Robert De Bures, Jr.

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Robert De Bures, Jr.

Birthdate: (69)
Birthplace: Bowers, Suffolk, , England
Death: 1324 (65-73)
Sudbury, Suffolk, , England
Immediate Family:

Son of Nicholas de Bures and NN NN
Husband of Alice d'Acton
Father of Sir John Bures and Robert de Bures
Brother of James de Bures and Matilda Peyton

Managed by: Iona Eastman
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Robert De Bures, Jr.

Birth: 1250 Acton Suffolk, England Death: Sep., 1331 Acton Suffolk, England

"Sir Robert--The first outstanding man of this name was Sir Robert de Bures of Acton, Suffolk, who died in 1331. He was the son of Nicholas de Bures of Magna Bures, Suffolk, and very likely a near relative of Andrew de Bures of Foxherd Manor, Essex, 1286. At all events he became Lord of that Manor.

The memorial brass over his grave portrays him in chain mail and with his legs crossed. This is the conventional sign of the crusader. The ninth and last crusade to the Holy Land occurred in 1270. Assuming that he was at least twenty years old at that time, he must have been born as early as 1250. Nothing is on record about him before the year 1302, when his first wife Alice died, by whom he had issue four sons, to wit: John, Andrew, Michael and William.

"It does not appear," says Gage, "that the family of Bures had lands in Acton till the marriage of Sir Robert de Bures (in 1311) with his second wife Hillaria, daughter of Sir John le Fermer, which lady held in dower lands in Acton, parcel of the honor of Peverell, the several estates of her former husband's, Hugh Talemache of Bentley, died 25 Edward I (1295), and John de Hodebovill , died 2 Edward II (1309). In the 5th and 7th years of Edward II (1312 and 1 314) Roger de Hodebovill and Hugh Talemache, the sons respectively, conveyed to Sir Robert de Bures and Hillaria his wife for their lives the man or of Acton and various lands in Acton, and in the 11th year of Edward II (1318) the reversion became settled on Andrew de Bures, second son of Sir Robert by his first marriage.

Sir Robert de Bures died prior to October 15th, 1331, on which date his in q.p.m. was taken in the county of Suffolk, Andrew de Bures, his son, being heir and aged 28 years. On August 13th, 1331(*), when his end was near, he obtained permission from the King to give to the Prior and Brethren of the order of the Holy Cross of Whelnetham 4 messuages, 240 acres of arable land, 20 acres of pasture with belongings in Aketon and Waldingfeld, for the purpose of providing for two chaplains who were to celebrate mass daily forever in the Brethren's Church at Whelnetham for the repose of the soul of said Robert and the souls of his ancestors and of all the faithful departed (Suffolk Green Books, vol. 15, p. 384).

Sir Robert de Bures is buried in the parish church of Acton (All Saint's) in the Lady Chapel, in company with his descendants Alice de Bryan and Henry Bures. There is a magnificent brass over his grave, six feet and more in length and made apparently of bell metal. It has outlasted the purbeck stone upon which it rests, for the stone has crumbled away for the better part of an inch leaving the figure of the cross-legged knight in relief. The British Archaelogical Association pronounces it to be the finest military brass in existence and the third oldest in England.

Sir Robert de Bures left no issue by his second wife Hillary. By his first wife Alice he had John, born about 1299, Andrew, born about 1301, Michael and William."

Family links:

 Andrew de Bures (____ - 1360)*
  • Calculated relationship

Burial: All Saints Churchyard, Acton Acton Babergh District Suffolk, England Plot: Lady Chapel, Inside church; All Saints, Acton, is in the village on the north eastern outskirts of Sudbury, off of the A134.

Sir Robert de Bures

Recorded as written:

  • **ANCESTRAL BURRS IN ENGLAND*** (de BURES, BURES, BURRES, BURRE, BURR) Arms: Ermine on a chief indented sable, two lions rampant on.
  • Crest: A Wyvern sable. Motto: Virtus Honoria Janua.

Sir Robert de BURES (circa 1265-1331): his life and times Robert de BURES was bom a yeoman in the Middle Ages. He rose to comparative wealth through his able services to the Crown and other royalty. He was rewarded with land and other recognition.

In his later years Robert lived as a country gentleman at Acton, Suffolk County, England. At death he left a landed inheritance to a son. Assuming he was at least eighteen when records of 1282-83 name him as a "king's serjeant" in King Edward's army in Wales, his birth year was circa 1264. His surname indicates that he came from the area of Bures, where his parents were likely yeomen farmers.

Robert and James, named as sons of Nicholas de BURES, were believed to have leased lands in Magna Bures, Suffolk. In the 1290s Robert de BURES married a woman named Alice. Their son John was born about 1299, followed by Andrew, Michael, and William.

John de BURES may have been the heir to his mother's lands. She died before 1310.

Andrew is believed to have been Robert de BURES" chief heir. The property owned by Robert, at the time of his death, included the manor of Bansfield at Wichambrook near Clare.

By 1313 Robert had married a woman named Hillaria. in that year he and Hillaria paid five marks for documents establishing their inheritable rights to Acton, converting it from the previous limitation of a "widow's life right". The de BURES military brasses and others representing some of Sir Robert's descendants, who ruled Acton until the 16th century, are in a chapel of the Acton village church. Parts of this church date from 1260.

Robert's Early Years:

The 1260s were ones of turmoil, drama, and war. The period included the foundation of a democratic parliamentary system, v\/ith representatives from each borough and city who sat with the peers, bishops, and knights. This was the first time that "common men" had a voice in their own government.

In 1282 Wales revolted against King Edward i, who was also having problems with Scotland and southern France. At the same time, the Pope was urging another Holy Land crusade, to remove the infidels from the Holy Land.

King Edward I called for feudal levies of the barons and others who held land by giving "knight service." Edward initiated paid troops which were more effective than the feudal levies of military personnel. Robert de BURES was likely a trooper in the king's household force by late 1282. The Chancery Rolls show Robert's appointment by the king to conduct the French troops "safely" to their homes; directing all keepers, sheriffs, mayors, and other officials; and to assist the royal trooper if needed. Robert would have been garrisoned in the king's castles, helping to govern parts of Wales, requisitioning supplies, escorting prisoners and hostages, bringing up fresh troops as needed, and perhaps serving as staff aide to the king, fighting near him in battle. Troopers had certain status as the king's immediate followers and they performed many of the same duties as knights. Troopers were usually employed continuously. They maintained armor for themselves and their horses.

The 1286 Patent Rolls show that Robert was "staying in Wales in the King's service". One summons to Robert designated him as "bailiff of Queen Eleanor, wife of Edward I" in Maillor Seisneck, Flintshire. Robert was ordered to bring one hundred footmen "well-equipped with arms at Lampadervaur on the day that John de Havering shall make knovwi to him on the King's behalf and "to merit the king's commendation for diligence and circumspection".

Robert likely was in Wales for the next three years serving as both soldier and attending to administrative duties. He was bailiff for the queen's holdings at Maillor Seisneck. Later he was in charge of the Haverford Castle and its lands until the Queen's death in 1291.

In 1293 Robert was amongst the churchmen, barons, knights, and other retainers chosen to accompany Princess Eleanor to France to wed Duke Henry of Bar. In 1294 Robert was in France again to aid in settling a dispute with the French king. In 1295 Robert was given control of an estate which provided him with an income and aided him toward the acquisition of his own substantial lands.

The Fine Rolls of Westminster have an entry dated I September 1295:

Commitment to the king's yeoman, Robert de BURES, of the keeping of the bailiwick of the Cannock forestership, late of Philip de Monte Gomeri, tenant in chief, in the king's hand by reason of the minority of the heir of Philip, until the full age of the heir, at the rent of 1 0 marks a year. All proceeds of this land belonged to Robert, who was keeper until 2 July 1306, when Anne, the heiress, claimed her inheritance.

In the 14th century Robert de BURES had a succession of assignments as a justice and administrator. The Chancery Rolls document his presence in Scotland with the king. Robert and two others were approved in July 1303 to handle a complaint that vagabonds of Newcastle-on-the-Tyne committed depredations at night and that town bailiffs have been negligent in dealing with the complaints whereby such malefactors are made bolder. The king. .. desiring that peace be firmly observed while he is in Scotland. .. lest terror or danger arise to his consort, Margaret, Queen of England, dwelling there, or to persons in his service passing through town, ordered enquiry; the commissioners are to arrest those guilty, keep them in prison until further order and to punish the bailiffs if they find them negligent.

Sir Francis PALGRAVE's History of Scotland shows that about 1305, Sir Robert asked the king for the lands of Hugh Lovell, in reward for service in King Edward's campaigns. The property that Robert then owned included the manor of Bansfield at Wichambrook, near Clare.

On 21 August 1306, the king directed distributions of lands and money to his sons by his second queen and established 10,000 marks as a marriage portion for his daughter Eleanor. Robert de BURES was witness to the distribution papers.

Early in 1307 Robert became steward of Clare and was given a grant for life to the manor of Belestre and the town of Pleinmore, both located in Northumberland and forfeited to the king by the former owner. King Edward died in 1307. His son, Edward II, succeeded him to the throne. Robert the Bruce wrote that he was "more afraid of the bones of the dead father than of the living son, that it was harder to get a half foot of land from the old king than a whole kingdom from the son." Edward II reigned with arrogance and luxury. The CLARES were at this time the greatest baronial family in terms of wealth, society, politics. Gilbert the Red was the Earl of Clare, Gloucester, and Hertford, with estates across England and Wales.

The family name was taken from the Suffolk village of Clare. The Earl of Clare had married King Edward's daughter, Joan of Acres. He died after five years of marriage and left four children.

Robert de BURES was named steward. As such he was administrator, judge, and the chief official of a business which grossed an estimated 1000 pounds yearly, an enormous sum at the time.

The estate included manors in Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, and Northamptonshire. The manor of Clare grew 500 acres or about 8000 bushels of grain annually. Other sources of income included the sale of livestock, dairy products, rental collections, lease of meadows, sales of forest wood, fees for forest and fishery use, and cash rent from tenants.

Sir Robert presided as judge at the Clare central honour courts every third week. He heard cases from Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, and Cambridge. He dealt with civil actions between tenants who owed military service to the earldom, minor criminal actions, fines for failure to attend court sessions, and fees paid by men inheriting holdings in the Clare manors or doing formal homage to the earl. As steward Sir Robert also rode a circuit of lesser courts held on the individual manors.

When young Earl Gilbert CLARE was called to King Edward ll's parliament in Westminster, he chose Sir Robert de BURES to ride with him. Presumably the young earl not only chose someone for congeniality, but also someone whose wisdom, valor, and conduct he valued.

Sir Robert's wardrobe probably included long hose, a long-sleeved tunic, and an outer covering, perhaps a surcoat of a loose, hooded robe, with slits in the puffed sleeves to leave his arms free.

In 1309 Sir Robert was appointed with John de GREY to inquire whether Welshmen in Flintshire were usurping usage of the king's lands and woods. He and Hugh de LEYMINSTRE were appointed to examine a case of malfeasance in Wales. Had the king's bailiff of Overton, Maklesfel, and Maillor Seisneck been dishonest?

Naturally Robert was not totally popular with those over whom he governed. In May 1315, five years after he had left Clare service, three knights were named as oyer and terminer to examine, frequent complaints by divers men of Norfolk, touching frequent acts of oppression and extortion committed under colour of their offices by Robert deWalsyngham and John de Mashan, when they were stewards and bailiffs of the honor of Clare. The outcome of this inquiry was not reported. No lands appear to have been taken from Sir Robert.

Near the end of his stewardship term in 1310, the CLARE family successfully made Robert the lord of Acton Manor, his largest and most important property. He settled his future by making Acton his home and the core of his estate.

The Calendar of the Patent Rolls of Edward ll's court show for 25 August 1310: "Grant at the instance of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, to Robert de Bures of the marriage of Hilary, late wife of John de Hodoboville, tenant in chief." Robert may have been about forty-five years-old. Hilary was widowed in 1309. She had inherited a life interest in part of the estate, including Acton Manor.

Robert held other lands: the manor of Bansfield in Wickhambrook, Suffolk, since 1302; and lands in Great Waldinfield, acquired in 1309. Acton Hall, lying next the to the village church, became his family seat.

Thereafter, Robert's two chief pursuits v\/ere occasional service to the crown and the improvement of his personal estate. In March 1313, Robert and Hilary paid five marks for documents establishing their heritable rights. A month before they had acquired "a messuage, one carucate of land, 7 acres of meadow, 10 acres of pasture, 20 acres of wood and 4 pounds, 4 shillings of rent in Aketon from Hugh Thalemache," who was possibly Hilary's son of her first marriage.

Robert continued to acquire land around Acton and in parcels and manors elsewhere. By 1331 he held land in fifteen Suffolk villages and Acton, including Kettlebaston, Waldingfield, Long Medford, Sudbury, his native village of Bures, and an Essex manor belonging to the honor of Clare. In 1327 Edward II was imprisoned in a rebellion led by his queen and angry barons. That summer his fifteen year-ldi son, Edward III, now king, led a war against Scotland. Parliament assessed a tax of 1/20th of the value of moveable property to finance this war.

Robert de BURES was listed as one of the largest taxpayers in Babergh Hundred, Suffolk, and the largest taxpayer in Acton village. His Acton property cost 10 shillings. His total tax was 28 shillings, 8 pence. In two of the six villages in Babergh Hundred, Robert was the largest taxpayer. These villages were: Long Melford, Lavenham, Great Waldinghield, Mildren, and Edwardston. By 1327 Robert's sons also had property. Andrew de BURES owned land in Suffolk. He paid 18 pence tax for property in Bunesand 13 shillings in Wickambrook (high taxes then).

Taxables included all produce of land, cattle, rent, cash, merchants, and tradesmen's goods. The v\/ealthiest few paid between 54 to 62 shillings of tax.

Robert de BURES' levy placed him amongst the more "substantial" men in his county. His tax might be worth 1,400 English pounds in the 1980s. A typical manor house in Robert's time was a three story square stone tower, a miniature castle built for defence against raiding war parties. It was attached to a stone-walled hall and had a gabled roof rising as high as the tower roof. At one end of the hall was usually an upper floor that was used for family living room and bedrooms. Beyond the hall was a kitchen, pantry, dairy, a bakehouse, and other service buildings. The bakehouse is still there in the time of Robert's great-granddaughter, Dame Alice de BYRENNE, who ruled the estate from about 1386 until her death in 1435. Her memorial brass is near Sir Robert's in the BURES chapel of Acton Church.

Portions of her household accounts have survived. They show that twice yearly she paid a Dirkman to sharpen and reset the handmill stones which ground flour.

Typically servants probably served noon dinner to twelve or more persons. On New Year's Day in 1413, about 350 dined at Acton Hall on beef, veal, pork, swan, goose, mutton, rabbit, poultry, bread, ale, and wine. Sir Robert continued with some royal duties. He was one of three men to handle a Colchester man's complaint of being assaulted in his own home by men who robbed him and hunted in his Leyden park. The next month Robert was investigating a complaint that Ipswich men had trespassed the land of Christiana de MUSE, taking fish from her ponds.

In 1314 Sir Robert was one of three men assigned to investigate the complaint of Sir Richard de GRAY of Shyrinham, Norfolk County. He reported that a dozen or so men had hunted in his free warren, taking his hares, rabbits, and partridges away.

In March 1316 Sir Robert was notified by Westminster clerks that he and two others were named "commissioners of array in Suffolk County for the general hosting of the war against the Scots." Three months later Robert was one of three appointed to be conservators of peace for the county of Suffolk. Persons indicted or suspected were to be imprisoned until delivered to the law. In 1322 the King's men asked Robert as a loyal, wise man, to handle a difficulty. Amongst those captured at the battle of Boroughbridge in a baronial rebellion was Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, the king's cousin and long time enemy.

Thomas' lands and those of many of his followers were seized. In May 1322 Robert was given "supervision over the castle, manor, and honour of Clare in any English counties, and manors of Berdefelde and Thaxstede, County Essex, and lands late of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and others" hostile to the king in Norfolk and Suffolk. Robert was expected to file with the royal treasurers and barons of the exchequer accounts of the revenues of the seized estates. The Clare estates over which Sir Robert had earlier served as steward were amongst these. The honour of Clare was later given to the daughter of the last Earl of Clare. In 1324 Sir Robert was told to transfer the forfeited lands owned in Acton and Great Waldingfield by Peter DENARDSTOND to his sons, John and Arthur. Peter had been in the 1322 uprising. His forfeited lands were placed in Sir Robert's care. Sir Robert was to hold the remainder in royal care during Peter's lifetime or until further order.

Sir Robert de BURES' last years were spent less in public life. His son and heir, Andrew, was a landholder in his own right. Andrew de BURES had a creditable military record at about age thirty. Two years after his father's death, Andrew was granted a lifetime exemption from being drafted against his will for jury duty, as sheriff, or other royal minister. This privilege was granted "on consideration of his service to the late King (Edward II) and Edward III in the Gascony and Scotland wars."

Sir Robert died in early fall 1331 at about sixty-six years of age. His widow, Hilary, made an agreement with Andrew. He was to have control of Robert's lands, except for a home on Acton manor. In return he was to pay his stepmother 60 pounds a year to support her in comfort.

Hilary de BURES died on 13 December 1331. Her death left control of the lands; rents in Acton, Kettlebaston, the Waldinfields, Milden, Melford, Sudbury, and Newton; to the younger sons, Michael and William. Another possible son, John de BURES, was mentioned in a document listing the disposition of the de BURES lands, but without any indication of his having any inheritance.

Sir Robert de BURES was interred in Acton church, memorialized by the beautiful brass, said to be the finest remaining in England. There were daily masses for his soul for a time. Sir Robert had been given licence by the king to grant 29 acres of Acton land and 60 acres in Great Waldingfield to the Crutched Friars of Whelnetham. In return the two chaplains celebrated a daily mass, forever, for the souls of Robert and his ancestors.

A royal official approved the gift after assurance of Sir Robert's retaining enough property to meet his financial obligations to king and country. A record at Lavenham of the license's review states that they say there is left to Robert de Bures after the above gift, the Manor of Acton and divers other manors, larKis, and holdings in the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, which are held of divers lords. . .worth yearly 100 pounds and more. . . sufficient for the customs and services due to be done both for the lands thus given and for the lands he retains, and for all other burdens which he bore and was used to bear, as in suits, frankpledges, tallage, fines, redemptions, contributions, and all other emergencies to be borne. And they say that said Robert is able to be placed on assizes, juries, and other recognizances as we used to before this gift. So that the country will not be burdened by this gift. . .

Source: [The Burr Family History: Tucker, Dorothy Burr Harper: London Forgotten Books; Original published date unknown, pre -1945]


Licence for Robert de Bures and Hillary, his wife, to grant in fee the Manor of Acton, together with a messuage, a carucate of land 7a. of meadow, 7 of pasture, 40 of wood, and 4lbs. 10s of rents in Aketon and Kettlebaston held in chief as of Honor of Hatfield Peverel to James de Bures and John de Bures and for the grantees to regrant the same to them and the heirs of their bodies with remainder to Andrew son of the said Robert and his heirs- Pat. Rolls 11, Ed II pt. i. 20.

Link: County of Suffolk: Its History as Disclosed by Existing Records Its History as Disclosed by Existing Records and Other Documents; edited by Walter Arthur Copinger; London; Henry Sotheran; 1904


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Robert De Bures, Jr.'s Timeline

Bowers, Suffolk, , England
Age 17
Probably Boddington, Northamptonshire, England
Age 20
Suffolk, England, United Kingdom
Age 69
Sudbury, Suffolk, , England