Scott, William (d.1350) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 51
Scott, William (d.1350)

by James McMullen Rigg
Died 1352x6, according to the ODNB.

SCOTT, Sir WILLIAM (d. 1350), judge, and reputed founder of the Kentish family of Scot's Hall, is said to have been son of John Scott who resided at Brabourne, Kent, apparently as seneschal of the manor. But the pedigree of the Scot's Hall family has not been traced with certainty before the fifteenth century. The judge, according to a wholly untrustworthy tradition, was descended from a younger brother of John de Baliol [q. v.], king of Scotland, and also of Alexander de Baliol [q. v.], lord of Chilham, Kent. William Scott makes his first appearance as a pleader in the year-book for 1330 (Michaelmas term). He was made serjeant-at-law in 1334–5, and on 18 March 1336–7 justice of the common pleas, having been knighted the day before, when the Black Prince was created Duke of Cornwall. In December 1340, with Chief-justice Sir Robert Parning [q. v.] and other judges, he sat at Westminster to try their delinquent colleague, Sir Richard de Willoughby [q. v.] He has been doubtfully identified with William Scott, who was knight marshal of England, and is said, according to an epitaph recorded by Weever, to have been buried in Brabourne church in 1350. But there was a William Scott who purchased land at Brabourne between 1352 and 1396, and was assessed to the sixteenth from 1349 to 1372. There is no proof, as is commonly stated, that the judge was father of Michael Scott, who in 1346–7 was assessed to the sixteenth in Bircholt.

Obscurity in the history of the family of Scott of Scot's Hall ceases with the settlement by Peter de Coumbe in 1402 of the manor of Combe or Coumbe in Brabourne on William Scott (d. 1434), who was escheator for Kent in 1425, sheriff in 1428, and M.P. in 1430. Before 1409 he married his first wife, Joan, daughter of Sir John de Orlestone (d 1397), and by purchase or inheritance he acquired the manor and church of Orlestone, which had belonged to her family. He presented to the church in 1426, 1430, and 1433. He is believed to have built on the manor of Hall the mansion-house afterwards known as Scot's Hall. To him also was probably due the reconstruction in the Perpendicular style of the chapel of the Holy Trinity to the south of the chancel in Brabourne church, at the entrance of which he directed that he should be buried (cf. Weever). He died on 5 Feb. 1433–4. His second wife was Isabella, youngest daughter of Vincent Herbert, alias Finch, of Netherfield, Sussex (ancestor of the earls of Winchilsea); she survived him, and remarried Sir Gervase Clifton, treasurer of the household to Henry VI, who resided at Brabourne. By his second wife William Scott had, with other issue, an heir, John, and William (d 1491). The latter was lord of the manor of Woolstan, and founder of the family of Scott of Chigwell, Essex.

The heir, Sir John Scott (d. 1485) of Scot's Hall, a consistent Yorkist, was appointed sheriff of Kent in 1460, and, on the accession of Edward IV next year, was knighted and made comptroller of the household. Edward IV, on the attainder in 1461 of Thomas, baron de Roos, and James Butler, earl of Wiltshire, gave him the castle and manor of Wilderton and Molash in Kent and the manor of Old Swinford and Snodsbury in Worcestershire, with a life interest in the castle and manor of Chilham. He was one of the negotiators of the treaty of commerce with Burgundy, concluded at Brussels on 24 Nov. 1467, and of the marriage treaty [see Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy], and one of the commission for the delimitation of the Pale of Picardy, appointed on 18 June 1472. He was returned to parliament for Kent in 1467, and was engaged in the following years on diplomatic negotiations with the Hanse Towns. In 1471 he succeeded Richard Neville, earl Warwick, whom he was sent to arrest in France after the battle of Stamford (May 1470), as lieutenant of Dover Castle, warden of the Cinque ports, and marshal of Calais, and continued in active diplomatic employment. He died on 17 Oct. 1485, and was buried in the north wall of the chancel of Brabourne church. His arms are in the north window of ‘the martyrdom’ at Canterbury Cathedral. His account-book (1463–6) was printed in ‘Archæologia Cant.’ vol. x. By his wife Agnes (d. 1487), daughter of William de Beaufitz of the Grange, Gillingham, Kent, he had, with two daughters, an heir, William. The statement that Thomas Rotherham [q. v.] was a younger son is without foundation.

Sir William Scott (1459–1524) of Brabourne was concerned in the siege of Bodiam Castle in 1483–4, for which and other delinquencies he received a pardon on the accession of Henry VII. Rising in favour with that monarch, he was sworn of the privy council, appointed comptroller of the household, and created C.B. with Prince Arthur on 29 Nov. 1489. He was also lieutenant of Dover Castle, warden of the Cinque ports, and marshal of Calais in 1490–1, sheriff of Kent the same year, in 1501 and 1516. In 1495 he succeeded to the manor of Brabourne on the death, without issue, of Joan, widow of Sir John Lewknor (killed at Tewkesbury 1471). The property came to her from her father Richard, son of John Halsham, and, by a settlement of 1464, was limited to John Scott and his heirs, failing Joan Lewknor's issue. John Scott's relationship to the Halshams and Lewknors is not established. In 1519 Sir William attended Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and figured among the grandees deputed with Wolsey to receive the Emperor Charles V on his landing at Dover on 28 May 1522. Scot's Hall he rebuilt in a style of such splendour as to make it long the rival of the greatest of the houses of Kent. He died on 24 Aug. 1524, and was buried in the chancel of Brabourne church. By his wife Sybil (d. 1527) he left issue. A younger son, Edward (d. 1535), married Alice, daughter of Thomas Fogge, serjeant porter of Calais, and founded the family of Scott of the Mote, Iden, Sussex.

His heir, Sir John Scott (1484?–1533), was knighted by the young Prince Charles (afterwards the Emperor Charles V) for gallantry displayed in the campaign of 1511 in the Low Countries against the Duke of Guelders [see Poynings, Sir Edward]. He entered the retinue of George Neville, lord Abergavenny, constable of Dover Castle, and had charge of the transport service on the landing of Charles V at Dover on 28 May 1522. He was sheriff of Kent in 1527, and died 7 Oct. 1533. By marriage with Anne, daughter of Reginald Pympe (said to be de- scended from John Gower, the poet), his successors acquired the manor of Nettlestead, Kent. Their issue was, besides several daughters, three sons, William (d. 1536 s.p.), Reginald, and Richard, who was father of Reginald (d 1599) [q. v.], author of ‘The Discovery of Witchcraft.’

Sir John Scott's second son, Sir Reginald Scott (1512–1554), sheriff of Kent in 1541 and surveyor of works at Sandgate, died on 15 Dec. 1554, and was buried at Brabourne, having married, first, Emeline, daughter of Sir William Kempe; and, secondly, Mary, daughter of Sir Brian Tuke [q. v.] He had issue six sons and four daughters.

Sir Reginald Scott's eldest son by his first wife, Sir Thomas Scott (1535–1594), was soon prominent in public affairs in Kent. He was knighted in 1571, and was deputy lieutenant of the county. In 1575 he succeeded as heir to the manor of Nettlestead. In 1576 he served as high sheriff, and was knight of the shire in the parliaments of 1571 and 1586. He was a commissioner to report on the advisability of improving the breed of horses in this country, a subject on which he is said to have written a book; was commissioner for draining and improving Romney Marsh, and became superintendent of the improvements of Dover harbour. At the time of the Spanish Armada he was appointed chief of the Kentish force which assembled at Northbourne Down. He equipped four thousand men himself within a day of receiving his orders from the privy council. Renowned for his hospitality and public spirit, he died on 30 Dec. 1594, and was buried at Brabourne. The offer of the parish of Ashford to bury him in the parish church free of expense was declined. A long biographical elegy, which has been attributed to his cousin Reginald, is extant (Peck, Collection of Curious Pieces, vol. iii.; Scott, Memorials of the Scot Family; Reginald Scot, Discovery, ed. Nicholson, pp. xv–xvii). He married three times. By his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Baker of Sissinghurst, he had six sons and three daughters; this lady's sister married Thomas Sackville, lord Buckhurst [q. v.] In 1583 Scott married, secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Ralph Heyman of Somerfield; she died in 1595 without issue. His third wife was Dorothy, daughter of John Bere of Horsman's Place, Dartford. Scot was this lady's fourth husband; he had no issue by her (Scott, Memorials of the Family of Scot of Scot's Hall, 1876, pp. 194–206, with portrait and will).

Sir Thomas Scott's second son, Sir John Scott (1570–1616), was knighted in the Low Countries by Lord Willoughby, under whom he served as captain of a band of lancers (1588). He commanded a ship in the expedition of 1597 to the Azores; in 1601 he was implicated, but not fatally, in the Essex rising. From 1604 till 1611 he was M.P. for Kent, and in 1614 he sat for Maidstone. On 9 March 1607 he became a member of the council for Virginia, and on 23 May 1609 a councillor of the Virginia Company of London; to the former he subscribed 75l. He died on 24 Sept. 1616, and was buried in Brabourne church, Kent. He was twice married: first, to Elizabeth Stafford, a descendant of the Duke of Buckingham (beheaded in 1521); and, secondly, to Catherine, daughter of Thomas Smith, the customer, and widow of Sir Rowland Hayward. Dekker in 1609 dedicated his ‘Phœnix’ to her and her father.

The last Scott who occupied Scot's Hall was Francis Talbot Scott (1745–1787), apparently fifth in descent from Sir Edward Scott (d. 1644), fifth son of Sir Thomas (1535–1594). On Francis Talbot Scott's death the estate was sold to Sir John Honywood of Evington. The old mansion was pulled down in 1808. There are many living representatives of the various branches of the family. The estates of Orlestone and Nettlestead were alienated in 1700.

[Scott's Memorials of the Family of Scott of Scot's Hall (which is at many points inaccurate); Weever's Funeral Mon. 1631, p. 269; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, ‘Athol;’ Hasted's Kent, ed. 1790, iii. 292; Foss's Lives of the Judges; Dugdale's Chron. Ser. pp. 42, 43; Abbrev. Rot. Orig. ii. 99, 179; Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner; Metcalfe's Book of Knights; Cal. Rot. Pat. p. 134; Lyon's Dover Castle, ii. 244, 245; Letters and Papers, Henry VIII; Rymer's Fœdera, 1st edit. xi. 590–1, 599, 737–59, 778, xiv. 407–8; The French Chronicle of London (Camden Soc.), p. 87; Rutland Papers (Camden Soc.), pp. 72, 73; Chronicle of Calais (Camden Soc.), pp. 8, 15; Three Fifteenth-Century Chronicles (Camden Soc.), p. 157; Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. App. p. 138; Brown's Genesis of United States, esp. pp. 996–7; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1599–1616; and information from C. R. Beazley, esq. Valuable notes have been supplied by Edmund Ward Oliver, esq.]

J. M. R.