ST. GEORGE, Sir Baldwin (1362-1426), of Hatley St. George, Cambs.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. and bap. Hatley 8 Sept. 1362, s. and h. of Sir Baldwin St. George† (d.1383) by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir John Argentine† (d.1382) of Halesworth, Suff. and Great Wymondley, Herts. and Margaret, da. of Robert Darcy† of Great Sturton, Lincs. m. c. June 1383, Joan, da. of Sir John Dengaine* and coh. of his 1st w. Margaret, da. of Sir John de la Haye† of Shepreth, 3s. (1 d.v.p.). Kntd. bef. Jan. 1386.
Commr. of array, Beds. Dec. 1399, Cambs. Sept. 1403, Mar. 1419; to make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well May 1402; of inquiry, Cambs., Hunts. June 1406 (concealments); to raise royal loans June 1406; of arrest, Cambs. May 1412.
J.p. Cambs. 16 May 1401-Feb. 1407.
Sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 4 Nov. 1409-29 Nov. 1410.
Verderer of the forests of Weybridge and Sapley, Hunts. bef. 20 Nov. 1415.
The family of St. George could trace its lineage back to the reign of Henry I, and acquired its manors in Hatley St. George, Tadlow and East Hatley long before the 14th century. Our Sir Baldwin was the son of a namesake who had served as sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire in 1375-6 and been elected knight of the shire for Cambridgeshire to Edward III’s last Parliament. He died shortly before April 1383 when his son was still under age.1 The young man’s mother, also dead by that time, had come from the family of Argentine which belonged to the lesser nobility, and Baldwin could justifiably have expected to inherit a share of his maternal grandfather’s substantial estates in Hertfordshire and East Anglia, for following Sir John Argentine’s death in November 1382 his heirs had been found to be Baldwin himself, his daughter Maud, wife of Sir Ivo Fitzwaryn*, and another grandchild, Margaret Naunton. Unfortunately, Sir John had shown his determination to leave the bulk of his holdings to his illegitimate son, (Sir) William Argentine*, by making the descent of various of his estates subject to entail. The three legitimate heirs found themselves having to press lawsuits not only against the bastard (who went so far as to disrupt the funeral of his father and seize his estate papers by kidnapping the prior of Wymondley), but also against Sir William Belesby and Elizabeth his wife, who laid claim to certain of the manors not governed by entail. The matter was not finally settled until 1388, by which time the legitimate heirs had been left with Ketteringham in Norfolk (which went to Margaret Naunton) and Little Chishall (Cambridgeshire) and ‘Gernouns’ in Steeple Bumpstead (Essex) which were each divided into three parts. St. George’s interests would perhaps have been better served had he not been a minor when his grandfather died; even so, he showed no haste to make proof of age, not doing so until May 1386 when he was 23 and already a knight.2
In June 1383 St. George had reached an agreement with Sir John Dengaine that he would pay 100 marks for the hand of his daughter Joan, and that, as a marriage settlement, he would give her part of his patrimony as jointure. Joan was coheir, with her sister Mary, wife of William Blyton* of Lincoln, of their mother’s inheritance, the former de la Haye estates. Accordingly, in about 1396, she and St. George came into possession of a manor in Shepreth along with other property at Foxton and Papworth Everard. Before 1400 he appears to have reached an amicable arrangement with his uncle, Sir William Argentine, who conveyed to him ‘Avenels’ manor in Gamlingaye. It is quite likely that the annual value of St. George’s landed holdings in Cambridgeshire exceeded the sum of £22 6s.8d. given in 1412 when they were assessed for the purposes of taxation.3 Furthermore, he entertained hopes of adding to his estate, for through his mother he was one of several coheirs to land in seven counties belonging to Sir Baldwin Berford (d.1405), in accordance with the terms of an entail formulated in 1342 by Berford’s father. Yet once more reality fell short of expectations. Settlements made in 1401, deciding how the estates were to be partitioned following the deaths of Sir Baldwin and his wife, allotted to St. George and his aunt Maud Fitzwaryn equal shares in the manors of Brightwell, ‘Huscarlns’ and Newnham in Oxfordshire and Biscott in Bedfordshire, but when Berford’s widow eventually died (in 1423), Biscott passed in its entirety to the Fitzwaryn heiresses, and there is noting to show that St. George ever acquired his portion of the other properties either. He had fared better from the lawsuit brought by the Berford coheirs in 1406 to wrest possession of the manor of Clopton in Cambridgeshire from the Hasildens, for following the successful conclusion of this case the property was divided between them.4
St. George had begun his career in the summer of 1386 by sailing for Spain in the army led by John of Gaunt to claim the kingdom of Castile. Returning home about five years later, he established friendly ralations with important local landowners like Sir Edmund de la Pole*, whom he later made a trustee of his estates. When returned to Parliament for the first time, in 1394, St. George was accompained by a duchy of Lancaster official, Richard Hasilden, and it may be that this and similarly aligned contacts encouraged him to show sympathy for Henry of Bolingbroke when he was disgraced four years later. Certainly, he was sufficiently uneasy about Richard II’s actions at the time as to procure two royal pardons in June 1398. He was not apppointed to any royal commissions until after Henry’s accession. St George encountered some personal difficulties in the spring of 1401; rumour had it that evildoers had burnt down his manor-houses at Shepreth, but when a formal investigation was made it was found that only a ruinous ‘shepehouse’ had been destroyed, and probably as a result of mischance rather than arson. In public affairs he was beginning to be recognized as a competent spokesman for the community, worthy of receiving a personal summons to the great council of August 1401 and to another about two years later. St. George’s services to the Crown in Henry IV’s reign included his undertaking to travel to Germany in the spring of 1402 as one of the escort for the King’s daughter, Blanche, and in 1404 he spent three months at sea in the fleet commanded by the King’s half-brother, Sir Thomas Beaufort, admiral of the north and west, engaged in naval defence.5
In the spring of 1405 St. George found himself threathened in life and limb by members of the family of Keighley: John Keighley, esquire, was bound over in 1500 marks not to do him harm, and Sir Gilbert Keighley’s mainpernors, who included another of King Henry’s half-brothers, John Beaufort, earl of Somerset, guaranteed that he would not molest St. George under penalty of £200. The cause of this major dispute has not been ascertained, although it may well have been connected with John Keighley’s piratical activities of the previous year, when St. George had been at sea in the admiral’s fleet. In September 1409, shortly before Sir Baldwin’s appointment as sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, he shared with Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, an Exchequer lease of the wardship and marriage of John Bernak, son and heir of a former occupant of the same post. He is not known to have served on any commissions in the early years of Henry V’s reign, nor to have taken part in the King’s first expedition to France; and yet the reason given for his removal from the verderership of the royal forests of Weybridge and Sapley in November 1415 was that he was ‘too much occupied with divers business of the King to have leisure to exercise that office’. St. George was the only knight named on the list of 12 men returned from Cambridgeshire to the King’s Council in Januray 1420 as being best qualified to serve in the defence of the realm, and six months later he took out letters of attorney in preparation for a voyage overseas, presumably to join the royal armies in France.6
St. George died in 18 Feb. 1426 and was buried in Hatley St. George church, where he had been baptized. His widow subsequently settled at Ickleton, and in 1435 obtained a royal pardon of outlawry resulting from her failure to appear in court to answer John Cornwall, Lord Fanhope, for a huge debt of 500 marks. In December the same year she made a formal quitclaim to John Doreward†, esquire, of the manor of Alresford in Essex, which had formed part of the inheritance of her daughter-in-law, one of the coheirs of Sir William Coggeshall*.7 St. George’s eldest son, John, had predeceased him, so his heir was his grandson, William, who in his lifetime had become a member of the household of Bishop Fordham of Ely. Through marriage to one of the daughters of Sir Richard Arundel (d.1419), William acquired estates in Dorset and Warwickshire.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Sancto Georgio, Seyntgeorge.
- 1. Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 89-91; VCH Cambs. v. 107; viii. 44, 129; CFR, ix. 375.
- 2. CIPM, xv. 672, 896-7, 899, 900, 904; xvi. 341; CPR, 1381-5, p. 260; CFR, x. 10-12, 29, 34, 103-5, 237; CCR, 1381-5, pp. 361, 378-9; F. Blomefield, Norf. v. 91.
- 3. Lansdowne 863, f. 60; VCH Cambs. v. 72, 81, 254-5; viii. 168; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 433-4; CP25(1)30/91/140; Feudal Aids, vi. 410.
- 4. CCR, 1399-1402, p. 394; Warws. Feet of Fines (Dugdale Soc. xviii), nos. 2391-2; VCH Cambs. viii. 34; Peds. Plea Rolls, 241; VCH Beds. ii. 362.
- 5. CCR, 1385-9, pp. 69-70; 1389-92, pp. 333, 483; C67/30 mm. 13, 14; CIMisc. vii. 192; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 517; 1402-5, p. 394; PPC, i. 158; ii. 87; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, ii. 183.
- 6. CCR, 1402-5, pp. 500, 517; 1413-19, p. 237; CFR, xiii. 157; E28/97 m. 4; DKR, xliv. 620.
- 7. Cambs. Mon. Inscrips. ed. Palmer, 78; CFR, xv. 110; CPR, 1429-36, p. 435; CCR, 1435-41, p. 63.
- 8. Reg. Chichele, ii. 328; J. Hutchins, Dorset, iii. 476.