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circa 1350 - circa 1416
Thomas was probably born in Morley in the early 1350s (1), the eldest son of Ralph and Goditha (2). There is a possibility that he became a priest when he was young (3).
He married Elizabeth Lumley, maybe in 1385, but possibly a little earlier (4) and they settled in Morley, where he was heir apparent to the lordship of the manor (2). Their only known son was John (6)(15). They may also have had a daughter Katherine (7).
His father Ralph had a long running dispute with John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, and Thomas and his brothers, were also heavily involved (8). In May 1380, just after his father had agreed to pay £100 to Gaunt following an earlier hearing, Gaunt again obtained a commission of oyer and terminer, this time not only against Ralph, but also against Thomas and his brothers Ralph, Richard, William and Robert, as well as his uncle John. They were accused of taking 100 marks worth of livestock from Gaunt's lands, cutting down £100 worth of trees, and assauling a number of his tennants. His father died before the case was heard, but Thomas and his brothers continued the feud (8).
In June 1381, the "Peasant's Revolt" had started in the south and east of the country, but as news reached Derbyshire, the Stathum family and their supporters joined in. Their enmity towards Gaunt made them natural allies of the rebels, and so its not clear whether they were driven by the cause, or their long running feud, but they captured nearby Horston Castle and raised the George Cross there, and also took control of Breadsall Priory. There was undoubtably a lot of violence invovled with these two captures, but they weren't finished there, because Thomas was also apparently the instigator behind his brothers William and Richard's murder of Henry Massy, a long time supporter of Gaunt and enemy of Thomas. William and Richard went on the run after this, and Thomas, along with other members of the family, was later accused of harbouring them. Despite this, they were all eventually issued with pardons, both for their part in the revolt, and for the murder of Henry Massy (9).
During the 1390's the family allied themselves with the Earl of Huntingdon, Richard II's half brother, who had been granted possession of nearby Horston Castle. Thomas's brother William became the earls's esquire, and seemingly a very good one. Another brother, Robert, served in Huntingdon's garrison at Brest in France. Gaunt was, at that time, on good terms with the king, and so it followed with Huntingdon, thus so the feuding between him and family died down. Hostilities with Breadsall priory also came to an end in 1393, when the priory, having failed in one last attempt to get legal redress over the attacks of a dozen years before, made an agreement dropping all prior allegations against the Stathum family (10).
Life seems to have improved for Thomas. He was finally at peace with Gaunt, and he was well connected with the aristocracy. He was appointed as a commissioner for the collection of tax in 1393 (11), and he and his brother Richard, were both commissioned to enquire into illegal hunting dogs in 1399 (12).
Later that year, things changed dramatically, when John of Gaunt died. This had implications far beyond the Statham's little family disputes, and lead directly to the king being overthrown by his cousin, Henry IV. The political landscape changed overnight, leading three months later to the so called "Revolt of the Earls", when Huntingdon, along with fellow supporters of Richard II, plotted to assassinate the king and his son. Their plot was discovered at the last minute, and they were killed, but it seems that the Stathums were amongst a very small number of trusted allies who knew of the plot, and that they had been charged with mustering local support to ride with Huntingdon (10).
Despite the failure of the plot, and the initial siezure of the assetts of it's supporters, pardons were soon granted to all the family, and their assetts returned. Thomas doesn't appear to have been commissioned on any more of the king's service, but does appear to have seen out his days in relative peace (10). True to form he still had disputes to fight though. His mother Goditha had long been in dispute over a moiety of the manor of Callow, with her distant cousins, the Okeovers (13). In 1405/06 Thomas was accused of illgally disseising Thomas Okeover of his tenament there. However judgement was eventually found against the Okeovers (14).
He died in about 1416 (15).
Brief details of his children:
- John has his own page.
- Katherine may have married Richard del Hogh of Leghton, Cheshire, and died without issue.
"Derbyshire and the English Rising of 1381" by David Crooks, Historical Research, Vol 60, Issue 141, pp 9-23. This work discusses the hitherto unknown events in Derbyshire at the time of the Peasant's Revolt of June 1381, and the leading role played in them by the Statham family. It also examines a long running dispute between Ralph Statham and John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster, in the decades prior to this, and how the Stathum family appear to have used the revolt as a cover for extracting revenge on the Duke and some of his allies in settlement of old scores. This is a very well referenced scholarly work, by a highly respected historian and archivist at the PRO/TNA. The references I have checked (probably about 40% of them), are all accurate, so I am happy to accept those I haven't as reliable, especially as I am not relying on them for genealogical proof, but rather just for detail of the Statham family's activities. It can be found online here
"Central England and the Revolt of the Earls, January 1400" by David Crooks, Historical Research, Vol 64, Issue 155, Feb 1987, pp 403-410. This work discusses the role of the Stathum family in the Revolt of the Earls in 1400. It shows how the family had become allied to the Earl of Huntingdon, and that they must have had advance knowledge of a plot to assassinate the king, and were preparing to raise forces to support the rebel Earls. This is a very well referenced scholarly work, by a highly respected historian and archivist at the PRO/TNA. The references I have checked (probably about 40% of them), are all accurate, so I am happy to accept those I haven't as reliable, especially as I am not relying on them for genealogical proof, but rather just for detail of the Statham family's activities. It can be found online here
"Calendar of the Fine Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office" Vol XI, 1929, page 72, notes a list of men commissioned to collect taxes dated 13 March 1393, which includes Thomas Stathum, among others, for the county of Derby. An almost identical list dated 1 Oct 1393 again includes Thomas Stathum.
"Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office" Richard II Vol VI, 1909, page 585, contains an entry dated May 23 1399 : "Commission to Ralph de Radclyf, knight, Robert de Legh, knight, Peter de Legh, John de Legh, Thomas de Stathum, John Pygot, William de Ipstones, Richard de Stathum, and Thomas Foljambe, on information that divers artificers, labourers and laymen, who do not hold lands or tenements of the yearly value of 40s keep harriers, greyhounds and other hunting dogs in the counties of Derby and Stafford, and ferrets, hedges, nets, 'herepipes', strings and other engines for their capture and destruction, contrary to the statute lately passed at Wesminster, to enquire and certify touching the premises."
See his mother's page
In the book "The Descent of the Family of Statham", by Rev S P H Statham, the following statement is made. I have not yet been able to confirm the sources for this. "In 1405-6 Thomas de Stathum with William Wigley were accused of wrongly disseising Thomas Okeover of his tenament in Callow. Threeyears later the verdict 'Okeoever nil capitat' was given and henceforthhalf the manor of Callow became the property of the Stathums [Additional Manuscripts 6697, Pleas of Ass in various counties, 7 Hen IV]".
In the book "The Descent of the Family of Statham", by Rev S P H Statham, the following statement is made. I have not yet been able to confirm the sources for this. "In 1424 reference is made to a suit between Thomas de Stathum and John Hernyll for 2 acres in Callow. It is therin stated that Thomas died on the Monday next before the feastof S. M..... in the year 4 Henry V (1415-16) [Curia Regis Rolls, 2 Henry VI, Derby]. The defence made by John, son and heir of Thomas , was that Henry, son and heir of John Hernyll released and quitted all his rights and lands etc to Thomas de Stathum by a deed dated the Feast of S. Laurence 1396.".
In the book "The Descent of the Family of Statham", by Rev S P H Statham, reference is made to another book - "The History and Antiquities of the County of Northampton" by G Baker, which is said to mention a document of 1389, in which the manor of Althorp was surrendered to Robert Lumley for life, with remainder to Thomas de Stahum and Elizabeth his wife, daughter of the said Robert in fee tail. I have yet to even confirm that Baker's book claims this, never mind track down the original or a transcript.
The book "The Descent of the Family of Statham", By Rev S P H Statham, calls Thomas a knight, however I don't believe that he was, as I have found no trace of him being referred to as such. Indeed the Patent Roll of 1399 fails to call him a knight, alongside others who are given that title (12). No source is given for this claim in the book. The book also claims that he was at the Battle of Agincourt, amongst the Cheshire Archers even though he would have probably been over 60.
- His parents held the manor of Morley, and lived there, so he was more than likely born there too. His estimated date of birth is simply based on the facts that his parents are believed to have married around 1350; he was their eldest (surviving) son; and his siblings all seem to have been adults by about the mid 1370s.
- He was certainly the eldest son to survive and have his own sons, as the manor of Morley passed to him and his descendants. There are also a number of documents which mention him first amongst his siblings, and first amongst hereditary remainders. See his father's page.
- In the book "The Descent of the Family of Statham", by Rev S P H Statham, it is claimed that he is the same Thomas as the one mentioned in the register of Bishop Stretton in August 1364, which states "Thomas son of Ralph Stathome, clerk, instituted to the canonry and prebend which Master Jordan de Holme held in the Collegiate Church of Gnoushall in exchange with the canonry and prebend of E. in the Collegiate Church of Blessed Mary-by-the-Castle, Leicester". Whilst this could be him, I am unable to see how the rest of the known details of him and his parents fit with him being old enough for this in 1364. Also, the Thomas who held the prebend of Gnoushall was still there in 1378 ["Collections for a History of Staffordshire", New Series, Vol 10, Part 2, page 145], but "our" Thomas was active in and around Morley in the early and mid 1370s, so this would appear to further reduce the chance of these two being one and the same person. However, Thomas didn't marry until the 1380s, so its possible that he spent time as a priest before marrying. Also, "Descent" claims that Thomas had a brother Piers/Peter, which seems to be based on nothing more than an association between Thomas of Gnoushall, and a Peter de Stathum. However, in his "Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire", Volume 4, page 327, Cox also notes another brother Peter (albeit without offering any evidence).
- Thomas was certainly married to an Elizabeth in 1386 (5), and a document from 1389 shows that she was Elizabeth Lumley, daughter of (the still living) Robert Lumley (16). A later document, from after her death, concerning a claim on a manor her son John had inherited from her, states that Robert Lumley was her deceased first husband (6). However, common sense would seem to point to the contemporary record being correct, and that Robert Lumley was her father. In "The Descent of the Family of Statham" it is claimed (as a bare fact, with no supporting evidence) that Thomas and Elizabeth married on 18 June 1385. Even though no source is given here, the specificity of the date implies the author had a particular piece of evidence in mind. Were it not for this claim I would have estimated their marriage to be earlier, as Thomas would have been well into his thirties by then. Also a document from 1390/91, apparently shows that their son John was chased back home from Derby by some of the family's enemies. That implies he was older than four, at the time (although from such a vague reference thats obviously only speculation)
- "Derbyshire Feet of Fines 1323-1546" (Derbyshire Record Society, 1985), number 963, reads :
"Westminster. Quindene of Easter 1386. P[laintiff]: Thomas Stathum and Elizabeth his wife. D[eforciant]: Thomas Witty, parson of the church of Braydeshale, John Parke and Goditha, widow of Ralph de Stahum. Concerning the manor of Caldelowe. Thomas Stathum acknowledged the manor to be the right of Goditha who, with the other defendants, granted and rendered it to Thomas and Elizabeth to hold to themselves and the heirs of their bodies of the defendants and the heirs of Goditha, paying therefore one rose each year at the feast of the nativity of St John the Baptist for all services etc due to the defendants and the heirs of Goditha and doing to the chief lord etc. Succesive remainders to the heirs of the body of Thomas Stathum and to Richard his brother, and the heirs of his body. Reversion to the defendants and the heirs of Goditha."
- In the book "The Descent of the Family of Statham", by Rev S P H Statham, the following appears. I have not been able to confirm this with the source yet : "In 1434 an assize was held in Bedford to discover whether John de Buckingham, bishop of Lincoln (1362-98) had unjustly disseized Robert, son of John Avenel, of the manor of Holewell in Shitlington, Shefford and Henlowe. Elizabeth, wife of Robert Lumley, and secondly of Thomas de Stathum, was a relative of and heir to the bishop and therefore John her son was heir. Robert Avenel married the daughter of Robert Belknappe and Julianna, his wife (Curia Regis Rolls, Trinity, 12 Henry VI, m93)"
- In his book "The Descent of the Family of Statham", as well as in Vol 45 (1923) of the Derbyshire Archaelogical Journal, Rev S P H Statham, claims that Thomas had a daughter Katherine who married Richard del Hogh of Leghton, Cheshire. He cites Ormerod's "History of the County Palatine and City of Chester", but I cannot find any reference to this marriage in Ormerod, and the page number given is certainly wrong (although I have checked in the second edition of the book, and it could be from the first).
- See his father's page