The 1377 St. Alban’s Abbey manorial rental rolls for Esol record that the house, buildings and land previously held by Sir John de Beauchamp was then owned Sir John Harleston, who also had a life interest in Freydvill’.
Sir John Harleston, sometimes spelt Harlestone or Herliston, had much in common with Sir John de Beauchamp, his predecessor at Esol. Sir John was a knight from a land-owning Essex family and he served and fought in the Hundred Years War with some distinction. As reward for his service he was made a Knight of the Chamber by King Richard II. As with Sir John de Beauchamp it’s likely Sir John Harleston acquired Esol as a stopping off place for journeys between England and the Continent through the port of Sandwich, it’s ideally situated just some five or six miles from the port and would have provided a comfortable place to stay on arrival from the Continent or awaiting a ship to cross the Channel for Sir John or members of his household and entourage.
In 1359 he was credited with the capture of Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, some thirty miles north-west of Dijon. During the 1360’s he appears to have embarked on various diplomatic and other missions on behalf of the King, and he helped negotiate a truce in 1366 between England and France. On the resumption of hostilities between England and France in 1369 Sir John was appointed Captain of Guise and held the post until late 1376. In 1379 he was made Captain of Cherbourg, and for at least part of that year he was also Captain of Froissart and Kervyn de Lettenhove. During his time at Cherbourg he took part in various skirmishes, and in one of these he captured a French knight, William de Bordes, whom he gave to King Richard II in return for a grant of 10,000 francs. Sir John is also said to have received £1,583 6s 8d for the ransom of another unnamed French knight, a considerable sum at a time when Richard II’s annual revenue was around £70,000.
After serving as Captain of Cherbourg he accompanied Thomas Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, on raids into various parts of France which further added to his considerable wealth. For these raids he contracted to provide six bannerets [knights of the highest order of knighthood], seventy three knights and eighty archers.
Sir John was back in England in 1381 and helped to defeat and punish participants in the Peasants Revolt in Kent and Essex on behalf of King Richard II. However, he was not in England for long, and he returned to the Continent as part of Despenser’s Crusade of 1383. This was a military expedition led by Henry le Despenser, the Fighting Bishop of Norwich, which was intended to help the city of Ghent in its struggle against the supporters of the Antipope Clement VII during the great Western or Papal Schism, a split within the Catholic Church which lasted from 1378 to 1417. This expedition was an integral part of the Hundred Years War as France supported Clement, whose court was based in Avignon, whilst the English supported Pope Urban VI whose court was in Rome.
In 1384 Sir John returned to raiding in France, but this time he captured raiding villages belonging to Bruno, Graf von Rappoltstein, a powerful independent nobleman from Alsace who had extensive holdings in France and the Holy Roman Empire. Bruno von Rappoltstein held Sir John prisoner in Alsace and Burgundy and did not release him until 1392. On his release he was granted an annuity of one hundred marks by King Richard II to help compensate him for losses incurred during his imprisonment and this annuity was subsequently confirmed by Henry IV in October 1399. After his release Sir John led a quieter life, but still retained some interest in the Royal Court’s affairs until his death in the early 15th century.
The Manor of Freydvill’, the other half of the Essewelle knight’s fee, was also held by Sir John Harleston who had had a life interest in the manor granted to him by the 2nd Lord Say prior to 1356 and the interest was to revert to the de Says or their heirs when Sir John died. Probably in the late 1390’s Sir John transferred this life interest to John Quadryng, a City of London mercer, and his wife Margaret, along with Thomas de Charleton, Robert Rykedoun, and John Byfelde.
The situation then becomes rather complicated.
In 1362 William de Say came of age and became the 3rd Baron Say. He married Beatrix de Brewose, who inherited her brother’s property when he died without issue, and they had two children, John and Elizabeth.
William de Say died in 1376 when John was about two and Elizabeth about eight years old and because of John’s minority their father’s estates and property were taken into the hands of the Crown and the children were made Wards of the Crown.
John de Say, the 4th and last Baron Say, was a ward of King Richard II when he died in 1382 aged about 10 years old and without issue. His sister Elizabeth was aged about sixteen, and was her brother’s heir to both title and property. After her inheritance Elizabeth married Sir John de Falvesle, a Northamptonshire knight who was summoned to Parliament as Lord Say. The couple had no children before Sir John’s death. Elizabeth remarried around 1393, taking Sir William Heroun, also Heron, as her second husband and in his turn he was also summoned to Parliament as Lord Say.
When Elizabeth Heroun died without issue in 1399 her title and extensive property, including the Manor of Freydeuyle, went to her second husband Sir William and after his death in 1404, again without issue, the Post Mortem Inquiry for the property he held in Kent recorded: “John Herleston, knight, holds the manor of Fredville for life by the grant of Geoffrey de Say, with reversion in virtue of the above fine to the heirs of Elizabeth, annual value when it occurs 100s”. Even though Sir John had previously transferred his interest to John Quadryng et al the manor still reverted to Elizabeth Heroun’s heirs.
William de Say, 3rd Baron Say had three sisters and each sisters heirs received one third of the baronies land and property. These heirs were: William Clynton, knight son and heir of Idonea, first sister of William de Say, 3rd Baron; Roger Fenes, or Fienes, son of William Fenes, knight son and heir of Joan, the second sister of William de Say, 3rd Baron; and sisters Maud Bosenho and Mary de Worthyngton, née Alden, the daughters and joint heirs of Elizabeth, the third sister of William de Say, 3rd Baron.
Maud disposed of her one-sixth share in 1401:-“that by fine levied in the king’s court Maud who was wife of Thomas Bosenho acknowledged the right of John Quadrynge, and made a quitclaim of the manor to them and the heirs of the said John”. This feet of fines of the 1st of May 1401 is generally believed to represent the transfer of the whole of the Manor of Fredeuyle to the Quadryngs, but in fact it represents just one sixth of it.
William Clynton quitclaimed his one third of the manor, presumably at around the same time as Maud. It’s recorded: “that when in seisin of Thomas de Charleton and the others William de Clynton by writing under his seal made a quitclaim of his right to them and to the heirs and assigns of John Quadrynge”. John Quadryng therefore had clear possession of one half of the Manor of Fredeuyle.
For some time after the 1401 feet of fines the other two of the heirs, Roger Fenes and Mary de Worthyngton, retained a one third and one sixth share respectively in the Manor of Fredeuyle. Mary and her husband, Otto de Worthyngton, appear to transfer the ownership of their one-sixth of the manor of Fredeuyll by a 1413 feet of fines to John and Margaret Quadryng but Roger Fenes still retained his one third in 1430 and nothing has yet come to light as to the disposal of this final one-third share.