Sunday, 16 December 2012

Who Was... Thomas de Mussenden?

According to Reverend Edmund Lynold, in his book about the owners of Healing Manor, Thomas Mussenden "was brought up in the warres in the time of Richard ye second and was captaine of the Castle of [….] in Fraunce". Thomas was a member of the famous Mussenden family, owners of much land within Healing, Aylesby, and Buckinghamshire, and also lord of healing Manor in the fourteenth century.We will examine his transition to Healing Manor in a later article about the legal process in his occupation.

Thomas was born in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, sometime in the late 1350's. He began work in the service of King Edward III, mostly as a butler, but also assisting in the wars in France. By 1359, he had acquired enough wealth to become a captain of a small band of men in the king's final campaign against France. In his efforts in the war, he served under John of Gaunt, the 1st Duke of Lancaster. After the campaign, as a reward, he became a knight of the shire for Buckinghamshire in 1363 and 1365. Thomas married Isabelle Brocas, which formed an alliance with the Brocas family and brought him land in Lincolnshire. Their support would later prove critical for the rest of the fourteenth century.

In 1379, Thomas returned to England, and married Joan, daughter of Sir Robert Hawley, lord of the manor at Mablethorpe. Thomas and his wife took up residence at Healing, and became a friend of Sir John de Helyng, who was also mentioned as living in Healing in the census issued by Edward III. The Helyng family had held Healing Manor since the 12th century, and had some great renown.

By the time Thomas returned from his latest military campaign in France, he had amassed enough wealth to buy land from Sir John de Helyng. Thomas now owned land in Aylesby, Great Coates, Little Coated and Healing. Thomas added the coat of arms of Healing to his own, enforcing his authority on the area.

John of Gaunt died some time in 1398, and five months later, in February 1399, his exiled son, Henry of Bolingbroke, landed in the Humber on a lost spit of land known as the Ravenspur, which stretched, according to some sources, from Healing. At this time, the ruling king, Richard II, was fighting in Ireland, and Henry was able to ally himself with the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Under his guidance, Henry began confiscating land. Thomas Mussenden quickly became one of his appointees in the regional network Henry was setting up, and subsequently became 'esquire of the king' only a fortnight after his coronation.

Later, in 1400, Thomas was asked to help the king in an effort to assert his authority in Scotland. Thomas gathered together  archers, and travelled to York, perhaps in the hope of forming an allegiance with the king. However, the campaign failed, and Thomas went home profitless.

Thomas died shortly before the 21 February 1404. A stained glass window was once put up in Healing Church, which no longer survives. It was supposed to be spectacular, depicting Thomas in full military glory. His wife Joan went on to marry William Hilton.

From my research, it seems that the Ravenspur, that Edward IV also landed on in 1471, has been washed up by the tides, and nothing remains.
What an incredible tale! I hope you have enjoyed this,

You can view Thomas' will by clicking this link here.
More information about the purchase of Healing Manor.


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