TALBOT, Sir Gilbert (c.1346-1399), of Richards Castle, Herefs and Wadley, Berks.
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Family and Education
b.c.1346,1 2nd s. of Sir John Talbot (d.1355) of Richards Castle by Juliana (d.1361), da. of Roger, 1st Lord Grey of Ruthin. m. (1) by Nov. 1376, Margaret, wid. of Sir John Blaumonster of Wighill, Yorks.;2 (2) by Oct. 1384, Joan (d. 27 Apr. 1392), wid. of John Wynow, Sir Nicholas Tamworth† (d.1376) and Warin, 2nd Lord Lisle (d.1382), s.p.;3 (3) aft. Feb. 1396, Margaret (d. 25 Mar. 1434), da. of Sir Robert Howard of Wiggenhall, Norf., sis. of Sir John Howard*, wid. of Constantine, 2nd Lord Clifton of Buckenham castle, Norf., 1s.4 Kntd. bef. Oct. 1377.
Commr. to put down rebellion, Berks. Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of oyer and terminer Feb. 1383; array Apr. 1385, Mar. 1386, Mar. 1392; to administer oaths in support of the Lords Appellant Mar. 1388; of arrest Oct. 1389; weirs June 1398.
J.p. Berks. 24 Nov. 1383-June 1397, Wilts. 4 July 1391-4.
On the death of Sir John Talbot of Richards Castle in 1355, the family estates in Herefordshire and elsewhere passed to his eldest son, John. Subsequently, in the 1360s, the latter’s younger brother, Gilbert, successfully defended in the lawcourts his own interests in the Talbot manor of Howbridge, Essex, of which he was later to act as a trustee on his brother’s behalf; and elsewhere in the same county he held for life the family manor of Woodham Mortimer. Otherwise, he did not come into possession of any more of the ancestral estates, and his continued use of the descriptive address ‘of Richards Castle’ served merely to draw attention to his status, after his brother’s death in 1375, as the eldest male representative of the family during the minorities of his nephews, Richard and John, and, after the deaths of these two, in 1382 and 1388 respectively, as the sole surviving Talbot of Richards Castle following the division of their inheritance between his three nieces.5
Like many another younger son, Talbot sought his fortune in the wars in France. Despite his later testimony implying that he was born in about 1346, he was probably a few years older than 13 when he accompanied Edward III’s army there in 1359. Although one of the retinue of the King’s son, John of Gaunt, then earl of Richmond, he had come to Edward’s attention by October 1362 when, as ‘King’s yeoman’, he was granted an annuity of £40 for life, payable at the Exchequer until he should be provided with lands or rents of equivalent value. In the summer of 1366 he travelled in the train of Humphrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford, to Italy, where the earl negotiated for the marriage of another of the King’s sons, Lionel, duke of Clarence, to Violanta Visconti; and when, in November 1367, he was licensed, as an esquire in the royal household, to go overseas with three horsemen and £100 for his expenses, it was quite likely in order that he might join his brother in Clarence’s entourage for his journey to Milan for the nuptuals. Following the renewal of the war with France in 1369, Gilbert again served under John of Gaunt, now duke of Lancaster, in the English army which ravaged the Pays de Caux in Upper Normandy. A reward for his services came in January 1370 in the form of a grant of the wardship and marriage of Walter atte Berghe’s heir, for which he was apparently excused all payment. At his request his annuity of £40 was made payable from the fee farm of Gloucester in 1374, but in April 1376 he was awarded property in lieu, as originally promised, namely, the valuable manors of Wadley and Wicklesham in Berkshire, which, furthermore, he was privileged to receive as a grant in tail-male. A month earlier Talbot had obtained, for the duration of the nonage of the heir of his late kinsman, John Hastings, earl of Pembroke, an annual rent of ten marks due from the abbot of Waltham Holy Cross.6
Talbot may well have attained knighthood before Edward III’s death; certainly it was as Sir Gilbert that he joined the retinue of Thomas of Woodstock, earl of Buckingham, and, with his own contingent of 38 men-at-arms, served at sea for three months from October 1377. In November 1383 he secured an Exchequer lease of certain family estates in Essex and Worcestershire, during the minority of his nephew, John. Earlier in the same year he had been on the Scottish border in the force commanded by John of Gaunt, receiving from the duke, perhaps as a consequence of this particular military action, an annuity of 20 marks charged on Lancastrian revenues which was paid to him at least from Michaelmas 1383 until Easter 1385. Yet despite all his service with Richard II’s uncles, he was first and foremost a ‘King’s knight’, so when Richard led an expedition to Scotland in person in the following summer, it is not surprising to find him in the royal train with his own retinue of one other knight, four squires and 12 archers.7
At the same time as pursuing an energetic military career, Sir Gilbert had taken steps to advance himself through marriage, and in this he was extremely successful. The first match he made gained for him an annual payment of as much as 100 marks for his wife’s lifetime, under an agreement concluded with Sir Brian Stapleton in 1376 (and guaranteed by Stapleton’s bonds for 1,600 marks) in return for relinquishing her interest in certain manors in Yorkshire.8 His second marriage proved even more profitable, for Joan, Lady Lisle, brought him not only a substantial share in the manorial holdings of her three former husbands, but also paved the way for his large-scale acquisition of monastic estates. From the Cornish lands of her first husband, Wynow, she received a mere £4 p.a., but from those of her third, Lord Lisle, in Cornwall, Northamptonshire, Wiltshire, Middlesex and Berkshire, she could expect at least £130 a year clear, according to estimates made after her death. Perhaps of even greater consequence, Joan had shared with her second husband, Sir Nicholas Tamworth (the sometime admiral), a considerable stake in the estates in England belonging to the Cluniac order. From 1367 Tamworth had held a lease of all the English lands of the Cluniac monastery of Longeville in Normandy, at a rent which became payable to the Crown on the outbreak of war in 1369; and following his death Edward III had granted the widow a ten-year lease of the property. Taking advantage of his marriage to Joan, and of her lease, Talbot secured from Richard II on 28 Oct. 1384 a grant of the lands to himself for life, at a rent of £80 a year, conditional only on his maintaining two monks at the priory’s cell at Newton Longville, Buckinghamshire. Furthermore, six years later, the lease was made over to him, his wife, and their issue, the King then, in July 1390, giving him licence to purchase these rights from Longeville priory itself. Clearly in pursuance of this aim, in October of the same year Talbot obtained royal permission to travel to Normandy, bearing 1,800 francs in gold. But if he did indeed purchase this concession, it did not in the long run prove to be money well spent, for he had no children by Joan (who died just two years later in 1392), with the result that the lands were resumed into the King’s hands soon after his death in 1399. Nevertheless, in the interim the Longeville estates (situated chiefly in Norfolk and Buckinghamshire but including Hanney in Berkshire) proved a valuable addition to Talbot’s holdings, for as they were worth about £150 a year, he was left after paying the rent with some £70 p.a. clear.9
Nor were these the only monastic estates which Talbot obtained by his marriage to Tamworth’s widow. Together with Sir Nicholas, Joan had acquired in fee tail from the Cluniac priory of St. Michael de Vasto, Boulogne-sur-Mer, its estate centred on Winterbourne Monkton in Dorset, which, when sublet, was to earn Talbot 20 marks a year for his wife’s lifetime. More important, the Tamworths held for term of their lives, by a grant of the abbot of Cluny dating back to 1360, the abbey’s manors of Letcombe Regis (Berkshire), Offord Cluny (Huntingdonshire) and Manton and Tixover (Rutland). At first, Talbot was to hold these merely in right of his wife, but on 29 Apr. 1392, just two days after her death, he obtained from Richard II custody of the same for his own lifetime, in return for a small annual payment to the Crown of 40 gold florins (about £6); and after securing a royal licence to procure the lease from the abbot, he sent his squire, John Lane, over to Calais to conduct negotiations on his behalf. The outcome of all this was an agreement, made in January 1394, whereby for a payment of 3,000 florins (about £450) and an annual rent of 20 florins, the manors were to be retained by Sir Gilbert for term of his life and by his executors for one year after his death. Further contracts were signed with the abbot in 1396 and February 1397, on the latter occasion with Lane once more acting as emissary, as Talbot was suffering from an injury sustained in a fall from a horse. Sir Gilbert’s correspondence with the abbot reveals an inflated view of his own importance: while writing from his house in the parish of St. Faith, London, he referred to himself grandly as a kinsman of the King. (If such he was, it was through a very distant connexion.)10
When returned to Parliament for Berkshire for the only time in 1386, this ‘King’s knight’ was, therefore, a man of considerable substance, enjoying an income of at least £260 a year. In Berkshire itself he must have been among the most important landowners, for he held there not only the manors granted him by Edward III, the Lisle properties and the Cluniac estates at Hanney and Letcombe Regis, but also the manor of Hatford which he and his wife had purchased in 1384. While up at Westminster on 12 Oct. he gave testimony in the court of chivalry in the celebrated dispute over heraldic arms between Richard, Lord Scrope, and Sir Robert Grosvenor. The following summer saw him serving in the naval force commanded by the admiral, Richard, earl of Arundel, with his own large contingent of 79 men; and in March 1388 it was he who was appointed with the sheriff of Berkshire to take oaths from the influential men of the county that they would support the earl and his fellow Lords Appellant. Nevertheless, there is no other indication that he was closely connected with the Appellants; indeed, his continued retention as a favoured ‘King’s knight’ throughout the 1390s would point to the contrary view. In September 1394 he crossed to Ireland with Richard II’s army, receiving wages at the Wardrobe for himself and a small following, and having nominated attorneys to look after his affairs during an extended stay in the province, he did not return home until April following. Of the few references to Talbot’s personal connexions which survive, two are worth mention: in 1389 he acted on behalf of his niece, Philippa, wife of the veteran soldier, Sir Matthew Gournay, in transactions relating to land in Somerset, and in 1397 he was associated with his cousin, Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, with regard to the latter’s business interests in Bedfordshire.11
Talbot’s third marriage, contracted in the last years of his life, brought him into close contact with the influential family of Howard, and made him the richer by at least £101 a year, as the income from the very considerable estates in Norfolk and elsewhere which his wife held for life as widow of Constantine, Lord Clifton. But Sir Gilbert did not long enjoy the fruits of this match: he died on 6 Feb. 1399, leaving as his heir an infant son, Richard, born in the previous summer. In April all the Cluniac estates and Talbot’s manors of Wadley and Wicklesham were committed to the custody of the bishop of Salisbury, only for the former to be granted to Sir Simon Felbrigg KG shortly afterwards; and in May Talbot’s widow received back her Clifton estates and certain properties which he had settled on her as jointure. However, the political upheavals of that summer, coupled with confusion at the Exchequer over the terms of the leases relating to the Cluniac estates, caused further changes to be made: in August, on Henry of Bolingbroke’s instructions, Wadley and Wicklesham were handed over to the ‘next friend’ of the heir to keep to his use, and Talbot’s widow and his other executors sued for and were given the Newton Longville properties, only for this error to be rectified in February following with a grant limited to one year.12 Despite obtaining a royal licence in June 1399 enabling her to marry whom she pleased, Margaret Talbot lived on nearly 35 years as a widow. After the death of her young son in the autumn of 1413, the reversion of those parts of Wadley and Wicklesham which she held in dower, and which now, with the extinction of Talbot’s line, pertained to the Crown, were granted by Henry V to Sir Thomas Erpingham KG, and it was to Erpingham’s nephew, Sir John Phelip*, that she subsequently sold her late husband’s manor of Hatford.13
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Care has been taken to distinguish him from Gilbert (c.1332-1387), 3rd Lord Talbot of Goodrich Castle, for whom see CP, xii (1) 614-20.
- 1. Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 174.
- 2. Yorks. Feet of Fines (Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. lii), 190, 200.
- 3. CP, viii. 52, which, however, does not mention Joan’s marriages to Tamworth and Talbot: for these, see Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 157; VCH Berks. iv. 223.
- 4. CP, iii. 308, where, however, Margaret is erroneously given as the da. rather than the sis. of Sir John Howard. See F. Blomefield, Norf. v. 235-44; C136/86/13.
- 5. CP, xii (1) 628-32; Peds. Plea Rolls, 86, 94; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 21; CIPM, xiv. 213; xvi. 772.
- 6. Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 174; CPR, 1361-4, p. 258; 1364-7, p. 304; 1367-70, pp. 56, 359, 381; 1374-7, pp. 249, 259; Issue Roll Brantingham ed. Devon, 478; E101/396/2, f. 56.
- 7. E101/36/25; CFR, x. 12; DL29/738/12104; EHR, lxxiii. 18.
- 8. CCR, 1374-7, pp. 451-4, 462; Yorks. Feet of Fines, 190.
- 9. C136/72/7; CCR, 1389-92, p. 221; 1392-6, p. 328; CFR, x. 67-68; CPR, 1388-92, pp. 292-3; Newington Longeville Chs. (Oxon. Rec. Soc. iii), pp. x, xlii, xliii.
- 10. CPR, 1391-6, p. 48; 1396-9, pp. 58, 86; Dorset Feet of Fines, 210; Cluni Chs. ed. Duckett, i. 125-42, 145-8, 150-77.
- 11. CCR, 1381-5, p. 591; 1396-9, p. 73; CP25(1)12/76/14; VCH Berks. iv. 461; Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 174; E101/41/5, 402/20, f. 34d; CPR, 1388-92, pp. 157-8, 1391-6, pp. 476, 536.
- 12. C136/108/47; CFR, xi. 299; xii. 48-49; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 472, 479-80, 482, 511; 1399-1402, pp. 32-33, 80-81, 151.
- 13. CPR, 1396-9, p. 579; 1413-16, pp. 128, 281; C139/64/30.