COBHAM, Sir Thomas (c.1343-1394), of Randall in Shorne and Allington castle, Kent.
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Family and Education
b.c.1343, 1st s. of Sir John Cobham (1319-61) of Randall; er. bro. of John*. m. (1) bef. Apr. 1367, Maud (d. 9 Apr. 1380), da. of Thomas Morice† (d.1368), pleader and common serjt. of London, 2s.; (2) Beatrice, s.p. Kntd. bef. Aug. 1372.
Sheriff, Kent 26 Nov. 1377-25 Nov. 1378.
Commr. of inquiry, Kent Dec. 1377, Mar. 1378 (homicide), Dec. 1379 (robbery), June 1393 (destruction of salmon in the river Medway); oyer and terminer July 1379; array Mar. 1380, May 1381, Apr. 1385, May 1386; to preserve the peace Sept. 1381; put down rebellion Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; audit the accounts of pontage, Rochester bridge Nov. 1384, June 1385; of arrest, Kent Nov. 1385.
Tax surveyor, Kent Aug. 1379; collector Dec. 1384.
Sir Thomas belonged to a distinguished family, long-established in Kent, which, early in the 14th century, had split into three main branches: namely, Cobham of Cobham, Cobham of Randall and Cobham of Sterborough. Members of all three branches were summoned to Parliament, including Sir Thomas’s grandfather, Stephen Cobham† (d.1332-3), but he was the only one of the Randall line ever to sit in the Lords. As his direct descendant, Thomas inherited after the death of his father in 1361 the manor of Randall, Allington castle and various lands and rents, and in the following year he agreed with his brother John that the younger man might have the family estate at Hever which otherwise, owing to its being held by gavelkind tenure, would have been split up between them. Thomas was only 19 when his father died, but nevertheless, in October 1362, the King took his fealty for tenements at Boxley which were held of the Crown in chief by the service of finding a horse and a sack with a brooch for the King’s wars in Wales, after it was decided that such a tenure did not permit the Crown rights of wardship.1
Within a few years Cobham married Maud, the only daughter of Thomas Morice, the London lawyer, and in 1367 he settled on her as jointure his manor of Randall. In the will he made in the following year Morice left ‘his son called Cobham’ his own leasehold interest in the manor, together with all his armour, and to Maud three dorsers, three pieces of matching silver and other goods. Maud was his heir to substantial properties in north Kent at Wrotham, Trottiscliffe and elsewhere, 14 messuages and rents in Stepney, Bromley and Hackney, Middlesex, and some meadowland in Stratford, Essex. She and Cobham sold or leased out some of these holdings, but for the most part her inheritance was retained by her husband after her death in 1380, and in due course passed more or less intact to their elder son.2
In the early 1370s Cobham twice embarked for Ireland for service with the King’s lieutenant, William of Windsor, having in the meantime in August 1372 joined the retinue of Thomas, earl of Warwick, for the naval expedition intended to relieve La Rochelle.3 He was evidently on good terms with his prominent kinsman and near neighbour, John, 3rd Lord Cobham of Cobham, a leading diplomat and councillor in the early part of Richard II’s reign, for it was invariably either in association with Lord Cobham, or else on his behalf, that he appeared as a witness to a number of deeds sealed in Kent between 1375 and 1385. Furthermore, his first wife was buried in Cobham church at his distinguished kinsman’s seat.4 It may have been Sir Thomas’s relationship to one of Kent’s leading magnates which made him a target for local hostility during the Peasants’ Revolt in June 1381. A band of rebels, led by Thomas atte Raven† of Rochester, took him and certain other notables, including John Freningham* and James Peckham*, captive. Atte Raven offered his prisoners their freedom, provided that they took an oath to join him and his followers, but whether they did that or sought safety in some other way, is unclear. Cobham subsequently took part in the repressive measures to stamp out further insurrection.5
Cobham died, aged about 50, on 8 Feb. 1394, leaving as his heir his elder son (Sir) Reynold (1372-1405). He was buried in Birling church.6 His widow Beatrice sued her stepson for dower in Allington in 1395 and was in danger of being arrested in London in the following year at the suit of a tailor for detinue of four marks. Later, as executrix of Cobham’s will (which has not survived), she herself brought suits for two much more substantial debts of £100 each.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. CP, iii. 351-2; CIPM, vii. 444; viii. 272; xi. 240; CFR, vii. 231-2; Coll. Top. et Gen. vii. 335; R. Pocock, Gravesend, 36, 40.
- 2. CP25(1)106/182/1615, 188/1755; Cal. Wills ct. Husting London ed. Sharpe, ii. 108; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 158; CAD, i. C1021; vi. C4735; Mon. Brasses ed. Mill Stephenson, 219 (where, however, Maud is wrongly given as sis. or da. of Sir William Pympe).
- 3. CPR, 1367-70, p. 443; 1370-4, p. 403; Foedera ed. Rymer (Hague edn.), iii(2), 958.
- 4. CCR, 1374-7, pp. 327, 332; 1377-81, p. 511; 1381-5, p. 77; 1385-9, p. 458; Arch. Cant. xxvii. 93-94.
- 5. CPR, 1381-5, p. 409.
- 6. C136/80/10; CFR, xi. 177; Arch. Cant. xxix. 162. A year after his father’s death Reynold married Elizabeth, da. of Sir Arnold Savage I* and sis. and event. h. of Sir Arnold Savage II*. Following the deaths of his two sons s.p. m. the Cobham estates passed c.1424 to his da. Eleanor Moresby: Genealogist, xxix. 205-7; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 395.
- 7. Peds. Plea Rolls, 197; CCR, 1396-9, p. 69; CPR, 1396-9, pp. 301, 303.