Bathe, Henry De

, a learned knight, and eminent justiciary of the thirteenth century, was a younger brother of an ancient family of that name, and born, most probably, at the ancient seat of the family, called Bathe house, in the county of Devon. Being a younger brother, he was brought up to the profession of the law, in the knowledge of which he so distinguished himself, that he was advanced by king Henry III. in 1238, to be one of the justices of the common pleas; and in 1240, was constituted one of the justices itinerant (as they were then called), for the county of Hertford; and in 1248 he was appointed the same for Essex and Surrey; in 1249 for Kent, Berks, Southampton, and Middlesex; and in 1250 for Lincolnshire; at which time he had allowed him out of the exchequer, by a peculiar favour, an hundred pounds a year for his sustentation in the discharge of his office. But the year following he lost the king’s favour, owing to the following crimes being laid to his charge, viz. That he had not exercised his office uprightly, but to his own private gain, having perverted justice through bribes, in a suit betwixt him and one Everard Trumpirigton; and this charge was chiefly supported against him by one Philip de Arcis, knt. who also added treason to that of infidelity in his office. The accused was attached in the king’s court; but one Mansel, who was now become a great favourite at court, offered bail for his appearance: king Henry refused this, the case, as he alledged, not being bailable, but one of high-treason. Fulk Basset, however, then bishop of London, and a great many of De Bathe’s friends interceding, the king at last gave orders that he should be bailed, twenty-four knights becoming sureties for his appearing and standing to the judgment of the court. But De Bathe seems to have been conscious of his own dements, or the prejudices of his judges against him, for he was no sooner set at liberty, than he wrote to all his relations either by blood or marriage, desiring that they would apply to the king in his favour, at first by fair speeches and presents, and if these did not prevail, they should appear in a more warlike manner, which they | unanimously promised to do, upon the encouragement given them by a bold knight, one Nicholas de Sandford. But the king, confiding in his own power and the interest of De Bathe’s accusers, appeared inexorable, and rejected all presents from the friends of the accused. De Bathe, convinced that, if Henry persisted in his resolution, he himself must perish, had recourse to the bishop of London, and other special friends, and with a great posse of these went to Richard earl of Cornwall (afterwards king of the Romans), whom by prayer and promises he won over to his interest. The king remaining inflexible, about the end of February, De Bathe was obliged to appear to answer what should be laid to his charge. This he accordingly did, but strongly defended by a great retinue of armed knights, gentlemen, and others, viz. his own and his wife’s friends and relations, among whom was the family of the Bassets and the Sandfords. The assembly was now divided between those who depended upon the king for their preferments, and those who (though a great majority) were so exasperated at the measures of the court, that they were resolved not to find De Bathe guilty. It was not long before the king perceived this, and proclaimed that whosoever had any action or complaint against Henry de Bathe, should come in and should be heard. A new charge was now brought against De Bathe: he was impeached (not only on the former articles, but particularly) for alienating the affections of the barons from his majesty, and creating such a ferment all over the kingdom, that a general sedition was on the point of breaking out; and Bathe’s brotherjusticiary declared to the assembly, that he knew the accused to have dismissed without any censure, for the sake of lucre, a convicted criminal. Many other complaints were urged against him, but they seem to have been disregarded by all, except the king and his party, who was so much exasperated to see De Bathe likely to be acquitted, that he mounted his throne, and with his own mouth made proclamation, That whosoever should kill Henry de Bathe, should have the royal pardon for him and his heirs; after which speech he went out of the room in a great passion. Many of the royal party, upon this savage intimation, were for dispatching De Bathe in court: but his friend Mansel, one of the king’s counsel, and Fulk Basset, bishop of London, interposed so effectually, that he was saved; and afterwards, by the powerful mediation of his friends | (among whom was the earl of Cornwall, the king’s brother, and the bishop of London), and the application of a sum of money, viz. 2,000 marks to the king, he obtained not only pardon, but all his former places and favour with the king, who re-established him in the same seat of judicature as he was in before, and rather advanced him higher; for he was made chief-justice of the king’s bench, in which honourable post he continued till the time of his death, as Dugdale informs us: for in 1260, we find that he was one of the justices itinerant for the counties of Huntingdon, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridge, which was the year before he died. Browne Willis in h is Cathedrals (vol.ii. p. 410.) mentions that he was buried in Christ church, Oxford, but the editor of Wood’s colleges and halls, asks how any one can conceive the effigy of a man in armour to have been intended for a justiciary of England? This, however, is not decisive against the effigies on this tomb being intended for Henry de Bathe, because from the king’s threat above, which might be executed by any assassin, it is very probable that he might have been obliged to wear armour, even after the king was reconciled to him. 1

1 Bio. Brit. Prince’s Worthies of Devon,