PASSENHAM, Ralph, of Northampton.
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Family and Education
m. by Aug. 1439, Isabel, wid. of Andrew Draper of Stamford, Lincs.1
Bailiff, Northampton Mich. 1431-2.2
Although Passenham became bailiff of Northampton and, somewhat exceptionally for this period, represented the borough twice in Parliament, comparatively little evidence survives to illuminate his career. He was probably quite young when he first sat in the Commons, and nothing more is heard of him until February 1424, when he appears among the ‘venerable company of discreet men’ who witnessed an enrolment of evidence concerning the local Carmelite priory in their records. At some point over the next four years he began litigation against three Cambridgeshire farmers for the recovery of a debt of £37, although the defendants were pardoned the outlawry which they had incurred for failing to answer successive writs of summons, and Passenham had to abandon his suit. We do not know the date of his marriage to Isabel Draper, the widow of a Stamford burgess, but they were certainly man and wife by August 1439, since it was then that his stepson, Thomas, made a conveyance of some of the family estates in Shutlanger which refers to his mother’s marriage. Passenham is last mentioned in February 1442, again as a result of an unsuccessful attempt to seek legal redress for an unpaid debt. On this occasion one Thomas Graunt of Gloucester was accorded a royal pardon after having been outlawed for his refusal to appear in court during the course of litigation begun by Passenham and John Spring* (who had by then been dead for some years) for a render of £10.3