STOTESBURY, Thomas, of Northampton.
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Family and Education
m. by July 1411, Joan.1
Bailiff, Northampton Mich. 1417-18.2
The Stotesbury family was well known in later medieval Northampton, and this MP almost certainly numbered among his kinsmen the lawyer, John Stotesbury*, who represented the borough on three occasions during the later 14th century. In July 1414, some four years after John’s death, a relative and namesake of his, who had evidently inherited his property at Sulgrave, was bound over at the Northampton assizes for disturbing the peace; and Thomas Stotesbury came forward to offer personal securities of £40 as a guarantee of his future good behaviour. The two men again appeared in court in February 1416, when, together with Thomas’s wife, Joan, and one of John’s sons, they were arraigned on an assize of novel disseisin by a local man named John Freeman. The plaintiff soon dropped his case, however, and no more is heard of it. Stotesbury seems to have been of a somewhat quarrelsome disposition, since he was often involved in disputes over property during this period. In July 1411, for example, he and his wife began a lawsuit for the recovery of unspecified holdings in Northamptonshire; this was followed by a second round of litigation in August 1413 and a third barely six months later.3
Despite his preoccupation with legal matters, Stotesbury did not neglect his more public commitments. He attended the borough elections to the Parliaments of 1413 (May), 1416 (Mar.), 1421 (May) and 1425, offering sureties on the last occasion for the attendance of the successful candidates. He had already served a term as bailiff of Northampton by the time of his own return to the Lower House, which was still sitting when, in November 1419, he agreed to become a mainpernor at the Exchequer for the farmer of certain holdings in Northampton. These had been confiscated by the Crown from a local rentier named Thomas Watford, who is known to have made Stotesbury his feoffee, so it may be that our Member already possessed more than a passing interest in this transaction. By the time of his death he not only held all Watford’s urban property in trust, but had acquired a title to his estates in the Northamptonshire village of Watford as well.4
Although he never became mayor of Northampton, Stotesbury was obviously a figure of some consequence there, as can be seen from his appearance, in February 1424, among the ‘venerable company of discreet men’ who witnessed an enrolment in the town records on behalf of the local Carmelite priory. At about this time he also attested a series of deeds for his fellow burgess, John Loudham*, but no more is heard of him after the last of these conveyances was drawn up in March 1425. His death could, however, have occurred at any point between then and June 1456, the date of a charter which describes him as ‘Thomas Stotesbury of Northampton, draper, since deceased’.5