John de Swynford, knight or knave?
Or perhaps both?
Who was John de Swynford?
John was the son of William de Swynford of Newbold in Northamptonshire and should not be confused with another of the same name. Our John de Swynford makes several appearances in medieval England during the time of Edward III and his eldest son, Edward, the Black Prince.
What did John do to right a wrong?
Sometime in or before 1353, our John de Swynford had served King Edward in Brittany, presumably in the furtherance of one of the many English forays into France. Such was his ‘good service done in Brittany’ that on the 24th April, from Windsor, King Edward III granted John a full pardon. For what?
John had been charged with the death of Richard de Burneby, and the pardon freed John from the indictment ‘and of any consequent outlawry’. Richard de Burneby was a younger brother of Eustace de Burneby, who held the large part of the manor of Watford, Northamptonshire. Richard had been given his own parcel of lands outside of Watford to support himself in 1338.
Perhaps around the time of his crime or the pardon, John de Swynford crossed paths with the de Watford family, close relatives of the de Burnebys. Roger de Watford had granted his lands in Watford to his sister, Margaret de Watford. Margaret, by her first husband had a daughter, Emma de Craunford. John de Swynford became the first husband of Emma about 1366. John and Emma settled John's Newbold lands on two clerics in 1374, probably as a first step to the re-enfeoffment of the same lands back to them.
John de Swynford died in 1381, leaving Emma with her own lands as well as his Newbold lands. Emma’s second husband was John de Catesby, and so Emma’s lands in Watford became known as the Catesby Manor of Watford.
First published June 2018. Updated, August, 2019.