BURDET, Sir Thomas (d.1442), of Arrow, Warws.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

s. and h. of Sir John Burdet of Arrow ?by Margaret, da. of Thomas Fitton of Gawsworth, Cheshire.1 m. bef. Oct. 1390, Isabel, 1s. Kntd. bef. Dec. 1392.

Offices Held

Commr. of array, Warws. Mar. 1392, May 1418, Mar. 1419; of arrest, May 1396, Worcs. Feb. 1412; weirs, Warws. June 1398; oyer and terminer Feb. 1400, Worcs. Dec. 1409; to raise men for service under the prince of Wales, Warws. Aug. 1402; raise loans, Warws., Leics. June 1406, Warws. Nov. 1419, Jan. 1420; of inquiry, Warws., Leics. June 1406 (concealments), to assess tax, Warws. Apr. 1431.

Sheriff, Warws. and Leics. 1 Dec. 1415-30 Nov. 1416.


In 1327 Sir Robert Burdet† had obtained a charter of free warren in his demesne lands at Arrow and Seckington in Warwickshire and at Huncote in Leicestershire, which were later divided between his sons Sir Gerard (d.1349) and Sir Robert. It was the former who acquired the Warwickshire portion, which eventually descended, before October 1390, to his grandson Thomas. Through his grandmother the latter inherited an interest in the Vale manors of Luddington (in Stratford-upon-Avon) and Compton Scorpion, and he also held the manor of Broughton. His annual income from land was to be assessed much later, for the purposes of the tax of 1436, at £60.2 Burdet and his wife had meanwhile become prominent figures in the society of Warwickshire, being members of the Trinity guild at Coventry and of the guild of the Holy Cross at Stratford. The latter fraternity included several of the lesser gentry of southern Warwickshire and these men may have come to regard Burdet as their leader within the community.3

Burdet’s frequent involvement in local criminal activities indicates a man of violent temperament. In 1381 he and his father were indicted for aiding certain ‘notorious thieves and murderers’, and eight years later he was held personally responsible for manslaughter. He was, nevertheless, able to obtain royal pardons for both offences. Before long Burdet became a member of the affinity of Thomas, earl of Warwick (from whom he held land at Seckington), and this connexion may well have been an important factor in securing his first two elections to Parliament, for by 1395 he was receiving an annuity of 20 marks from the earl. His proximity to Warwick was undoubtedly the reason why in May 1398, after the earl’s downfall, he saw fit to purchase yet another pardon from Richard II, for this made specific reference to the support he had given Warwick and his fellow Lords Appellant ten years earlier.4

Following the accession of Henry IV, Burdet took a more active part in local government than previously. He also retained his connexion with the Beauchamps: the commission of oyer and terminer to which he was appointed in 1400 was for the investigation of a complaint made by Earl Thomas’s brother, William, Lord Beauchamp of Abergavenny, and after the earl’s death he promptly attached himself to his heir, Richard. In 1402 Burdet was busy raising men in Warwickshire to advance into Wales with Henry of Monmouth’s army (of which Warwick was a leading member), and in October 1403 he was one of those selected by the earl to garrison the castle of Brecon for its defence against the rebels. By Michaelmas 1408 his life annuity from the Beauchamp estates had been increased to £20. Burdet was frequently drawn into the affairs of others in the Warwick circle: for instance, in the interests of the widow of Earl Thomas’s esquire, William Spernore*, he was party to lawsuits over Frankley (Worcestershire); and William Phelip* alleged in Chancery that he had unlawfully ejected him from land at Spernall (a manor which Spernore had held for life). Then, too, he was sometimes associated with Thomas Crewe*, the chief steward of Warwick’s estates; and he witnessed deeds not only for Robert Hugford*, the receiver-general of the same, but also for John Throckmorton* who was to become the earl’s most trusted councillor. The group of men of this affinity was brought even more closely together by the marriage of Burdet’s son, Nicholas, to the heir of another of Warwick’s retainers, Henry Bruyn* of Worcestershire.5

Outside the circle, Burdet was on good terms with some of the gentry from the neighbouring county of Gloucestershire, especially with Robert Whittington* and the latter’s close friend John Browning*; while in Warwickshire he acted as trustee of Lapworth hall from 1408 to 1419. Burdet was certainly elected to two of Henry IV’s Parliaments and he may also have sat in a third, that of 1410 (a session for which the name of one of the Members for Warwickshire is missing), for he was asked by Bishop Peverel of Worcester to act there as one of his proxies.6

The side of Burdet’s character which had little respect for the law was never suppressed for long. In 1406, when actually serving as a justice in a case of novel disseisin, he was alleged to be of the affinity of the plaintiff, Richard Ruyhale*. Indeed, his tendency to violence may even have temporarily soured his relations with the earl of Warwick, for three years later he and his men made an attack at Alcester market on servants of the earl from Tanworth, and the chief steward (Crewe) and ‘supervisor’ of the earl’s estates (Hugford) had to go to Evesham with Warwick’s retainer (Sir) Thomas Lucy* to arrange a love-day between Burdet and those concerned. It looks very much as if Burdet’s annuity was cut off. But even so, his son Nicholas still followed his example: in 1413 the latter was indicted for leading some 80 men in an affray at Shipston (Worcestershire), in which tenants of the priors of Coventry and Worcester were killed and wounded. The young man fled to Ireland and it was not until Easter 1414, when his father was bound to Earl Richard under a penalty of 300 marks for his son’s and his own future good behaviour, that the matter was settled to the prior of Worcester’s satisfaction. Sir Thomas was later fined £5 by the Crown for having allowed a felon to escape from a prison in his keeping as sheriff of Warwickshire. During the winter of 1417-18 both he and Nicholas were involved in attacks on the property and servants of the abbot of Evesham, their trespasses including poaching on a grand scale and the destruction of a mill. The serious nature of their crimes is suggested by the appointment of the chief justice himself, Sir William Hankford, to head the ensuing judicial investigation. In 1418 there erupted a major dispute between the Burdets and Joan, Lady Beauchamp of Abergavenny (widow of the earl of Warwick’s uncle), and substantial recognizances were demanded from all those party to the affair. It was probably in connexion with this or some other of Burdet’s many misdemeanors, that an official valuation was made of his moveable goods at Arrow, presumably subject to confiscation as a consequence of his being outlawed. Nevertheless, he was elected to Parliament again in 1419, and when he and his son appeared in the King’s bench in the following year they were granted bail on the understanding that Nicholas was about to undertake military service in France under the command of the duke of Bedford. Two years later, finally brought to trial, both men were fully acquitted of the crimes of which they had been indicted.7

Burdet’s continuing association with members of the Warwick affinity suggests that his behaviour had caused no permanent breach with the earl. Indeed, his daughter-in-law had been accepted as a member of the countess of Warwick’s household by 1421, and either Sir Thomas or his grandson of the same name served as a surveyor of the Warwick estates in an unidentifiable year of Henry VI’s reign. Burdet now led a quieter life, gradually ceasing to take an interest in all but local and personal affairs. In 1422 he headed the list of Warwickshire parliamentary electors named on the indenture of return; in the following year he and his wife obtained an indulgence from the Pope; in 1429 and 1431 he was associated with Edmund, Lord Ferrers of Chartley in transactions concerning the manor of Frankley; and in 1434 he was among the gentry of Warwickshire required to take the oath against maintenance. Throughout this period he served on but one royal commission.8 Meanwhile, Burdet’s son Nicholas had distinguished himself in the French wars under Bedford’s command, but having risen to be chief butler of Normandy and governor of Evreux he was slain at the battle of Pontoise in 1440.9

After the death of Earl Richard of Warwick in 1439 Burdet, by then an old man, turned to Humphrey, earl of Stafford (from whom he held Compton Scorpion) for support in his local disputes. He died on 15 Oct. 1442, leaving as his heir his grandson, Thomas, then two years short of his majority.10

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 27, 100-1; W. Dugdale, Warws., 845-8.
  • 2. CIPM, xii. 296; VCH Warws. iii. 265; v. 100; CAD, ii. C2428; CIMisc. vii. 562; EHR, xlix. 639.
  • 3. Reg. Holy Trinity Guild Coventry (Dugdale Soc. xiii), 79, 109; Reg. Gild of Holy Cross Stratford-upon-Avon ed. Bloom, 25, 73, 84.
  • 4. Rolls Warws. and Coventry Sessions (Dugdale Soc. xvi), 103-4; C67/29 m. 20, 30 m. 3; CPR, 1391-6, p. 217; SC6/1123/5; Egerton Roll 8769.
  • 5. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 218; 1401-5, p. 138; Cal. Signet Letters ed. Kirby, no. 165; Egerton Roll 8772; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvi. 46; VCH Worcs. iii. 121-2; C1/6/3; CCR, 1402-5, p. 474; 1409-13, p. 83; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), vi. 233.
  • 6. CCR, 1405-9, pp. 238, 240; CFR, xiv. 68; CAD, iii. A4262, 4651; SC10/44/2162.
  • 7. CCR, 1405-9, p. 152; 1413-19, pp. 448, 500, 502; Egerton Roll 8772; CPR, 1413-16, p. 111; 1416-22, pp. 43, 147; B.H. Putnam, Treatises on J.P.s, 68-72; RP, iv. 410; CIMisc. vii. 562; HMC 5th Rep. 303; M.C. Carpenter, ‘Pol. Soc. Warws.’ (Cambridge Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1976), 79-80.
  • 8. Carpenter, 79-80, app. p. 101; Cat. Lyttelton Chs. ed. Jeayes, 81-82; C219/13/1; CPL, vii. 312; CPR, 1429-36, p. 384.
  • 9. Dugdale, 845-8; Reg. Chichele, ii. 587.
  • 10. Carpenter, 132; Staffs. RO, D641/1/2/70 m. 7d.; NLW, Peniarth ms, 280 f. 34.