BEAUMONT, John (by 1508-58/64), of Thringstone and Gracedieu, Leics. and London.
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Family and Education
b. by 1508, 1st s. of George Beaumont of Thringstone by Joan, da. of Thomas Pauncefoote of Hasfield, Glos. educ. prob. I. Temple. m. (1) Isabell, da. of John Dutton of Dutton, Cheshire, 1da.; (2) c.1539, Elizabeth (d.1588), da. of William Hastings, 2s. Francis† and Henry† 2da.2
Reader, Clement’s Inn Feb. 1530; Autumn reader, I. Temple 1537, Lent reader 1538, 1543, treasurer 1547-9, gov. 1547.
J.p. Leics. 1531-52, Derbys. 1543-52; commr. musters, Leics. 1539, subsidy, Leics. and Leicester 1542, chantries, Leics. and Warws. 1546, Derbys., Leics., Notts. and Warws, 1548, relief, Derbys. and Leics. 1550; other commissions, Leics. and Notts. 1531-52; escheator, Leics. 1535-6; recorder, Leicester 1537-42, 1550-1; receiver-gen. ct. wards Jan. 1545-Dec. 1550; steward and keeper, Dalby and Rothley, Leics. 1545-53; custos rot. Leics. c.1547; master of the rolls Dec. 1550-June 1552: surveyor, ct. augmentations Derbys. and Leics. in 1552.3
John Beaumont received a legal education, apparently at the Inner Temple, as it was there that he kept his chambers. In November 1529 the parliament of the Inner Temple fined Beaumont and three others 20s. each on account of their quarrelling. Earlier in the same year, on 11 Aug., the corporation of Leicester had decided to retain Beaumont for a fee of 6s.8d. a year. By 16 Apr. 1533 he was a trusted member of the 1st Earl of Huntingdon’s council and by 8 Sept. 1536 he was also a member of the Marchioness of Dorset’s council.4
It was probably in this way that Beaumont came to the attention of Cromwell, and in 1536 he was nominated to survey the property of the recently dissolved Leicestershire monasteries. Early in October 1537 he wrote to Cromwell to warn him of the ill effects of rumours about the suppression of further houses. Appointed to oversee the suppression of Gracedieu priory in 1538, he asked Cromwell in December if he could purchase or lease its demesne lands, but despite a New Year’s gift of £20 to the minister he was unsuccessful. In the following year, however, he acquired both Gracedieu and a considerable estate in Charnwood forest from Sir Humphrey Foster, and from then on Gracedieu became his principal residence. He made further astute purchases of monastic property, mostly in Leicestershire and Warwickshire, for which he paid £1,040 in 1544, £230 in 1545 and, with William Gyes of London, £453 in 1548. Lands outside his chosen counties he quickly alienated or quitclaimed.5
Beaumont’s career entered a new and fateful stage with his appointment as receiver-general of the court of wards at the beginning of 1545. His first setback arose over the collection of the benevolence at Leicester in 1546, which provoked a quarrel between him and Henry, 3rd Marquess of Dorset. When the Privy Council received Beaumont’s complaint of ill treatment by Dorset both men were summoned to London, where Beaumont failed to substantiate his charges. He was rebuked for his lack of respect towards a peer and bound in 500 marks not to depart without leave, but this was immediately granted, while Dorset was ordered to keep the peace towards him. The quarrel did not end there. Dorset, now Duke of Suffolk, was almost certainly behind the charges of champerty and perjury brought against Beaumont in 1552. As master of the rolls Beaumont had been one of those commissioned in October 1551 during an illness of Sir Richard Rich, and in January 1552 on the succession of Goodrich, bishop of Ely, to hear cases in Chancery: this authority he abused by fraudulently supporting Lady Anne Powys in her claim against Charles Brandon, late Duke of Suffolk, and concealing a felony committed by one of his servants. The revelation of these scandals coincided with the discovery of Beaumont’s peculation while receiver of the court of wards, an office which he had resigned when he became master of the rolls.6
During his tenure of the receivership Beaumont had followed the example of his contemporaries by speculating with the King’s money in the expectation that he would be required to discharge the capital on demand but not the interest. His six-year period of office had seen arrearages amounting to £9,000, and although no attempt had been made to conceal these, his accounts were false in so far as he had received payments by guardians and others to the court, and had cancelled their obligations, without recording the cancellations which thus still appeared as unpaid debts for which he was not liable to the King. By this device Beaumont had deprived the crown of £11,823.7
Beaumont’s first summons to appear before the Privy Council was dated 9 Dec. 1551, but he was not arrested until 9 Feb. 1552; two days later he was placed in solitary confinement in the Fleet where the only people allowed to see him were government interrogators. After a full confession had been extracted from him, he was brought before the Star Chamber on 16 June. There he first repudiated his confession, but then confessed a second time, signed an obligation to the King for his debts, surrendered all his property, and resigned as master of the rolls. On 20 June he was brought before the court again and made a third confession. He was treated with leniency. The furniture from his house within the rolls was restored to him and he was allowed to continue his legal practice. His Leicestershire estates the King granted in June 1553 to Francis, 2nd Earl of Huntingdon, a kinsman of Beaumont’s wife; Huntingdon allowed his Beaumont relatives to live at Gracedieu and his son Henry confirmed Beaumont’s widow and her heirs in their occupation of the house. None the less, he and his family were hard pressed financially: he was outlawed and later surrendered himself to the Fleet in 1556 for a debt of £200, and another of 40 marks was still outstanding in 1569.8
Beaumont had been returned for Leicester to the Parliament of 1539 after two years as the town’s recorder. The practice of returning the recorder was coming in at Leicester and it is thus likely that Beaumont, who still held the office when the next Parliament was called, reappeared in it for the town— only the name of Robert Burdett can be read on the damaged return— as well as being appointed a commissioner for the subsidy which it granted, a duty from which Members were not specifically exempted. Beaumont’s absence from the Parliaments of 1545 and 1547 is perhaps to be explained by his office in the court of wards, for it is not until after this time that officials of that court are found sitting in the Commons.9
Exclusion might have been expected to become permanent after Beaumont’s disgrace in 1552, and he did not sit in either Edward VI’s last Parliament or Mary’s first. Yet he was to be a Member of the next three. In that of April 1554 a seat was found for him at Bossiney: John Fitz appears to have been elected for both Tavistock and Bossiney and was replaced by Beaumont, his fellow Inner Templar. In November 1554 and in 1555 Beaumont sat for Liverpool as a nominee of the duchy of Lancaster. When sent to the sheriff of Lancashire the election indenture for 1555 bore only the name of Sir Richard Sherborn, with a blank to be filled in by the chancellor of the duchy for the other; the sheriff’s return likewise bore only Sherborn’s name, Beaumont’s being added later in a different hand. Little is known of Beaumont’s beliefs or standing at this time, although he was not among those who ‘seceded’ from the Parliament of November 1554 nor those who opposed a government bill in that of 1555, but his daughter was to marry by June 1557 the Catholic William, 3rd Lord Vaux, and several of the Beaumont family were later to be recusants. By whatever influence it was procured, Beaumont’s Membership of these Parliaments is likely to have benefited him chiefly through the protection it gave him against creditors: while they lasted he could ignore such threats as the outlawry for debt which led him to surrender to the Fleet in 1556, when his immunity had expired. It was, therefore, unreasonable as well as, seemingly, ungrateful on his part when Beaumont and his wife had a writ of subpoena served on the Earl of Huntingdon during the Parliament of April 1554; the Lords sent the writ down to the Commons, who apologized for the offence but also argued that it was not a breach of privilege.10
Beaumont’s end is obscure. The last reference to his presence in the Inner Temple is on 16 Jan. 1556. He does not appear to have been returned to Parliament again, but he seems still to have been alive on 5 Mar. 1558 when a proviso (no. vii) was added to the original of the Act confirming letters patent (4 and 5 Phil. and Mary, c.1) to secure Beaumont’s grant of Southwell college to Edward VI in 1552 and so forestalling any claim for its return by Beaumont and his family. If, with so little to leave, he made a will it has not been found, and there is no extant inquisition post mortem. A grant dated 17 July 1564 of the Leicestershire surveyorship to one William Raven describes Beaumont as deceased. Francis Beaumont, the judge, was his eldest son and Francis Beaumont, the dramatist, his grandson.11
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard
- 1. C60/352, m. 18.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Leics. (Harl. Soc. ii), 60, 172; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. lxxi. ped. bet. pp. 144-5; PCC 53 Rutland; DNB.
- 3. LP Hen. VIII , v, viii, xi-xiv, xx, xxi; C60/355, m. 8; 66/801; 193/12/1; CPR, 1548-9, pp. 135, 137; 1549-51, p. 329; 1550-3, p. 305; 1553, pp. 352, 356; Stowe 571, f. IIV; Leicester Recs. ed. Bateson, iii. 459.
- 4. Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 94; Leicester Recs. iii. 26; LP Hen. VIII, vi, xi.
- 5. LP Hen. VIII, x, xiii, xiv, xix, xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 300; DKR, ix. 165; Foss, Judges, v. 290-1.
- 6. LP Hen. VIII, xxi; CPR, 1550-3, pp. 113, 184; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 397, 422.
- 7. Strype, Eccles. Memorials, ii(2), 44, 498; H. E. Bell, Ct. Wards, 27; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 158; J. Hurstfield, Queen’s Wards, 199-203; EHR, lxviii, 24-27.
- 8. Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 426-7; APC, iii. 437, 478, 507; iv. 70, 72, 91; Harl. 2143, f. 7; Lansd. 2, f. 178; CPR, 1553, p. 228; 1555-7, p. 147; 1566-9, p. 351; Foss, v. 290-1.
- 9. C219/18B/44.
- 10. C219/24/89; Liverpool Town Bks. ed. Twemlow, i. 52; CJ, i. 34.
- 11. Cal. I. T. Recs. i. 183; CJ, i. 50; CPR, 1563-6, p. 89; 1566-9, p. 351.