BLAKET, John (d.1430), of Icomb, Glos. and Noseley, Leics.
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Family and Education
m. (1) c. May 1401, Margaret (d. 29 Mar. 1407), da. of Sir Ralph Hastings† of Kirby Muxloe, Leics. and Slingsby, Yorks. by his 1st w. Isabel, da. and h. of Sir Robert Saddington† of Noseley, wid. of Sir Roger Heron of Croydon, Cambs. poss. 1 ch. d.v.p.; (2) between 1409 and 1412, Margaret (c.1385-8 Aug. 1420), da. and coh. of Thomas Beaupyne* of Bristol, wid. of William Worfton* of Broad Hinton, Wilts., 1s. 1da.; (3) Elizabeth (d. 20 Oct. 1445), da. and h. of Sir John Trillow† of Chastleton, Oxon., wid of William Wilcotes* of North Leigh, Oxon. Kntd. between May and Oct. 1415.
Commr. to requisition ships, Cheshire, Liverpool Jan. 1395; of inquiry, Wilts. Jan. 1412 (contributors to a subsidy); arrest, Leics. Feb. 1414, Wilts. July 1415; oyer and terminer, Caen Jan. 1418.1
Sheriff, Warws. and Leics. 5 Nov. 1403-22 Oct. 1404, Glos. 13 Nov. 1423-6 Nov. 1424.
J.p. Wilts. 13 Feb. 1410-Nov. 1415, Glos. 12 Feb. 1422-July 1424.
Blaket’s family background is obscure, though he may have been a descendant of the Sir John Blaket who sat for Buckinghamshire in 1315, and it seems likely that he acquired Icomb in Gloucestershire (where he eventually made his home) through inheritance.2 There can be little doubt, however, that he owed his position of influence first in Leicestershire and later in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire to the estates he acquired through three lucrative marriages, coupled with the rewards arising from his service to the Crown. In the early stages of his career, when he was sometimes described as ‘of Warwickshire’, Blaket was attached to the household of the earl of Northumberland’s son, Sir Henry Percy (‘Hotspur’). In January 1393 he provided securities at the Exchequer on Percy’s behalf, and two years later his first royal commission took him to Liverpool to requisition ships for the conveyance of Percy’s retinue to Ireland, an expedition in which he himself almost certainly took part. Yet, by 30 June 1398, he was also a ‘King’s esquire’: as such he then received grants of a corrody in Gloucester abbey and the custody of a small parcel of land in Upton St. Leonards (Gloucestershire), which were in the Crown’s keeping as a result of the attainder of the earl of Arundel. He had not left Hotspur’s employ, for in January 1399 he took out letters of protection while engaged on the defence of Berwick-upon-Tweed, under his command. Richard II’s deposition proved to be far from a hindrance to Blaket’s advancement, and it may be surmised that his attachment to the Percys stood him in good stead over the critical period. As early in Henry IV’s reign as 16 Oct. 1399 he was granted a substantial annuity of £40 at the Exchequer, being already a member of the new King’s household, even though he was expected to remain at Berwick for another year. He was to receive the annuity until 20 May 1401, when it was cancelled, only to be replaced by another of like amount payable to him and Margaret Hastings, widow of Sir Roger Heron (the eldest son of William, Lord Heron), whom he was about to marry.3
From 17 Apr. until 26 July 1402 Blaket was overseas as one of the escorts of the King’s elder daughter, Princess Blanche, on her journey to Cologne for her wedding to Louis, Count Palatine, son of the King of the Romans. On 14 Oct. following, presumably as a reward for these and other services, he was granted a second annuity of £40, and later, when he had difficulty in obtaining payment, he was permitted to deduct the arrears from the farm due from his bailiwick as sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicestershire (1403-4). He was to remain a member of the Household at least until the autumn of 1403 and clearly took no part in Hotspur’s treasonous rebellion.4 Blaket’s new status as an office-holder in Leicestershire came about as a corollary of his marriage to Margaret Hastings, who had inherited substantial estates in the county from her mother Isabel (the daughter of Sir Robert Saddington, chancellor from 1343 to 1345, and his wife Joyce, kinswoman and heir of Bishop Martival of Salisbury). Her inheritance included the manors of Noseley, Newton Harcourt, Gilmorton and Humberstone, which in 1402 were entailed on the Blakets and their issue, with remainder to Margaret’s three daughters by her first husband. When Margaret’s father, Sir Ralph Hastings, had died in 1397 his principal heir had been her half-brother, another Sir Ralph, who was to be executed for treason in 1405. Subsequently, on 6 Aug. that year, Blaket obtained at the Exchequer a lease of all the Hastings estates in Leicestershire for term of his life, only for this generous grant to be reduced in the following year, thereafter applying only to a few properties which had not been bestowed on Sir John Tiptoft*. Blaket’s first marriage also brought him possession of the manor of Croydon, which his wife held as dower, and after Margaret’s death in 1407 he secured a royal grant enabling him to retain this and other Heron lands during the minority of her grandson, William Heron. Furthermore, under the terms of settlements prudently made during her lifetime, Blaket retained most of the estates she had inherited from her mother. He was therefore in possession of substantial landed holdings in Leicestershire at the time of his three elections to Parliament for the county. Later on, when his interests had taken him away from Leicestershire, he reached an agreement with his former wife’s half-brother, Sir Richard Hastings†, whereby he undertook to relinquish possession of Newton Harcourt in return for an annual rent of £18.5
Blaket’s second marriage, which probably took place before February 1410, when he was first appointed to the bench in Wiltshire, made him a landowner of substance not only there but also in Somerset, for his wife shared with her three sisters the property left by their wealthy merchant father, Thomas Beaupyne, and, even more important, she had been given a sizeable dower and jointure by her former husband William Worfton. When assessments for taxation on income from land were made in 1412, the Heron lands in Cambridgeshire, of which Blaket still had custody, were estimated to be worth £10 a year, and he was holding property in Devon (presumably acquired through his second marriage) worth £20 a year, in Somerset worth £25 a year, and in Wiltshire worth £73 13s.4d. a year. Thus, even excluding the amount raised by his first wife’s estates in Leicestershire, Blaket’s annual income must have exceeded £128. A man of his standing might be expected to own a house in London, and, indeed, Blaket purchased one such property (in Silver Street), in 1415. As also befitted his rank he procured for himself and his wife a papal licence for a portable altar, and indults permitting them to choose their own confessors. After his second wife’s death in 1420 Blaket retained her Beaupyne inheritance ‘by the courtesy’, but was required to relinquish her dower in the Worfton estates. These were in effect all of his holdings in Wiltshire and, accordingly, he now ceased to be given a role in the administration of that county.6
In the meantime, Blaket’s annuities had been confirmed by Henry V, ‘so that he be not retained with anyone else’, and in due course on 26 May 1415 he had contracted to serve on Henry’s first campaign in France, taking with him his own modest contingent of two men-at-arms and six archers. It was certainly while he was with the King’s army that he was knighted; and he was among the knights left at Harfleur to head the castle’s garrison, under the command of Thomas, earl of Dorset. There can be no doubt that he proved his worth as a soldier for when, on 15 Feb. 1417, the Council came to consider the appointment of the marshal for the second invasion of France, Blaket’s name appeared on a shortlist of three. In the event he was not selected for this prestigious post, but he did join in the campaign, remaining in France throughout 1418, and participating in the siege of Rouen, which fell in January 1419. He is not known to have returned home before the autumn of 1421, when he was elected to his fourth Parliament, this time for Gloucestershire. There, besides Icomb, he held property acquired through his third marriage.7
After Henry V’s death Blaket continued to receive his annuities, but his days of military service were over and he now confined his activities to such duties as arose from his shrievalty of Gloucestershire and his place on the local bench. He occasionally appeared as a witness to deeds, doing so on behalf of Sir Walter Hungerford*, an important member of the Council of Regency, and for John Greville*, the former receiver-general of the duke of Bedford’s estates, and in 1427 he headed the list of those present at the Gloucestershire elections to Parliament.8 His third marriage had compensated him for the loss of the Worfton estates, for Elizabeth’s inheritance from her father, Sir John Trillow, included a manor in each of the counties of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Berkshire and three more in Oxfordshire (the last alone being worth about £50 p.a.), while her dower from her former husband, William Wilcotes, was substantial. Indeed, a valor of Elizabeth’s estates made shortly after her death reveals her annual income to have been about £107. As an outcome of this marriage Blaket was to be drawn into the affairs of the Wilcotes family: at some unknown date between 1426 and 1430 he was associated with the Lincoln’s Inn lawyer John Barton II*, husband of one of his many Wilcotes stepdaughters, and Elizabeth, widow of his stepson Sir John Wilcotes, in a suit in Chancery arising from the administration of Sir John’s will and the custody of a royal ward.9
In his own will, made on 19 Apr. 1430, Blaket asked to be buried in St. Mary’s chapel in Icomb church (the building of which he is thought to have financed), and requested the abbot of Bruern to conduct his funeral. His executors were his wife, his son Edmund and John Barton. He died on 24 June and the will was proved on 8 July. A few years later Elizabeth Blaket built and endowed a chapel, afterwards known as the Wilcotes chapel, in North Leigh parish church, where prayers were to be said for the souls of her sons (Sir Thomas and Sir John Wilcotes), who had died in the wars in France, and of her husbands, Wilcotes and Blaket, who, according to the letters patent licensing the foundation, had both long served the kings of England. Elizabeth, who then married Sir Robert Conyers†, survived until 1445, outliving Blaket’s heir, her stepson Edmund.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Rot. Normanniae ed. Hardy, 231.
- 2. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. vii. 19, 175-80.
- 3. CFR, xi. 69; CPR, 1391-6, p. 525; 1396-9, p. 378; 1399-1401, pp. 15, 489-90; CCR, 1396-9, p. 388; Cal. Scots. Docs. (supp.) v. nos. 4580, 4587.
- 4. E101/320/33, 404/21 f. 45; E404/20/91; CPR, 1401-5, p. 158; CCR, 1402-5, pp. 391, 395.
- 5. VCH Leics. v. 128, 266, 338; Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xii. 226-9; C136/100/32; J. Nichols, Leics. ii. 741; C137/69/46; Feudal Aids, vi. 409; CP, vi. 486-7; CPR, 1405-8, p. 261; 1408-13, p. 164; CFR, xiii. 316; xiv. 77; HMC Hastings, i. 294; Huntington Lib. San Marino, Hastings ms HAD 207/3433.
- 6. Feudal Aids, vi. 409, 419, 514, 530; CCR, 1409-13, p. 318; CPL, vi. 357, 359; CFR, xv. 386-7; C137/71/23; Corporation of London RO, hr 142/1, 153/16.
- 7. CPR, 1413-16, p. 121; CCR, 1413-19, p. 370; PPC, ii. 201; E404/31/308; DKR, xli. 711, 715, 717-18, 720, 753; xliv. 562, 567, 591, 593, 605; E101/47/39.
- 8. CPR, 1422-9, p. 105; Hastings ms HAD 180/2932; CCR, 1429-35, p. 126; C219/13/5.
- 9. C139/122/33; VCH Berks. iv. 422; VCH Oxon. v. 286; C1/7/113; SC12/18/42.
- 10. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. vii. 19; xlvii. 41; PCC 13, 29 Luffenham; C139/47/2, 122/33; CPR, 1436-41, p. 306; CAD, iv. A7544.