PRIOUR, Thomas (d.1412), of Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex and Westley Waterless, Cambs.
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Family and Education
m. bef. Apr. 1390, Joan (c.1363-bef. June 1427), da. of Sir Edmund Vauncy (d.1372) of Westley Waterless by Joan, da. of William Crek of Welwyn, Herts., sis. and h. of Edmund Vauncy (d.1390) and coh. of Sir William Moigne* of Great Raveley, Hunts., 1da.
Verderer, Hatfield forest bef. 16 June 1390.
Commr. of inquiry, Cambs., Essex Nov. 1397 (disputes between Sir Robert Denny* and William Clipston); to assess contributions to a subsidy, Hunts. Jan. 1412.
Tax controller, Cambs. Mar. 1404.
This MP was possibly one of two Thomas Priours, both of them sons of another Thomas and his wife Isabel, who were mentioned in 1355 in a settlement of property at Navestock and elsewhere in Essex, since the vicar of Hatfield ‘Regis’ (now Hatfield Broad Oak) was party to the transaction and it was in his parish that the subject of this biography later resided. The most profitable of the shire knight’s landed holdings came to him through marriage into the gentry family of Vauncy, for his wife Joan inherited, after the death of her brother in 1390, the Cambridgeshire manor of Westley Waterless (valued at £6 13s.4d. a year in the assessment made in 1412) and the Hertfordshire manor of Lockleys in Welwyn. Priour was living at Westley in June 1401 (a year or so before his election to Parliament), when he obtained a licence from Bishop Fordham of Ely to have a private oratory there.1 Subsequently, on the death of her kinsman, Sir William Moigne, in 1404, Joan became coheir of his estates in Huntingdonshire situated at Great Raveley, Sawtry, Great Gidding and Luddington; and in 1410 she and her husband obtained from Moigne’s widow a lease of the manor of Great Raveley. This brought Priour’s gross annual income up to nearly £50, for in 1412 his holdings in Huntingdonshire and Essex were on his own testimony worth £43 p.a. nett.2
Priour had been removed from his post as verderer of the royal forest of Hatfield in June 1390 on the ground that he was ‘too much busied elsewhere’, but whether this was on official or on his own private affairs is not made clear. In 1397 he acted as a feoffee of the manor of Saddlebow in Norfolk and also witnessed a deed relating to lands in Cambridgeshire, but he was still living in Essex when he took out a royal pardon in June 1398. This may have been a mere formality, although he could number among his acquaintances the Hasilden brothers, Richard* and Thomas II*, both of whom were staunch supporters of Henry of Bolingbroke. No evidence has been found of any favour shown Priour in the early years of Henry IV’s reign, and yet he travelled to Picardy in the spring of 1403 in the company of William Harpenden (afterwards Asenhill*), an usher of the King’s chamber, and it may be presumed that he too was then engaged on royal business. The journey took place only a few months after his attendance in the Commons as shire knight for Cambridgeshire.3
Priour had some dealings with John Shadworth* of London, a member of the King’s Council, for both men were among the holders of land in Impington and elsewhere in Cambridgeshire to whom in 1405 Henry IV confirmed a charter of free warren originally granted in 1289. He attended the elections held in the county court at Cambridge for the Parliament of 1407, and had evidently by then been fully accepted into the community of the shire. Certainly, several members of the local gentry asked him to act as a trustee of their estates. Among those who required his services were Sir John Peyton’s widow (for a settlement on Peyton’s grandson, John, and his wife, Grace, daughter of John Burgoyne*) and the Waldegraves of Suffolk. Yet not everything recorded about Priour redounds to his personal credit. For instance, shortly after his only election to Parliament he had been taken to law by two of his creditors from Lincolnshire, and early in 1411 he was found guilty in the court of common pleas of having broken into the royal park at Little Hallingbury, where he had hunted and stolen a sorel and a doe, as well as for having on another occasion, with the connivance of the chief parker, made off with two fawns. He obtained a pardon for these trespasses against the Crown, but was nevertheless required to pay a fine of £10.4
Priour made his will at Great Raveley on 14 Sept. 1412, asking to be buried in the conventual church of the Austin friars at Cambridge. Among his bequests were sums of money, vestments and service books which he left to the churches of Hatfield and Westley Waterless, to the Benedictines at Hatfield priory, and to the prior of Anglesey. His house at Hatfield was to be sold after his widow’s death, and the proceeds put to religious purposes. The widow was also to keep for life a moiety of all his goods, including livestock and silver plate. Priour’s daughter, Elizabeth, and a kinsman each received £20. His death, which occurred before 18 Oct., the date of probate, was followed not long afterwards by the marriage of his widow and executrix to John Hore I* of Childerley, whom he had named as overseer of his will.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 112; CIPM, xiv. 214, xvi. 866, 942; CCR, 1389-92, p. 407; 1392-6, pp. 212-13; VCH Cambs. vi. 178; VCH Herts. iii. 167; Feudal Aids, vi. 407; Ely Diocesan Remembrancer, 1900, p. 160.
- 2. VCH Hunts. ii. 199; iii. 51 (where Joan is confused with her kinswoman, the wife of
- 3. CCR, 1389-92, p. 112; 1396-9, pp. 120, 288; 1399-1402, p. 180; C67/30 m. 14; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, ii. 185.
- 4. CPR, 1405-8, pp. 11, 344; 1408-13, p. 295; CCR, 1402-5, p. 130; 1409-13, pp. 97, 235; 1413-19, pp. 324-5; 1419-22, pp. 120, 123; C219/10/4.
- 5. PCC 25 Marche.