WARCOP, Thomas II, of Lammerside, 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



Nov. 1414

Family and Education

s. and h. of John Warcop (d. by 1378) of Lammerside and Wharton by his w. Mary (d. aft. 1378). m. (1) Joan or Katherine Smardale of Smardale, Westmld., 1s. Thomas Warcop III*; (2) by Aug. 1388, Margaret Plumland, prob. wid. of Robert Cliburn of Cliburn Hervey, at least 1s. 1da.; (3) by 1411, Alice, wid. of Sir Walter Strickland* (d.1407/8) of Sizergh.1

Offices Held

Collector of taxes, Westmld. May 1398, Dec. 1406.

Dep. sheriff, Westmld. 4 or 20 Nov. 1403-20 Oct. or 2 Nov. 1406, 30 Sept. or 10 Oct. 1417-3 or 26 Oct. 1418.

J.p. Westmld. 2 July 1412-Jan. 1414.

Commr. of array, Westmld. Apr. 1418.


On the death of John Warcop in, or just before, 1378, his son, Thomas, and his widow, Mary, whom he named as his executors, began a series of lawsuits for the recovery of debts from two York merchants, and also for the payment of damages because of thefts from his property at Murton in Westmorland. Thomas must then have been quite young, and no more is heard of him until August 1388, by which date his first wife, Joan (or Katherine) Smardale, had died, leaving him with a life interest in her manor of Smardale. No doubt with the intention of consolidating his position as a landowner even further, he married her kinswoman, Margaret Plumland, who then occupied the manor of Cliburn Hervey, presumably as a dower after the death of Robert Cliburn, her first husband. Although it helped to increase his income and influence, Warcop’s second marriage got him into serious trouble with the ecclesiastical authorities, because his new wife was so closely related to her predecessor. At some point before November 1394, he and Margaret were excommunicated for contracting a marriage within the three prohibited degrees, and their offspring were pronounced illegitimate. The couple then had to undergo a period of separation and penance before the bishop of Carlisle received instructions to absolve their sentence and remarry them.2

Warcop’s domestic problems may well account for his absence from public life during this period. He first held local office, as a tax collector, in 1398, and went on to become deputy sheriff of Westmorland five years later. The post carried with it certain legal privileges, which made it easy for him to exploit his authority in a particularly blatant fashion by arranging for the abduction of a bride for his young son. According to a petition presented by Sir Robert Leybourne* to the Parliament of October 1404, Warcop persuaded Roland Thornburgh* to kidnap one of his own relatives, the late Robert Sandford I’s* daughter and coheir, Margaret, a child of nine who had recently become Leybourne’s stepdaughter and ward. The girl was forcibly married to Thomas Warcop III, a youth almost ten years her senior, and hidden away by her captors. Not surprisingly, Sir Robert found it almost impossible to take action against Warcop, as deputy sheriff, by process of common law, although his appeal to Parliament earned him a more than sympathetic hearing. The case was referred to arbitration, with Justice William Gascoigne as umpire, and heavy securities for good behaviour were taken from the accused. The marriage was eventually annulled, but Warcop himself escaped punishment and continued to occupy the shrievalty for two more years. He attended the Westmorland county elections to the Parliaments of 1407 (when his kinsman, Thomas Warcop I, was chosen), 1411 and 1413 (May); and was himself selected to sit in the second Parliament of 1414. It is interesting to note that both Thomas Warcop I and Thomas Warcop III were present on this occasion to attest the return, probably because he was in great need of support. His friend, Richard Wharton*, who had served in the previous Parliament, was then facing various charges of mayhem, arson, riot and murder brought by the lawyer, John Helton*, in the court of Chancery; and he himself had been named as one of the ‘graundez meyntenours et maleffesours’ involved in aiding and abetting these crimes. That he had an old score to settle with Helton seems more than likely, as they had previously crossed swords at the local assizes, in 1408, during the course of a property dispute. Perhaps with the intention of continuing his defence, or at least ensuring that he had a spokesman to act on his behalf, Warcop attended the next parliamentary elections at Appleby and was thus able to secure the return of his own son, Thomas III, and his relative, Robert Warcop. He also took part in the elections of 1419, 1421 (May) and 1421 (Dec.), but although he must have been gratified by Robert’s repeated success, his interest was now far less personal.3

Despite his assurance to the bishop of Carlisle that he would not remarry after Margaret Plumland’s death. Warcop did take a third wife, whose wealth and social position made bearable the prospect of further censure by the church courts. Alice, the widow of Sir Walter Strickland, had received a handsome dower of land in Hackthorpe, Natland and Stainton, which she and Warcop occupied for the first years of their marriage. In 1411, however, they decided to lease the property to her stepson, Thomas Strickland II*, at an annual rent of £20 13s.4d., payable for the rest of her life. Warcop was now well established in the upper reaches of county society, and it is hardly surprising that he was approached at this time to arbitrate in a quarrel between (Sir) Christopher Curwen* and his second wife’s kinsman, John Cliburn. Nor did his previous record of lawlessness prevent his appointment, in 1417, for another term as deputy sheriff of Westmorland. The office lay in the gift of John, Lord Clifford, who was feudal overlord of most of the property occupied at different times by Thomas’s three wives. After Clifford’s death, at the seige of Meaux in 1422, Warcop gave evidence concerning the value and extent of his estates.4

The date of Warcop’s own death is now hard to determine, largely because of the confusion which exists between him, his son and his kinsman, Thomas Warcop I. In 1432, Henry Wharton, Robert Grendon, and Gilbert Futhergill, the three executors of a Thomas Warcop, were suing a Newcastle man for debt, and in view of his earlier association with the Whartons we may, perhaps, assume that this reference concerns the late deputy sheriff of Westmorland.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. Later Recs. N. Westmld. ed. Ferguson, 77, 137; Recs. Kendale ed. Farrer and Curwen, i. 170; ii. 194; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. viii. 312-13, 318, 324-5; CIPM, xvi. nos. 837, 838; CPL, iv. 499; RP, iii. 654-5. It has been argued that the Thomas Warcop who married Katherine Smardale and then Margaret Plumland was the father of our MP but this seems unlikely on chronological grounds (Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xxii. 338-9).
  • 2. Later Recs. N. Westmld. 77, 137; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. viii. 312-13, 318, 324-5; xxii. 338-9; CPL, iv. 499.
  • 3. C1/6/196; RP, iii. 654-5; C219/10/4, 6, 11/2, 5, 6, 12/3, 5, 6; JUST 1/1517 rot. 65.
  • 4. Recs. Kendale, i. 170; ii. 194; J. Nicolson and R. Burn, Westmld. and Cumb. i. 603; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xxviii. 192.
  • 5. CPR, 1429-36, p. 171.