John de Bassingbourne 13C

During the reign of King John the Manor of Bassingbourne in Takeley, Essex, was held by a John de Bassingbourne in the right of his wife Albreda. The family of Bassingbourne appear to have come over to England with the army of William the Conqueror, & fought at Hastings in 1066.

The village of Bassingbourne in Cambridgeshire seems to have been taken by the family as their surname. They were to reach positions of some power & influence. We think that John de Bassingbourne was the son of Warin de Bassingbourne the steward of Richmond, & Sheriff of Cambridgeshire.

What is certain is that the Bassingbourne who held the Takeley manor was a close associate & confident of King John. He had accompanied the young Prince John on his unsuccessful journey to Ireland & his name appears frequently on royal documents showing that he was often at the royal court. He is listed by Sir William Dugdale as one of King John’s “Evil Counsellors”.

From 1207 to 1212 Bassingbourne held the castle of Corfe for the King. He then held Hertford & Tickhill in Yorkshire. The later was an important castle in a strategic position. Hertford was also important as he replaced John Fitz Hugh, one of the rebellious barons of the period.

King John gave Bassingbourne many lucrative grants of marriage rights & custody. He held lands in Lincolnshire, Cumberland, & West Thurrock, Kelshall, Rettendon, Sandon & Terefiled in Hertfordshire & Essex. He also accompanied John on his expeditions to the Angevin dominions in France & was associated with the King’s half brother in preparations for an expedition to Poitou.

We do not now know the circumstances that led to Bassingbourne disserting the King & joining the rebels, although proximity with the prominent Baron Robert Fit Walter may have influenced him.
The result of the desertion was that many of his holdings were lost to Ralph of Rayleigh & he does not again appear on central government documents as a witness. We are uncertain of the date of his death. He was certainly dead by 1239 when his widow Albreda & their two sons Alexnder and Stephen de Bassingbourne are mentioned in documents.

The family continued to hold Bassingbourne manor for another hundred years or more, & their descendants appear in other Essex sources. They do not seem to have survived into the early Tudor period, but their name has survived in association with the Takeley manor.

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