AYLESBURY, Sir Thomas (d.1418), of Milton Keynes, Bucks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Sept. 1397

Family and Education

s. and h. of Sir John Aylesbury*. m. (1) bef. Feb. 1384, Isabel, wid. of Sir John Dodyngseles (d.1380), of Long Itchington, Warws.; (2) bef. Dec. 1399, Katherine (c.1372-17 July 1436), er. da. and coh. of Sir Laurence Pavenham† (d.1399) of Pavenham, Beds. by his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. and coh. of John, and Lord Engaine, wid. of Sir William Cheyne (d.c.1397) of Fen Ditton, Cambs. 1s. 2da. Kntd. 14 Aug. 1378.

Offices Held

Commr. of oyer and terminer, Bucks. Feb. 1392, Sept. 1393; weirs June 1398; array Dec. 1399, Sept. 1403; inquiry, Cambs. May 1401 (arson), Beds., Bucks. Jan. 1414 (lollards); to suppress sedition, Bucks. May 1402; raise forces to go north with the King’s army, Cambs., Hunts. May 1405; raise royal loans, Cambs. Sept. 1405, Beds., Bucks., Northants. June 1410; hold assizes, Northants. 1410.1

J.p. Bucks. 28 Nov. 1399-Mar. 1404, Cambs. 16 May 1401-Feb. 1407, Hunts. 8 Feb. 1405-7.

Tax collector, Cambs. Mar. 1404.

Sheriff, Beds. and Bucks. 3 Nov. 1412-6 Nov. 1413.


Having been knighted in the summer of 1378, while serving at sea in the retinue of Thomas of Woodstock, earl of Buckingham, in the naval force commanded by the duke of Lancaster, Aylesbury continued his military career by enlisting in Woodstock’s company again, in May 1380, for an expedition to France ostensibly undertaken to help the duke of Brittany. Following his wedding to Isabel Dodyngseles, Aylesbury sued for a royal pardon in February 1384, for having failed to procure the necessary licence enabling her to remarry. Isabel brought him her interest for life in property in Warwickshire at Long Itchington, together with the manor of Bradwell in Oxfordshire and dower lands elsewhere, although not without incurring further legal expense in defending her rights as a widow.2

At the time of his elections to Parliament for Buckinghamshire in the 1390s, Sir Thomas had yet to inherit the substantial family estates in the county, which were still in the possession of his father, Sir John; but doubtless the latter’s reputation as 11 times sheriff and six times knight of the shire was sufficient to secure his son’s return. By 1391 Sir Thomas had started to assist his father in pursuit of his claim to be the lawful coheir to the estates of their kinsman, Sir Ralph Basset (d.1385) of Weldon, albeit at this stage by illegally intimidating Basset’s widow and her new husband, John Clisby. On 8 July 1391 he was required to find sureties in £200 not to molest William (sic) Clisby, and, on 20 Oct. following, both he and his father had to make formal undertakings, each under pain of 1,000 marks, not to harass John Clisby further. It may well be that Sir Thomas had sought election to the Parliament which was due to assemble just two weeks later, in order to promote the lawsuit then being brought in the common bench by Sir John Aylesbury and John Knyvet* against Clisby and his wife, and, more particularly, against young Richard Basset, who was officially held to be Sir Ralph’s son and heir. He was to play an active part in the legal proceedings which continued intermittently over the next eight years, on occasion standing in as attorney for his increasingly infirm father, and perhaps, in conjunction with Knyvet, seeking support for their cause from fellow Members of the Commons in the Parliament of September 1397. Apart from this litigation, which affected him personally, Aylesbury had also taken an interest in that in which Ralph, Lord Lumley, was engaged in the spring of 1394; he was a guarantor that Lumley would save harmless Maud, widow of Roger, 5th Lord Clifford, although how he had come to be concerned in the affairs of this north-country nobleman remains unclear. Like his father, Aylesbury saw fit to purchase a pardon from Richard II in June 1398, perhaps being mindful of his earlier links with Thomas of Woodstock, whom, at Calais in the previous September, the King had had murdered.3

Aylesbury’s second marriage, which took place about the beginning of Henry IV’s reign, substantially increased his fortunes. Not only was Katherine, as a widow, possessed of rights of dower in the Cheyne properties at Fen Ditton, Cambridgeshire, and Dadlington, Leicestershire, but she was also the only child of the late Elizabeth Engaine, herself one of three sisters and coheirs of Sir Thomas Engaine. On the death of her father, Sir Laurence Pavenham, in June 1399, Katherine had inherited that part of the Engaine estates which Pavenham had held ‘by the courtesy’, and, six months later, when her late uncle’s widow also died, she came into other lands of that family. The seven or so Engaine manors, situated in Bedfordshire, Essex, Huntingdonshire and Northamptonshire, included the manor in Pytchley which, owing to the Aylesburys’ premature entry in February following — ‘usurping the same upon the King’ — was to be withheld from their possession for two years longer. Katherine’s estates were extended still further following the death in 1407 of her half-brother, John Pavenham, for she then shared with her half-sister, Eleanor, wife of John Tyringham*, their father’s estates in five counties, to which in 1414 were added the family seat at Pavenham, which the widow of her brother Laurence had occupied for life. According to the incomplete tax assessments of 1412 (lacking returns for Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire), Aylesbury could expect to raise at least £129 a year from his wife’s estates.4 Nor was this all: three years earlier, he had inherited his father’s holdings in eight counties (including his share of the hard-won Basset manors). On a rough estimate, these brought his annual income up to at least £240. Aylesbury’s standing as a landowner is reflected in the extent of his public service in the years after his second marriage, in particular in his appointment as a j.p. in three shires. He was one of three knights summoned from Buckinghamshire to attend the great council of August 1401, and he received a similar summons about two years later. During the Parliament of 1410 he was among those commissioned to hold special assizes in an attempt to bring to an end the protracted dispute between William Doyly and the Lords Lovell, over the manor of Hinton (Northamptonshire). Naturally enough, other persons of consequence cultivated his friendship: in 1411 his young son and heir, John, was wed to the daughter of Hugh Mortimer*, esquire, at that time chamberlain to Henry, prince of Wales; and, a few years later, the elder of his daughters was married to Sir Thomas Chaworth*. The latter headed the group of trustees whom Aylesbury put into possession of certain of his estates in the spring of 1416.5

Aylesbury’s death on 9 Sept. 1418 was followed in 1422 by that of his son John, still a minor, and, just a year later, by that of John’s infant son Hugh — an untoward sequence of events which left as the heirs to the Aylesbury estates Sir Thomas’s daughters, Isabel Chaworth and Eleanor, afterwards wife of Sir Humphrey Stafford† of Grafton. The two women were not, however, destined to inherit the Pavenham and Engaine lands belonging to their mother: when she died in 1436, these passed to Laurence Cheyne, her son by her first husband.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. RP, iii. 634.
  • 2. E101/38/2; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, ii. 132; CPR, 1381-5, p. 375; CIPM, xv. 330-2; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 174.
  • 3. CCR, 1389-92, pp. 488, 498; 1392-6, p. 293; CP40/552 m. 120; C67/30 m. 18.
  • 4. C136/106/37; CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 65-66; 1402-5, pp. 70-71; CP, v. 75-81; G. Baker, Northants. i. 714; CFR, xiii. 88-90; VCH Beds. iii. 77; Feudal Aids, vi. 392, 406, 438, 462, 499, 518.
  • 5. C137/76/9; CFR, xiii. 171; PCC, i. 158, 163; ii. 88; C138/33/35; CPR, 1408-13, p. 301.
  • 6. C138/33/35; C139/1/2, 82/50; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 494-5, 497; CFR, xiv. 255-6; xv. 71-72, 274.