There are three eldest sons, father, son, and grandson, in direct succession to Sir John Sinclair. His heir Sir Philip, whom Burke's Peerage describes as
‘Sir Philip St.Clere, knt., M.P. for Sussex in 1377’, married Joan de Audley; and it was by her right that Farthingo and Stean in Northamptonshire came to one of his successors. Her father was Sir James de Audley of Wold, son of Hugh de Audley, earl of Gloucester, one of the six earls created by Edward III in 1337, on the occasion of making his son Richard duke of Cornwall, the first use in England of the ordinary ducal title. James had perhaps still higher rank than his father, by being one of the twenty-six knights in the list headed by Edward III and his son Edward, prince of Wales, who are known as the founders of the order of the garter. One of these Audleys, covered with wounds, was publicly acknowledged by the Black Prince after the battle of Cressy, as being the most valiant that day, of all his heroic Englishmen. The Stanleys, of whom the earls of Derby are the chief representatives, changed their original name of Audley to what it is. The historical fame of the Audleys and Stanleys belongs to the same male stock. The king's cousin, the beautiful countess of Salisbury, was the occasion of the famous institution of which the motto is Honi soit qui mal y pense, and which has always preserved twenty-six as the number of its select knights. William Montacute, the earl of Salisbury, was one of the founders, whose family contributed estates to these Sinclairs, as has been seen.
Sir James, the knight of the garter, had connection to Farthingo and Steen through his mother, who was Margaret Bereford, daughter of Sir William Bereford of these properties, and of Langley, Warwickshire. The Berefords played their part in the reigns of Edward III and Richard II. On the young king Edward seizing the government from his mother Isabella, and from her favourite, Roger Mortimer, earl of March, Sir Simon Bereford as one of her party was executed in 1330, and in 1388 Sir Baldwin was banished as a favourite of the latter monarch. The fortunes of all the set hang around that dramatic entrance by underground passage of Edward III, with Montacute, three Bohuns, and others, into his mother's apartment in Nottingham Castle, and seizure of Mortimer, despite the queen's “Bel Fitz, Bel Fitz, ayez pitie du gentile Mortimer”. The amazing thing is that the “gentle” gallant had then four sons and seven daughters. Their father's position seemed only to have made the daughters the more popular, their marriages being the best possible in the kingdom, such as those with Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, Hastings, earl of Pembroke, and others similar.
But it is his daughter Joan, or as some say Margaret, Mortimer, that has present interest, having married James, lord Audley. It was their daughter, named also Joan, who was wife of Sir Philip St.Clere of Igtham and Grinstead; and in her person she centred some of the courtliest traditions and most royal relationships of the period. The earldom of Gloucester seems never far from St.Clairs, from Robert, the “knight of Rye”, downwards through Mandevilles, Clares, Audleys, and, it might be found, the Despensers besides; so strongly tenacious have Norman natures been of the rights and delights of consanguinity. The three heiresses of the Clares married, the eldest, Eleanor, to Hugh Despenser, the son; Margaret, first to the notorious favourite Piers Gaveston, and second to Lord Audley, the father of James; and Elizabeth to William de Burgh, earl of Ulster, and other two succeeding husbands, as the History of Cambria tells fully. But this sea of best genealogies of the time is to be shunned now with care.
Sir Philip and his lady, Joan de Audley, had Thomas Sinclair as eldest son. He was one of the heroes of Agincourt, who “fought with us upon St.Crispin's day”, to take the words of King Harry V, as dramatised. In the roll of the Sussex men who were there, “Thomas Sencler” appears as one of the five armigeri who, with the earl of Arundel and Surrey, and lords Cobham and Camoys, were the officers of this contingent, consisting mostly of archers. The earl led them to Dover, but he fell ill, and lords Cobham and Camoys were their leaders on the battle-field. Both of these appear to have been of the same lineage as the heir of Igtham. But this will find its evidence in connection with the descendants of Hugo St.Clare of Aeslingham.
After the siege and taking of Harfleur, King Henry was returning with his sick troops to England, by way of Calais. Met by many times their number of French, who barred the passage northwards, he secured against all hope and likelihood perhaps the greatest, at all events, the most joyful, victory in English record. The strangest tales are told of the consequences of the flux which afflicted his army even before it left England. At Agincourt it made them exhibit the berserker fury to an unparalleled degree of heroism. Thomas was one of those who outlived that day, and came home to Kent and Sussex. It would seem, however, that he succumbed soon after, whether from illness or wounds. His death certainly took place in 1416, and the battle being on 25th October 1415, the likelihood is that his decease was the effect of that trying campaign and victory.
His wife was Margaret Philpott, daughter of Sir John Philpott, lord mayor of London. As an alderman, he got knighted at the same time as Sir William Walworth, who was then lord mayor, because of his aid in arresting and slaying the rebel Wat Tyler at Smithfield. Sir William had £100 a year of pension given for his courageous deed, and Sir John Philpott and two other aldermen £40 a year each for ever for their services to the young king, Richard, at the crisis of England's most dangerous rebellion. Tindal speaks of Philpott as the “famous”, and Walsingham gives support to this enthusiasm of his.
When Edward III died, his grandson and successor Richard II was only eleven, and a regency was appointed of his three uncles and others. His eldest uncle was the duke of Lancaster, called king of Castile, and he was quite as proud as a Spaniard. The parliament would not trust the regents with money. Says Rapin, after showing that the parliament granted a subsidy for war,
‘but it was clogged with this condition, that the money should be lodged in the hands of Philpott and Walworth, two eminent aldermen of London, who were ordered to take care it should be expended only in repulsing the French and Castilians in league against England’. Cotton's Abridgement gives details: two fifteenths and two tenths out of cities and burghs, the fifteenths of all lands, and tenths of all goods, to be levied before Candlemas, and deposited in the hands of William Walworth and John Philpott, merchants of London. Lancaster stopped defence of the sea-coasts till he got the money.
Meanwhile piracies were going on, and John Philpott gained high honour from occasion. Mercer, a Scotch pirate, had taken merchantmen out of the harbour at Scarborough, and was proceeding to further brilliancies, when Philpott fitted out some ships at his own expense, and putting, a thousand soldiers on board, went in quest of the pirate, found him, defeated him, and brought him prisoner to London in 1378, to the admiration of the people generally, and to the dangerous jealousy of the regency. Several of Rapin's paragraphs are devoted to the fame of Thomas Sinclair's energetic father in-law. “The king of Kent” was not the first of his kind whom honest Philpott looked out of countenance, and out of rebellious life. A lady of the distinguished Sandford family was his own wife, and he himself appears as a miles.
The Tyler rising was in 1381, and three years after Sir John Philpott died. This daughter then could not but be young, her marriage to Thomas Sinclair, the heir of Sir Philip, taking place necessarily however before 1395. She married a second time. One of the monumental tablets of the church of Greyfriars, which was situated where Christ's Hospital now is, Newgate Street, had the following inscription, preserved from the barbarous destruction which overtook that place of sepulture for the great:
‘Margaret, daughter of the baron John Philpott, lord mayor, and knight beforesaid, and wife of Thomas Sinclair, armsbearing, and afterwards of John Nelond, arms-bearing: she died 18th Sept 1438’. On the same tablet when perfect, there was account of her father, as this survival shows.
Bridges in his History of Northamptonshire gives further knowledge. Describing Wold, Orlingbury hundred, in that county, he says Thomas Seyntcler died 4 Henry V (1416), which is the year after Agincourt, possessing jointly with Margaret his wife a manor in Wold, which he left to Philip his son and heir. Thomas heired it from his mother's family, the Audleys; but it is possible that Sir John Philpott may have had land there also, and that some of the Wold properties were Margaret's dowry. In 20 Edward III (1347) the Audleys had them.Thomas de Audley had heired his brother William, and himself dying left an only daughter Elizabeth under age. A suggestive record of 10 Richard II (1386) says that her guardians were, Wm. Montague, earl of Salisbury, and John de Ros.
The result of Sinclair's city connection is sufficiently indicated by a charter in the British Museum, which shows him to have had a grant of Southwark in 1415; and this at once helps to explain the wealth of Sir John Philpott and the parallel prosperity of Thomas Sinclair of Igtham's brother, Sir Philip of Burstow. As this was thirty-five years after the lord mayor's death, it must have come to Margaret Sinclair or Philpott by lapse of heirships, the Philpotts having much London house property.
Of Philip Sinclair, the eldest son of Thomas and of Margaret Philpott, less is known than of any of the line. He was twenty-one when his father's properties came to him, 4 Henry V (1417); and he, with paternal traditions of victorious war so recent, must have followed King Henry in his triumphal conquest of the kingdom of France. Much may yet be discovered of his doings, if so; but, for the present, it is certain that he died without issue, the too general fate of the soldier of that brilliant period. His mother, Margaret Philpott, with her second husband, got Wold manor in 5 Henry VI (1427) which was in Philip's possession. She gets it, however, not from her son, or on her son's death, but from his cousin-german. The latter heired it by lineage, and it would seem on his cousin Philip's death, giving it over to Margaret Philpott and her husband John Nelond, armiger.
The duke of Bedford, regent of France after the death of his brother Henry V, was a personal friend of the Sinclairs of Aldham; so much so that he bought part of their property near Aldham St.Clere, where he resided usually when in England. It might point inquiry, to say that Philip Sinclair spent his life chiefly with him in Paris; which would account for how little appears of him, wealthy and splendidly connected as he was, in the survivals of this country. If he died in 1427, as has been supposed, the dream of English continental supremacy had not been to him dashed for ever by the hysterical furies of the Maid, so appalling to his brave fellow-countrymen. Of the French wars of those two able brothers, Henry V and the duke of Bedford, much has yet to be gleaned.
It is of genealogical interest that the “lord of St.Cler” was one of the Norman-French earls who fell at Agincourt, but the doings of another Sinclair in France are too characteristic to be passed. The contemporary chronicle of the religieux of St.Denis, 1380-1422, tells in vigorous monkish Latin of the personal strength and high gallantry of “Messire Bruneau de Saint Clair”, and of how he figured in the struggle for the regency between the dukes of Orleans and Burgundy, the brother and uncle of the sun-struck Charles VI. In 1414 this king warred against the duke of Burgundy; and so serious was the war expected to be that he went first to St.Denis monastery, to take with all ceremonies the oriflamme, the standard raised when France was in danger, to lead his army. To “Messire de Bruneau de Saint Clair” and to the ”Sire d'Aumont” it was given for last defence, as the bravest men of all the French. It was made of silk of a gold and flame colour, with three flying points, and eighteen divisions. The flag was of no great size, if pictures may be trusted; but it thrilled the patriotism of the country to its highest when displayed. After Joan of Arc drove the English from their conquest, the white coronet has been the banner of the country. The earls of Vexin had hereditary claim to carry the oriflamme; and, as St.Cler is in the Normandy Vexin, Bruneau must have had this to aid him to his office. By the “Sire de Bacqueville” on similar occasion he was again selected for his known gallantry and physical strength. One of his military duties was at command of the king to go, with a marshal, Bouciault, and the count de St.Pol, against bands of brigands qui infestaient le pays chartrain. They were, in those troublous times, of all ages from fifteen upwards, but short work did these three make of them. When the Armagnac party were devastating as they pleased, he drilled the inhabitants so thoroughly that they swept them back entirely out of that part of the country. In that time of faction, when coups-de-etat were as common as in days of civilisation, Parisian modern, Bruneau Sinclair was made provost of Paris, as of the Burgundian party. When a change came he was re-established in his functions of grand maitre de l'hotel du roi, the office so well known in French history as mayor of the palace.
But though France and England were one country in the days of Henry V and of his brother, enough has been here said of Bruneau. That he should be dapifer or seneschal then, points to the hereditary faculty of high ride in his lineage. It might be a pity, however, to pass one rather isolated fact of the wars of Henry V, which has double genealogical interest, namely, that in 1417 the castle of St.Cler on the Epte, whence the name came, was put under the governorship of Sir William Basset. The Bassets had been of close affinity to the Sinclairs in England, and King Henry and Sir William knew this, and acted and benefited accordingly.
Whether Philip St.Clair of Igtham figured under the English rulers of France, is more probable than provable, till further evidence is found. He is the last of these three eldest sons in succession.