LANGFORD, Sir William (c.1366-1411), of Bradfield, Berks.
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Family and Education
b.c.1366, s. of Sir Thomas Langford† (d.1391) of Chale, I.o.W. and Bradfield by Joan (d.1393), da. and h. of Nicholas de la Bere of ‘Halywell’, Hants.1 m. (1) by Nov. 1387, Anne (b.1370), er. da. and coh. of John Beverley (d.1380) of Hitchen, Herts. by Amy, da. of Sir Alan Buxhull KG (d.1381), 3s. 1da.; (2) bef. July 1411, Lucy (d. Apr. 1420), 1da. Kntd. bef. Nov. 1387.
J.p. Berks. 28 Nov. 1399-Feb. 1406.
Commr. of array, Berks. Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403; inquiry May 1402 (title to the manor of Appleton); to suppress sedition May 1402.
Sheriff, Oxon. and Berks. 22 Nov. 1405-6.
The Langfords, who originated in Devon, still retained a number of properties in that county including Langford and three other manors, to which they had added in the 13th century Chale on the Isle of Wight. Only in the mid 14th century, as a consequence of the marriage of Sir William’s grandfather into the prominent family of de la Beche, did they acquire estates in Berkshire, although these, comprising so many as eight manors, thenceforward formed the centre of their interests. (Sir William himself generally leased out his land in the West Country.) All these holdings passed to Sir William in the early 1390s on the death of his parents. They provided him with an annual income said after his own demise to be around £50, but this was probably an undervaluation.2
The many items of armour mentioned in Langford’s will suggest that his was predominantly a military career, yet no detailed evidence to this effect has been found. Perhaps, as he was knighted before the end of 1387, he had already served overseas under Edward, earl of Devon, or William, earl of Salisbury, of which two noblemen the Langfords held their principal estates. The same year saw him married to Anne, the elder of two daughters and coheirs of John Beverley, one-time esquire to Edward III, and grand daughter of Sir Alan Buxhull KG. Arrangements for the match were made with Anne’s mother, Amy, and the latter’s second husband, Sir Robert Bardolf, who served at court as a knight of Richard II’s chamber. In November 1387 Sir Thomas Langford settled on the young couple the reversion of four of his manors in Berkshire, to fall in after his death, and a month later they secured possession of part of Anne’s share of her late father’s lands (including a moiety of the manor of Minsden in Hertfordshire and property in London). However, much of Anne’s inheritance remained in the hands of her mother, who in the event was to outlive both her and Sir William.3
When returned to Parliament for the first time in 1394, Langford was still a comparatively young man in his twenties, as yet untried in local administration. At the Berkshire elections he provided securities for his fellow knight-elect, Sir Richard Adderbury II. There is nothing to suggest that he went to Ireland on either of Richard II’s expeditions there; on the contrary, in April 1399, at least, he agreed to act as attorney at home for John, Lord Lovell, during the latter’s absence in the King’s train. Following the accession of Henry IV, however, he began to serve on royal commissions, and in the course of his five years on the Berkshire bench he not only represented the shire in Parliament for the second time, but was also summoned to great councils in 1401 and 1403. His brief career in public administration ended with his shrievalty of 1405-6.4
By transactions made in 1398 and 1400 Langford had placed his estates in Hampshire and Devon in the keeping of feoffees. Then, in July 1411, having married for a second time, he obtained a royal licence to convey his manor of Bradfield to a different group of trustees, preparatory to entailing it on himself, his wife and their issue; but, although the first part of this arrangement was carried out on 14 Aug., the final settlement was not completed before his death on the 31st of that month. In accordance with his will made a week earlier, Langford was buried in St. Andrew’s chapel in Bradfield church. He left his widow, Lucy, the livestock at Bradfield and Compton, together with the contents of the houses there, her own apparel and jewellery, and a coffer then in the safe-keeping of Laurence Drew* (one of his feoffees and executors); while his three sons—Robert, William and Henry—were to have specified items of armour including Langford’s ‘haberion [habergeon] of stele wyth a palet coveryd with red velvet’, a pair of gauntlets made of black plate and a ‘ketill hatte’. To his daughter Isabel he left £100 for her marriage (although his executors would need to recover 100 marks of this sum from Lady Lovell—probably Maud, widow of the Lord Lovell for whom Langford had once acted as attorney); and the prospects of his other daughter, Lucy, were to benefit from the sale of certain lands he had acquired at Shefford and elsewhere. The bulk of Langford’s estates was to pass to his eldest son, Robert, although when they reached the age of 18 the other two were to have a portion: William was to inherit Chale, and Henry succeed to land in Devon worth ten marks a year as well as to the advowson of Monk Okehampton.5
Within a very few months of Langford’s death, his widow married Ralph Fitton, esquire. Retaining for life Bradfield and other property in Berkshire, she also persuaded her eldest stepson to let her keep most of the Devon estates as well. By the time she came to make her will, on 21 Apr. 1420, the heir to these was Sir William Langford’s young grandson, Edward† (whose father Sir Robert had died in the previous year). Bradfield was then given by the Crown in wardship to Thomas Chaucer* and John Golafre*.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. CIPM, xvi. 1013-16; C136/81/13. For his descent from Nicholas de la Bere see Genealogist, n.s. xxiv. 50, although at his mother’s death the heir to her manor of ‘Halywell’ was her eldest son by an earlier marriage, Gilbert Estne.
- 2. CIPM, xvi. 1013-16; C136/81/13; CCR, 1392-6, p. 203; VCH Hants, v. 237; VCH Berks. iii. 396; iv. 5, 125.
- 3. CIPM, xv. 311-15, 459-60; CFR, ix. 245, 304; xiv. 181-2; CPR, 1381-5, p. 6; CP25(1)12/76/26; CCR, 1385-9, p. 363; VCH Herts. iii. 11.
- 4. C219/9/10; CPR, 1396-9, p. 552; PPC, i. 163 (called Sir Thomas by mistake); ii. 87.
- 5. CPR, 1408-13, p. 302; C137/86/32; Reg. Hallum (Canterbury and York Soc. lxxii), no. 701. The will was proved before the bp. of Salisbury on 24 Sept., but inadmissably, as it involved property in more than one diocese. It was subsequently proved in the abp.’s ct. on 1 Oct.: PCC 24 Marche. The latter version is the one printed in Fifty Earliest Eng. Wills (EETS, lxxviii), 18-21.
- 6. Feudal Aids, vi. 401; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 253, 256-7; 1413-19, pp. 361, 366, 370; PCC 48 Marche; C138/52/101; CFR, xiv. 274, 338.