The Lordship of Passelewes is one of those titles that enjoyed quite a considerable length of time in ‘use’ before it left the stage. First noted in 1166, though it’s likely it was in existence before this, its last recorded reference was then made in 1801. Yes, there really are hundreds of rich years of history associated with this title. However, we would say the characters who added the most flamboyancy to its tale weaved their strands during the reign of Edward II, Richard II, and Henry VII. Thirteen or so decades of exciting action.
The early years from 1166…
The Passelewes story starts with William Passelewe, whose overlord was Walter Giffard. From William, the lordship passed through a series of Passelewes, waving at Magna Carta and continuing through both the first and second Barons’ Wars intact, per se. However, by 1314 it had been split. The then William Passelewe subinfeudated it (split it into two) and passed one half to Peter. The title was then conveyed to John Pever, who held it alongside his other title, the Lordship of Wavendon. And it seems it’s at this point that William’s half of the lordship sees its final record. The Passelewe family lose their connection, and the fun begins…
The Sir Henry years…
By 1359 it had been passed to none less than the Chief Justice, Sir Henry Green. His reputation was demolished, however, once he’d found himself dismissed for heinous breaches of trust. He died in 1369 and his younger son, also Henry, received the lordship along with other titles.
Henry Junior was soon knighted and entered into the service of John of Gaunt, the 1st Duke of Lancaster. His career flourished. First he was made Commissioner of Arrest in Nottinghamshire. Then he became a Justice of the Peace. But though he next played his part in suppressing the Peasant’s Revolt, he also dubiously defended his Duke’s honour by torturing and killing a friar who’d accused O’Gaunt of treason. That seemed to go unnoticed, however, for he was still asked to liaise with the King of Portugal in preparation for the invasion of Castile. When the Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Arundel took control of the government, the Lord of Passelewe was there to support. So by 1390, Sir Henry Junior had found himself elected to Parliament for Huntingdonshire.
It was in 1397 however, when he was an MP for Northamptonshire, that he came to the attention of Richard II. The king took a shine to him, and set Sir Henry to manoeuvring the Commons to furthering his own monarchical plans. Henry was rewarded handsomely for his efforts, gaining significantly from the lands that were made forfeit.
The following year, Henry was appointed to an important committee of twelve lords and six commoners to deal with all outstanding matters not covered by Parliament before its final session.
His diplomatic skills were next put to good use to redress infractions to the truce between Scotland and England. And he was then appointed co-keeper of the Royal Castles of Rochester and Leeds in anticipation of an invasion by Henry Bolingbroke. Bristol found itself under attack, however, and Sir Henry rushed to its defence. The castle fell, and the Passelewes title holder found his body separated from his head.
Bolingbroke, by then Henry IV, showed clemency. Although Sir Henry’s estates were seized, he allowed them to pass to Sir Henry’s eldest child, Ralph. Interestingly, it seems Ralph occupied his father’s estates for many years before his acquisition of them was actually confirmed. He had to petition Parliament, who only eventually confirmed their decision in his favour, and he was appointed to be an Esquire of the Body of Henry IV. When Henry V gained the throne, Ralph took part in the second invasion of Normandy… and died, probably in active service. And at this point, Passelewes passed to his brother, John.
By 1468, Passelewes had been passed to John’s granddaughter, Constance, who was married to Sir John Stafford. Stafford was also the third son of the Duke of Buckingham. He had quite an illustrious career. He was made Steward of the Duchy of Cornwall for life in 1469. Was created Earl of Wiltshire by Edward IV in 1470, along with being made Chief Butler of England. And in 1472, he was made a Knight of the Garter. His son, Edward, also then followed in his footsteps after he died in 1473. He was made a Knight of Bath in 1475, and bore the Queen’s crown at the coronation of Richard III in 1483. As can be seen, Passelewes was still a well-connected title, though one now very much a part of a collection each time it moved on.
When Edward died in 1499, however, Passelewes passed to his three female cousins, and the title was once again treated as separate from the Lordship of Wavendon. As such, it appears to have been viewed as a real asset, for it was sold a couple of times over the next hundred and fifty years by owners in need of money. However, after that time, perhaps because it came with no land or estate, Passelewes started to pass once again as part of a job lot from heir(ess) to heir(ess). And thus, by 1801 it was simply held in common by several offspring and it is at this point that it disappears from records.
Now though, two hundred years later, the Lordship of Passelewes has been rediscovered. It is waiting to be respected as a title in its own right once again.
Would you like to follow in the footsteps of knights who’ve served John of Gaunt, supported Richard II, battled Henry Bolingbroke, and born the Queen’s crown at coronation? You can make that history part of yours if you want to… It’s just waiting to find a new home.