BUKTON, Robert (d.1408), of Oakley and Brome, Suff.
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Family and Education
m. (1) bef. Mar. 1397, Anne, 1s. 3da.; (2) bef. Nov. 1408, Isabel.
Conservator of the truce with France in Brittany 8 Feb. 1384.1
Justice, S. Wales 17 Oct. 1390-c. May 1391.2
Constable of Eye castle, Suff. 29 Sept. 1394-? d.
Commr. of array, Suff. July 1402, Sept. 1403, May 1406.
Dep. butler, Ipswich and Colchester 13 Oct. 1405-June 1407.
Nothing certain has been discovered about Bukton’s antecedents, although he may have come from Buckden in Huntingdonshire, where he apparently held a knight’s fee.3 He acquired his property in Suffolk by purchase and, perhaps, through marriage, doing so quite late in his life.
All but the last five years of Bukton’s career were spent in the service of Sir Thomas Percy, the younger brother of Henry, 1st earl of Northumberland. He joined Percy’s entourage some time before April 1377, when he is recorded as collecting at the Exchequer an instalment of a royal annuity granted to his master, and from then until Percy’s death he was variously described as Sir Thomas’s servant, ‘valet’ or esquire. Early in 1378 Bukton enlisted in Percy’s retinue in the naval force commanded by John of Gaunt and when, that November, his lord was appointed admiral of the northern fleet it was he who acted as his agent, receiving the wages of mariners and soldiers from the treasurers of war specially approved by Parliament. The next few years were spent mostly on campaign in Britanny, where Bukton served in the garrison at Brest (of which Percy was joint captain in 1379 and sole captain from 1381 to 1386); and his prominent position as one of Percy’s lieutenants is evident not only from his appearance as co-signatory with John Norbury* to the agreement made with the duke of Brittany in September 1383, for the suspension of hostilities for one year, but also from his appointment in 1384, in association with Percy and two others, as a conservator of the truce with France along the Breton border. Although Percy was admiral of the fleet which took Gaunt’s army to Spain in 1386, Bukton seems not to have accompanied him, for in September of that year he was party to recognizances for 1,000 marks made in Chancery with Edmund Lakenheath, a man from Suffolk. This transaction points to the beginning of Bukton’s association with the county he was to represent in Parliament.4
When Sir Thomas Percy entered the household of Richard II, to hold the posts of under chamberlain from early in 1390 and steward from 1394, his esquire Bukton naturally followed him. In September 1390 a royal pardon for homicide was granted at Bukton’s request, and a month later he was appointed as a royal justice in South Wales, there acting as a deputy to Percy who had been made chief justice earlier in the year. Once established at Court, the way was open for Bukton to obtain favour not only from King Richard but also from his queen: on 1 Dec. 1391 the latter granted him as ‘her esquire’ an area of pasture and woodland in her lordship of Eye in Suffolk, rent-free for the term of her life. In the following February he secured at the Exchequer temporary wardship of the valuable estates in Norfolk held by the late John, Lord Clifton of Buckenham castle. That his interests were being promoted by Percy is clear, for Sir Thomas acted as one of his sureties. Then, in October 1393, besides confirming Queen Anne’s grant to Bukton, King Richard also extended it to Bukton’s heirs in tail.5 Among those with whom Bukton came into contact at Court was Roger Walden, the King’s secretary and future archbishop of Canterbury: in May 1392 the two men were associated with William Venour†, a prominent London merchant, as co-feoffees of property in the City, and in 1393 they received from Venour an assignment of his goods and chattels. Bukton, having been returned to Parliament for the first time in January 1394, was, after the queen’s death later that year, granted custody for life of the castle at Eye which she had held in dower. He was then described as a ‘King’s esquire’.6
Bukton’s position at Court and locally as constable of Eye castle enhanced his standing in the community of Suffolk. He became acquainted with the de la Poles (from whom he held land), and in July 1397 he witnessed deeds on behalf of Sir Michael de la Pole, son and heir of Richard II’s former chancellor, the 1st earl of Suffolk. In the Parliament which met that autumn, with Bukton again representing Suffolk, the way was opened for Sir Michael’s restoration to the earldom and recovery of his father’s forfeited estates.7 Queen Anne had granted Sir Thomas Percy an annuity of 50 marks out of the issues of the lordship of Eye, and in April 1397 he had asked the trustees of the lordship (Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, and Edward, earl of Rutland) to transfer 20 marks of this annuity to Bukton. This grant was confirmed and extended to be a life pension by Richard II on 15 Oct., shortly after the first session of the 1397-8 Parliament in which Arundel had been impeached and banished. There can be little doubt that this was a reward to Bukton for his help in promoting the King’s policies in the Commons in the same way that his patron Percy had supported Richard in the Lords, notably as proctor for the clergy in the criminal trials held in the Parliament. It was now that Percy was created earl of Worcester. Bukton’s attachment to the new earl naturally continued: in December they were both party to a lawsuit brought before special assizes in Suffolk, and in October 1398, when Earl Thomas undertook by indenture to hold the Welsh castle and lordship of Emlyn, Bukton was there to support him. On his departure for Ireland in the King’s army in 1399, Worcester named his retainer as one of the attorneys to look after his affairs at home.8
The earl of Worcester’s timely transfer of allegiance earned for him the post of Henry IV’s admiral (1399-1401), steward of the Household (1401-2), and tutor to his eldest son, the prince of Wales. The change of monarch made as little difference to the fortunes of Bukton as it did to his lord: on 21 Oct. 1399 he obtained royal confirmation of his tenure of land at Eye and he retained his constableship. During Bukton’s fourth and last Parliament, in 1401, the King gave his consent to an agreement made between the commonalties of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft concerning the use of Kirkley Road, a settlement reached after the mediation of certain prominent local figures who included Bukton himself. Later that year Bukton obtained a royal pardon for the escape of a felon from the gaol at Eye castle. As late as November 1401 he was still actively engaged in Worcester’s service, yet he was evidently prudent enough to keep out of trouble when, in 1403, the earl joined his nephew ‘Hotspur’ in open rebellion against the King, for not long after Worcester’s execution at Shrewsbury he was named on commissions of array.9
In his last years Bukton came into contact with Thomas Chaucer* of Ewelme, who appointed him as his deputy as chief butler in the ports of Ipswich and Colchester, a post he was to lose only when Chaucer was replaced in 1407. By that time a daughter of his had been married to John Cornwallis of London, one of those vintners with whom Chaucer had many dealings. Ten years earlier Bukton and his first wife had obtained papal indults permitting them to have a portable altar and to hear mass before daybreak. He had been steadily expanding his landed interests in and near Eye, close to the Suffolk border with Norfolk, and had made his home at Brome where he held land as a tenant of the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds. From 1401 he also possessed a title to property at Thurlston, near Ipswich, and two years later he successfully claimed in Chancery the manor of ‘Hemnalyshall’ in Pulham (Norfolk). By the summer of 1406 he had acquired manors in Brome, Oakley and Thrandeston and the advowsons of three Suffolk churches, as well as an interest in that of Shelton (Norfolk). Bukton’s feoffees in these properties included the prominent East Anglian knights Sir Simon Felbrigg KG, former standard-bearer to Richard II, and Sir John Heveningham*.10
On 8 Nov. 1408 Bukton expressed to these trustees his last will with regard to his landed holdings. They were to keep them on behalf of his son, Robert, then still a minor, with remainder should Robert die childless or his issue fail, to his daughters, Philippa Cornwallis, Anne and Elizabeth. Thrandeston and Pulham were settled on Bukton’s second wife, Isabel, for life. Bukton died on 17 Dec. and was buried in the chancel of Oakley church. His son was to die without issue in 1434.11
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Foedera ed. Rymer (Hague edn.), iii (3), 164.
- 2. R.A. Griffiths, Principality of Wales, i. 124.
- 3. CCR, 1409-13, p. 156.
- 4. E403/462 m. 3, 471 m. 23; E101/37/28; CCR, 1385-9, p. 261; Recueil des Actes de Jean IV ed. Jones, ii. no. 461.
- 5. CPR, 1388-92, p. 308; 1391-6, p. 324; CFR, xi. 35, 41.
- 6. CCR, 1392-6, p. 248; CPR, 1391-6, p. 495; Corporation of London RO, hr 120/123-4.
- 7. CCR, 1396-9, p. 202; 1413-19, p. 264.
- 8. CPR, 1396-9, pp. 252, 531; Suff. RO (Ipswich), Tollemache A7/10-11; C66/348 m. 14d; E326/6899.
- 9. CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 16, 428, 540; E403/571 m. 7.
- 10. CPL, v. 57, 63; CPR, 1396-9, p. 158; CAD, ii. A3761, 3797; Cott. Tib. B IX, f. 49; CCR, 1402-5, p. 80; 1405-9, p. 396; Add. 14848, f. 214v.
- 11. Add. 14848, f. 205; J. Copinger, Suff. Manors, iii. 239, 286; Norf. and Norwich RO, Reg. Surflete, ff. 154-5.