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July 2016, Margaret de Buslingthorpe, 1369, Bothamsall. Nottinghamshire

Copyright: Jon Bayliss

    In Margaret de Buslingthorpe's case something went wrong. Nearly five years after Margaret died, a commission was given to Thomas de Folkerthorp, parson of the church of Botheby, John Poucher and Ralph de Thresk to conduct an inquisition into the lands she held in the counties of Lincoln and Nottingham. The Lincolnshire part of the process seemed straightforward as regards the manors of Buslingthorpe and Wrawby and the advowson of Buslingthorpe church but ran into difficulty with Wellingore, where the jurors could not establish the annual value. They also reported that Sir John de Multon, Robert Deyvill, parson of Buslingthorpe, James de Rye, parson of Wathe, Nicholas de Troubrigg of Nottinghamshire and William de Wrauby were in possession of her lands but did not know by what title. They believed and supposed that a distant cousin, 30 year old Isabel de Buslingthorpe, descended from Margaret's great-great-great-grandfather, was her next heir. In Nottinghamshire, the escheator surprisingly reported that she held no lands (the manor of Bothamsall had descended to her paternal grandfather in 1326) but that 24 year old Ralph de Bracebrigg, descended from Margaret's great-grandfather was her next heir. A further inquisition in Lincolnshire detailed Margaret's lands in Wellingore and noted that she had alienated them during her lifetime to Sir John de Multon and the others named in the first inquisition. It confirmed that Ralph de Bracebrigg was her next heir.

    In the Calendar of Close Rolls for Henry IV's reign, a document dated 7 November 1409 demonstrated just how deficient the inquisition had been when it confirmed Sir Ralph Bracebrigg's estate in Holbeach, Fleet, Arnflete, Algakirk and Kirton and the advowson of a chapel, all of which had been held by Laurence de Holbeche,  Margaret de Buslingthorpe's maternal great-grandfather and descended to her through her father, Sir Richard. Her father had been fifteen years old when he was named as one of Laurence's co-heirs in the latter's IPM in 1321. Margaret had demised these lands by charter to Sir John de Multon and Robert Deyvill, rector of Buslingthorpe, and their heirs for forty years at £10 a year and 40 shillings a year thereafter. Sir Ralph had entered the estate as her cousin and heir and occupied it in default of payment. Sir Ralph's father, also Sir Ralph, who died in 1395, had successfully pressed his better claim to the manor of Wrawby and the manor and advowson of Buslingthorpe against Thomas de Dale and his wife Isabel in a covenant registered in the court of Common Pleas in 1383, Isabel presumably being the Isabel de Buslingthorp named as Margaret's next heir by the jurors of the first inquisition of her lands in Lincolnshire, as it is specified that it is Thomas, Isabel and her heirs who have remised and quitclaimed.

    Richard de Buslingthorpe, through his late mother, Eva, and her three half-sisters were Laurence de Holbeche's coheirs in 1321. Margaret, aged 24, was married to Robert Deyvill, Mabel, 22, to John de Multon, and Christiana was a child of 12. John Blair's notes to the Buslingthorpe pedigree he had compiled to illustrate his article reveal that Margaret was still a minor at the time of her death, so it looks as if her grandmother's half-sisters' families were the ones who had arranged for Margaret to demise her lands to them. Her de Buslingthorpe family, which had included three great-uncles in 1324, was obviously very sparse after the Black Death given the distant cousins named as heirs in her IPM.

    There is a possibility that Margaret was the Margaret de Boslingthorpe, relict of Roger de Croyeby, donsel (student), whose whole income worth 400 marks (£133 6s 8d) had been seized by Sir Roger Hansard, who had destroyed buildings and manor walls, wasted the woods, and alienated Margaret's lands and possessions. This, Margaret contended, was the result of a pretended espousal and marriage. She petitioned the Pope, initially Innocent VI (died 12 September 1362) and then Urban V, for a declaration of nullity. In 1363, the Bishop of Lincoln was directed to sequestrate all of Margaret's manors, lands and possessions in order to give Sir Roger a fair portion of their fruits for his sustenance during the hearing, a request to do this being part of her petition. If Margaret had been close to reaching the age of 21 at the time of her death, this identification is feasible, allowing for a marriage at a young age to another youngster, which a student was likely to be, and his death soon after.



This month's brass was discovered around 1920 during work on the floor of the chancel of the church of Our Lady and St Peter, Bothamsall, but did not become more widely known until the 1960s and later.


L A S Butler published a short piece in the Transactions of the Thoroton Society for 1963, illustrated by a line drawing of the brass, which had lost most of its marginal inscription. He ascribed it to Margaret de Buslingthorpe, a conclusion reinforced by John Blair's study of the monuments of her father and grandfather, 'The Buslingthorpes and Their Monuments', published in the Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society for 1978. It was not until 1997 that a rubbing of the brass was illustrated in a later volume of the same transactions. The church was a chapel of the parish of Elkesley, itself a possession of Welbeck Abbey, until the Reformation but presumably had the right to bury inhabitants of the village.

    The identification of the brass as that of Margaret de Buslingthorpe is straightforward. The brass is in the London B style of about 1370, Margaret died in Bothamsall on 8 August 1369 and the remaining part of the Latin inscription has 'nono' (nine) immediately before the concluding prayer for her soul, exactly where the last word of the year of death would be expected. Margaret was an heiress, hence the survival of documentary evidence of her death in the form of an inquisition post mortem (IPM). When a person who held land directly or indirectly from the king died, a writ was issued to the escheators of the counties where it was thought the deceased held that land. Each escheator would investigate and with the help of a jury return the results of the inquisition, detailing the land, how it was held, what it was worth and who were the heirs. Most writs were issued shortly after the subject's death and the inquisitions generally took place within a year.


References:

John Blair, 'The Buslingthorpes and Their Monuments', Transactions of the Monumental Brass Society vol 12 part 4 (1978), 265-270

Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: Edward II (1910), 164-165

Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: Edward III (1952), vol 14, 48-51

Calendar of Close Rolls: Henry IV, vol 4 (1932), 59-60

http://www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk/fines/abstracts/CP_25_1_143_144.shtml (CP 25/1/143/144, number 23) [accessed 5 July 2016]

'Regesta 253: 1363-1364', in Calendar of Papal Registers Relating To Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 4, 1362-1404, ed. W H Bliss and J A Twemlow (London, 1902), pp. 36-47. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-papal-registers/brit-ie/vol4/pp36-47 [accessed 6 July 2016].

'Volume XXXIX: 2 Urban V', in Petitions to the Pope 1342-1419, ed. W H Bliss (London, 1896), pp. 465-481. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/petitions-to-pope/1342-1419/pp465-481 [accessed 5 July 2016].