CALSTON, Thomas (c.1361-1418), of Littlecote, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b.c.1361, s. and h. of Laurence Calston of Littlecote by Felicity, da. and h. of Richard Combe and Maud, da. and h. of Sir Robert London† of Long Bredy, Dorset.1 m. (i) bef. Aug. 1390, Margery; (2) bef. Mar. 1399, Joan, da. and coh. of Thomas Childrey* of Childrey, Berks., 1da.; (3) bef. Nov. 1412, Marina.
Commr. of array, Wilts. Dec. 1399, July 1402, Sept. 1403; inquiry Nov. 1402 (lands of St. Thomas’s hospital, Marlborough), June 1416 (Clatford priory); arrest June 1408; to hold assizes of novel disseisin Nov. 1412.
J.p. Wilts. 14 Nov. 1403-4, 8 Nov.-Dec. 1415.
Escheator, Hants and Wilts. 7 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410.
Sheriff, Wilts. 1 Dec. 1415-30 Nov. 1416.
From his father, a member of an old Wiltshire family, Calston inherited the manor of Littlecote, along with the advowson of the chapel and annual rents of £10 from property in Ebbesbourne Wake and Little Durnford. To these he added, in 1382, an interest in an annual rent of £4 from land at Andover in Hampshire. In April 1386 he received a more valuable addition to his possessions following the death of his great-uncle Sir Laurence St. Martin†, whose estates were partitioned between him and Henry Popham* of Popham. Calston’s share comprised the manors of Upton Lovell, Knook, Wardour and Knighton in Wiltshire, Brockhampton in Havant, Hampshire, and Sutton Waldron, Dorset. He seems, however, to have subsequently sold most of his share to a distant kinsman, John, Lord Lovell, for perhaps as much as £1,000, and this resulted in protracted lawsuits between Popham and the Lovells, in which he was inevitably also involved. In 1412 Lovell’s widow, Lady Maud, restored Knighton to Calston and his heirs.2
Other transactions over land in which Calston was involved included his conveyance, in 1386, of the manor of Haydon in Dorset, to John Wadham*, the future judge. He held property in Marlborough, the borough he represented in Parliament, and in 1390, the year of his election, he granted a house there to Thomas Cook I* for life. Seven years later he was co-owner of two stalls in the same town. In 1392 he sold an estate in Chiseldon, near Swindon, which he held jure uxoris, and he also had property interests around Lacock, in the west of the county. In Chippenham Calston owned The Bell Inn in the High Street. Other of Calston’s transactions involved his patrimony, leading to a prolonged lawsuit over his rents from Little Durnford and Ebbesbourne Wake, and enfeoffments of Littlecote. Towards the end of his life he lived mainly at Bewley in Lacock, where he had enlarged an existing house and built a chapel.3 In 1412 his lands were assessed for the purposes of taxation as worth £20 a year in Dorset, £45 1 s.8 d. in Wiltshire and £5 at Litchborough, Northamptonshire.4
Calston’s second wife, Joan, was a daughter of a former steward of the estates of the bishopric of Winchester, Thomas Childrey. On the death of the latter’s widow in 1412, Calston’s daughter, Elizabeth, was one of her three heirs. Although Elizabeth was to remain a minor until January 1415 she was potentially a wife with good prospects, for her portion of the Childrey estates would include land in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire and London, and she was, furthermore, Calston’s only heir. Calston promptly arranged her marriage, and on 21 Dec. 1412 an indenture was drawn up between him and William Darell†, under the terms of which he agreed to settle Littlecote and £5 p.a. rent in Ebbesbourne Wake in remainder on the couple and undertook other enfeoffments ensuring Elizabeth’s inheritance of all his lands, save those in Dorset and certain properties in Marlborough and Devizes. Darell undertook to pay him £300.5
Outside of his lands and his few commissions, we know little else of Calston. He received a royal pardon from Richard II in May 1398, and would seem to have joined the forces of Henry of Bolingbroke soon after the latter’s return from exile in the summer of 1399, for he was present when, in the chapel of St. George at the guildhall at Bristol, Sir Henry Green* (shortly to be executed on Bolingbroke’s orders) confessed to having made an illegal eviction at Upton Scudamore, Wiltshire. He obtained a papal licence to have a portable altar in February 1403, and was named as one of the executors of the will of Thomas Beaupyne*, the wealthy merchant of Bristol, four months later. He is recorded as dining with the household of Bishop Metford of Salisbury on three occasions in October 1406 and April 1407, and he attended the bishop’s funeral. In June 1408 Calston was released by William Baker and his wife Edith from an obligation he had undertaken to provide Edith with a gown befitting her status at Christmas every year of her life, the release applying only to the first year. In 1412 he and three others granted land worth four marks yearly to the priory of St. Margaret, Marlborough.6
Calston died shortly before September 1418, but it was not until December 1419 that two canons of Salisbury were appointed to hear the account rendered by the administrators of his will. Inventories of the deceased’s possessions at Littlecote and Bewley reveal that he had a splendid collection of silverware, jewellery and other goods, worth about £340. His widow survived him.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: Charles Kightly
- 1. CPR, 1441-6, p. 248; CCR, 1441-7, pp. 183-4.
- 2. CAD, i. C533; ii. C2670; v. A13602; CCR, 1381-5, p. 230; 1385-9, p. 137; 1402-5, pp. 412-13; 1409-13, p. 75; Dorset Feet of Fines, ii. 172; CIPM, xvi. 291-8.
- 3. CCR, 1385-9, p. 157; CAD, i. C340; ii. C1386, 2381, 2492, 2590, 2610; Tropenell Cart. ed. Davies, i. 81-83; ii. 274-7; Yr. Bk. 1 Hen. VI, 60; Wilts. Feet of Fines (Wilts. Rec. Soc. xli), 150, 203, 277; Wilts. Arch. Mag. lxxxi, 63-67.
- 4. Feudal Aids, vi. 426, 492, 532.
- 5. CCR, 1409-13, p. 285; 1413-19, pp. 291-2; CFR, xiii. 235-6; CAD, iii. C3575; v. A13602; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 304; C137/87/34; C138/10/52.
- 6. C67/30 m. 27; Huntington Lib. San Marino, Hastings mss, HAM box lxx; CPL, v. 567; CPR, 1409-13, v. 567; CPR, 1409-13, p. 450; Harl. 3755, ff. 3d, 50, 54, 65d; Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Arundel, i. f. 205d.
- 7. Reg. Chichele, iv. 68-69, 79; E154/1/31.