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Researched by Janet Meads.
With extracts from Bridges History of Northamptonshire and the Victoria County History – Northamptonshire

Burton Latimer Manors

The Latimer coat of arms The Plessy coat of arms
The Latimer
The Plessey

In early times it was considered that all land belonged to the Crown and therefore the King was able to give portions of it to whoever he chose. The people who received the portions or manors, had usually performed some great service for the monarch, such as an act of chivalry during battle, support at court, or through friendship or relationship. The land still belonged to the Crown but, as Lord of the Manor, the recipient could pass it on to his heirs or sell the title with its benefits. He or she (women were allowed to inherit the title), as Lord of the Manor was expected to pay the king a Knight's Fee, which in early times meant that they had to provide men from the manor if the king needed soldiers for any cause. The Lord of the Manor often did not live in the manor but had a steward or bailiff to see to the smooth running of his affairs there. The steward would make sure people kept to the local laws about rotation in the fields, how many animals could be owned and when they could be let out into certain pastures, when work was expected to be done by the tenants on his own fields and to collect the rents from the villagers who leased some of the fields and property in his manor. If the Lord of the Manor did not reside in his manor then his steward or the steward's deputy oversaw the twice-yearly View of Frankpledge, which was a local court for the purpose of checking everything was done according to the custom in the village and that offenders were made to make good any damage or put wrongs to right. A town or village was often divided into more than one manor either through sale or inheritance, as was the case in Burton Latimer after 1221 until 1842.

In the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066), Earl Ralph, probably the Earl of Hereford, held 8½ hides of land, which constituted, until the first half of the 13th century the whole of the Manor of Burton, and paid the service due from 1½ Knight's Fees.

 In 1086 the manor was held directly from the king by Guy de-Reinbuedcurt who came into England with the Conqueror and whose son Richard was the tenant under Henry I (1100-1135). Richard is said to have pledged the manor in payment of a gambling debt to the king, who then granted it to hold at pleasure, to Alan de Dinant, a Breton who defeated the champion of the King of France near Gizors.

This grant, which was continued to Alan's successors, evidently caused confusion as to the payment of scutage. By the 11th century it was becoming increasingly difficult to enforce the obligation of each of the king's tenants to provide a military force in support of the Crown, scutage meaning shield-money was introduced to pay for mercenaries. The money was recouped from the manor tenants in the form of a levy or tax. In 1173-74 an inquiry was ordered as to the fee which Roland de Dinant held of the king. Before 1190 the manor had passed to his nephew and heir, Alan, the son of his sister Emma and Robert de Vitry. He seems to have died shortly after and Burton passed to his mother and Robert de Vitry, but before 1196 it escheated or returned to the king.

The manor then passed to Thomas Malemaines, the husband of Jeane, a granddaughter of Emma de Vitry, and one of the daughters of Eleanor de Vitry by her second husband Gilbert de Tellieres. Malemaines went to Germany in 1209 and apparently, during his absence, King John gave Burton to Fulk de Cantilupe to hold at will. Malemaines, on his return, joined the king's party and recovered the Manor of Burton in 1216 as part of his wife's inheritance. In 1217 it was again granted to Cantilupe, but presumably he obtained other compensation, since on the death of Thomas Malemaine, it was granted during pleasure in 1219 to his widow Jeane. She died in 1221 and the custody of her heir and her lands was granted to William Longswood, Earl of Salisbury and his wife Ela, her half-sister.

In the meantime Margery, the daughter and heir of Richard de-Reinbuedcurt, married Robert Foliot and their descendants continued to return Burton amongst their fees.

Margery, the grand-daughter of Robert Foliot, brought their rights in the manor to her husband Wischard Ledet, who answered for the Foliot barony in 1210-12. In 1215 his lands were seized by King John and the Northamptonshire holdings were granted to Hugh Neville. Ledet, however, recovered Burton, which escheated (returned) to the Crown at his death about 1221.

It seems clear however, that about this time, a division of the manor was made between the heir of Wischard Ledet and the successors of Alan de Dinant. The former relinquished the overlordship of the whole manor and retained a third of the township of Burton, which formed a separate manor, held directly from the Crown, in demesne (demesne = the land he did not let out to other tenants) as half a Knight's Fee.

The smaller manor went to Wischard Ledet's heir, his daughter Christian, the wife firstly of Henry de Braybroc and then of Gerard de Furnival. She outlived both her eldest son Wischard, who took the name of Ledet, and his son Walter, so that on her death between 1266 and 1270 her heirs were Walter's daughters, Alice and Christian, the wives of the brothers William and John Latimer, and the manor was apparently assigned to Alice.

In the meantime this manor had been subinfeudated (sub-tenanted). In 1242 it was held by Henry de Aldwinkle, probably only for life, since it was given, possibly in the lifetime of Christian, to her younger son Gerard de Furnival. He gave it to his eldest daughter Christian, the wife of William de Aylesford or Eylesford, who paid the Latimers rent of one ounce of silk or twelve pence a year. The younger Christian, as a widow, apparently granted it both to Gerard de Furnival and to John Devereux and, though an ensuing law suit in 1283 was decided in favour of Furnival, Devereux evidently obtained a further grant of it for life, as he died seized (possessed of his land) in 1316. It reverted to Christian's son, Gerard de Aylesford and passed in direct succession to first Edmund, then John and then John de Aylesford. The latter, granted all his rights in the manor in 1369 back to his overlord William, Lord Latimer, the great-grandson of Alice Ledet.

On the death of Lord Latimer's widow in 1389, it passed to their daughter Elizabeth and by her marriage to the Nevils who held it until the death of John Nevil, Lord Latimer in 1577. It was then inherited by Catherine, the eldest of his four daughters and heirs, and wife of Henry, Earl of Northumberland. She did not live in the manor but her steward or his deputy oversaw the management of her property and lands in Burton and collected rents from her tenants as can be seen from the surviving Court Rolls for 1587, 1589 and 1596. Her son sold the manor in 1605 to Francis and George Mulsho, from whom it passed to Edward Bacon who, it is thought, built the Hall, the large residence which is on the main road out of Burton Latimer towards Kettering, in about 1620. He died seized of the Manor of Burton Latimer in 1627 and was succeeded by his son Thomas, a vigorous opponent of the levy of ship-money. Thomas’s son Edmund inherited the manor in 1642. Early in the eighteenth century, Dr. Perkins, who had married the widow of Edmund's brother Henry, was Lord of the Manor. The manor seems to have then passed to Edmund Bacon's daughter, who had married and become Mrs Anne Dickenson. Several of the Court Rolls from this time, 1733, survive in the Harpur papers at the Northamptonshire County Record Office, naming her as "Widow and Lord of the Manor of Burton Lattimer (otherwise Placey)." Anne Dickenson left a will in 1743 leaving "my Capital Messuage in Burton Latimer in which I now live and my Manor there ......... unto Arthur Brooke of Kettering, Gentleman and Joseph Arnold of Burton Latymer, during the natural life of my son in law." They were to look after the property and collect the rents from the manor and pay her daughter and granddaughter £60 each per annum from the income. Eventually her granddaughter and her husband William Steer sold the title in 1764 to George Udny who, that same year, sold it to John Harper.

Joseph Harper
John Harper of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, had purchased Burton Latimer Hall in 1760 and it still stands today on the outskirts of the town, though with some additions. John continued to live there until his death in 1800. He died unmarried and the Latimer Manor and property went to his distant cousin Joseph Harper, whose son Henry Richard Harper inherited the manor but did not live at the Hall. He let it to his brother the Reverend Latimer Harper who, in 1842, purchased the Plessy Manor and then inherited the Latimer Manor when his brother Henry Richard died in 1870; he himself died in 1872. His son and heir, the Reverend Henry Harpur died in 1904 and was succeeded by his son, Thomas Wilfred Harpur, who died in 1934 and was succeeded by his son, John Latimer Harpur who died in 1959 and was succeeded in turn by his son, Richard Latimer Harpur who died in 2004. The title of Lord of the Manor now rests with his eldest son Phillip Henry Harpur.

The two-thirds of the township of Burton which in the thirteenth century were assigned to the successors of Alan de Dinant, became known as the Manor of Burton by Thingden or Burton Plessey or Placey.

Nicholas Malesmaines obtained livery (the right to sub-let) of the manor before 1225, and it was probably during his lifetime that the division of the Manor of Burton already mentioned was made. Before 1225 he leased the manor and then forfeited it. In 1228 it was granted to William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, on behalf of his brother Richard Marshall on whose death in 1233 it was granted during the king's pleasure, to Gilbert de Segrave. In 1234 however, Nicholas Malesmaines obtained restitution of the manor and in 1236 he apparently held the whole of the 1½ knight's fees.  He died before 1240 and his widow, Beatrice, seems only to have held the smaller manor for her life. His heir, presumably his daughter, was Ela, the grand-daughter of Thomas Malesmaines and wife of Robert de Plesset or Plessey.

On the death of Nicholas's widow Beatrice, after 1284, the manor was held in direct descent by John, son of Robert and Ela who died 1313, Edmund who died 1327, Nicholas who died 1356 and John who was succeeded by his brother Nicholas Plessey, a minor, who died in 1362. It then passed to his sister Joan, the wife of John Hawely. Their son John died without issue, and after the death of John Hawley in 1399 the reversion of the manor belonged to Joan's uncle, Peter Plessey who granted it to John Plessey of Shapwick, Dorset, whose son John, came into possession. In 1406 another John succeeded and on his death in 1417, it passed to John Camwell, son of Joan the sister of the first John Plessey of Shapwick. His son Robert and grandson William succeeded him, but William sold Burton Plessey in 1496 apparently to the use of Nicholas Boughton, who died seized in 1519. His son Edward sold it to Sir Nicholas Vaux who held it when he died in 1523.

The Vaux family kept it until the death of Edward, Lord Vaux of Harrowden, when it passed under a settlement of 1646 to Nicholas Knollys, Earl of Banbury. His son Charles sold it to Christopher Cratford and John Kenricke in 1687. It changed hands frequently at this time.

Early in the eighteenth century John Whiting was Lord of the Manor and he left the Manor of Burton Latimer alias Placey to his son Watkin in his will dated 1721. It is difficult to trace the title of Lord of the Placey Manor from this time. In 1803, at the time of the Inclosure allotments in Burton Latimer, the Commissioners who were dealing with the awards reported that the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, Joseph Harper and William King all claimed to be Lords of the Manor of Burton Latimer. It seems that Harper and King established their rights to titles but not the Duke and Duchess.

Following its disposal by William King, the Placey Manor title passed through the Ward, Boughton and Leigh families of Warwickshire and Northamptonshire who owned property in Great and Little Addington among other places. In 1842 the Placey or Plessy Manor plus other properties were put up for auction and were bought by the Revd. Latimer Harper. As previously mentioned he later inherited the Latimer Manor, so bringing the two manors of Burton Latimer back into the same ownership once again.

Burton Latimer Hall, home of the Harpur family since 1760
Although the Harpur family has lived at Burton Latimer
Hall (above) since 1760 it was not until 1842 that it
held the title of Lord of the Manor of both Burton Latimer
and Burton Plessey


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