MULSHO, Thomas (d.1444/5), of Newton by Geddington and Pilton, Northants.
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Family and Education
Commr. to make arrests, generally June 1407, June 1413; of inquiry, Northants. Jan. 1412 (perhaps liable for taxation), Feb., May 1413 (assaults on the inhabitants of Great Bowden), Northants., Leics. June 1413 (felony in general), Northants. Feb., July 1418 (estates of Sir John Oldcastle*), July 1421 (claim to an annuity from the manor of Oakley); to raise a royal loan Nov. 1419.
Sheriff, Northants. 4 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410.
J.p. Northants. 18 Feb. 1412-Nov. 1413.
Dep. to Edward, duke of York, as keeper of the King’s park of Brigstock, Northants. by 4 Feb. 1415.
Escheator, Northants. and Rutland 23 Nov. 1419-16 Nov. 1420.
Collector of a royal loan, Northants. Jan. 1420.
Verderer of Rockingham forest, Northants. to 1 Nov. 1436.
The first two decades of the 15th century proved to be a significant period in the history of the Mulsho family, since each of the three sons of John Mulsho the elder then achieved distinction in his own chosen field. Henry†, the most celebrated, had already held local office in Northamptonshire by the time of the Lancastrian usurpation, and thanks to a longstanding connexion with Edward, duke of York, he was able to prove himself a soldier of some repute. After York’s death at the battle of Agincourt, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, became his patron, and he was probably still in office as treasurer of the ducal household when he died in the early summer of 1425. John, who appears to have been the eldest of the three, married a wealthy widow and was thus able to consolidate his position as a landowner. By the time of his death, in about 1413, he had served on many royal commissions and was also noted for his involvement in the affairs of a number of leading figures in the Midlands. Family tradition as much as natural inclination led Thomas, the subject of this biography, to pursue a similar career, which may well have owed something to the help and influence of his two brothers.2
Thomas Mulsho first appears in an official context in January 1400, when he and a colleague were granted certain confiscated property worth £6 by Henry IV. Despite their father’s loyalty to Richard II, the Mulsho brothers accommodated themselves easily enough to the new regime, and soon began to prosper. We do not know what provision John Mulsho made for each of them, but it seems that Thomas inherited the manor of Pilton as well as some of the family estates in Newton by Geddington. The land in Exton (Rutland) which Edmund, earl of Stafford, had settled upon his father also passed eventually into his hands, although his trustees were forcibly evicted ‘in manner of war’ by the rival claimant, John Culpepper*, and had to go to law to assert their title. Over the years Mulsho acquired other property in the Northamptonshire villages of Boughton, Oxenden, Stoke Doyle, Stanion, Great and Little Weldon and Hemington, some of which he purchased at the beginning of the 15th century. He appears to have invested quite heavily in land, since he also bought a sizeable estate in the Kettleburgh area of Suffolk from John Stobbing. According to a tax assessment of 1412 his landed income from the three counties of Northamptonshire, Rutland and Suffolk then stood at £54 p.a., although not all the properties listed above were included in the valuation. Towards the end of his life the MP was sometimes described as being of London’ as well as Northamptonshire: from about 1430 onwards he became involved in the affairs of various city merchants, and we may perhaps assume that his ownership of premises there dates from this point.3
Most of the surviving information about Mulsho suggests that he, like his father, was probably a lawyer, and, together with the latter, he unwisely agreed to underwrite some of the debts sustained by John Styuecle* while purchasing part of the Bealknap estates. Styuecle’s inability to honour a bond entered by them both, in 1396, placed Mulsho himself under the threat of imprisonment some years later, although he contrived to avoid the very real prospect of forfeiture. He was a party to conveyances of property made by several local landowners, including Ralph Green*, who, in May 1414, chose him to be a co-feoffee of all his extensive estates; and his name crops up frequently among the witnesses to Northamptonshire deeds throughout this period.4 His brother, John, had kept up the family connexion with Sir John Holt, the former judge, who returned to England from exile in 1397, and from time to time Thomas was associated with them in various transactions. In July 1406, for example, he acted as their attorney in a lawsuit at the Northampton assizes, where he also agreed to offer bail of £20 on behalf of a local man who was charged with disturbing the peace. Administrative commitments soon began to claim an increasing amount of his attention: in the summer of 1407 he received the first of many royal commissions, and two years later he was made sheriff of Northamptonshire. He none the less continued to assume other responsibilities, such as the executorship of the will of John Depyng, the rector of ‘Werkerton’, whose will was proved in September 1410. Mulsho attended at least one parliamentary election before he himself took his seat in the House of Commons, being present at Northampton in October 1411 to attest the indenture of return for the county.5
Mulsho appears to have retired from public life during the early 1420s, although he continued to act as verderer of the royal forest of Rockingham until he was removed from office in 1436, evidently because he lacked the proper qualifications. Not much is known about his more personal activities before May 1430, when he and the London grocer, Richard Keterich, became co-feoffees of Thomas Cosyn’s property in the City. Some months later Keterich and one of his kinsmen joined with Mulsho to offer securities of £80 on behalf of Cosyn, who was then involved in litigation. Their friendship was not, however, fated to last, for the grocer subsequently brought an action against Mulsho in the court of Chancery on the grounds that, whereas the latter had been bound over in substantial sums to keep the peace towards him, he had not only produced four men of straw as his mainpernors, but had compounded his offence by invalidating the bonds altogether through the use of a fictitious name. Mulsho made at least three other appearances in court during the early 1430s, the first being an unsuccessful attempt to sue one of his servants for breach of contract, while the second arose from an assault allegedly made by him upon Morgan Philip and William Fisshe. In February 1434, he and his mainpernors pledged securities of £200 for his future good behaviour towards the two men, although the bonds had been cancelled by the following May, when the case was evidently settled. Among the persons standing surety on his behalf were William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, and the lawyer, John Harper* of Staffordshire. Mulsho may well have become acquainted with the earl through his ownership of land in East Anglia, and it seems likely that he and Harper were brought together through a mutual connexion with Anne, the dowager countess of Stafford. Mulsho had acted as a mainpernor for the countess in February 1433, and held his estates in Rutland as her feudal tenant. The third lawsuit saw his involvement with another leading Stafford family retainer, Thomas Arblaster†, and others in a dispute with Sir Richard Hastings† over the presentation to the living of Mancetter in Warwickshire, which was finally decided at this time in the latter’s favour.6
Mulsho drew up his will in May 1438, but was still alive in January 1441, when he received a royal pardon which can have been little more than a formality. He died three or four years later, leaving three sons and a daughter, each of whom was provided for either with land or cash. His eldest son and heir, Thomas, succeeded to the bulk of the Mulsho estates, which passed on his death in 1460 to his daughter Anne, and her husband, Henry Tresham.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. C1/7/114; Lambeth Palace Lib. Reg. Stafford, f. 131.
- 2. J.S. Roskell, Commons of 1422, pp. 206-7; Reg. Chichele, ii. 371-2, 667.
- 3. CPR, 1396-9, p. 468; 1436-41, p. 511; CCR, 1429-35, p. 209; C1/7/114; CP25(1)178/90/41, 91/64; Feudal Aids, iv. 31, 44, 48; vi. 496; CIPM, (Rec. Comm.), iv. 150; VCH Northants. iii. 130; Add. Chs. 797, 803.
- 4. C131/55/4; C138/27/41; CP25(1)178/90/27, 30; CPR, 1413-16, p. 190; 1422-9, pp. 523-4; 1435-41, p. 266; CCR, 1435-41, p. 450; Add. Chs. 799, 800, 7566, 7572, 21612, 21820-2, 22006; Northants. RO, Stopford Sackville mss, 500, 4226; Belvoir Castle deeds 5405-7.
- 5. JUST 1/1514 rot. 5v, 24; C219/10/6; Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 118.
- 6. C1/11/494; Corporation of London RO, hr 159/71, 166/13; CPR, 1429-36, p. 99; CCR, 1429-35, pp. 119, 300; 1435-41, p. 75; CFR, xvi. 141; Huntington Lib. San Marino, Hastings ms, HAM Box LXX.
- 7. C139/181/66; Reg. Stafford, f. 131; VCH Northants. iii. 130; CPR, 1436-41, p. 511.