CRACKENTHORPE, William II (d.1439), of Newbiggin, Westmld.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
J.p. Westmld. 26 Mar. 1411-June 1419.
Commr. of inquiry Westmld. Jan. 1412 (persons liable for taxation), Mar. 1439 (attacks on the property of his widowed sister-in-law, Elizabeth Crackenthorpe); array July 1434, July 1437.
William II was probably quite young at the time of his marriage, which occurred shortly before November 1401, the date of a royal pardon excusing his father for settling land in Ousby upon him and his wife without the necessary royal licence. Not surprisingly, in view of the tradition of parliamentary service established by his father and his uncle, William I*, he soon entered the House of Commons, being selected in 1406 as one of the Members for Appleby, where John Crackenthorpe owned property. Although not himself returned again until 1425, when he served as a shire knight, he attended the elections for Westmorland to the Parliaments of 1407, 1415, 1416 (Mar.), 1419, 1420, 1421 (Dec.), 1422, 1426 and 1427, being thus present on three of the four occasions when his younger and far more active brother, Robert, was chosen to represent the county.2
Meanwhile, in 1410, William stood surety at the Exchequer for his friend, Roland Thornburgh*, as farmer of the estates of their late neighbour, Sir William Threlkeld*. The remarkable longevity of his father meant that William had to wait until the spring of 1436 before succeeding to an extensive inheritance in Cumberland and Westmorland, although his position as heir presumptive to a prominent and influential local landowner at least brought him some recognition in the way of administrative appointments. He took a seat on the Westmorland bench in 1411 and later served on a few royal commissions, as well as acting as an arbitrator in a property dispute involving (Sir) Christopher Curwen*, his colleague in the Parliament of 1425. At first he lived with his father at Newbiggin, but after the birth of his eldest son, John, he obtained control of other family holdings in Kirkby Thore, near Appleby, and at Kirkoswald in Cumberland. The latter he conveyed, in about 1424, to William Beauchamp*, who was probably his trustee. Even so, by the time he eventually gained seisin of the rest of the Crackenthorpe estates, William was already well over 50 years old, and although his career was by no means at an end it was too late for him to embark upon a more demanding round of public commitments. In 1436, however, he offered guarantees on behalf of the two Lancashire landowners, Sir Thomas Radcliffe* and Thomas Haryngton†, when they obtained the keepership of part of the manor of Nether Wyresdale from the Crown; and three years later he was appointed to a royal commission of inquiry in Westmorland. He can hardly have performed his duties impartially, for the allegations of theft, arson and intimidation which had led to the setting up of the commission were laid by his own recently widowed sister-in-law, Elizabeth Crackenthorpe, against two of her kinsmen and various members of the Thornburgh family. William’s brother, Robert, had actually been murdered during the course of this bitter and protracted feud, so there were many scores still to be settled.3
William did not live to see his late brother’s enemies brought to justice. He died on 29 Apr. 1439, and was succeeded by his eldest son, who was himself well into middle age. The value of his estates is hard to determine, but those in Westmorland alone were said to produce about £15 p.a. at this time. Dower was assigned to his widow, Margaret, who survived for another 30 years, losing her other two sons, in 1461, at the battle of Towton. Her grandson, John, was pronounced her next heir, and all the family estates were united in his possession.4
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. xxxiii. ped. facing p. 43 and pp. 53-56.
- 2. CPR, 1401-5, p. 15; C219/10/4, 11/6, 8, 12/3, 4, 6, 13/1, 4, 5.
- 3. CPR, 1408-13, p. 164; CFR, xvi. 276, 278; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. vii. 246; n.s. xxviii. 192.
- 4. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. viii. 329; n.s. xxii. 341; xxxiii. 53-56; CCR, 1435-41, p. 296; CPR, 1436-41, p. 273; CFR, xvii. 81.