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SIR PHILIP OF BURSTOW AND HIS SONS

There were three Philips altogether, and he of Burstow was the second son of Sir Philip of Igtham, and the uncle of the Philip who died without issue. He was the brother therefore of Thomas Sinclair of Igtham, the warrior of Agincourt. Baker, in his History of Northamptonshire, is authority for Sir Philip of Burstow being the younger of the two brothers; but how then is it that Sir Philip dies in 1408 possessed of nearly all the paternal estates (see the Calendar of Inquisitions after Death), and his brother Thomas dies in 1416, having Igtham and Little Preston chiefly ? Could there be gavelkind or parage of such sort as to make the younger brother's portion the larger of the two ? Or did the elder elect the soldier's life of adventure for new possessions, and leave the other the provision of money and the mastery of the bulk of the lands ? Fees were partible; and the first Philip of all, their father, may have favoured his namesake. Certainly the weight of influence and property follows with the younger; for it is better to accept the recognised account, since it does not affect anything which was the first-born, Thomas's line dying out in his son Philip, and much if not all of their properties going to Sir Philip of Burstow's sons.

However he came to possess so much of his father's lands, he had faculty, and did not rest content with what he had. In 44 Edward III (1371) he made a great marriage, which increased his already large estate. But the right version perhaps is that he made this marriage first as a younger son, and that then his power brought him the paternal and fraternal kindnesses, on his proved capability of clever deeds. What aids this is that he took his usual title from Burstow and Godstone, in Surrey, which he had by his wife. She was Margaret de Louvaine or Lorraine, and the widow of Sir Richard Chamberlain of Sherburne, Oxfordshire, and of Cotes. The only sister of an only brother, Sir Nicolas de Louvaine, she heired him, and brought his properties to her husbands, with the latter of whom they remained, for his family.

The father of Sir Nicolas and Margaret, was also Sir Nicolas, and he had married the widow of Sir John de Pulteney of Offspring, Kent, held by “a yearly rose”, getting Offspring and other estates with her. Sir John de Pulteney was lord mayor of London, and gained also high political fame. Penshurst, in Kent, he got the privilege of embattling for his residence as a baron of the kingdom. It was he who by wit, or by being the cause of it in others, made roses, red and white, peaceful and bloody, current in English mouths. Quite a galaxy of London plain but warm-hearted humour gathers around his name and surroundings. The Poultry of Cheapside is a change of Pulteney's name, just as Buckingham or the Duke's Foot Lane there became Ducksfoot Lane, and Green Lattice Lane, Green Lettuce. Shakespeare, in King Henry VIII has the authenticating lines, “The duke, being at the Rose, within the parish of St.Laurence, Poulteney …”

The lord mayor gave his name to the whole district thus, and “The Rose” had as often the title of “Pulteney's Inn”. “Cold Harbour”, in Thames Street, however, was oftener “Pulteney's Inn”, another of the mansions of this great draper. He gave Cold Harbour to Humfrey de Bohun, earl of Hereford and Essex, for a rose at midsummer to him and his heirs. In 1533 it became “Shrewsbury House” for Francis Talbot, the fifth earl, but reached ultimately the very reverse side of high fortune. Sir John had property in many parts of London, even as far east as Stepney; but it was from where the Mansion House stands, and towards the river, he held most largely. “The Rose”, says Thornbury, in his Old and New London, “was a spacious mansion, originally built by Sir John Pulteney, knight, five times lord mayor of London in the reign of Edward III”. He adds that the Hollands, De la Poles, Staffords, Courtenays, and Ratcliffes all enjoyed it subsequently.

These Louvaines were a branch of the dukes of Lorraine, of whom Tasso's Godfrey of Boulogne (for on Stow's authority it is the same family) is the most renowned among many such; and they had large baronies in England such as Eye in Suffolk, and the honour of Bononia, so long in the king's hands. The beautiful Adeliza, or Alice Louvaine, second queen of Harry I, and afterwards countess of an Albeni earl of Arundel, was of this family. But the remarkable Percy earls of Northumberland, were really Louvaines, Joscelin, Queen Adeliza's brother, having married the heiress of the Normandy Percies on condition of changing his name. The descendant of Charlemagne, he is another proof of the monopoly of great deeds in world history by great breeds.

The renowned “Hotspur” of Chevy Chase, or the battle of Otterburne, in which James, earl of Douglas, was slain, dying in the arms of Sir John Sinclair, was one of them. Though he and his brother, Sir Ralph Percy (Louvaine), were taken prisoners, they had good right to be brave. He fell performing prodigies of valour at the battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. Shakespeare has immortalised him, had he never been one of the heroes of Chevy Chase. In the Genealogia Europae of Henninges, published 1598, both the sons of a Sinclarus, are with James Douglas at Otterburne in 1388, Johannes and Gualtherus. John Sinclair is made father of William, comes Orcadensis. This earl of Orkney appears as father of John, bishop of Brechin. Though this is short, and difficult to fit with some pedigrees, it is of considerable value in the reference to Otterburne, where the Louvaines and St.Clares so strangely cross. Sir John, father of the earl of Orkney, was next in command to Douglas, and had the honour of the Louvaines as his prisoners. The present duke of Hamilton owes much of his position to heiring these Sinclairs and Douglases, who were intermarried frequently. Sanquhar or St.Clair, the caput baroniae of Nithsdale, was held by the Hamiltons at one time. Shakespeare, in Henry V, says that the Louvaines were “sole heirs male of the true line and stock of Charles the Great”. The foreigners discovered the greatness of lord mayors of London long ago, and brave ones lived even before Sir Richard Whittington of the fifteenth century.

That Sir Philip of Burstow had city sympathies as well as affinities and real heirship, the following charter of 20 Richard II (1396) shows: ‘Philip Sinclair, chevalier, and others, for the church of All Saints at Fenn in Roperia, London, two messuages in the parish of All Saints called “The Coldeherburgh”, for enlarging the church, and making a cemetery’. Here is the history of “Fenchurch” Street in short compass; and the Cold Harbour of Sir John Pulteney had, before 1397, come by the right of his wife to Sir Philip Sinclair. He must have had high public spirit, or interest in other London properties, to have gifted these messuages of fame and value. Making an intramural cemetery then, was the most advanced sanitary city improvement. Over these favoured citizens' dust, so provided with a shapely resting-place, the office, the street, and the cab have long since taken permanent position, Bunhill Fields being modern compared with the graveyard of the Fen Church in the rope-making waste of ancient London. It is noteworthy as a survival that there is a Cold Harbour near St.Clere, Kemsing, Kent.

Blomfield, in his History of Norfolk, says that this Sir Philip was lord of Wethersfield and Bradfield, in Suffolk, in Henry IV's time, but on his death he possessed only the former. How he got either of them, by what degree of consanguinity to the Sinclairs of Bradfield, or if by purchase, or if from the crown on the death of Pain St.Clair as escheat, is open for inquiry. It is difficult to believe that lineage by exact steps could be reckoned, though both houses were descendants of Richard of 1066; three hundred years upwards being very estranging except with the most fortunate of families.

In 1405 Sir Philip was sheriff of Sussex. Among the Harleian charters this is to be found about his wife and himself, dated 7 Henry IV (1406): ‘Acquittance of Elizabeth Mortayne to Philip Sinclair and his wife Margaret, for 10 marks of annual pension, and 20 marks from the manor of Tyllesworth’. But what will throw most light on their histories are the lists of their possessions, from the Calendar of Inquisitions after Death. Sir Philip's was taken 9 Henry IV (1408) and his wife Margaret de Louvaine died the next year, for hers is taken 10 Henry IV (1409).

Philip Saintclere: Cheseberg manor, Somerset; Swaffham Prior manor, Cambridgeshire; Wethersfield manor, Suffolk; Barton St.John manor, Staunton St.John manor, a certain manor in Chalgrave, as from the honour of Wallingford, Oxfordshire; Lagham manor, as from the manor of Tandridge, Merden manor, Heggecourt manor, Burstow manor, Leweland manor, tenement in the manor of Lagham beforesaid called Stroudland, Hegecote manor, parcel called Shavenore as from the manor of Shiffield, and other parcels of the aforesaid manor of Hegecote called Lyllye, Wimbledon manor and service, Surrey; Laverty or Lanerty manor, Torringe manor, Brembletye manor, Hegton manor, Jevington manor, tenement in Meresfield called Newnham, as from the honour of Leicester, Nuttborne manor, Chudham manor, Excete manor, Ashdoune forest, service of the honour of Aquila, Sussex; Ashby Magna manor, as from the honour of Peverell, Leicestershire; West Aldham manor, as from the castle of Eynesford, Kemsing, half of 180 acres of land from the manor of Wodeland, Wodeland, 80 acres of land as from the manor of Otford in gavelkind, the returns of Lullington Castle, Yemesfield manor, as from the castle of Tunbridge, Penshurst manor and Otford manor, tenement then called South Park, Falkham manor, Eshore Park, tenement in Penshurst called Lathehames, Sutton-at-Hone manor, Chiddington tenement called Mercheshopes, Remesleghes manor, Penshurst tenement called Hameden, Chidingston manor, Bytberwe tenement called Hereland, Leghe manor, Leghe tenement called Bernestesgrof, and the park called North Park, Faukham manor, Kent.

Margaret, the wife of Philip Seinclere: Zeneford manor as from Tunbridge Castle, Penshurst manor as from the manor of Otford, South Park, 80 acres of land named as from the manor of Faukham, Eshore Park, tenement called Netherham as from the manor of Sutton-at-Hone, Chidingston tenement called Marcheshope as from the manor of Romesley, Chydington manor land, Hoveland in Betterberwe, land as from the manor of Leghe, Leghe land, called Blackheath, Bernetsgrove, North Park, and 100 acres of adjacent land, Kent. These formed her portion after the death of her husband, the bulk of the property being put under guardianship for their sons, John and Thomas, the elder of whom was only twelve at the decease of his father. In the charters of the Museum there is one by Sir Philip providing for Margaret de Louvaine, if she should become his widow. With many other things of note in these lists, it is remarkable that he held the Staunton St.John, in Oxfordshire, which was the home of Lord Bolingbroke of Queen Anne's time, the famous author and politician, Pope's friend.

On the whole, the marriage of Margaret de Louvaine to Sir Philip was more a stroke of fortune for her than for him, as comparison of the list of even his great-grandfather's properties shows. His able grandfather, Sir John Sinclair, sheriff of Sussex and Surrey, the manager of Queen Philippa's property and its ultimate possessor, seems to have had his hand over the affairs of the De Louvaines. That thus Sir Philip, his grandson, had introduction substantial to his consort, whether also romantic, may or may not be. Among the Harleian charters one of historic as well as private interest remains, written in the language still used at that period for legal transactions, the French introduced by the Normans. Its date is 44 Edward III (1371) and given under Sir John's seal at Penshurst - “mon seal a Penshurst”. This was nineteen years after the death of the lord mayor Sir John Pulteney, baron of Penshurst and Ospring, whose widow married Sir Nicolas de Louvaine, father of Sir Nicolas and Margaret, the wife of Sir Philip of Burstow. The writing runs: ‘John Sinclair: surrendered to Sir Nicholas de Louvayne all the estates which I had of his lease in all the manors, fees, and advowsons’. They are both called armigeri in the document; which is a parchment 2.5 inches by 11, folded double and three, of 6.5 lines of well-written but dim old French, the seal being yet attached, and hardly imperfect, since “EINTCLER” remains, and nearly the whole of the shield, with “the sun in its glory” blazoning its entire field.

Sir Philip married Margaret de Louvaine that same year, says Philpott in Villare Cantianum, and this surrender of leases on the part of his grandfather to his bride's brother, may have been to put them in possession of some or all of the estates, by way of her dowry. The Surrey properties of Burstow and the rest, were the chief aggrandisement to the family in the transaction; and if Sir John Sinclair had no claims against the Louvaine properties, the lands she brought her husband were princely enough. It is suggestive of Sir John Sinclair's ability and wealth, that he was in possession so early as 1371 of Penshurst, though it may have been only by lease. Sir Philip had it fully on the death of his brother-in-law Sir Nicholas, to whom his wife was heiress.

In considering Sir Philip of Burstow's properties, it need not be forgotten that his elder brother, Thomas of Igtham and Parva Preston, who lived eight years after him, must be supposed to have got the lion's share of their father and grandfather's properties; the grandfather living, as the above shows, long after the marriage of Margaret de Louvaine, and having then power over his affairs. Rev. Thomas Cox in Magna Britannia says that Ospring came to Sir Philip St.Clere of Aldham through his wife, Margaret Louvaine, and continued with his posterity till the reign of Edward the Fourth; but it does not appear in the inquisitions. It certainly was in possession of some of the family, and the suggestion occurs that it may have been exchanged by Sir Philip of Burstow, for some of the large proportion of the patrimony he holds, with his elder brother, Thomas of Igtham, whose estates lay in more convenient proximity to the somewhat eastern Ospring, long a royal demesne. Cox's finding could be true that it remained in the family till Edward IV, if Thomas of Igtham's son Philip, who died without issue about that time, heired it. Sir Philip of Burstow's sons were dead twenty-seven years before Edward IV held the throne (1461). There are not evidences enough to discuss further.

The two sons of Sir Philip of Burstow have to be treated, John the elder, and Thomas the younger. In 1409 they were orphans, the elder thirteen; and Sir John Pelham, the earl of Chichester, got the wardship of the boys from King Henry IV. The Inquisitiones ad Quod Damnum of 7 Henry V (1419) are proof of this: ‘The jurors say that Henry, lately king of England, father of our lord the king now, by his open letters, committed to John Pelham, miles, the custody of all the manors, demesnes, lands, etc, which were those of Sir Philip Sinclair, dead, who held in capite from the said Henry’. It is under “Sussex” and as if to make assurance doubly sure, the record commission has entered it twice. The occasion of this inquisition is the death of John Sinclair the heir, at the age of twenty-three, in 1419.

The earl had got the marriage of John arranged to his satisfaction. In Collin's Peerage his daughter Joan Pelham is married to Sir John Seynclere, and Collins gives his evidence, namely, a letter in his time extant from the earl in the reign of Henry V to this young Sir John. He himself died 12 Feb, 1428, leaving this and another daughter and a son to succeed him. Sir John Pelham was one of the ambassadors for the marriage of Henry V to the Princess Katherine of France, of whom Shakespeare makes so much, and he had various similar political experience. His daughter fell heir to some of her husband Sir John's lands, but the chief portion went to the younger brother, Thomas Sinclair. They had a sister Margaret Sinclair, who married one of the lord mayor connection, Thomas de Pulteney, armiger, but much more is not known of her yet. A charter is preserved in the British Museum of thirteen lines of writing, given by a Thomas Saintcler, who must have been their uncle of Agincourt fame, and in it there is mention of a John, this last Sir John, and a Juliana Sinclair, probably another sister whose history has also to be discovered.

In 1422, the first year of the reign of Henry VI, Thomas Sinclair is the sole male survivor of his line. That his cousin-german, Philip of Igtham, died a young man, seems proved by Thomas being, in the escheats of the year 1422, written as of Igtham and Parva Preston, which could not be with his cousin alive. The year before, by prior settlement of Sir Baldwin Bereford, one of the favourites of Richard II, through the marriage of the grandfather of Thomas, Sir Philip, to Joan Audley, daughter of one of the ladies Bereford, Farthingo and Stean in Northamptonshire first came into actual possession of the family. His brother Sir John Sinclair died in 1419, so that he had his lands earlier than either the Igtham or the Northamptonshire estates. He was born in 1401, and in 1422 he was possessed of most if not all of the lands of his family, the single representative of their antiquity, ability, and wealth. Among the Probat aetatis records of Sussex he appears in 2 Henry VI (1423) as ‘Thomas Sinclair, brother and heir of John, the son of Philip Sinclair, Chevalier’; so that his relationship is quite clear.

Then he got his properties, it is said that some of them were not in sufficient order to please him, and that he sold distant ones that he might put those nearer London in good shape; but of this the list of his possessions at death does not show much sign. That he was energetic, perhaps to too great degree, there is indication. Says a Sussex antiquary, ‘The fishery of Cuckmere Haven was vested in the St.Cleres, lords of Firle and owners of Excete’ (Inquistion After Death, 1 Henry VI (1422), No. 30. Later the mayor of Rye had his battles over this fishery, but Thomas Sinclair had fierce legal business about rights there interfered with, and to his heirs the legacy of strife went down.

That he had the contemporary love of battle the following, if it refers to him, would go to show. It is taken from the Issue Rolls of 15 July, 4 Henry VI (1426). ‘To John Vincent. In money paid to him for so much money expended, by command of the treasury of England, for expenses of twelve jurors of the county of Middlesex dining at Westminster, and there attending and waiting to give a verdict upon a certain inquisition taken, the lord the king and Thomas Seyncler, esquire, upon a certain security of the peace broken by said Thomas Seyncler; which verdict, so delivered by said jury before the treasurer and barons of the exchequer, the same Thomas was convicted for the lord the king in 100 marks. By direction of the treasury, etc - 13s. 4d.’

It may be a libel to refer this to Thomas of Aldham St.Clere, but the date, circumstances, the esquire, which had then its meaning, and the large fine, for some quarrel such as could arise about the Cuckmere fishing, point in his direction. Besides, the time near Agincourt, and when Talbot was making his name so terrible in France, gave honour to men for vigour of this kind, while not forgetting to make them pay into king's treasuries for the amusement. It is probable also that, like his uncle Thomas, he was a soldier in the French wars; and if so, he knew the change of fortune the maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc, began in his twenty-eighth year. With his family's knowledge of the duke of Bedford, the regent, he could hardly have not been in those gallant struggles which followed so indecisively from her capture till the last years of the duke. Meanwhile he is not known as distinguishing himself there, though it is extremely probable that he died in France the early death of most soldiers. As lord of the manor of Stene he presented Simon Smyth to the incumbency 18th Feb 1427. He died on the 6th of May, 13 Henry VI (1435) age of thirty-four.

He had married Margaret Hoo, the daughter of Lord Hoo and Hastings, and left issue, three young daughters, he and they the last of this wealthy and distinguished branch of English Sinclairs. The history of these coheiresses and of their mother, will throw much light on the short life of Thomas; so that there is no fear of him being left, without justice done to his position as one of the landed magnates of his time.

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