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Ralph de Stathum
circa 1330 - 1380
Ralph was probably born around 1330 in Stathum, in Cheshire, the son of Hugh, He had an elder brother John, and possibly another brother Thomas (27).
He married Goditha de Masci (1), probably somewhere around 1350 (2). She brought the manor of Morley (3) in Derbyshire as her dower, as well as other lands including a moiety of Callow (4), and property in Derby (5), and he settled in Morley as lord of the manor (Note: Not a knight (6)). In 1361, he was given a license for his private chapel there (7). Eleven years later he also acquired a license for another private chapel at Callow (7), about ten miles to the north east
They had a number of children, including Thomas (8)(14)(25)(26), Richard (8)(14)(26), Ralph (14)(22), William (14)(26) and Robert (14). Other children may have included Peter (8)(9), Nicholas (8)(10), Goditha (8)(11), Margaret (8)(12) and Agnes (8)(13).
In 1365 he was tried and acquitted of killing Richard de Wynynton of Cheshire (14). No further details of this alleged crime are known but it doesn't seem to have damaged his standing, as the following year he served as a Member of Parliament for Derbyshire (14). He also served as an MP again in 1373 (15), 1376 (16) and 1378 (17). In 1369 he, along with eight others, was commissioned to arrest Geoffrey de Chaddesden, a runaway monk from the Order of St Lazarus in Burton (18).In 1376 he was again appointed as a commissioner, this time to arrest a murderous gang of outlaws (19). In 1377 he was appointed for the collection of poll tax (14), and in 1379 he was commssioned to investigate a previous tax assessment for the county, as it was suspected that the previous assessors were either negligent or dishonest (20). He must have performed that role satisfactorily, as the following year he was again appointed to collect taxes (21).
Ralph was involved in a long running dispute with John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. The origins of this dispute are not clear, but it seems that it was mainly concerned with competing claims to various lands, and originated in or before 1366, when Gaunt was claimed to have grazed his livestock on Ralph's land. In 1371 Ralph was accused of illegally occupying six acres of land in Morley, following the death of Gaunt's tennant there. The case was heard in a court that was in the control of Gaunt, so it is perhaps unsurprising that his claim was upheld, and the land was granted to three of his allies - Edmund Massy, Henry Massy and Robert de Eaton. (14)
These three men also thus became enemies of Ralph, and main players in the long running dispute. The following year Edmund Massy made a claim against Ralph, then in 1374 Ralph brought a writ of trespass against Henry Massy. In the same year Ralph's son Ralph 'junior' got into a heated argument with Robert de Eaton, during which he pulled out a knife and stabbed Eaton in the stomach, then fled leaving Eaton for dead. (He was pardoned for the killing the following year (10).) The enmity continued, and in 1375 Ralph was charged with enclosing a public road in Morley, stemming from a complaint which appears to have originated from Edmund Massy. In 1380 Gaunt obtained a commission of oyer and terminer which was assembled to hear charges that Statham was responsible for "damages, injuries, extortions, oppressions, purprestures, trespasses and other annoyances" to Gaunt's men in Morley and elsewhere. The jury was once more heavily loaded with Gaunt's men, and Ralph agreed to pay £100 in settlement. Just a few weeks later Gaunt obtained another commission, this time claiming that Ralph, along with his sons Ralph 'junior', Thomas, Richard, William and Robert, and John de Statham (presumed to be Ralph's brother), had taken 100 marks worth of livestock from Gaunt's lands, cut down trees to the value of £100, and assaulted a number of Gaunt's tennants and destroyed their homes. However, Ralph died before this case could be heard. (14) His death was not the end of the dispute though, as Gaunt and Ralph's sons continued to be at loggerheads. In June 1381, Ralph's son Thomas was the instigator of attacks on Breadsall Priory, Horston Castle, and a number of Gaunt's properties and men. This was seemingly part of the 'Peasant's Revolt' sweeping the country at the time, but Thomas appears to have used that as a cover for further retribution against Gaunt and his men, including the murder of Henry Massy by his brothers William and Richard (23).
Ralph died on 13th June 1380 (24). His wife Goditha survived him by 38 years (24).
Brief details of his children:
- Thomas, the eldest son, has his own page.
- Richard was almost certainly the second eldest son, probably born in Morley in the 1350s. He was involved in the family dispute with John of Gaunt, and was in the middle of the events of June 1381, when he and his brother William killed Henry Massey, one of Gaunt's allies. The sheriff was ordered to arrest them after a hearing the following year, but they fled, ending up in Calais. He returned in December 1383, and was eventually pardoned. He moved to Derby, where it is claimed he married Emma Bourdon, from Bourden in Northamptonshire. I haven't attempted to verify this. He was still alive in 1414 when he acquired some lands in Derby, but nothing later is known of him.
- William, probably the third eldest son, was also born in Morley in about the 1350s. He too was involved in the family disputes, and as mentioned above, he and his brother Richard killed Henry Massey in 1381 and then absconded. He was eventually pardonned, and became esquire to the Earl of Huntingdon. This lead to the family becoming invovled in the "Revolt of the Earls" in January 1400, when Huntingdon and his allies plotted to kill the newly installed king, Henry IV. The plan came to naught, and Huntingdon and the others were duly dealt with. William seems to have come out of the affair very well though, as the king he was plotting to kill at the start of the year made him one of his esquires by the end of it, and granted him an annuity of £20 from the manor of Fremington in Devon, which he had claimed from William's former master, the Earl of Huntingdon. It is not known whether he ever married or had children. He was still alive in 1405, when mentioned in his uncle John's will, but nothing more is known of him.
- Ralph, probably the fourth son, was also involved in the family disputes of course, and in 1374 he stabbed Robert de Eaton, one of John of Gaunt's men. As seems to have been the standard ploy, he then initially fled to Calais, then was pardonned the following year. He was involved in the "Peasants Revolt" activities of the family in 1381, and was duly charged and later pardonned for his part in that too. Whether he ever married or had children is unknown, but he moved to Derby where he had a couple of cottages and about 60 acres of land. In 1397 he was said to have killed William de Croxton at Smalley coalpits, and was again pardoned the following year. When the attempted revolt occured in 1400, he was involved along the rest of his brothers. Nothing more is known of him after he was pardonned for this last offence in 1401. He wasn't mentioned in his uncle John's will of 1405, so he may have died before that.
- Robert, probably the fifth eldest son, was also involved in the events of June 1381, indeed he was said to have lead the attack on Breadsall Priory. In 1393, he was serving in Huntingdon's garrison at Brest. He may have met his death there, because nothing later is known of him - in particular his name does not appear alongside his brothers in records relating to the revolt of 1400.
- Nicholas, if a son of that name existed, is a mystery. I know nothing about him.
- Peter, if he was a son of Ralph, was a priest living first in Mirabeau, Lincoln, then after 1374 in Gnosale, Staffordshire. He was still alive in 1409
- Goditha, if a daughter of that name existed, married Sir John Pulteney.
- Margaret, if a daughter of that name existed, married Walter Bozun of Buckinghamshire.
- Agnes, if a daughter of that name existed, married John le Hunt of Ashover.
She is identified as such by Rev S P H Stathum in "The Descent of the Family of Statham", who gives her father as Roger de Masci, as does Robert Thoroton in his "History of Nottinghamshire", and Stephen Glover in his "History of the County of Derby". In his "Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire", Cox gives her father as William or Roger Massey, and in the 1619 Visitation of Warwickshire, her father is said to have been William Massey. None of these sources, or any other I've come across, offer evidence for these claims (although of course the visitation pedigree should have been proved to the satisfaction of the heralds when it was drawn up). See her own page for more detail.
Ralph and Goditha were certainly married by 1359 (3), but judging by the fact their sons were clearly adults by the mid 1370s, it seems most likely they married nearer to 1350. Its unlikely to be much earlier than that as Goditha lived until 1418 (24).
"Derbyshire Feet of Fines 1323-1546" (Derbyshire Record Society, 1985), number 864, reads :
- Whilst there is no doubt that Ralph's wife was called Goditha (3)(24), identifying her as a member of the de Masci (Massy/Massey/Macy) family is not so clear cut.
"Westminster. Quindene of Michaelmas 1359. P[laintiff]: William de Lynton, parson of the church of Ilkeston, and Robert Mold, vicar of the church of Spondon. D[eforciant]: Ralph de Stathum and Goditha his wife. Concerning the manor of Morleye. Ralph and Goditha acknowledged the manor to be the right of William who, with Robert, had it of their gift. William and Robert granted and rendered it to Ralph and Goditha to hold to themselves and the male heirs of their bodies of the chief lord etc forever. Successive remainders to the heirs male of the body of Goditha, the heirs of the body of Goditha, Thomas de Stathum, Ralph's brother, and the male heirs of his body, and the right heirs of Goditha."
See his wife Goditha's page.
"Derbyshire Feet of Fines 1323-1546" (Derbyshire Record Society, 1985), number 890, reads :
"Westminster. Quindene of Michaelmas 1367. P[laintiff]: Robert Mold, parson of the church of Breydesale, and Henry de Adderleye. D[eforciant]: Ralph de Stathum and Godiva his wife. Concerning 1 mess. 2 tofts, 60a. land 12a. meadow 6s rent, a rent of 1 cock and 6 hens and an eighth part of a mill in Derby. Ralph and Godiva acknowledged these to be the right of Robert who, with Henry, had them of their gift. They remised and quitclaimed of, and warranted for themselves and the heirs of Godiva to Robert and Henry and the heirs of Robert. Robert and Henry gave 100 marks of silver"
The book "The Descent of the Family of Statham", By Rev S P H Statham, calls Ralph a knight (not to be confused with "knight of the shire"), however I don't believe that he was, as I have found no trace of him being referred to as such (even on his memorial in church (24), which I would certainly expect to have styled him so if he were entitled). Indeed the Close Roll of 1376 fails to call him a knight, alongside others who are given that title (16). No source is explicitly given for this claim in the book, but passing reference is made to a deed, in French, which was entered as evidence in the Massy pedigree given in Harleian MSS 1424, which is said to have been sworn by Sir Hugh de Calveleghe, Sir John de Burley, Sir John Deveraux, Sir Brian de Stapleton and Sir Rauf de Stathum. However, the transcript of this from Harleian 1424, in "The Visitation of Cheshire in the Year 1580", published by the Harleian Society names them as "Hugh de Calvelegh Ch'l'r, John de Burley Ch'l'r, John Deveraux Ch'l'r, Vrian de Stapleton Ch'l'r, et Rauf de Statum escuier". It also lists the four arms that the document is sealed with, which were those of the first four men named, but not of Ralph.
"Descent" also claims that he was a soldier, and speculates what battles he may have been in, but if offers absolutely no evidence for any of this, other than presumably inferring his military profession from the belief that he was a knight.
"Collections for a history of Staffordshire", New Series, Volume 8, contains an abstract of "The Register or ActBooks of the Bishops of Coventry and Lichfield, Book V". This lists a number of "Licenses for oratories, choosing confessors, studying, and other graces, from iiii Kal. Dec. 1360", and amongst them is "iii Non. Mart. To Ralph de Stathum for his oratry at Morley for 2 years". Later in the same document, amongst the entries for 1372, is "xvi Kal. Jun. At same . To Ralph de Stathom for his oratory at Caldelowe for 2 years".
In "Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire", Volume 4, page 327, Cox claims that Ralph had 9 other children besides his heir Thomas : "They had six other sons, Ralph, Richard, William, Nicholas, Piere and Robert, all of whom died without issue; also three daughters - Goditha, married to Sir John Poulteney, Margaret, to Walter Bohun, of Bucks; and Agnes, to Thomas Hurt". He offers no evidence for this.
"The Descent of the Family of Statham", By Rev S P H Statham claims that Ralph had a son Peter, but offers no evidence for the claim. It seems to be based on the fact that a Thomas, son of Ralph Stathum, who was a priest in Gnoushall was both assumed to be the brother of Peter, and also to be the same person as Ralph's son Thomas.
"The Descent of the Family of Statham", By Rev S P H Statham claims that Ralph had a son Nicholas, but offers no evidence for the claim. Indeed it states simply "Nicholas is not mentioned in any contemporary record". Nevertheless Rev Statham must obviously have had a reason for including him. I suspect there may an old pedigree in existence somewhere, which informed both Rev Statham and Charles Cox (8).
"The Descent of the Family of Statham", By Rev S P H Statham claims that Ralph had a daughter Goditha who married Sir John Pulteney, but offers no evidence for the claim. There was a Thomas Pulteney living in Leicestershire at the time, whose wife was called Goditha.
"The Descent of the Family of Statham", By Rev S P H Statham claims that Ralph had a daughter called Margaret who married Walter Bozun of Buckinghamshire, but offers no evidence for the claim.
"The Descent of the Family of Statham", By Rev S P H Statham claims that Ralph had a daughter Agnes who married John le Hunt of Ashover, but offers no evidence for the claim. There was a family of that name living at Overton Hall in Ashover at the time.
"Derbyshire and the English Rising of 1381" by David Crooks, Historical Research, Vol 60, Issue 141, Feb 1987, 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 added detail of the Statham family's activities. It can be found online here
"Calendar of the Close Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward 10, Vol X10", 1911, pages 611-612 contains the following entry dated December 10 1373 :
"To the sheriff of Licoln. Order to cause John Dymmok and John de Multon knights of the shire at the parliament summoned at Westminster on the morrow of St Edmund the King last to have of the commons of the county, except cities and boroughs from which citizens and burgesses came to the said parliament, 11li 12s for their expenses in coming thither, there abiding, and thence returning to their own again, namely 4s a day each for 29 days. The following have like writs: " [There then follows a list of expenses paid to all MPs for that particular parliament, which includes :] "Derbyshire. William Bakepuys and Ralph de Stathum 10li 16s for 27 days."
"Calendar of the Close Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward 10, Vol XIV", 1913, page 428 contains the following entry dated July 10 1376 :
"To the sheriff of Northumberland. Order to cause Robert Umframville knight and William Hesilrigge, knights of the shire coming to the parliament summoned at Westminster on Monday after st George last to have of the commons of the county, except cities and boroughs from which citizens and burgesses came thereto, 36li for their expenses in coming to the said parliament, there abiding, and thence returning to their own again, namely 4s a day each for 90 days. The following have like writs: " [There then follows a list of expenses paid to all MPs for that particular parliament, which includes :] "Derbyshire. Edmund de Applelby knight and Ralph de Stathum 32li for 80 days."
"Calendar of the Close Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Richard II, Vol I", 1920, pages 220-221 contains the following entry dated November 16 1378 :
"To John king of Castille and Leon and duke of Lancastre, or to his representative in the duchy. Writ de expensis for 16li in favour of John Botiler knight and Ralph de Ipre, knights of the duchy sent to the parliament summoned at Gloucestre on Wednesday after St Luke last, namely 4s a day each for 40 days. The like in favour of the following knights of the shire : " [There then follows a list of expenses paid to all MPs for that particular parliament, which includes :] "Derbyshire. Oliver de Barton and Ralph de Stathum 13li 12s for 34 days."
"Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward 10, Vol XIV", 1913, page 266 contains the following entry dated April 26 1369 :
"Commission to Ralph de Stathum of the county of Derby, Thomas Curson of the said county, John Folevill of Reresby, Robert de Colston, John Butterwyck, John Wilford, John Curson, William de Spayne and John Bourn, to arrest Geoffrey de Chaddesden, brother of the order of St Lazarus, professed in the order in the hospital of Burton Lazars, who is now a vagabond, as Nicholas de Dovorra, master of the hospital has signified to the king by letters patent, and deliver him to the said master to be chastised according to the rule of the order"
"Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward 10, Vol XVI", 1916, page 320 contains the following entry dated May 20 1376 :
"Commission to John de Grey of Codenore, Henry le Grey, Alfred Sully, Ralph de Braylesford, Nicholas de Knyvyngton, Peter de Legh, Ralph de Stathum and William de Sallowe, sheriff of Derby, to arrest in the said county William de Morton, Roger de Morton, John de Morton, Stephen de Bruggewode and Roger de Crossele, indicted of felonies, who having formaed a confederacy and gathered to themselves other malefactors to prevent the friends of Thomas Whelok, lately killed by them, from daring to prosecute them for their punishment, threatening to kill them and other of the king's lieges, wander about in the county committing intolerable damages; and to take security of them to do no injury to the friends of Thomas or any other of the king's people; and if they refuse to make such security, to commit them to the county gaol until they do, certifying the king thereof from time to time when they take such security"
"Calendar of the Fine Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Richard II, Vol IX", 1926, pages 162-164 contains the following entry dated August 8 1379 :
"Commission to Philip de Courtenay, Martin de Ferrers, John de Beaumont, William de Bonville and John Cary, on a report by many persons and clear evidence that the taxers and assessors in the county of Devon of the subsidy granted to the king in the last Parliament have either wilfully or by negligence omitted some persons from the assessment and assessed others too favourably, so that the sum assessed on the county is much less than it ought to be, - to search, examine, and inform themselves by all ways and means whether any persons of the county have by favour or negligence been omitted from the assessment or assessed at a smaller sum than they ought according to the terms of the grant to pay, and if there are any such, to assess them anew and certify the collectors of the subsidy in the said county by indentures touching the sums so assessed and the persons from whom they ought to be levied, and to control the said new assessments by such indentures, and testify upon the accountof the collectors at the Exchequer; and order to them, on their faith and allegiance and on pain of forfeiture of all that they can forfeit, to go from place to place within the county and fulfil the said commission, putting aside all other matters and ceasing from all excuse. The like to the following in the counties named : " [There then follows a list of commissioners appointed for other counties, which includes :] "Henry de Grey of Shirland, Nicholas de Langeford, Oliver de Barton, Ralph de Stathum, Alfred de Sulne and John Curson of Ketilston; Derby"
"Calendar of the Fine Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Richard II, Vol IX", 1926, pages 185-186 contains the following entry dated March 4 1380 :
"Commission to John Leg, William Weston, John Olyver, Robert Savage, Hugh Taverner and Roger Lumbard to levy, collect and receive for the king's use from all cities, boroughs, towns, secular lords of towns, and others both great and small in the county of Surrey, except the town of Suthwerk, and from all ecclesiatical persons in respect of the goods forthcoming from lands acquired by them since 20 Edward I, the fifteenth and a half and tenth and a half of moveable goods which was granted to the king in the Parliament convoked at Westminster on Monday after Hilary last, to wit, a fifteenth and a tenth as a pure and free gift, and a half-a-fifteenth and half-a-tenth as a pure advance or loan until the next Parliament; provided always that the secular lords of towns and others aforesaid contribute in respect of all their goods acquired as above, and that answer be made at the Exchequer or other place appointed at the feast of St George next. And order to them to go from town to town and from place to place, etc as above. The like to the following in the counties named : " [There then follows a list of commissioners appointed for other counties, which includes :] "Ralph de Stathum, John Foucher, Thomas de Cokfeld, Nicholas de Padeley, William le Porter of Wyrkesworth, William de Selyok of Sharesdale, William de Ingwarby and Robert Caus; Derby"
"Calendar of the Patent Rolls preserved in the Public Record Office, Edward 10, Vol XVI", 1916, page 189 contains the following entry dated November 6 1375 :
"Pardon, at the supplication of Hugh de Calvyley, captain of Calais, to Ralph son of Ralph de Stathum of the king's suit for the death of Robert de Eyton of Morley, whereof he is indicted or appealed, and of any consequent outlawry"
See his son Thomas's page for details
"The Descent of the Family of Statham", By Rev S P H Statham, page 32, includes a transcription of an inscription in Morley church: "Orate pro anima Radulphi de Stathum quondam domini de Morley qui istam capellam fierifecit et obiit xiii die Junii anno domini Mccclxxx et pro anima Godythe uxoris sue nuper domine de Morley predicto que presentem ecclesiam cum campanili de novo construxit que obiit xvi die Maii Anno domini Mccccxviii quaram animarum et pro eisdem exorantium propicietur deus Amen"
"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."
There exists some detail from the will of John Stathum of Stathum in Cheshire, but I have not yet managed to consult the original for myself (or find a transcript, which I believe may well exist in one of the volumes of the "Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records"). For now I only have some slightly contradictory notes on it. In Vol 45 (1923) of the Derbyshire Archaelogical Journal, Rev SPH Stathum states "John, ... by a deed enrolled in the court of Chester in 1405 (6 Hen iv, f. 9) left 'all his lands, tenements, rents and services in the ville of Lymme, Lymbothes and Stahum' to his son John and his heirs male, with remainder to (his nephew) Thomas, son of Ralph de Stathum, with remainder to William, son of Ralph de Stathum, and failing male issue to all or any of these legatees with remainder to his right heirs", and a little later concerning Ralph "we have seen how his brother John named his two eldest nephews Thomas and William, his heirs, failing issue to his own sons". A little later, Rev Stathum expanded on his paper in the DAJ in his book "The Descent of the Family of Statham", but by then his version of this had changed to "By a deed enrolled in the Chester Court in 1405 (CPR 6 Hen IV f9), we learn that John de Stathum, son and heir of Hugh de Stathum, gave to John de Stathum his son, and to the heirs male of his body legitimately begotten, all his lands, tenements, rents and services, with all their appurtenances, in the vill of Lymme, Lymbothes and Stathum. Failing such heirs to his son John he demised his estates to his son Thomas and his heirs male, with remainder to Richard, son of Ralph Stathum, and, failing heirs of Richard, to the heirs of William, son of Ralph de Stathum". More recently, in his paper "Central England and the revolt of the Earls, January 1400", published in Historical Research Vol 64, Issue 155, pp 403-410, David Crook states "In 1405 John de Stathum, Ralph's brother, arranged to leave his lands in Lymm, Lymm Booths and Statham to his nephews Thomas, Richard and William de Stathum of Morley, in that order, if his own male line should fail", and he references CHES 29/108, rot 9, which is the same item under today's classification. My expectation from comparing these accounts, is that David Crooks' will prove to be the most reliable, thus indicating that Ralph's eldest three (if not only three) sons alive, towards the end of the life of their uncle John (between 1391 and 1405), were, in probable order of age, Thomas, Richard and William.
His date of birth is simply estimated from his approximate date of marriage and birth of his own children.. He is believed to be the son of Hugh de Stathum, of Stathum, but there is no direct evidence of such, and so this stands ready to be disproven. However, it seems a solid enough hypothesis to me. From an entry in the Chester Plea Rolls (26) we see that John de Stathum son of Hugh de Stathum of Stathum, had a brother Ralph with sons of the same name, and apparent respective age, as Ralph de Stathum of Morley. John had evidently inherited the family estate from his father, implying that he was the eldest son. His mention of Ralph's sons as potential heirs, but no mention of brother Thomas or any children of his, would imply either that he was already dead without issue, or that no such brother existed (See Hugh's page for details).