SACKVILLE, Sir Thomas II (d.1432), of Buckhurst in Withyham, Suss.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Tax assessor, Suss. May 1379.
Commr. to take special assizes, Suss. May, June 1388;1 of array June 1388, Dec. 1399, Nov. 1403, Surr., Suss. Apr. 1418, Suss. June 1421; inquiry Apr. 1406 (abduction); oyer and terminer, Kent, Suss. July 1423.
Sheriff, Surr. and Suss. 5 Nov. 1406-30 Nov. 1407.
Sackville’s father, who represented Sussex in the Parliaments of 1361, 1368 and 1369, was not only an important landowner in this county, where he held eight manors besides Buckhurst, but also owned Emmington in Oxfordshire, Mount Bures and Bergholt in Essex, and Debenham in Suffolk. All these properties were eventually to pass into the possession of our MP, despite his having being born a bastard, for both of his legitimate half-brothers—Sir Andrew the younger (c.1340-1366) and John—died in their father’s lifetime, leaving no issue of their own. As certain of the manors had come to the Sackvilles through marriage with Joan de la Beche, mother of the younger Sir Andrew, Sir Thomas, when defending his interests in lawsuits brought by the de la Beche heirs in Henry IV’s reign, was to claim to be that Sir Andrew’s son in order to strengthen an otherwise weak title.2 However, there can be little doubt that it was the elder Sir Andrew who was his father. He it was who, in 1365, settled in reversion a house and 300 acres of land at Pevensey on Thomas, as ‘the son of Joan Burgeys’, with remainder to the boy’s sister Alice; and that same year he placed in the hands of trustees all his other landed possessions, instructing them to transfer them to Thomas in the event of the failure of his legitimate line. Acting accordingly, some time after Sir Andrew’s death in 1369 and before April 1377, the trustees put him in possession of the Sussex estates. His father’s widow, Maud, by then the wife of Sir Edmund de la Pole*, held the Sackville manors in Oxfordshire and Essex until her death in June 1393, whereupon a dispute arose as to whether Sir Andrew’s ‘right heir’—in the person of a very distant kinsman, Sir Thomas Sackville I* of Fawley—had a better title than Sir Thomas of Sussex. However, eight months later the latter took possession. The family manor in Suffolk was not to fall to him until 1406, following the death of the widow of his half-brother, John.3
Sir Thomas could expect to receive a substantial income from his patrimony. In 1412 his estates in Essex and Sussex alone were to be assessed as worth £75 a year, and this was probably an undervaluation.4 These financial circumstances doubtless outweighed the disadvantage of his illegitimate birth in persuading Sir Edward Dallingridge to permit him to marry his daughter. Sackville was closely associated with his father-in-law from 1381 (when he became a feoffee of his estates) until Sir Edward’s death in 1393. Allied with their friend, Sir Philip Mestede, he supported Dallingridge in his attempts to resist the intrusions of the officials of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, a comparative newcomer to the land-owning community of Sussex. In January 1381 all three formally did homage to Lancaster for lands held of the duchy, but a few months later, taking advantage of local disruption caused by the Peasants’ Revolt, they prevented the duke’s steward from holding courts, went poaching in the duchy parks, and burned a commission issued under Gaunt’s seal. For a while Lancaster, being in no position to take action against them, mollified Sir Edward with a grant of the office of master forester at Ashdown; but following his dismissal in 1383, old grievances emerged again: one of the duke’s under foresters was killed in March 1384, and Sackville himself allegedly abetted and harboured the murderers. Three months later a royal commission of oyer and terminer was set up to bring the Sussex men to trial. Sackville probably suffered a term of imprisonment—as did his father-in-law—but in June 1385 he obtained a royal pardon through the intercession of the King’s favourite, Sir James Berners*. Nothing more is heard of any contacts between Sackville and Richard II’s courtiers, and it seems likely that he owed his appointments to royal commissions in 1388, when the Lords Appellant were in control of the government, to his relationship with Dallingridge, who was a prominent retainer of Richard, earl of Arundel.5 Nevertheless, it was not until the year after his father-in-law’s death that Sackville was elected to Parliament for the first time. The period of his parliamentary service was one in which he played no part in local administration. His brother-in-law, Sir John Dallingridge*, became a retainer of Henry of Bolingbroke, and it may well have been for this reason that in May 1398 he and his fellow trustees of Sir John’s estates were forced to pay the King 500 marks in order to obtain a formal pardon and exoneration from the consequences of Sir Edward Dallingridge’s sometime adherence to the Appellants. Even so, Sackville may have remained loyal to King Richard, for although he was appointed to a commission of array by Henry IV’s government in December 1399, a month later he was arrested, apparently on suspicion of complicity in the Epiphany plot to dethrone Henry and restore his predecessor. (Perhaps he had supported Thomas, Lord Despenser, one of the conspirators, whose lordship of Rotherfield lay adjacent to his own principal residence.) Bail was granted him only after Dallingridge and another ‘King’s knight’ Sir Edmund Noon*, had provided sufficient sureties for his appearance before the Council when summoned. He remained on excellent terms with Sir John, who in 1404 arranged that in the event of the failure of his uncle’s branch of the Dallingridge family, he should inherit the manor of Bolebrook. In the following year Sackville was made a trustee of the estates held for life by Sir John’s wife, Alice, and it was as Dallingridge’s ‘dilectissimus amicus et confrater suus’ that he was named with her as overseer of his will in 1407. He was subsequently included among those friends of Sir John for whom prayers were to be offered at Robertsbridge abbey. Sir Thomas’s term as sheriff (1406-7)—in the course of which he officiated at the election of his brother-in-law to Parliament—was oppressive in the eyes of the tenants of the royal manor of Witley (Surrey), who made complaint to the King’s Council of injuries done them by him and his under sheriff.6
Yet Sackville was clearly well regarded by members of the gentry of Sussex and the neighbouring counties. Sir William Burcester* made him a trustee of his lands and bequeathed to him a ‘swagged cuppe’; the wealthy Sir Philip St. Cler asked him to assist in his purchase of ‘Quene Court’ in Ospringe; and Sir Reynold Cobham, heir to Lord Cobham of Sterborough, enfeoffed him of his widespread estates. More important, in May 1415, he was among those whom Thomas, earl of Arundel, entrusted to put into effect an entail of his lordships in Sussex and Surrey. In the following year Nicholas Carew*, a fellow feoffee of the Fitzalan estates, included him as party to a settlement of his own lands; and then, in 1417, Richard Wayville*, a retainer of the late earl, named him as overseer of his will.7
Sackville’s elder son, Andrew, had died in 1408, leaving as his heir an infant son of the same name. In the 1420s Sir Thomas made various settlements providing that, after his death, his Essex manors should pass to this grandson and the rest of his lands to his surviving son, Edward. Before they inherited, however, the large sum of £366 13s.4d. was to be raised from the revenues of the estates in order to cover the testamentary depositions contained in the will the old man made on 19 May 1432. These included the maintenance and relief of poor orphans, widows and other needy persons (in particular any of his tenants who were impoverished, aged, bedridden or sick), repairs to roads, the deliverance of persons imprisoned for debt or trespass (but, expressly, not for felony) and the celebration of masses for his soul and those of his deceased parents and wife. In his final will, made on 1 Dec. following, Sir Thomas left 100 marks to Bayham abbey where he was to be interred. Three days before probate was granted (on the 16th) his two heirs were each bound in £2,000 to carry out his wishes.8 In the event, all of the Sackville estates came into the possession of Edward (d.1450), who successfully defended his title to Emmington in the face of renewed attempts by the Sackvilles of Fawley to seize the manor.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. C66/324 m. 4d, 325 m. 20d.
- 2. CPR, 1345-8, p. 529; 1364-8, p. 208; CIPM, viii. 8, 574; ix. 235-6; xi. 579; xiii. 11; xv. 462-3; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 260; C.J. Phillips, Sackville Fam. i. 81-91.
- 3. CPR, 1364-7, p. 113; CIPM, xiii. 58; C136/75/20; C137/55/38; C67/28B m. 13; P. Morant, Essex, ii. 225; CCR, 1392-6, p. 206; 1405-9, p. 56; 1409-13, pp. 33-34; VCH Oxon. viii. 92-93.
- 4. Feudal Aids, vi. 438, 526.
- 5. W. Berry, Suss. Gen. 300; Reg. Gaunt 1379-83, no. 1165; Suss. Arch. Colls. lxii. 79-81; cxxi. 89, 92; CPR, 1381-5, pp. 427-8, 580; CCR, 1385-9, p. 437; 1389-92, p. 76; Suss. Feet of Fines (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii), no. 2602; Bolney Bk (ibid. lxiii), 37, 50.
- 6. CCR, 1392-6, p. 499; 1399-1402, pp. 35, 131; CPR, 1396-9, p. 341; 1405-8, p. 118; C139/111/52; Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Arundel, ii. f. 36; Suss. Arch. Colls. lxxviii. 266-73; SC1/43/101.
- 7. CCR, 1402-5, p. 305; 1405-9, pp. 468-9; 1413-19, p. 360; 1422-9, pp. 70-71; Surr. Arch. Colls. i. 192; Suss. Arch. Trust, Lewes, Firle Place chs. 221-3, 246; CPR, 1408-13, p. 36; 1413-16, p. 336; PCC 40 Marche.
- 8. C137/70/3; Suss. Feet of Fines, no. 2903; CCR, 1429-35, pp. 234-6; PCC 17 Luffenham.
- 9. C139/141/10; Peds. Plea Rolls, 357.