ROXTON, Thomas, of Harrold, Beds.
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Family and Education
Nothing is known for certain about the early life or family background of this Member, although he may have been related to the John Roxton, who, with his wife, Alice, and their son, John, obtained a settlement of the Bedfordshire manor of Wyboston at some point before 1358. Another John Roxton became head of the Augustinian priory of Dunstable (in the same county) during the late 1420s, but once again direct evidence of any connexion with the subject of this biography remains lacking.1 Roxton himself first appears in 1403, when he acquired rents worth 2s. p.a. in the Bedfordshire village of Carlton. One of his trustees was the influential local lawyer, John Hervy*, who once more became involved in his affairs three years later. On this occasion, Roxton made a far larger purchase of land in Kempston Bourne, which was followed, in 1410, by a third transaction to consolidate his holdings in the area. We cannot now tell if he was acting on his own account or if he had already undertaken to buy this property on behalf of Harrold priory, another Augustinian foundation. The deed of March 1414 by which he formally granted the estate to the prior in perpetuity refers to him as a resident of Harrold, so there is a strong possibility that he was an agent rather than a benefactor of the house. His connexion with the monastic community evidently remained a close one, for as late as 1433 he witnessed the award of a corrody there.2 It was probably through these dealings that Roxton became associated with Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, one of the priory’s most distinguished patrons. In May 1409, he conveyed the manor of Little Gravenhurst (of which he was then a trustee) to Grey and a group of his retainers, including Reynold Ragon* and John Mortimer*. Long afterwards, in 1427, he attested an entail of the manor of Kempston made by Lord Grey upon his son, John, but we cannot now tell if he maintained any further ties with the family between these two dates. Significantly, under the circumstances, he appears to have been friendly with the lawyer, John Enderby*, another leading adherent of the baronial family: they were jointly responsible, in 1431, for the sale of certain property to the parish church of Flite in Bedfordshire at a profit of £40.3
Although he sat just once in the House of Commons, Roxton attended the county elections fairly regularly. He witnessed the return of shire knights to at least six Parliaments: namely those of 1425, 1426, 1427, 1433, 1435 and 1437. He was, meanwhile, one of the local gentry who were required, in May 1434, to take the general oath that they would not support persons breaking the peace. The name Thomas Roxton actually appears twice on this list of Bedfordshire landowners, perhaps as a result of an administrative oversight, but possibly because the MP had a son or kinsman of the same name. He was still alive in July 1443, the date of royal letters patent confirming him and his co-feoffees in possession of a sizeable estate in Bedfordshire which had been settled upon them in trust two years before by Thomas Woodhall. On the latter’s death the property had mistakenly been assigned to the Greys’ sworn enemy, John, Lord Fanhope, although Roxton and his associates were able to prove their superior title.4
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Rokesden, Rokesdon, Rokeston, Roxton.