BRUT, John, of Hindon, Wilts.
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Family and Education
m. Joan, da. of John Mussel and sis. and h. of Philip Mussel of Hindon,1 1s. d.v.p.
Commr. to collect an aid, Wilts. Dec. 1401, inquiry, Som., Wilts. Apr. 1413 (former St. Lo estates).
Bailiff of Bp. Beaufort of Winchester’s liberty of Bishopstone, Wilts. by Mich. 1410-aft. 1414.2
Brut’s antecedents are obscure, but it seems likely that he came from Dorset and was related to the Bruts of Caundle Marsh, for he witnessed a deed for a member of that family in 1411.3 Nevertheless, he had settled in Wiltshire by 1391, when he acquired a reversionary interest in property at East Knoyle, and his marriage to Joan Mussel, a neighbouring landowner, had probably by then already taken place. Under the terms of an unusual settlement made in 1380 by her brother Philip, Joan had received possession of all Philip’s landed holdings in Hindon, Knoyle and Milton. To these properties, which he held jure uxoris, Brut was to add substantially in the course of his career, one of his acquisitions being the advowson of the church at Pertwood, of which he regularly acted as a patron between 1400 and 1419. In 1412 his lands in Knoyle and Hindon were assessed for the purposes of taxation at £10 a year, but undoubtedly his income from holdings (which by the time of his and his wife’s deaths amounted to more than 450 acres of land in Hindon and neighbouring villages, four houses and a hospice called Le Belle in Hindon itself, and lands elsewhere at Quidhampton and Bemerton near Wilton), was larger than this figure suggests, especially as he was expressly stated in 1412 as being the owner of more land outside the county.4
In about 1402 Brut and John Tebaud, a local chaplain, were engaged in a dispute with Walter Puse, vicar of Knoyle, concerning the right to say mass in the chapel of the nunnery at Hindon. The case was a tortuous one, and when it eventually came to trial — late in 1403 — Archbishop Arundel gave judgement in favour of Puse, despite a letter written in support of Brut’s claim by Richard, Lord St. Maur. Brut was also known to John, Lord Lovell: early in 1405 he was one of Lovell’s associates arraigned in an assize of novel disseisin by Henry Popham* with regard to the manors of Knighton and Upton, Wiltshire; and when, four years later, Popham formally relinquished all his rights to these and other parts of the former St. Martin estates to Maud, Lovell’s widow, Brut was among the witnesses to the transaction.5
Brut was present at the election of the knights of the shire for Wiltshire in 1411. For at least a year previously, and perhaps much longer, he had been holding office as bailiff of the liberty of Bishop Beaufort of Winchester at Bishopstone in the Wiltshire hundred of Downton. This connexion, which had no doubt come about through Brut’s position as the bishop’s tenant of lands at Hindon (itself a detached portion of the same hundred), led also to his being returned to Henry V’s first Parliament in May 1413 as one of the representatives of the borough of Downton, of which Beaufort was also the chief lord. It may be assumed that during the Parliament he lent his support in the Commons to the government’s policies which Beaufort, as chancellor, outlined in his opening speech. He may also have been known to the Commons’ first choice as Speaker, William Stourton, for just six months earlier his son, John Brut junior, had stood surety at the Exchequer for Stourton and his brother, John Stourton I*. Although Brut senior attended the Wiltshire elections in April 1414 and 1417, he himself was never returned again, so far as is known; but then Downton was not to be represented in Parliament once more until 1442.6
Meanwhile, since 1408 Brut had occasionally been recorded in association with his son John junior (as, for example, when the young man and his uncle Philip Mussel had assisted him in the acquisition of two houses and some 100 acres of land in East Knoyle and Milton). He no doubt played a part in arranging his son’s marriage into the family of Chesterton, the Bruts intending by this match to extend their own interests by acquiring the manors of Shortley in Coventry, Warwickshire, and Chesterton, Gloucestershire. These manors were then held by John Barndesley ‘by the courtesy of England’ following the death of his wife, Elizabeth Chesterton, whose heir young Brut’s wife Eleanor claimed to be. Brut senior stood by the young couple when, in 1416, John Langley† of Atherstone brought suits against Barndesley for possession of these manors (which Langley claimed by virtue of an entail), not only by securing from Edward Chesterton formal confirmation of Eleanor Brut’s title to the reversion of Shortley, but also by persuading such prominent figures as Sir John Berkeley I* and Sir Thomas Stawell* to act as feoffees of this reversionary interest on the Bruts’ behalf. Yet the legal basis of Eleanor’s claim was clearly unsound: John Brut junior was required to enter into recognizances amounting to £600 as assurance that he would cease to withhold relevant documentary evidence from the court of common pleas; and after he unwillingly produced this information Barndesley lost his suit to Langley, and with it the Bruts’ reversionary interest in the disputed manors.7
Following this disappointment, John Brut senior is only recorded infrequently. In April 1417, along with his neighbour, John Persons*, he arbitrated in a dispute over land at Maiden Bradley between the brothers William and John Westbury* and Katherine Inge. In May 1430 he made a loan to the Crown of 20 marks. In the meantime he had continued the expansion of his territorial holdings in Hindon, and in 1431 he placed all those properties he had acquired by purchase into the hands of feoffees. Not recorded thereafter, he died at an unknown date before March 1445, by which time his wife’s inheritance had fallen to her heirs — Richard Herdell (son of her cousin Joan) and Richard Coof (husband of her cousin Katherine); and in 1447 the surviving trustees named by Brut in 1431 conveyed all the purchased properties to Herdell, too.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Brit, Bryt.
- 1. Tropenell Cart. ed. Davies, ii. pp. vii, 15-16.
- 2. Hants RO, bp. of Winchester’s pipe rolls 159413-15; E368/187 rot. 168.
- 3. CCR, 1409-13, p. 208. He had no known connexion with the Bruts of Wimborne All Saints, Dorset, whose manor of ‘Bruts’ Place’ and land in Wilts. at Manningford Bohun were in the Crown’s possession from 1384 until 1430, owing to the insanity of John (c.1363-1430), s. and h. of Thomas Brut: CIMisc. iv. 283; J. Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 601; CCR, 1429-35, p. 17; C139/44/25.
- 4. Wilts. Feet of Fines (Wilts. Rec. Soc. xli), 139, 293; Tropenell Cart. ii. pp. vii, 12-20; VCH Wilts. viii. 59; xi. 99; Feudal Aids, vi. 532; Reg. Hallum (Canterbury and York Soc. lxxii), 9.
- 5. Anglo-Norman Letters and Pets. ed. Legge, 124-5, 391-2; Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Arundel, 1, f. 376; CCR, 1402-5, pp. 412-13; 1409-13, p. 75.
- 6. C219/10/10, 11/3, 12/2; CFR, xiii. 254.
- 7. Wilts. Feet of Fines, 293; CPL, vi. 357; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 291-2; Warws. Feet of Fines (Dugdale Soc. xviii), 2494; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 359-60, 363-4, 457; VCH Warws. viii. 84. John Brut junior was present at the Wilts. elections of 1415, but is not recorded after March 1422, when mentioned as having acted as a feoffee of the manor of Frome Whitfield, Dorset, for settlement on John d’Arundel, Lord Mautravers (and de jure earl of Arundel) and Eleanor his wife (Sir John Berkeley’s daughter): C219/11/7; CPR, 1416-22, p. 414.
- 8. Tropenell Cart. ii. 14, 17, 97; Wilts. Feet of Fines, 451; CPR, 1429-36, p. 61.