The Sussex Colepepers
Walter, the eldest son of Thomas Colepeper, married, first, Elizabeth, widow of Thomas
de Cobham, and, secondly, Alice . . . (who re-married Richard Charles, and died about
1386), but died without issue, when his brother, Sir John Colepeper, succeeded to Bayhall.
Sir John, who in 1348 had purchased the manor of Wigsell, in Salehurst, co. Sussex,
from Simon de Etchingham,34 by marriage with Elizabeth, daughter and co-heiress of Sir John
Hardreshull, of Hardreshull, co. Warwick, considerably augmented his patrimonial estates,
and left at his death an only son and heir, Sir Thomas Colepeper, of Bayhall, in Kent.,
and Hardreshull, in Warwickshire.
Sir Thomas Colepeper married, first, Alianora, daughter and heiress of Nicholas Greene,
of Exton, in Rutlandshire, by whom he had issue:--
(i.) Alianora, who married Sir Reginald Cobham, of Lingfield, in Surrey.
(ii.) Sir John Colepeper, of Bayhall, Hardreshull and Exton, who, by Juliana, his
wife--who remarried, first, John Braunspath, Esq.,35 and, secondly, Robert
Fenne, Esq.,36 --
had issue an only daughter Katherine, who by her first marriage with John Harrington,
Esq., carried the Exton estates to that family, and married, secondly, Brian Talbot, Esq.
Sir Thomas Colepeper married, secondly, Joyce, widow of John Vyne, Esq.,37 by whom he had
Sir Thomas Colepeper died a very old man, about 1428/9 and the following is an
his will partly translated:
of Sir Thomas Colepeper38
Moy Thomas Colpeper Chr le
dymenge procheyn deuant la feste de lez apostelez Simon et Jude l'an nre syr le
Roy henry apres le conqueste vj et de son regne vij ordeyne mon testament.... En primez
mon alme a dieu et mon corps desire sepelye en l'abbeye de Begghame p cause que
l'esgisle est de l'annunciation nre dame en le lieu ou mon sepulture d'Alebastre est fait.
Et ieo lise a Nicholas mon fitz toutz mes chiualx. Et a Elizabeth sa femme mez
paternosterez de or. A Jouce Topemoye si ele soit en vie v marc. A John Bayhalle bastard x
marcz. a Thomas Payne mon cuc xls. a mon Butiller 13s 4d.
Bakere 13s 4d. Christianne Braylez 13s 4d.
John Bosvyle 13s 4d. John Coppyng 13s 4d. mon
parkcr 13s 4d, John Devale 13s 4d. a chescun
garson 3s 4d, a chescun page and hyne 20s. a Malyme ma
petite chaumberer a son mariage 20s. l'eglise de Pepymbery 40s. al
haute auter la 13s 4d. Sr John Trot 20s. al
Abbot de Begghame 20s. a chescun Canon de mesme le lieu 3s
4d. To the Curates of the seven nearest parishes 6s 8d
for masses and to publish my humble will. To five of the poorest of the same patishes 5d.
To the Abbot ard Convent of Beghame 10s yearly to keep my
anniversary and the anniversary of Joyouse my wife. To Walter my son 200 marcs
"condicionel sil face lealement et naturelement son devoir en lez ventez pticions et
liberations de mon chatel p tesmoinage de les autres compaignons et assossez. A Nicholas
mon fitz 200 marcs pour son bon svices. A Thomas mon fitz 200 marcs sur tiel condicion
d'estre paie sil supporte bien et naturelement a mon volunte de mon testament et a mez
executours et enfeffeez. A John Colpeper mon fitz £40 (on same conditions as Thomas). To
the Abbot and Convent of Beghame £35. 6. 8. To the Church of Nonaignez de
Malling 40s. To the Church of the Priory of Tunbridge 20s. The
brothers of Aylesford 20s. Al freres austynes de Rye pour tenir mon obit et
anniversarie 40s. A lumer les Taperez de la Shryne de Canterbury 20s.
Et ieo prie et charge John Colpeper et toutz mes autres fitz quils ne disturbent mes
executors ne mes enfeffez de fermez. Goods in Manor of Bayhalle. If any person forfeit the
condition half his legacy shall go "a mes fitz de moy et ioiouse ma femme" and
of the other half, parcel to the Abbot and Convent of Beghme to find a chaplain to sing
for the souls of me and Joyouse my wife at the altar where the bodies lie, and remainder
to works of chnrity. Executors, Sire John Langdon leuesq de Roucester, John Chethm le
Abbot de Beghm, Walter et Nicholas mez ffitz, William Burgoyne, Roger Honyton, William
Bernes, et Thomas Festynden.
Ceste la condition et volunte de Monsr. Thoms Colpeper chiualer fait en la feste de
seint Margarete l'an nre Syr le Roy Henry vj puis le conqueste tierce quil
voile et charge q sez enfeffez William Bernes, Rics Ruyton, Sire Robert Clerk, Robert
Sprynget queux furont et sount enfeffe auec autres q sount mortz come p chrtr
de fee simple de toutz sez terres et tenementz en les countez de Kent et Sussex portant la
Chrtr date done a la feste de la natiuite nre dame l'an nre Syr le
Roy henry quarte apres le conqueste viij (8 Sept. 1407). Et apres est un chartre
a Thomas longle Ieuesq de Durhm, William Cheyne justice, Walter et Nicholas Culpeper mes
ffitz, Wm. Bernes, Ric. Ruyton, et Robert Sprynget portant le dct chre date
Done en la feste del annunciation nre dame l'an nre Syr le Roy henry quinte xme
(25 March 1422) De la sit ct mesons del manoir Bayhalle auec toutz les terres et tenementz
que furont Auncien temps done p fine a iohn Colpeper mon pere et a sez heires maslez en
Pepymbury, Tonbrigge et Tudele. The above feoffees are to receive the rents for two years
to pay debts.
Touching the manor of Badeselle it is to remain to Walter my son and his heirs male,
with remaindcr to the heirs male of myself and Joyce my wife.
Touching the manor of Bernet in Leghe, Penserst, Bitteberg and
Tonbregge, writh the
mill of Greenerssh and lands called Scottegrove in Asshe, Gatewicke mede in
rents and farms in Sele and Sevenoaks, to Thomas my son and his heirs, remainder to
Nicholas his brother, remainder to the heirs of me and Joyce lately my wife, remainder to
my right heirs.
Touching the lands and tenements of Coluerdon, two windmills, Coluerdon
mede, the lands
and tenements of Bokstede and Marsfelde, lands in Fernth and Wadehurst, the mill of
Beckeleghe, and 3 marcs of fee farm the Syr de Ponyngs pays for hasylholte, to Nicholas my
son and his heirs male, remainder to the heirs of me aud Joyce lately my wife, "et
voile q'le dit Nicholas en annuatage toutez les terres et tenementez rentez et
seruiccs appurtenant a manoir de Bayhalle qi fueront purchase p Walter Colpeper mon
John Colpeper mon piere ou p moy q sount depuis purchase q' le fine de Bayllalle fuit
Touching the manor of Wyggesell and lands in Hernden in Sandherst and Newynden because
Wyggesell was settled on me and my wife Joyce and our heirs on our marriage "p chartr
endente," notwithstanding I have made anothor feoffment, I wish the
original gift to stand good. "Moy Thomas Colpeper le dymenge prochein le Purification
nre dame l'an de nre syr. le Roy Henry vj-vije." Nicholas my son to make
pilgrimages with various specified offerings to Norwich and the shrine of St
Thomas of Canterbury. To the Church of Pountose in Normandy where the body of Richard my
son lies a chalice etc. To Maryon Chamberer mon hopland de scarlet and fur. To Alison
another hopland. To Nicholas my son a suitable bed and apparel such as my son Waltor had
at his marriage. Other bequests--Thomas Festynden to have £10 to pay Christian Brayley 20s
a year for life--Thomas Pech farmer of Wyggsell to be pardoned a debt of 100s
for last year.
Proved 8 Mar 1428 (viz 1428/9) at Slyndon, and administration granted to Walter
Colepeper, Roger Honyton, and Thomas Festynden executors, and afterwards administration was
granted at Lambeth to William Burgoyne and Nicholas Colepeper.
Of the sons of Sir Thomas Colepeper, Walter succeeded to all the estates except Exton on
the death of his half-brother--Sir John--and was the only one to leave male issue. Thomas
is recorded in most pedigrees to have died without issue, and Nicholas, although he does
not name her in his will39 at Lambeth, dated
16 Aug 1434, and proved 20 Jan
1434/5, in which he mentions his brother Walter, his wife Elizabeth and his daughter
Benedicta or Bennett, and desires "sepeliend' in ecclia annunciacois beate Marie de
Begham ante altare sancti laurencii iuxtrem (?iuxta matrem) meam," had another
daughter Joyce, who married Walter Lewknor, of Walberton, co. Sussex, fifth son of Sir
Thomas Lewknor, M.P. for Lewes.
Walter Colepeper, who continued the line, married Agnes, the daughter of Edmund Roper, of St.
Dunstans, Canterbury, and is so described on her tombstone at
Goudhurst. She was also the widow of John, son of John de Bedgebury, a fact not mentioned
in the pedigrees recorded in the Visitations, but which is amply evidenced by an undated
Chancery Procceding, temp. Hen. VI., where Walter Coulpepir and Agneis, his wife,
late the wife of John, son of John de Beggebury and Thomas Chaundeler, chaplain, appear as
plaintiffs in a dispute relating to property in Goudhurst, Cranbrook and
John, son of Roger de Beggebury, left to pay for two chaplains to sing masses for his soul
and for that of Johanna, his wife. By this marriage Walter Colepeper had, with two
daughters--Margaret, married to Alexander Clifford, and Elizabeth, married to John
Hardes, of Hardes, co. Kent--three sons, Richard, John and Nicholas. Agnes, his wife, predeceased him
on the 2nd December, 1457, and was buried at Goudhurst, and Walter himself died on the
24th November, 1462, and was also buried at Goudhurst.
Although the pedigree given above differs in many respects from those recorded in the
Visitation, it is substantiated not only by many Inquisitions, Deeds and Grants,40 but also
by a suit entered on membrane 484 of the De Banco Roll, Hilary, 4 Edward IV., whence the
following pedigree is deduced:
|Thomas Culpeper7 |
|John Culpeper8 |
|Richard Culpeper8 |
|Nicholas Culpeper8 |
|John Culpeper7 |
|Nicholas Culpeper7 |
This suit has reference to the fine levied in 1320, the John at the head of the
pedigree being the son of Sir Thomas and Margery, and the plaintiffs, John, Richard and
Nicholas Colepeper, claiming one quarter of these lands against Sir John Fogge, according
to the customs of gavelkind, in right of their father Walter.
Although Richard is entered in the Visitation in Kent, in 1619, as Walter Colepeper's
eldest son, this was not the case, as Sir John, as the eldest son, inherited Hardreshull,
co. Warwick, Bayhall, co. Kent, and Wigsell, co. Sussex. It appears also from the same
Visitation that this Sir John married Agnes, daughter of John Bedgebury, but no mention
whatever is there made of the undoubted fact that some time before 1460 he was the husband
of Agnes Gainsford, which is clearly proved by the Proceedings in Chancery relating to the
abduction of the two Wakehurst heiresses by Sir John's brothers, Richard and Nicholas,41
where it is expressly stated that a sister of John and William Gainsford was wedded to
John Culpepyr, and later on in the same suit mention is made of John Culpeper and Agnes,
his wife. The marriage is also alluded to in De Banco Roll, Trin., 5 Edward IV., m. 118d,
and it explains the mention of Ottewell and George Gainsford (grandsons of the above John
Gainsford, who married Anne Wakehurst, aunt of the co-heiresses, and sons of Sir John
Gainsford, by Anne, daughter of Ottewell Worsley), as cousins in the will Walter
Colepeper, of Calais, 1514--1516.
The question arises, therefore, as to whether the record of Sir John's marriage with
Agnes Bedgebury is not due to a mistake on the part of the heralds. In their pedigree they
certainly omit these two important facts, viz., that before 1460 Sir John was the husband
of Agnes Gainsford, and also that his father Walter's wife, of the same Christian name,
was the widow of John Bedgebury. It seems therefore not improbable that these two
marriages have been confused; such, indeed, must have been the case unless Sir John was
twice married, and of this the Visitation affords no evidence whatever. Sir John Colepeper
died 22nd December, 1480, and was buried at Goudherst.
brothers, Richard and Nicholas, under somewhat romantic circumstances, married Margaret
and Elizabeth Wakehurst, (granddaughters and co-heiresses of Richard Wakehurst,
Wakehurst, in Ardingly. These two girls were confided by Elizabeth, their grandmother,
Thomas Echyngham, Thomas Hoo, John Gaynesford and William Gaynesford, their guardians, to
the care of John Colepeper and Agnes, his wife, the former of whom "promysed on the
faithe and trouthe of his bodye and as he was a gentylman," that they should not be
wronged. In spite of this promise, however, he, with Richard and Nicholas his brethren,
"with force and armes riotously agense the Kynges peas arayed in the manr
of warre at Goutherst toke and caried" them away to Bobbing, Alexander Clifford's
place in Kent, and afterwards transported them to London to a place of John Gibson,
"the seide Margarete and Elizabeth at the tyme of their takyng away makyng grete and
pittious lamentacion and wepyng."42
This high-handed proceeding on the part of the two fortune hunting brothers was
productive of much litigation, as Elizabeth Wakehurst, grandmother of the two heiresses,
refused to resign the title deeds of their
estates,43 and it was some time before a peaceable settlement was obtained.
Richard died without issue, but Nicholas became the ancestor of the Colepepers of
Wakehurst, and as the brass to him and his wife Elizabeth in Ardingly Church shows ten
sons and eight daughters, we may conclude that they lived long and happily together. [The
famous herbalist, Dr. Nicholas Culpeper, was the great-grandson of this Nicholas].
Sir John Colepeper, of Bedgebury, by Agnes, his wife, had two sons:--
(i.) Alexander, progenitor of the senior line of Bedgebury, in Goudhurst, co. Kent,
whose descendants, as belonging more to Kent than to Sussex, we shall here omit.
(ii.) Walter, ancestor of the Wigsell branch of the family.
As the Wigsell and Wakehurst Colepepers soon became very numerous, as well as the
Bedgebury and Aylesford branches also, it will be better perhaps here to treat of them
under their respective houses and, as the senior of the two Sussex lines, we will commence
with the Colepepers of Wigsell, in Salehurst.
To next chapter
34 Feet of Fines, Sussex, 22 Edward III
35 Harl. Ch. 80, g. 32
36 Close Roll, 27 Henry VI (1448)
37 Harl. Ch. 80, h. 27
38 403b Chichele at Lambeth
39 Chichele, I, 456b
40 Inq. P.M., 9 Henry V, No. 55; Inq. P.M., 16 Henry VIII, on
death of John Harrington
41 Early Chanc. Pro., Bundle 26, No. 304
42 Early Chanc. Pro., Bundle 26, No. 304
43 Early Chanc. Pro., Bundle 27, No. 218; Bundle 31, No. 218.
De Banco Roll, Trin., 5 Edward IV, m. 118d
Last Revised: 27 Mar 2004