The Hautes of Ightham Mote - a family with influence
Owning several estates, including Ightham Mote, the Hautes were a prominent and influential Kent family. Appearing in county records as Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, Members of Parliament, and in royal service. They were well read, well educated and well connected.
Nicholas Haute became one of the wealthiest men in the county, aged just 16 years old, as heir to his grandfathers estates, but it wasn't until 1379, when he became 21, that he could inherit the knighthood. His mother retained a lifetime income from the family estate, so it wasn't until her death in 1391 that he received his full inheritance.
In 1389, he married Alice Cawne, who would eventually inherit Ightham Mote from her brother Robert. After Alice died, Nicholas married Eleanor Tyrell, thus allying himself with another important landowning family.
Throughout his life, he held important offices both in the county and in the King's service, and served as Sheriff of Kent, and as Member of Parliament for the county. Sir Nicholas Haute died c.1415 / 16 and his eldest son William inherited the family estates, including Ightham Mote.
A man who'd stop at nothing
William Haute Esq inherited Ightham Mote in 1416, although he probably lived at Bishopbourne, near Canterbury. In c.1419, William married Margaret, the daughter of Sir Hugh Berwick, bringing more land and income into the Haute family. Margaret died in c.1427, and in 1429, William remarried.
His second wife, Joan Woodville, was from another powerful family, and in 1469 history would see her become aunt to the Queen of England. As a condition of the marriage, William agreed to disinherit his daughter by his first wife, although he did say she didn't have to join a convent.
Richard Haute inherited Ightham Mote in 1462. As cousin to Elizabeth Woodville, who married King Edward IV in 1464, this close connection to the royal family made Richard an important figure in the county and at court.
As his status rose, Richard embarked on the programme of building works, which would turn the 15th century manor of Ightham Mote into a property of considerable distinction. A fashionable home with inner and outer courtyards, reception rooms and guest accommodation of very high quality.
In 1483, after being accused of rebellion, his estates were seized by order of King Richard III and Ightham Mote was given to James Haute for good service. However, in 1485, Richard Haute was pardoned and his estates returned.
Inherited too young?
If you thought Nicholas was young to have inherited at 16, Edward was a mere 11 years old in 1487 when he inherited Ightham Mote.
Edward either did not have a head for business, lived outside his means or perhaps a combination of both, as he amassed large debts. In 1514, some of his property was confiscated, whilst he had to sell other properties in 1518. He mortgaged Ightham Mote, but was forced to sell later that year, and a little while later he found himself in Ludgate debtors prison before fleeing to Ireland.