LAVYNGTON, Thomas, of Reading, Berks.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. bef. 1426, Denise.1
?Mayor, Reading Mich. 1421-2, 1426-7.2
J.p. Berks. 13 Nov. 1448-June 1449, 22 Mar. 1452-Jan 1454.
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Oxon., Berks. Jan. 1450; to impound goods of the bp. of Salisbury July 1450.
Tax collector, Berks. Aug. 1450.
It seems likely that Thomas came of a local family, for John Lavyngton, a fishmonger, and Michael Lavyngton, a tailor, were both resident in Reading in the 1370s, and Robert Lavyngton was perhaps mayor in 1410-11.3 Unlike most Reading MPs of the period, he was not greatly involved in the internal administration of the town, even though he may have twice held office as mayor. Since such services as he performed for the commonalty were almost exclusively legal and advisory, it seems likely that he was a lawyer by profession, and his election to no fewer than 12 Parliaments suggests that he was a proficient spokesman. He took the leading part in discussions to end the dispute between the borough and the abbot of Reading in 1432, being named on the committee appointed to negotiate on behalf of the townspeople, and he was among those who conducted a search in the guildhall chest for documentary evidence to support the burgesses’ case. The matter took him on a visit to Maidenhead in the mayor’s company. He was resident in Reading for most of his life; certainly he was granted property there in 1429 and purchased more in 1438. He also rented a large house with a garden near the guildhall from 1442 to 1446 and again from 1450 to 1453, if not in the intervening years.4
Nevertheless, during the period in which he represented Reading in Parliament, Lavyngton accumulated land and property elsewhere in Berkshire. In 1429 he and his wife took possession from their kinsman, John Polton, of property in Maidenhead and Windsor, and in later years he acquired additional holdings, including two farms at Cookham. As one of the gentry of the shire he attended the county court at Abingdon for the election of the Berkshire representatives to the Parliament of 1432, and two years later he was required, along with other local notables, to take the generally administered oath against maintenance of breakers of the peace.5 By then, Lavyngton was busily employed as an executor of the will of Thomas Polton, bishop of Worcester, whose service he had entered many years earlier (well before Polton, an eminent canon lawyer and Henry V’s ambassador to the Council of Constance, was raised to the episcopate). Indeed, his own career can only have benefited from the guidance of Polton, whom he numbered among his relations. The bishop’s will, made in 1433, provided for a legacy of 40 marks to Lavyngton and made several small bequests to his wife, Denise, both of them being described as the testator’s ‘cousins’. Lavyngton had to work closely with several distinguished figures while administering his late kinsman’s estate, and for one of them, Richard Quatremayns†, he stood surety at the Exchequer.6
Over the years Lavyngton made the acquaintance of other influential members of the local gentry. In 1424 he had acted as a feoffee on behalf of William Perkins*, and, like Perkins, in the late 1440s he came to be associated with William de la Pole, marquess of Suffolk, Sir Edmund Hungerford† and others in buying land in Berkshire on behalf of John Norrys†. The latter, one of the most successful of Lancastrian courtiers, obtained with the assistance of these associates substantial estates in the county, some of which were either held jointly with Hungerford and Lavyngton, or placed in their trust. When, in 1447, Norrys obtained the keeping of the lordship of Cookham and Bray, Lavyngton appeared at the Exchequer as one of his mainpernors. It seems likely that Lavyngton’s connexion with the courtier was that of legal advisor. Clearly, he owed his appointment to the county bench, late in life, to a reputation based on service to such as Norrys and the abbot of Reading (for whom he had earlier acted in an undefined way in the conduct of suits against debtors).7 Lavyngton continued to be a j.p. until at least 1453, but nothing is recorded of him after that date.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: Charles Kightly
- 1. CPL, vii. 451.
- 2. C. Coates, Hist. Reading, app. xiv, claims that Lavyngton was mayor in 1423 and 1426, and A. Aspinall etc. Parl. Through Seven Centuries, 26, that he held office in 1422 and 1430. However, others are recorded occupying the mayoralty in the years 1422-4 and 1429-31 (Reading Pub. Lib. cofferers’ accts. R/FA/1422-4, 1430-1; deed 114; C219/13/1, 2), so if Lavyngton was ever mayor, it can only have been in 1421-2 and/or 1426-7, when the evidence is deficient.
- 3. Coates, app. xiv; E179/73/42.
- 4. Reading Recs. ed. Guilding, i. 1, 5; Reading cofferers’ accts. 1431-2, 1442-53; deed 140; Add. Ch. 28841; CP25(1)13/83/25.
- 5. CP25(1)13/83/17, 22; CPR, 1429-36, p. 402.
- 6. Letters Margaret of Anjou (Cam. Soc. lxxxviii), 14; Reg. Chichele, ii. 485-95; CPR, 1436-41, p. 321; CFR, xvi. 207.
- 7. CP25(1)13/82/2, 86/4, 6, 7, 21; CPR, 1441-6, p. 116; 1446-52, pp. 277-8; CCR, 1447-54, pp. 25, 140, 168; 1454-61, p. 209; CFR, xviii. 72.