BEVILLE, Thomas II (d.c.1437), of Wood Walton, Hunts.
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Family and Education
J.p. Hunts. 8 Feb. 1409-Apr. 1416, 8 Feb. 1418-d.
Sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 14 Dec. 1415-30 Nov. 1416, 23 Nov. 1419-16 Nov. 1420.
Commr. to raise a royal loan, Hunts. Nov. 1419; of oyer and terminer July 1425 (attack on property and servants of the prioress of Hinchingbrooke); inquiry Apr. 1431 (persons liable to contribute to a royal grant).
Tax assessor, Hunts. Jan. 1436.
Thomas II was his father’s second but only surviving son, and as such was heir to the two manors of Le Northend and Walton Bevilles in Wood Walton, together with other land in the Huntingdonshire village of Conington, as well as rents in Easenhall, Warwickshire, and the manor of Little Perching in Sussex. Robert Beville’s estates had, at one time, been somewhat more extensive, but the settlements made by him upon his elder son and then, after the latter’s death, on John Broke (d.1398) inevitably diminished our Member’s patrimony. His father was still alive when, in 1402, he attempted to recover part of the manor of Ovingdean in Sussex, then held by one of Broke’s daughters, but his efforts proved unsuccessful and the property remained lost to him. Thomas came into the rest of his inheritance in, or shortly before, 1409, although Joan ‘lady of Walton’, who seems to have been his mother or stepmother, retained some property at Wood Walton as part of her dower. Their joint holdings were said to be worth 18 marks a year in 1412, and Beville subsequently obtained control of them all. By 1428, he had also gained possession of half a knight’s fee in Coppingford and another in Upton, thus increasing the value of his Huntingdonshire estates alone to £26 a year.2
Beville’s appointment to the Huntingdonshire bench at the beginning of 1409 may well mark the date of his entry into the family estates, although he was already a well-known figure in the county — partly because of his father’s activities as a commissioner and MP, and also as a result of his own involvement in the affairs of neighbouring landowners. From 1400 onwards he witnessed a number of deeds including one, in 1407, for the widow of his father’s friend, Sir William Moigne*; and at some point before 1404 he became a feoffee-to-uses of John Styuecle*, another influential figure in the area. His association with Roger Hunt*, John Botiller* and Robert Scott* arose through their joint trusteeship of the manor of Orton Waterville for the widowed Joan Herlyngton, and must also have helped to further his career. The Bevilles were, moreover, a prolific and close-knit family, with a long and continuous tradition of service in local government. Our Member took an interest in the affairs of his kinsmen (some of whose estates he held in trust from 1409 onwards), and they, in turn, were no doubt ready to use whatever influence they possessed on his behalf.3
So far as we know, Beville first attended the Huntingdonshire parliamentary elections in 1411, when he and his cousin, John Beville of Chesterton, both attested the return. He himself was sent to Westminster in May 1413, and it is interesting to note that from then onwards he regularly had a hand in choosing the shire knights. Indeed, on at least seven occasions his name appears first on the list of persons present at the elections, which suggests that he was regarded with considerable local respect. His longstanding association with both Roger Hunt and (Sir) Nicholas Styuecle* probably explains why he was so anxious to support them in their protest about outside intervention in the elections of August 1429, although as a prominent member of the county community he must himself have been deeply disturbed by this attempt on the part of an organized group of nonresidents to prevent the holding of a free election.4
Although a good deal of information has survived about Beville’s public activities and appointments, which included two terms as sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire and over 25 years as a j.p., comparatively little is known of his more personal affairs. In December 1420 he obtained royal letters of protection pending his departure overseas in the retinue of the duke of Clarence, but this appears to have been the only military venture of his career. He was certainly caught up in a wide range of property transactions, often with the abovementioned (Sir) Nicholas Styuecle, to whom, in 1432, he conveyed several messuages in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire. This was followed, two years later, by a similar settlement of two manors near (Sir) Nicholas’s home at Great Stukeley, presumably under the terms of some earlier enfeoffment made upon him by his friend. Other, less important sales and exchanges of land claimed his attention from time to time, since he was always ready to assist local yeomen and farmers as either a witness or a trustee. He seems to have got on well with these men, for only once, in the early 1430s, did he find it necessary to take legal action against a neighbour. The defendant, who owed him 40s., sued out a pardon for his outlawry, and thus managed to escape the consequences of refusing to appear in court.5
Beville drew up his will in 1436, naming his wife, Joan, and his two sons, Thomas and Richard, as his executors. We do not know exactly when he died, and it is thus impossible to tell whether it was he or his son who attended the county court in November of that year to take part in the Huntingdonshire parliamentary elections. In all probability, however, Thomas Beville the younger, and not his father, was the recipient of a royal commission of inquiry sent out in January 1439.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Hunts. Feet of Fines (Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xxxvii), 105; VCH Hunts. iii. 238; Vis. Hunts. (Cam. Soc. xliii), 117. Thomas II is to be distinguished from his kinsman, Thomas Beville of Denton, the elder, a tax collector for Hunts. in 1419, and the latter’s son and namesake, who held office as coroner there until his death in, or before, October 1424 (CCR, 1422-9, p. 174). It was the latter who joined with our Member in 1409-10 to act as a co-feoffee for John and Agnes Beville of Chesterton (Vis. Hunts. 117). They too had a son named Thomas, who was considerably younger than the shire knight. The three main branches of the Beville family settled respectively at Wood Walton, Denton and Chesterton, and can usually be distinguished from each other without much difficulty.
- 2. VCH Hunts. iii. 238; VCH Suss. vii. 229; Peds. Plea Rolls, ed. Wrottesley, 231; EHR, xlix. 634; Feudal Aids ii. 471, 475-6; vi. 464; CCR, 1413-19, p. 95.
- 3. Add. Chs. 34073, 34076, 34078, 34080, 34218; Hunts. Feet of Fines, 99; Vis. Hunts. 117; VCH Hunts. iii. 140.
- 4. C219/10/6, 11/4, 12/3, 5, 6, 13/1-5, 14/1-5. For different interpretations of the background to the 1429 election see J.S. Roskell, Commons of 1422, pp. 18-20, and R.E. Archer, ‘The Mowbrays’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1984), 259, 344, 350.
- 5. DKR, xlii. 382; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 430, 432; 1429-35, pp. 309-10; Hunts. Feet of Fines, 101, 104, 105; CPR, 1429-36, p. 163.
- 6. C219/15/1; CPR, 1436-41, p. 269; VCH Hunts. iii. 238; Vis. Hunts. 117.