daughter, Mary. We do not know what settlement he then made upon the couple, but Strother, a Northumbrian landowner of some consequence, promised to pay him 400 marks in annual instalments, as well as a further £100 in cash.2 For many years Lord Musgrave was entrusted with the keepership of the royal castle at Berwick-upon-Tweed, a stronghold of great strategic and administrative importance in the defence of the border area. In August 1377 he led a small band of English soldiers, including his grandson, Thomas, on an expedition into enemy territory, but they were overwhelmed at Melrose by a far larger contingent of Scots, and many prisoners were taken. Both Lord Musgrave and Thomas (who, contrary to popular belief, was not knighted before the battle) shared this fate, although Musgrave was soon released so that he could negotiate their ransoms. At a love-day held in the following January, John, Lord Neville of Raby, Alan Strother, and others offered the Scottish commander, George, earl of March, the unusually heavy securities of 10,000 marks each that Lord Musgrave would return promptly to prison on Whitsunday, whether he had been successful in raising the ransom money or not. His delay in so doing was regarded as a serious breach of faith by the earl, who demanded immediate reparation, and began a series of punitive raids across the border. Naturally enough, this state of affairs caused considerable alarm, and Musgrave’s sureties lost no time in petitioning the royal council for help. On 7 June orders were sent out for Musgrave’s arrest and return to Scotland. Lord Neville evidently stepped in to ease the crisis by paying 1,000 marks to the earl of March, but he had great difficulty in recovering the money. By March 1382, his exasperation was such that he secured a writ from Chancery for the detention and forcible distraint of both Musgrave and his grandson, who were by then together at large.3

Somewhat surprisingly, in view of the seriousness of their position, the two Musgraves continued throughout this period to benefit from royal patronage. In November 1377, for example, Thomas was granted the farm of two closes in Inglewood forest at a rent of 20 marks p.a. for the next 12 years, the lease being renewed for a further ten years; in April 1380, by which date he had been knighted. Furthermore, in May 1379, Lord Musgrave himself secured the wardship and marriage of the young Richard Restwold I*, whose guardian disposed of his rights with the Crown’s approval. On this occasion, Sir Thomas agreed to act for his grandfather as a mainpernor at the Exchequer, and a few days later he joined with him in promising to pay 70 marks to the youth’s next of kin within a week of the wedding. According to Froissart, Sir Thomas and Lord Musgrave both saw action again when the French and Scots invaded Cumberland in 1385, but there is a strong possibility that Lord Musgrave was, in fact, already dead.4

Sir Thomas Musgrave had certainly succeeded to the family estates by 1389, when he was appointed to his first royal commission. He took a seat on the Westmorland bench in the following year, and subsequently served a term as sheriff of Cumberland. While in office, he was accused by Sir William Curwen* (and his fellow plaintiffs in a suit at the local assizes) of empanelling a jury favourable to one of the defendants, who was a kinsman of his. The charge was probably little more than a tactic intended to delay the proceedings, since in 1395 Musgrave agreed to act with Ralph, Lord Neville, as a feoffee of Sir William’s extensive holdings in Cumberland. During the early 1390s he also joined with Curwen in witnessing two enfooffments made by Sir William Threlkeld* of the manor of Crosby Ravensworth, which he himself was later to hold as one of Threlkeld’s trustees. By February 1394, however, he was again in trouble, this time on a charge of ‘counselling and aiding’ the manslaughter of his former attorney, William Soulby*, by Sir Thomas Rokeby* and others. He claimed to have been indicted through the malice of his enemies, and was allowed bail pending the trial of Rokeby and his accomplices. Whether or not his imprisonment in Carlisle castle one year later had anything to do with the murder, or was the result of some other crime, we do not know; but shortly afterwards he and Hugh Salkeld I* were removed from the Westmorland bench ‘for particular causes laid before (the King) and the council’. His troubles were certainly not yet over, for in May 1396 a royal commission was set up to investigate certain unspecified charges of felony which had been laid against him. He also faced a sentence of outlawry incurred because of his failure to appear in court when being sued by Sir Roger Claryndon for a debt of £30, although he had little difficulty in obtaining a royal pardon for this offence. On the strength of the surviving evidence, Sir Thomas had particular need of the papal licence accorded to him in January 1397 for the plenary remission of sins at the hour of death. Of more immediate value, however, was the general pardon which he received from Richard II one year later, excusing all his earlier offences.5

There is some reason to suppose that Sir Thomas sympathized with the Lancastrian cause. His election to the Parliament of September 1399, which witnessed the deposition of Richard II and the accession of Henry IV, no less than his re-appearance on the Westmorland commission of the peace shortly afterwards, clearly supports this view. He was, moreover, summoned to attend a great council held at Westminster in August 1401; and he later helped to suppress the successive outbreaks of rebellion which beset the north during the early years of the 15th century. But his career was now drawing to a close, and at some point shortly before October 1409 he died, leaving at least one son, named Richard, who was clearly the child of a second marriage. The early death of his first wife, Mary, must have been a great blow to Sir Thomas, because had she lived, or even left any issue, he would have secured a share of the extensive estates of her brother, Alan Strother, who died childless in 1380. The identity of his second wife remains unknown, but she at least helped to offset this loss by bringing him land in Smardale, Westmorland. Richard Musgrave married Elizabeth, the daughter of Thomas Beetham, and pursued a fairly active career in local government.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. CIPM, xiii. no. 192; CFR, viii. 154; ix. 192; Cal. Scots. Docs. iv. no. 308; Northumb. RO, Swinburne (Capheaton) mss, 4/37, 38; CP, x. 434-6; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. viii. 306-7. Musgrave’s first wife died without issue before August 1380, when an inquisition post mortem was held on her brother, Alan. Part of his estates went to her two sisters, one of whom was married to Sir Thomas Blenkinsop*, but no mention is made either of her or of any children (CIPM, xv. no. 419). W. Dugdale believed that Musgrave married Alice, a grand daughter of Thomas, Lord Clifford, but she was, in fact, born several years after his death: Baronage (1675-6 edn.), ii. 158; Coll. Top. et Gen. ii. 10.
  • 2. CP, ix. 433-6; Sel. Cases King’s Council (Selden Soc. xxxv), 54-60; CIPM, xiii. no. 192; xvi. nos. 836-7; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. viii. 306-7, 319; Swinburne (Capheaton) mss, 4/37, 38.
  • 3. CP, ix. 435-6; Cal. Scots Docs. iv. nos. 252, 264 and p. 402; Rot. Scot. ed. Macpherson etc. ii. 42.
  • 4. CP, ix. 436; CFR, ix. 36, 135, 192; CCR, 1377-81, pp. 251, 335.
  • 5. CPR, 1391-6, p. 587; 1396-9, p. 129; CCR, 1392-6, pp. 272, 435, 462; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. vii. 243; xiv. 315-16, 373-4, 399-401; xxiii. 174-5; CPL, v. 34; C67/30 m. 23.
  • 6. PPC, i. 157; CFR, xiii. 159; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. viii. 319; CP, ix. 437.