LONGVILLE, George (c.1389-1458), of Little Billing, Northants. and Wolverton, Bucks.
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Family and Education
b.c.1389, s. and h. of John Longville (d.1439) of Little Billing by Joan, da. and h. of John Hunt† of Walton, Bucks. and Margery, da. and coh. of Sir John Wolverton (d.1349) of Wolverton. m. (1) bef. Nov. 1414, Elizabeth (c.1397-c.1426), er da. and coh. of Thomas Roche of Castle Bromwich, Warws. by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir Thomas Birmingham† of Birmingham, 1s. d.v.p., 1da.; (2) bef. 1434, Margaret, da. of John Sutton, 1st Lord Dudley, 1s. George†, 2da.1
Commr. to raise royal loans, Bucks. Apr. 1421; assess a parliamentary grant, Northants. Apr. 1431; of inquiry, Bucks. Dec. 1438 (forestallers and regrators of corn), May 1454 (estates of Elizabeth, wid. of Richard, Lord Strange of Knockin).
Escheator, Northants. and Rutland 17 Dec. 1426-18 Nov. 1427, 26 Nov. 1431-5 Nov. 1432.
Sheriff, Northants. 10 Feb.-5 Nov. 1430, Beds. and Bucks. 12 Feb. 1448-20 Dec. 1449.
J.p. Bucks. 10 May 1436-d.
The family of Longville had been held in considerable esteem in Northamptonshire in the first half of the 14th century, when five of its members had been elected to represent the county or its principal borough, Northampton, in upwards of 20 Parliaments. Its landed holdings at Northampton, Great Billing, Moulton and Wootton had as their focus the manor of Little Billing, which was to remain in the Longvilles’ possession for nearly 400 years from 1301. These estates passed in the late 14th century to George’s father John (who to judge by the number of his trusteeships was an accomplished lawyer), for the most part being kept under his control until his death at an advanced age in 1439. John also retained in his possession, ‘by the courtesy of England’, the lands his wife Joan had inherited. Her ancestors, too, were of importance, for her mother had been coheiress of the former barony of Wolverton, with holdings which spread from Northamptonshire into Buckinghamshire, and she had passed on to her daughter moieties of the manor of Wolverton, the advowson of the Benedictine priory at Bradwell, at least ten knights’ fees and part of the township of Ellesborough. As well as this, Joan had inherited property in Walton from her father, John Hunt.2
John Longville, evidently an able administrator, held office as escheator of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire for five terms between 1388 and 1402, but was apparently never elected to Parliament. That honour was reserved for his son George, who, however, is first mentioned in 1410 in somewhat ignominious circumstances: securities had to be provided on his behalf at the suit of the administrator of the will of a deceased London grocer, for detinue of £3. Then described as ‘of Northamptonshire’, George doubtless already had possession of the family lands in Farndon, which were estimated to be worth 12 marks a year when assessed for taxation two years later. By 1412 he also owned unspecified holdings in Staffordshire—property which had been most likely acquired through his first marriage. This was a lucrative match, for his wife Elizabeth was coheir, with her younger sister Ellen, wife of Sir Edmund Ferrers (called Lord Ferrers of Chartley), of their father’s estates, centred on Castle Bromwich in Warwickshire, as well as of those of their mother, the heiress of the Birminghams. Under the terms of agreements made with Lord and Lady Ferrers in 1414 and finalized the following year, the Longvilles were allotted as their share annual rents of £4 6s.8d. from Castle Bromwich, the Leicestershire manor of Stapleton, and, in Staffordshire, Creighton and ‘Pekestones’, together with a number of properties at Stramshull. Either then, or at some later date, the two women also shared Nether Whitacre in Warwickshire, which had once belonged to their maternal grandfather, Sir Thomas Birmingham. The acquisition of these estates jure uxoris explains why at this stage of his career Longville was generally regarded as a member of the Warwickshire gentry. Late in 1419 he was named on the list returned to the King’s Council by the j.p.s. of that county, as being suitable for military service.3
Nor was this the full extent of Longville’s wife’s inheritance: more was to come in 1423 on the death of Elizabeth, Lady Clinton, who, as widow of Sir Thomas Birmingham’s elder brother, Sir John† (the first of her four husbands), had long retained as her dower the family manors of Birmingham (Warwickshire) and Dorton (Buckinghamshire), as well as a moiety of Kingston Bagpuize (Berkshire). In the Hilary term of 1421 Lady Clinton had successfully brought legal action against George Longville and his wife for a moiety of a third part of Great Barr (Staffordshire) which, together with the other moiety, she claimed as dower against them and against Ferrers and his wife. Nevertheless, the parties had remained on amicable terms: in her will, made in October 1422, Lady Clinton had left George and his wife as mementos her ‘lesse sauter and ... best goune’, and had named his father among her executors. Lady Clinton’s death proved to be the signal for an outbreak of violence at Birmingham—a manor which she had permitted (Sir) William Birmingham*, the male heir of the family, to occupy under the conditions of an entail made in 1324—for Lord Ferrers, claiming the property in right of his wife, immediately raised a force of some 200 armed men to expel (Sir) William and his family. Longville kept his distance from the affair—that is to say he was not named in the indictments heard in the King’s bench against his brother-in-law. All the same, he was summoned as co-defendant with Ferrers to answer a suit brought by Birmingham’s widow in 1427 for her rights to dower in the disputed manor, and his young son, Richard, was made party with Ferrers to an action against Lady Clinton’s executors (including the boy’s grandfather) for possession of a bag of muniments and title deeds, which Birmingham’s widow and heir also wished to secure. Lord Ferrers was nevertheless the most forceful party in the dispute; after his death in 1435 the Longvilles appear to have lost heart and given up the struggle.4
It is strange that it was George rather than his father who was elected to Parliament for Buckinghamshire in the spring of 1421, for until then his interests had been diverted to the Midlands, and he had yet to inherit his parents’ estates in the county. However, he was called ‘of Wolverton’ on occasion, and shortly after his election (at the end of March) he was placed on a royal commission to raise loans from the local gentry. After serving in the Commons he began to take more of an interest in Buckinghamshire affairs—at least to the extent of attending parliamentary elections at Aylesbury in December 1421, 1422, 1423 and 1435, usually in the company of his father. Before 1428 the latter handed over to George his estate at Little Billing, and it was as a resident there that, in February 1432, George obtained a royal pardon of outlawry after failing to answer the suit of a London goldsmith for a debt of £45 10s. Longville may have spent some time in the capital, for he owned a house in Thames Street, with its own wharf and quay. He was aged more than 50 by the time that, in July 1439, he finally inherited his parents’ estates, which were worth at least £90 a year.5
A few years earlier, Longville had married for the second time. In taking as his wife a daughter of Sir John Sutton, created Lord Dudley in or before April 1434, he may well have been seeking support in the matter of his son Richard’s title to the manor of Birmingham, of which Dudley was overlord. So far, he and Dudley had apparently managed to keep Richard’s inheritance under their own control, but when the young man died in 1445 the wardship of his son and namesake was awarded to two ‘King’s knights’—Sir Edmund Hungerford† and Sir Richard Vernon*. What, if any, action Longville and Dudley took to challenge this grant is not recorded, although inquisitions held after Vernon’s death in 1451 were to find that he had wrongly intruded on certain parts of the boy’s inheritance. Meanwhile, during his term as sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in 1448, Longville had procured a royal licence to entail the former Wolverton estates (now held by him in their entirety after the collapse of the fortunes of the coheir, John Cheyne*), in favour of himself and his second wife and their son George (b.c.1434), in tail, with successive remainders to his grandson, Richard, in tail-male, and to his three married daughters (Elizabeth, wife of James Swetenham, Elizabeth, wife of John Dyve† and Anne, wife of John, son of John Mortimer*). Longville was pardoned, in March 1449, the sum of £65 10s. owing from the issues of his shrievalty, which it had proved impossible to levy. In his later years he was closely allied with his father-in-law, Lord Dudley: thus, in May 1454, he served on a commission set up to investigate the extent of the landed holdings of the recently deceased widow of Lord Strange of Knockin, which same estates had been leased to Dudley at the Exchequer three months earlier, and were to be recommitted to him in July following, with Longville’s grandson, Richard, acting as his mainpernor on both occasions. Richard may well have been with Lord Dudley at the battle of St. Albans in May 1455, when Dudley stood by the King. His grandfather, George, was doubtless too old for such adventures.6
In the summer of 1455 Longville made settlements of some of his lands in Northamptonshire, so that Margaret, wife of Sir Richard Roos, might have a life interest in them after his death. He died aged nearly 70 on 23 May 1458, and was buried in the Augustine friary at Northampton. The premature death of his grandson, Richard, in August that same year, left an eight-month-old baby, Richard’s son John, as heir to the bulk of the Longville estates. Richard, however, had had the foresight to make his wife, Anne, and Lord Dudley chief tenants of his lands for Anne’s lifetime or a period of 30 years, whichever proved the longer, and Dudley managed to secure, in July 1459, a royal grant of the infant heir’s wardship and marriage. Although our MP’s son, George, had entered his inheritance of Wolverton and the other lands entailed on him immediately after his father’s death, it was not until after Edward IV’s accession in 1461 that he was formally granted seisin.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. G. Baker, Northants. i. 27; Her. et Gen. vi. 49-50.
- 2. CIPM, xi. 116; VCH Northants. iv. 74-75; Feudal Aids, vi. 495, 498; VCH Bucks. ii. 334; iv. 486, 506-7; C139/92/38.
- 3. Feudal Aids, vi. 498; CCR, 1409-13, p. 86; CP, v. 317-19; Warws. Feet of Fines (Dugdale Soc. xviii), no. 2481; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 225; VCH Warws. iv. 253-4; E28/97 m. 32.
- 4. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvii. 75, 116, 146; n.s. iii. 124; vi(1), 163-4; VCH Bucks. iv. 46; VCH Berks. iv. 351; Reg. Chichele, ii. 268-9; CFR, xv. 65; KB9/203 mm. 18, 19.
- 5. C219/12/6, 13/1, 2, 14/5; Feudal Aids, iv. 37; CPR, 1429-36, p. 163; C139/92/38; CFR, xvii. 125.
- 6. CP, iv. 479-80; J.E. Powell and K. Wallis, House of Lords, 466; CPR, 1436-41, pp. 502-3; 1441-6, p. 326; 1446-52, pp. 151-2, 232; CCR, 1454-61, p. 165; CFR, xix. 82, 85, 86.
- 7. C139/169/36; VCH Northants, ii. 147; CPR, 1452-61, p. 508; CCR, 1461-8, p. 51. Baker, i. 27, states that George Longville made a will on 20 Aug. 33 Hen. VI, but this was probably confused with Richard Longville’s will, made 20 Aug. 1458: PCC 26 Stokton.