Stapleton, Miles de (d.1364) (DNB00)

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STAPLETON, MILES de (d. 1364), of Bedale and Ingham, knight of the Garter, was the eldest son of Gilbert de Stapleton, knt. (d. 1321), and the grandson of Miles de Stapleton (d. 1314) [q. v.] His mother was Matilda (b. 1298), also called Agnes, elder daughter and coheiress of Brian Fitzalan, lord of Bedale [q. v.], from whom he inherited a moiety of Fitzalan's estates, including half Bedale, Askham Brian, and Cotherstone in Yorkshire. Brian de Stapleton [q. v.] was his younger brother. At his father's death Stapleton was only a child. In early life he is often called Miles de Stapleton of Cotherstone. He afterwards obtained considerable fame as a warrior during the French wars of Edward III. It is, however, very difficult to distinguish him from his cousin and namesake, Sir Miles de Stapleton of Hathelsay (d. 1373), who was sheriff of Yorkshire in 1353, served in the French and Scottish wars from 1355 to 1360, and in 1356 conducted the captive David Bruce from Newcastle to London; was summoned to parliament in 1358, but never received a subsequent writ, and died in 1373, leaving a son and heir Thomas, whose widow ultimately took the estate to her near kin the Fitzwilliams. Dugdale in his ‘Baronage’ (ii. 70) has woven the exploits of Miles of Bedale into the history of Miles of Hathelsay. He was probably in the Breton expedition of 1342, and at the siege of Calais in 1347. Either he or his cousin was the Miles de Stapleton who on 19 Jan. 1344 obtained the chief credit on the first day of a famous Windsor tournament, and afterwards took part in the foundation of a ‘round table’ (Murimuth, p. 155). In June 1345 he received, as Miles de Stapleton of Cotherstone, letters of protection on going beyond sea with the king (Fœdera, iii. 48, cf. p. 39). In 1347 and 1348 he was again prominent in the tournaments that preceded the foundation of the order of the Garter, becoming one of the original knights of the Garter, standing seventeenth in the list, and occupying the ninth stall in St. George's Chapel on the ‘king's side.’ In 1349 and 1354 he was again serving in France, and in the latter year was one of the magnates who signed a procuration referring the disputes of England and France to the pope (ib. iii. 285). He took part in the raid of Lancaster towards Paris in 1356 (G. le Baker, p. 139, cf. p. 298). In January 1358 he went on a mission from Edward III to Philip of Navarre, receiving 50l. as his wages as king's messenger (Fœdera, iii. 387). In July 1359 he was again going abroad on the king's service (ib. iii. 439), and was one of the negotiators of the treaty of Bretigny in 1360 (ib. iii. 494), being afterwards ordered with two others to see to its faithful execution. In June 1361 he received an annuity of 100l. from the exchequer for his ‘unwearied labours and laudable services.’ In January 1364 he again obtained letters of attorney for three years, and went to France to support John de Montfort's candidature for the Breton succession. He died in December of the same year, possibly, as the family historian conjectures, of wounds received in the battle of Auray.

Stapleton is celebrated by Geoffrey le Baker (p. 139) as a good and experienced soldier, a man of great probity and singular devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He was twice married. By his first wife he had a son John, who died in 1355. He married his second wife in 1350. This lady was Joan, daughter and coheiress of Oliver de Ingham, baron of Ingham [q. v.] in Norfolk, and widow of Roger Lestrange of Knockin. Henceforward Stapleton is as often described as ‘of Ingham’ as of ‘Bedale,’ and became a considerable proprietor in Norfolk. In 1360 he obtained royal license to dispense with the statute of mortmain, and, in conjunction with his wife, began to found a college of Mathurins or Trinitarians at Ingham, an order of canons established to pray for and redeem Christian captives from the Turks. He rebuilt the parish church of Ingham on a grand scale, and obtained from Bishop Thomas Percy of Norwich an ordinance for a foundation for a prior (or warden), sacrist, and six canons (Monasticon, vi. 1458–9), in which the rectory of the parish was absorbed. At first only the warden and two chaplains were appointed. The building is still the parish church, and parts are of this date. Stapleton was buried at Ingham; a sumptuous brass placed over his tomb is engraved in Gough's ‘Sepulchral Monuments’ (vol. i. pt. ii. p. 120), and in Mr. Chetwynd-Stapylton's ‘Stapeltons of Yorkshire’ (p. 100), who also gives the inscription from Blomefield's ‘Norfolk’ (ix. 324, 8vo). The brass was dilapidated in Blomefield's time, and has since disappeared. Stapleton's eldest son John died before him, and he was succeeded at Ingham as well as Bedale by Miles, his son by the heiress of Ingham. Their only other issue was a daughter Joan, married to Sir John Plays. Another three generations in the male line succeeded Stapleton at Ingham, after which the property was divided among coheiresses. A remarkable series of brasses, also destroyed, preserved their memory in Ingham church.

[Rymer's Fœdera; Geoffrey le Baker, ed. E. M. Thompson; Dugdale's Monasticon, vol. vi.; Dugdale's Baronage, vol. ii.; Blomefield's Norfolk, ix. 320–9, 8vo; Norfolk Archæ logical Journal, 1878; Chetwynd-Stapylton's Stapeltons of Yorkshire, pp. 87–101, and for Miles of Hathelsay, pp. 71–3.]

T. F. T.