24 August, 2018

Sir John Somery (d. 1322) And His Sisters Margaret Sutton And Joan Botetourt

Sir John Somery, lord of Dudley, Sedgley, Rowley Somery and other places in the Midlands, was born around 1280 as the son and heir of Roger Somery (1255-October 1291) and a woman called Agnes (I'm not sure of her background). When Agnes Somery died in November 1308, her son John was said to be twenty-eight years old. [CIPM 1307-17, no. 128] In May 1311, John Somery sued the chief justice of the court of common pleas, William Bereford, for defamation after Bereford and unnamed others stated that John "has obtained such mastery in the county of Stafford that no one can obtain law or justice therein; that he has made himself more than a king there; that no one can dwell there unless he buys protection from him, either by money or by assisting him in building his castles; and that he attacks people in their own houses with the intention of killing them, unless they make fine for his protection." [Patent Rolls 1307-13, p. 369]

Sir John Somery, a loyal royal knight who took part in Edward II's campaign against the Contrariants in 1321/22, married a woman called Lucy - I'm not sure of her background either - and died childless shortly before 24 August 1322 in his early forties. [CIPM 1317-27, no. 428] The heirs to Somery's sizeable inheritance in several Midlands counties were his two younger sisters Margaret Sutton, aged "thirty-two at the feast of Easter last" (i.e. born around 11 April 1290) and Joan Botetourt, "aged thirty at the feast of John the Baptist last" (i.e. born around 24 June 1292, and if this date is correct, she was Roger Somery's posthumous daughter and born more than eight months after his death). Margaret was married to Sir John Sutton, and Joan was the widow of Sir Thomas Botetourt, the eldest son of John, Lord Botetourt and his wife Maud née FitzThomas. Thomas Botetourt died shortly before 28 July 1322, just weeks before his brother-in-law John Somery. [CIPM 1317-27, no. 412] Thomas's heir was his and Joan née Somery's son John, said to be four years old in August 1322 in his father's IPM and seven in his grandfather John, Lord Botetourt's IPM of December 1324. John was actually born, according to his mother Joan née Somery's IPM, on 14 September 1318. [CIPM 1336-46, no. 181] John, Lord Botetourt the elder died on 25 November 1324 in his sixties, and his widow Maud née FitzThomas outlived him by some years. [CIPM 1317-27, no. 587] John Botetourt the younger, born 1318, nephew of Sir John Somery and the Botetourt heir and Somery co-heir, married Joyce la Zouche, younger half-sister of Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, and stepdaughter of Edward II's niece Eleanor Despenser from her second marriage to William la Zouche of Ashby in Leicestershire.

I'm not entirely sure what, if any, children Sir John and Margaret Sutton, the other sister and brother-in-law of John Somery, had; Sutton was a common name, John and Margaret were incredibly common names, and it's hard to distinguish them from other people of the same name. It is sure, however, that this couple and specifically John became victims of Hugh Despenser the Younger in 1325. Hugh forced John to hand over eight of the manors he and Margaret had inherited from her brother John Somery to him after supposedly imprisoning him at Westminster for three weeks. Which does, let's face it, sound like exactly the sort of thing Hugh was capable of. Hugh, however, left the widowed Joan Botetourt, the other Somery sister, alone, though he did go after her parents-in-law John and Maud Botetourt in 1323 when he forced them to hand over a manor to him. More details in my forthcoming biography of Hugh the Younger, including a fascinating letter Hugh sent to John Botetourt senior in 1323 regarding his manor!

1 comment:

sami parkkonen said...

Hugh was a guy who did take full advantage from his relationship with the king which was not a wise move in hindsight. But at the time he most likely saw no dark clouds at the horizon.