Staffordshire Historical Collections, Vol. 4. Originally published by Staffordshire Record Society, London, 1883.
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The little estate of Shusions (or Shuston), which contains about 362 acres, was an ancient Domesday manor held by one of the King's thanes, though the manorial rights have now for long been obsolete or merged in those of some neighbouring manor. It is thus described in Domesday; "Levild holds Sceotestan. Here is half a hide. The (arable) land is three carucates. Three villains with one boor have half a carucate there. There are two acres of meadow. Its value is 4s."
It would seem to have been afterwards given to the Abbey (or Priory) of Wenlock, in Shropshire, under whom it was held by Adam le Beysin in the time of Henry III., (fn. 1) as appears from a suit in the Court of King's Bench in the time of King Edward II., hereafter to be quoted.
This Adam le Beysin was Lord of the neighbouring vill of Water Eaton (in the parish of Penkridge), where he held the fourth part of a knight's fee under W. de Stretton, and of Longnor (in the parish of Bradley), where he held a fifth part of a knight's fee under the Baron of Stafford. (fn. 2) He was moreover a large proprietor in Shropshire, where (inter alia) he held certain lands in Wrickton and Walkeslow of the King in capite by grand serjeantry as the King's Falconer. (fn. 2)
In 1194 he was amerced for marrying Mabel, the daughter and eventual heiress of Warin Fitzwarin, otherwise called Le Strange, of Burwardesley (Broseley), without licence, which he should first have obtained; not for marrying the said Mabel (for she was not yet an heiress), but as being himself a tenant in capite. (fn. 3)
Adam le Beysin died in 1238, before his wife had succeeded to her share of lands at Ashley, Broseley, and elsewhere, as heir of her brother Roger de Burwardesley, who died about the year 1243. By the said Mabel he left issue a son and heir Adam, a younger son Warin, and a daughter Margery, who was married about 1255 to Thomas de Bagsore (Badger, co. Salop). (fn. 3)
In the year 1244 or 1245 Mabel, calling herself the daughter of Warin de Burwardesley, grants in lawful widowhood to her son Warin all the land which, by hereditary right had fallen or should fall to her in the vills of Edulvescote (Arlscott near Broseley) and of West Bradeley (Bradleye near Broseley); the reserved rent being one pound of pepper. (fn. 3) It seems that his father Adam had also given to him all or most of his estate at Shushions; for in 1255 Warin de Beysin is returned as holding two carucates at Stuston (Shuston) of the Barony of Wenlock (fn. 4) (i.e., Wenlock Priory). It is probable that the other carucate was at that time held in dower by Mabel, the widow of Adam le Beysin.
Adam le Beysin (II.), son and heir of Adam and Mabel, did homage and was charged his relief for his lands in Shropshire as a tenant in capite before Michaelmas, 1238. (fn. 3) His attestation of a Pickthorn deed in 1241–2 proves him to be then a Knight. (fn. 3) But he did not live long to enjoy his inheritance. He died 13th December, 1243, leaving a widow Matilda, (fn. 5) and an only son and heir Robert, who was but sixteen months old at the time of his father's death. The wardship of Robert le Beysin, as a tenant in capite, fell to the Crown, and the King granted the said wardship to Sir Hugh Giffard, whose widow, Sibill Giffard, sold it to Sir Baldwin Freville. The latter also sold it, either altogether or in so far as the marriage of the heir was concerned, to Philip le Bret; (fn. 6) and in 1255 (being then only thirteen years of age) he was already married to Philip le Bret's daughter. (fn. 7) Robert le Beysin died before he had completed his twenty-fifth year. On 19th September, 1267, the King granted the marriage of his widow, Isabella, to Hugh de Beaumes, and in September, 1272 the said Isabella was reported by the Stottesden jurors as having married Robert de Turberville without the King's assent. Their lands were ordered to be seized, and the Sheriff was to cause their appearance in court. (fn. 8)
Walter le Beysin, son and heir of Robert, was of age in 1284, and subject to a prosecution of Matilda Devereux concerning a tenement at Billingsley in Shropshire. (fn. 8) Between the years 1294 and 1301 he was constantly employed on various Royal Commissions as an assessor and collector of taxes, and as a Commissioner of Array. His estates of more than 20l. annual value caused him to be served with the usual military summonses, in parts beyond sea in 1297, and against the Scots in 1301. In 30 Edward I. he was returned, as Knight of the Shire of Salop, to the Parliament which was to assemble at London on 29th September, 1302; (fn. 9) and on 14th October he obtained his writ of expenses for so attending.
In the following year, 1303, he was Sheriff of Staffordshire and Shropshire; and in 1305 he had his expenses allowed to him for a horse which he had lost in the King's service in Scotland. (fn. 10) In 1308 and 1309 he again appears as a Commissioner of Array, and on 30th July, 1309, he had military summons against the Scots. His last commission bears date 18th December, 1309, and related to some judicial inquiries in Herefordshire. (fn. 11) But on 4th January, 1310, he was deceased, for then did the King's writ of diem clausit extremum issue to the proper officers. In Staffordshire the jury found that he died seized of the hamlet of Chuston (Shushions), which he held of the Prior of Wenlock by the service of 10s. yearly. In this hamlet there is a capital messuage, with a curtilage, worth 6s. yearly; 15 acres of land worth 5s. yearly; 3 acres of meadow worth 3s. yearly and of rents of assize of cottages 13s. 4d; total 11s. 10d. He held also in the same county an annual rent of 20s. at Longnor of the Baroness of Stafford, at a quit rent of 6s. 8d. yearly; and 40s. of rent at Eton (Water Eton), for which he paid a quit rent of 15d. yearly to the Bishop of Chester (Coventry and Lichfield), where there is a certain water mill worth 13s. 4d. yearly. He held also a third part of the manor of Ashley of the King in capite, by the service of the third part of finding one man armed and horse caparisoned for forty days during the King's wars whenever he shall receive warning thereof. In the same vill there is a capital messuage worth yearly, with the profits of the garden and curtilage, 12d.; and there are 40 acres of land worth 10s. yearly; 2 acres of meadow worth 2s. yearly; and of rent of assize of free tenants 20s. The pleas and perquisites of court at Ashley and Schuston are worth 40d. yearly. (fn. 12) By his wife Alice, daughter of Sir Hugh Burnel, Knight, he left issue a son and heir Thomas le Beysin, who was twenty-two years of age at the date of the inquisition on 18th January, 1310.
In the year 1315, Thomas, son and heir of Walter de Beysin, petitions the Crown for an inquiry into his rights concerning certain lands, tenements, and pastures within the manor of Eten' super Watlinstrete, (fn. 13) which same manor had fallen into the King's hands on the death of Adam the great grandfather of the said Walter, which said lands, tenements, and pastures had, in the time of King Henry, been appropriated by the Seneschal of the said King's forest of Gauley, and added to the King's demesne woods of the same forest, and so remained to this day; on account of which the late King Edward, the King's father, had ordered an inquisition to be made; but owing to the King's death the inquisition had not been held, for which he prays a remedy. The answer was, that an inquisition should be held thereon in the presence of the Seneschal. (fn. 14)
On the Banco Roll of Michaelmas, 9 Edward II. (1315), Thomas de Beisin sues Reginald de Legh (whom Isabel, widow of Stephen de Wolaston, called to warranty) for one messuage and a carucate of land in Shuston, Staffordshire, and gave his descent as son and heir of Walter, son and heir of Robert, son and heir of Adam, son and heir of Adam, who held Shuston in the time of Henry III. Reginald acknowledged the seisin of Adam the ancestor, but affirmed that Adam gave the tenement in dispute to Warin his (younger) son, who gave it to one Alice de Wyneley, and Alice gave it to Reginald de Legh, uncle of Reginald, whose heir he is. A grand assize of Knights was to be summoned at Easter to try the cause. (fn. 15)
It does not appear that Thomas le Beysin obtained possession of Shushions, nor do I find any mention of his descendants in connection with it after this time. It is probable that his father Sir Walter's tenure there was rather of a seigneural kind than as actual tenant in fee.
Warin de Beysin, the younger son of Adam le Beysin (I.), who was in possession in 1255, and who had also been enfeoffed by his mother in certain lands at Arlscott in Shropshire, left a son Robert, who called himself de Arlscott; but it would seem from the abovementioned suit, that Warin had made over his interest to Alice de Wyneley, who had enfeoffed the Leghs, of whom it was apparently then held by Isabel, widow of Stephen de Wolaston; and as we do not again meet with the Beysins in connection with Shushions, I shall not follow the family any further here, but refer my readers to an article, by the present writer, in the "Transactions of the Shropshire Archæological Society," for a further account of them and their heirs. (fn. 16)
I suppose this Alice de Wyneley to be identical with Alesia, widow of Philip de Leye or Leigh, who on 7th April, 1269, sued Robert de Grendon for two mills in Scheneston (Shushions), and Adam de Gresebrok for a messuage and two acres of land in the same vill, as her right, by writ of entry. Robert and Adam appeared and called to warranty Robert de Leye, who was present in Court, and warranted the tenements to them, and, with the permission of the Court, gave up the said tenements to Alesia. She is therefore to have seizin, and the said Robert and Adam to have land of the said Robert to the value of them. (fn. 17)
Robert de Leye was probably the son and heir of Philip and Alice, and was himself deceased before 20th January, 1272, when Matilda, widow of Robert de la Leye, sued Robert de Grendon for one-third of 9 marks and 5s. of rent in Daddesle; she also sued Alexandra (?), the widow of Philip de la Leye, for one-third of ninety-four acres and a rood of land in Leye, Daddesleye, Middleton, Wythinton, Neubold, Fowell, Chekele, Wodehures, Wormansle, Pynlawe, and Edenynghale, as her dower. Robert and Alexandra appeared and called to warranty Hugh de Legh and Elena his wife, Philip de Draycote, and Richard de Sondbache, who came and warranted the land to them; and with respect to the claim made against Alexandra, they stated that one Philip de la Leye, the father of Robert, endowed the said Alexandra with the land at the church door when he married her, and they asked whether dower can be claimed from land of which she (Alexandra) had been endowed before Matilda was married. Matilda could not deny this. And with respect to the dower out of the rent claimed against Robert de Grendon, they say that the said Alexandra, after the death of her husband Philip, had sued the same Robert de Grendon for a mill, by writ of entry, by demise of the said Philip, and Robert had called to warranty the said Robert de la Leye, who warranted the tenement to him, and when by the judgment of the Court, before Gilbert de Preston at Derby, he lost the mill, the said Robert de Grendon was to be compensated from other land of the said Robert de la Leye, and he was given in exchange the rent in question, and therefore Matilda had no right to dower out of it. Matilda said she did not know whether the rent was so recovered or not. A day is therefore given to the parties at five weeks from Easter, and a scrutiny is to be made of the Rolls of Gilbert de Preston in the meanwhile. (fn. 18)
It is therefore clear that Alesia and Alexandra the widow of Philip de Leye are the same person. Her son Robert de Leye had died in the meantime, between April, 1269, and January, 1272, and was then represented by his daughter Elen, and his grandsons Philip de Draycote and Richard Sandbach, the issue of his daughters Alliva and Cecilia respectively: Alesia (or Alexandra), the widow of Philip de Leye, appears to have survived not only her son Robert, but also her grandchildren, and to have been succeeded at Shushions by her great-grandson Reginald de Legh. Her son Robert had issue a son Philip, who must have died without issue before 1272, and three daughters, namely, Elen, wife of Hugh de Legh, of Hughley, in Shropshire, Alliva, wife of Sir Richard Draycote, Knight, and Cecilia, wife of Sir Roger Sandbach, Knight, who divided the manor of Leigh between them. Hugh de Legh, the husband of Elen, was Lord of Hughley, in Shropshire, to which he succeeded about 1255. He was dead before October, 1282. Mr. Eyton informs us that his wife Elena had property at Calvington in Shropshire, in which she and her husband concurred in enfeoffing their younger son Edmund. (fn. 19) They had issue Reginald, Philip, and Edmund.
Reginald de Legh, the eldest son, appears in 1275, as one of the assessors of the tax called the fifteenth in the counties of Salop and Stafford. In October, 1282, he occurs as a Knight, and in that same month he presented to the Church of Hughley as patron. (fn. 20) But I suppose that he and his brother Philip, who probably survived him, were both dead in 1293–4, when Alesia, widow of Philip de Legh, recovers from Robert de Grendon two mills, a messuage, &c., which Reginald de Leye held, and £10 in Leye. (fn. 21)
Reginald de Legh (II.), the son of Philip, presented to the Church of Hughley in December, 1313. (fn. 20) He was in litigation, as we have seen, at Michaelmas, 1315, with Thomas le Beysin concerning certain lands in Shushions; and the following year he is certified as Lord of Leye in Shropshire, and joint Lord, with Philip de Draycote, of Leye in Staffordshire. (fn. 22) In 2 Edward III. (1377–8) "Burga, Lady of Wyllelegh and of Kenlegh" (co. Salop), in her widowhood grants to Reginald, Lord of Leigh, two assarts and one parcel of land in Kenlegh, as they were assarted in the time of her late husband Sir Richard de Harley. (fn. 23) And in 1341–2 (17 Kal. Ap.) Philip de Legh is instituted to the Church of Leigh (co. Stafford), on the presentation of Reginald de Legh. (fn. 24) The said Reginald had issue a son Richard, who had issue Reginald, who died without issue, and two daughters, Elizabeth, married to Sir Thomas Aston, of Heywood, Knight, and Joan, married to Thomas Gatacre, of Gatacre, in Shropshire, who so divided their lands that Aston had the third part of Leigh in Staffordshire, and Gatacre had Hughley in Shropshire. (fn. 25) But this manor of Shushions seems to have passed about this time to the Knightleys. The pedigree of Knightley of Fawsley gives John, son of John, younger son of the third Sir Robert de Knightley, of Knightley, co. Stafford, Knight, by his wife Alice D'Oyley, as Lord of Shushions in 15 Richard II. (1391–2). (fn. 26) Sir Robert de Knightley, of Knightley, the third of that name, who was Knight of the Shire for Staffordshire in 1325, married Alice, daughter of Sir John D'Oyley, of Ranton, co. Stafford, Knight, and heiress of the whole blood of her brother Henry D'Oyley, of Cowley, in the same county. On her marriage in 2 Edward II. (1308–9), her father gave to her and her husband as her marriage portion, all his rents in Norton and a part of those in Longnor, in the county of Stafford; (fn. 27) and by another deed he also settled upon them the manor of Little Wyrley, in the same county. (fn. 28) Sir Robert died about 1333, leaving Alice his wife surviving, who occurs as Lady of Little Wyrley in 1335. (fn. 29) They appear to have had issue: 1. Sir Robert de Knightley, of Knightley, the fourth of that name in succession (whose granddaughter and heiress Joan, the daughter of John de Knightley, of Knightley, married Roger de Peshall, and left an only daughter and heiress Joan, who became the wife of William Lee, but died without issue); 2, John de Knightley, of whom presently; 3, Gilbert Knightley, Clerk, who was presented by one of the D'Oyleys to the Church of Stoke D'Oyley, co. Northampton, in 1349, which he held till 1369. (fn. 30)
John de Knightley, the second son, had the manor of Little Wyrley for life, by the gift of Alice his mother, in 9 Edward III. (to be held of her by the annual render of a rose), as appears by the confirmation thereof from Robert de Knightley to the said John his brother in 14 Edward III. (1340), to whom also John D'Oyley released it in the following year. (fn. 31) In 41 Edward III. (1368) his uncle Henry D'Oyley likewise gave him for term of life, by deed dated at Cowley (in which he styles him his nephew John de Knightley, senior), all his messuages in the feuds of Cowley and Gnosall. (fn. 30)
According to the pedigree of Knightley of Fawsley, co. Northampton, this John had a son John de Knightley (II.), who had the manor of Shushions, in 15 Richard II. (1391–2); and another son William de Knightley (who exchanged his lands in Gnosall with Roger Peshall and Joan his wife in 17 Richard II. (1393–4), who had issue Roger, who had issue John, who, by Elizabeth de Burgh his wife, had issue an elder son Richard, from whom the Knightleys of Fawsley were descended, a younger son John de Knightley, junior, of Chesterton, father of George, an infant in 1401–3, and a third son Edmund); but the generations given in this part of the pedigree appear to me to be impossible, and I am disposed to think that there are two generations interpolated: that William and his son Roger belonged to another branch of the family, and that John de Knightley (II.), who was of Shusions in 1391–2, was the husband of Elizabeth de Burgh, the daughter of Adam, and granddaughter and heiress of William de Burgh, Lord of Burgh, Apeton, and a portion of Wilbrighton, all in the parish of Gnosall.
This John de Knightley made his will on 23rd April, 1413, (fn. 32) and died in the same year, leaving Elizabeth his widow, who was living in 1416. (fn. 32) According to the pedigree above mentioned, John de Knightley and Elizabeth de Burgh had issue: 1, Richard, their son and heir, who married a daughter of Giffard of Chillington, and had issue, Richard Knightley, of Burghhall, who purchased the manor of Hellidon, co. Northampton, in 21 Henry VI., and whose son Richard (afterwards of Fawsley) was then ten years of age; 2, John; and 3, Edmund de Knightley, who was next in the settlement after his nephew George de Knightley to his mother's lands in Alreston and Apton in 1402–3.
John de Knightley, junior (younger son of John and Elizabeth), probably had the manors of Shushions and a fourth part of Wilbrighton settled upon him at the time of his marriage with his wife Joanna, who was afterwards re-married, as I think, to Sir Robert Corbet, Knight, and held these manors for the term of her life. By inquisition taken at Penkridge on 22nd September, 1419, it was found that Joanna, who had been the wife of Sir Robert Corbet, Knight, had held for term of her life, on the day of her death, a fourth part of the manor of Wylbryghton with the appurtenances in the county of Stafford, by the dimission of Elizabeth Knyghtley, of which the reversion after the death of the said Joanna, belonged to George, son and heir of John Knyghtley, son and heir of the said Elizabeth, then under age, who held it of the heir of Edmund, late Earl of Stafford, now under age, who held it of the late King Henry, father of the present King, by military service, and in the custody of Joan, Queen of England, to whom the said late King had committed the custody of all the lands and tenements of the said Earl which had devolved upon the said late King by reason of the minority of his heir. The said Joanna also held on the day of her death the manor of Shuston with the appurtenances in the same county for the term of her life, by the dimission of John Knightley, father of the aforesaid John Knyghtley, the son, of which the reversion after the death of Joanna belonged to the aforesaid George and his heirs. The aforesaid fourth part is held of the aforesaid heir of the late Earl of Stafford by the service of a third part of a knight's fee, and is of the yearly value of 40s. And the said manor of Shuston with the appurtenances is held of the Prior of Wenlock, by the service of 10s. yearly for all services, and is of the yearly value of £10. The said Joanna died on 3rd October, 1418, and William Peyto is her son and nearest heir, of the age of twenty-two years and more. (fn. 33) This Joanna was the widow of Sir Robert Corbet, of King's Bromley, co. Stafford, and Hadley, co. Salop. She was the daughter of Sir John de Thornbury, Knight, and married for her first husband William de Peto, of Chesterton, co. Warwick, Esq., who died in 8 Henry IV. (1406–7), leaving a son and heir William Peto, whose lands, by reason of his minority, were, in 10 Henry IV. committed to the custody of John Knightley the younger. (fn. 34) I suppose her to have married the said John Knightley (son of John Knightley and Elizabeth de Burgh) for her second husband. He is styled in the pedigree, "of Chesterton, in the county of Warwick," and had issue by his wife Joanna a son, George Knightley, on whom his grandmother Elizabeth entailed her lands in Alreston and Apton, in the county of Stafford, with remainder to his uncle Edmund, in 4 Henry V. (1416); and a daughter Elizabeth, living in 4 Henry V. The said John de Knightley, junior, is also said in the pedigree to have been Justice of Chester in 4 Henry V.; but this is a mistake for 4 Henry IV. He was, in fact, Lieutenant Justice of Chester in 1399, under William Scroop, Earl of Wiltshire, and Hugh Percy, and in 4 Henry IV. (1402) was made Judge of Chester for one turn. (fn. 35) He probably died about 1416, leaving George Knightley his son and heir an infant.
What became of the manor of Shushions after this time I am unable to say: whether George Knightley left issue, or whether it devolved upon his sister Elizabeth, or his uncle Edmund Knightley, or whether it passed into the hands of the Wolastons, the owners of the neighbouring hamlet of Wolaston, who seem, from what has been stated, to have acquired some interest here so early as the year 1315. It afterwards came into the possession of the Littletons, of Pillaton, who held it in 1718, and, in September, 1822, it was conveyed by the Trustees of Sir Edward Littleton to Richard Crockett, Esq., by whom it was sold in 1835 to Mr. Thomas James, the grandfather of Mr. Thomas James the present owner.