Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Felton, Thomas (d.1381)

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FELTON, Sir THOMAS (d. 1381), seneschal of Aquitaine, was second son of Sir John Felton, governor of Alnwick in 1314, who was summoned to parliament in 1342, and was lord of the manor of Litcham, Norfolk. Sir John's father, Sir Robert, governor of Scarborough Castle in 1311, was slain at Stirling in 1314. William Felton, Sir Robert's father, governor of Bambrough in 1315, was originally known as William Fitz-Pagan, being son of Pagan of Upper Felton, Northumberland, and was the first to bring the family into notice. Sir Thomas Felton had an elder brother, Hamond, who was M.P. for Norfolk in 1377, and died in 1379. A younger brother, Sir Edmund, who was living in 1364, was ancestor of Robert Felton of Shotley (d 1506), who by his marriage with Margaret Sampson of Playford, Suffolk, acquired the Playford property, and was grandfather of Sir Anthony Felton, K.B. (d. 1613). Sir Anthony's son, Henry (d. 1659), was created a baronet 20 July 1620.

Sir Thomas was with the expedition, commanded by Edward III, that invaded France in 1346, and took part in the battle of Crécy, the capture of Calais, and the other important events of that campaign. When the Black Prince went to take possession of Gascony in 1355, Felton went with him, and followed him to the battle of Poitiers. He was one of the commissioners who signed the important treaty of Bretigny (1360) and took oath to see it executed. He was deputed to receive the king of Cyprus, who came to Aquitaine on a visit to the prince in 1364. The prince when requested by Don Pedro to reinstate him on the throne of Castille, referred the matter to Sir John Chandos [q.v.] and Felton. Chandos was unfavourable. Felton recommended that the barons and knights of Aquitaine should be consulted in the matter. The prince replied, ‘It shall be done.’ The larger council being held it was decided that Felton be sent to Spain with a fleet of twelve ships to bring Don Pedro. Having set out he landed at Bayonne, where Don Pedro had already arrived, and returned with him and his suite to Bordeaux. Power to treat with Pedro, king of Castile, was given to him as seneschal of Aquitaine representing Edward, prince of Wales, in letters dated 8 Feb. 1362. The invasion of Spain having been agreed upon, Felton and Chandos obtained leave from the king of Navarre to cross the mountain passes into Spain. Felton preceded the prince with a small force, and found the enemy encamped near Navarrete, 1367. They were attacked by a large body of Spaniards, and all either killed or taken prisoners. Felton was exchanged for the French Marshal d'Audreham, who was afterwards taken prisoner by the English at the battle of Navarrete. He subsequently took part in combats and sieges at Monsac, at Duravel, and at Domme, and was then recalled to Angoulême by the prince, and sent into Poitou with the Earl of Pembroke. He secured La Linde on the Dordogne when about to be betrayed to the French. He joined the Duke of Lancaster in an attack on the town of Mont-Paon, and made an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the garrison of Thouars. In spite of his efforts Monsac was lost to the English. In 1372, when the Black Prince had surrendered the principality of Aquitaine into the king's hands, it was granted by royal commission to Felton and Sir Robert Wykford; and on the final withdrawal of the Duke of Lancaster, Felton was appointed seneschal of Bordeaux. In February 1375 he returned to England; in 1376 he was charged with the execution of the truce, and in December of the same year he was charged to negotiate with the king of Navarre. He caused Guillaume de Pommiers and his secretary to be beheaded at Bordeaux for treason. He was at length again taken prisoner by the French near Bordeaux, 1 Nov. 1377. In 1380 Joan or Johanna, his wife, petitioned the king that a French prisoner in England should not be ransomed until her husband had been set at liberty. In August of the same year the king granted to Felton for the payment of his ransom thirty thousand francs from the ransom of two French prisoners. In April a procuration had been signed by the Comte de Foix to set him at liberty. During the same year he received letters of protection in England to enable him to return to France for matters connected with the payment of his ransom. The lands and barony of Chaumont in Gascony were given by Edward III to Sir John Chandos, with a reversion at his death to Felton. He was made a knight of the Garter in January 1381, and his plate is still to be seen in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, in the tenth stall, on the sovereign's side. He died 2 April 1381. Besides the manor of Litcham, Norfolk, Felton owned the manor called Felton's at Barrow, Suffolk, and other property in the neighbourhood. By his wife, Joan, he left three daughters: Mary, wife of Sir John Curson of Beke or Beek, Norfolk; Sibyll, wife of Sir Thomas de Morley; and Eleanor, wife of Sir Thomas de Ufford.

[Suffolk Institute of Archæology, iv. 27 et seq. (Playford and the Feltons); Beltz's Order of the Garter; Gage's Thingoe, p. 11; Rymer's Fœdera; Froissart's Chroniques, ed. Luce; Archives de la Gironde; Black Book, ed. Anstis (Rolls Series).]

J. G. F.