BATHE (BACHE), John (d.1409), of Little Crichel, Dorset.

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



Sept. 1397

Family and Education

m. (? as 2nd w.) 1390, Joan, da. and coh. of Sir John St. Loe†, of Newton St. Loe, Som., by Alice, da. and coh. of Sir John Pavely of Westbury and Brooke, Wilts., and wid. of Sir John Chideock (d.1390), of Chideock, Dorset, 1 ch. (d.v.p.); (?3) Agnes, Is. 3da.1

Offices Held

Lt. of Thomas, earl of Kent, as constable of Corfe castle by June 1392-c. Apr. 1397.2

Sheriff, Som. and Dorset 18 Oct. 1392-7 Nov. 1393.

J.p. Dorset 16 May 1401-d.

Commr. of oyer and terminer, Dorset May 1402, Mar. 1404; to make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well May 1402, of the royal right of presentation to a benefice Mar. 1404; of array July 1402, Aug. 1403.

Tax controller, Dorset Mar. 1404.


Although Although nothing has been traced of Bathe’s origins, it seems likely that he came from the West Country, that his name had been derived from Bath, and that he was related to Thomas Bathe* (MP for Lyme) who, at least on one occasion, acted as his surety. However, Bathe is not recorded in Dorset until 1390 when he married a local heiress, the widow of Sir John Chideock. That he obtained the shrievalty only two years after this, having no experience of public service in the county, suggests that he may have been employed elsewhere previously. He is, therefore, quite likely to be identified with the John Bathe who was a servant of John of Gaunt by 1361 and remained in the duke’s service until 1380, by which time he had become one of his esquires. This John, a member of Gaunt’s personal entourage (acting as his valet and having care of privy expenditure), served on foreign campaigns with the duke in 1367, 1369, 1372 and 1373. In 1375 Gaunt gave him £10 for his marriage, so that, if this identification is correct, Joan Chideock must have been Bathe’s second wife. The identification is strengthened by the fact that the Chideock manor of Little Crichel was held of the duchy of Lancaster.3

Bathe’s status in Gaunt’s household had been comparatively humble, and marriage to a widow with a substantial dower, if indeed Gaunt had anything to do with it, was a considerable reward for his service. Hitherto the duke had granted him, besides the sum of money for his marriage, two ‘daymes de fermeson’; in Somborne park and 12 rabbits from the warren there, these gifts being incidental to his regular fee of £4 11s.6d. a year. Nothing is known of Bathe’s activities between 1380 and 1390. In the latter year he became a man of property: his new wife and her sister Ella, wife of Richard, Lord Saint Maur of Castle Cary, had inherited their father’s estates in 1375, and also shared (with their cousin Sir William Cheyne*) the lands which had belonged to their maternal grandfather, Sir John Pavely. Joan Bathe’s share of the Pavely properties consisted of a third part of the manor of Clifton (Gloucestershire), and a quarter of the manor and hundred of Westbury and of the manor of Hilperton (Wiltshire), altogether valued at £12 a year. Besides these, which Bathe held jure uxoris, he also enjoyed for life by grant of John Chideock*, his stepson, an estate at Little Crichel.

After his marriage Bathe’s most important connexions were with Thomas Holand, earl of Kent, and his family. Holand, Richard II’s half-brother, was appointed constable of Corfe castle in May 1391, the grant being made to him and his countess, Alice, in survivorship. By June 1392 Bathe was acting as his lieutenant, being given as such on 28 June an assignment of £66 13s.4d. for repairs and renovation at the castle. Although Kent died in April 1397, Bathe continued to be closely associated with his widow and may well have continued to act as lieutenant at Corfe on her behalf. Less is known about his association with the new earl, Thomas, one of the Appellants of the Parliament of 1397 (Sept.), in which Bathe represented Dorset for the first time; although his wife’s brother-in-law, Lord Saint Maur, joined the earl’s entourage in the royal expedition to Ireland of the following year, appointing Bathe to act as his attorney during his absence. Bathe apparently avoided involvement in the plot against Henry IV in which Earl Thomas participated in January 1400, and after the countess had recovered Corfe, shortly before April 1401 (the castle having been removed from her keeping immediately after her son’s rebellion), Bathe became more prominent in local affairs. It was only now that he was appointed as a j.p. and served on other royal commissions of importance. In November 1408 on the death of Edmund Holand, earl of Kent, it was Bathe whom the King appointed, with William Breton, clerk, to administer his estates, with instructions to use two-thirds of the issues to pay the earl’s debts, and to make sure that the remaining third went to Edmund’s widow, Lucy.4

Bathe’s will, made in the following year, reveals more of his connexions with the Holands. In it he referred not only to a marriage granted him by the dowager countess, Alice, but also to money owed him by Earl Edmund; and he recommended his stepson, John Chideock, to be loyal to the countess Lucy. Other dispositions were for the most part of clothes, although Bathe also mentioned his horse, worth 1Os., and he left his daughters sums of money (Elizabeth and Margaret £20 each, and Joan 20 marks. The cash bequests amounted to just over £60. Bathe died on 7 or 8 Oct. 1409 and was buried in All Saints’ church, Little Crichel. His will was proved on 25 Nov. Bathe’s widow, Agnes, to whom he had bequeathed the residue of his estate, subsequently married a Salisbury merchant, John Montagu.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421


  • 1. Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Arundel, ii. f. 39v; CP, v. 457; Reg. Gaunt 1371-5, no. 1661.
  • 2. E403/543 m. 14; E364/32 m. B.
  • 3. S.K. Walker, ‘John of Gaunt and his retainers, 1361-99’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1986), 102, 267; CCR, 1377-81, p. 366; Reg. Gaunt 1371-5, nos. 969, 1161, 1181, 1664, 1674, 1758; 1379-83, nos. 128, 1152; Feudal Aids, vi. 633. It is possible that the John Bathe, esquire, who deposed in the Scrope-Grosvenor trial that he was aged 60 and had been in arms for 40 years, was Bathe’s father (Scrope v. Grosvenor, 58).
  • 4. Reg Gaunt 1371-5, no. 1624; Feudal Aids, v. 225; vi. 629; CIPM, xiv. 155; xvi. 980-2; CCR, 1409-13, p. 397; CPR, 1388-92, p. 402; 1396-9, p. 429; 1399-1401, pp. 42, 182, 476; 1408-13, p. 36. Bathe’s other activities during Richard II’s reign had included the holding of the parliamentary elections in 1393 in Somerset and Dorset by virtue of his office as sheriff. In 1395 he and Sir John Moigne* were being sued for debt by William Vanner, a London merchant, and Bathe still owed £72 and was facing prosecution by Vanner’s heir two years later. The reasons why he entered recognizances in £200 with John Frank, a chancery clerk, in January 1397, are not known. C219/9/9; CCR, 1392-6, p. 488; 1396-9, pp. 87, 235.
  • 5. Reg. Arundel, ii. f. 39v; C137/76/15; CPR, 1413-16, p. 210.