Beeby or Beby in Medieval Leicester Two articles by Roger T. Beeby of Leicester UK
Roger has contributed two articles on this subject, the first in 2000 and the second in 2003. They are published here consecutively and make fascinating reading: Note: Roger has also contributed information about the village of Beeby in Leicestershire. The Beeby or Beby name in Medieval Leicester by Roger T. Beeby of Leicester, U.K. August 25, 2000 Spelling was not an exact business in the 14th Century. The names shown here are spelled as in the documents of the time. There are some well-documented mentions of the name Beeby or Beby in a scholarly booklet entitled: "The Religious Gilds of Medieval Leicester" It was written in 1979 by Jonathan Wilshere, a meticulous and respected local genealogist and local historian. In the book he gives a detailed bibliography of all his research. The book is now out of print, but available for reference in the Leicester and County Record Office. Religious Gilds These Gilds were an important part of the social and religious life of most towns and cities during the 14th –16th Centuries. Most of the leading citizens were members of the Guilds. Leicester in the 14th Century was a town of about 4000 people and there were 6 Gilds. Each Gild usually held an annual procession and had a feast day. The Gilds usually maintained a priest to pray for the members and were allocated an altar in a Chapel in one of the Churches. Note: Trade Guilds were different and united together people of one industry or Craft. They undertook early quality control, and organised the training through apprenticeship schemes and were concerned to enhance the reputation of the Craft. Members of the Religious Guilds or Gilds were often among the more wealthy and influential people in the town. Many became members of Parliament or Mayors or members of the Town Council. The half-timbered Guildhall in Leicester is now a museum and is one of Leicester’s historical attractions. It was built for the Corpus Christi Gild when it was founded in1343. The Guildhall is next to St Martin’s Church (Now the cathedral since 1927). The Corpus Christi Gild was a large and influential Gild and had a Chapel in St Martin’s Church, the Parish Church of the town. One of the founders of the Gild was Thomas de Beby The Gild of St Margaret and St Katherine was founded in 1355 and one of the founders was Richard de Beeby. St Margaret’s Church is probably the finest medieval church in Leicester. Richard de Beeby was a wealthy Mercer (cloth merchant) and was the Member of Parliament for Leicester in 1341 and 1348. Thomas de Beby was also a member of the Gild of St Margaret and St Katherine He was Mayor of Leicester in 1362 and 1368 and was also a wealthy Mercer. He was a Member of Parliament for Leicester in 1351, 1355, 1360 and 1361. Thomas died in 1383 and in his will left money to the Gild of St Margaret’s and St Catherine. Thomas de Beeby also left some money to the small Gild of St Michael’s. He was at one time Chaplain to this Gild that was based in the small Church of St Michael. The Church was closed by 1487 and does not now exist. Whilst at this Church, he was Charged (Prosecuted) by the full Portmoot (Town council) in 1378/9 for Trespass and had to pay a distraint (fine) of a ‘tabard and slop and a bed, price 20 shillings.’ The relationship between Thomas and Richard is not clear. An unsolved mystery is whether Richard and Thomas came from the Village of Beeby. The village is about 6 miles from Leicester and there is no mention of it in the booklet. It would perhaps be possible to assume that these two had connections with the village in view of the ‘de’ in their name. This is Norman French for ‘of’. Many educated people, following the Norman Conquest in 1066, spoke French. The parish records of Beeby date back to the early 17th Century and there are no mentions of the family name Beeby in the parish register. Researches about Beeby’s in Medieval Times in Leicester by Roger T. Beeby of Leicester - January 2003 Source: The Roll of the Mayors of the Borough, and the Lord Mayors of the City of Leicester. 1209-1935. by Henry Hartopp F.R.Hist.S. A copy is to be found in the Leicester and County Record Office. The entries are copied exactly as written. Page 18/19. 1362 THOMAS de BEEBY (Mercer) Members of the Beeby family, originally from the town-ship of the name, were settled at Leic. in the 12th Century. The above mayor, an opulent mercer, probably a son of John de Beeby 1307, was enrolled a brother of the gild merchant in 1334-5; was again Mayor 1368 and M.P. for the borough 1351, 1355, 1360 and 1361. He died in 1383 and if his wishes were carried out was buried in St Martins Church (now the Cathedral). His will, the earliest civic record of its kind extant, dated in 1382, was proved in the Consistory Court of Lincoln, 16 February 1384, a copy being entered in the Episcopal registers there. (Leicester was at that time part of the See of Lincoln Cathedral) By it he directed that 300lbs of wax should be burnt around his body and afterwards distributed to parish priests to use at masses. He left legacies to St Mary’s Altar in Beeby Church, money for the repair of the bridges in Leicester and to several gilds. By Agnes his wife, who survived him, he does not appear to have left issue. Ancient arms of Beby or Beeby, as recorded by Nichols. Gules, a cross moline argent. There is a coloured plate of this. (A red shield with a silver upright cross with flared ends). Then comes a strange entry in brackets. "(King Edward III came again to Leicester, and rested at the abbey)" 1368 THOMAS de BEEBY (2) Mayor for the second time. 1385 HENRY de BEEBY (Mercer) Parentage unknown, but perhaps a son of Roger de Beeby of Leicester 1354, and presumably a relative of Thomas de Beeby, Mayor in 1362. In 1380 he was a warden of the Gild of Corpus Christi, was again Mayor in 1394 and MP for Leicester in 1391, 1394 and 1395. The Beeby descendants were living here at a much later date. (That final intriguing statement and the one earlier about the Beeby’s coming from the township of that name, could lead on to further research…why did the Hartopp the writer of this Roll of Mayors make these statements?) Note: The half timbered C14 Guildhall in Leicester was built for the Corpus Christi Guild and is worth a visit. It is open as a Museum. R.T.Beeby January 2003