Sir Michael Beauclerk de Barham, Baronet
Sir Michael Beauclerk de Barham traced his family's lineage back to the Normans, but few of his ancestors were noteworthy. However, he was a direct descendant of Richard Fitz-Urse, whose brother Reginald was one of the four knights who slew the Archbishop Thomas à Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. After his brother was excommunicated by the pope for the murder in the cathedral, Richard discretely changed his name from Richard Fitz-Urse (Richard son of Urse) to Richard de Bereham (Richard of Barham), the town in which he resided, hence the family name.
Sir Michael's manor, Allington, was a baronetcy granted unto his family by King Edward III in 1340, which made it one of the oldest baronetcies in all of England, predating the "common" baronetcies of King James I by nearly 300 years. Due to the extremely ancient lineage of his title, Sir Michael seldom admitted inferiority to anyone, including many people supposedly above him in rank. Being a Baronet (essentially a lord who lost the right to attend Parliament), Sir Michael was of the lowest rank of the land-holding nobility and occupied a middle ground above the knights and below the barons [lords]. His manor was Allington, a parish in Malling District, Kent, on the River Medway. His personal holdings as lord of the manor consisted of 612 acres of land, which in real property was in 1900 valued at £1,495. He also owned the Church of St Laurence and its living; the manor house [de Barham Hall], and the ruins of a Norman castle situated above the ford in the river. The population of the village -- his tenants -- consisted of 66 people, living in 11 houses on his estate.
He appears to have had what would today be called a photographic memory, which proved itself at school (Charterhouse, and then Kings College, London). He had an encyclopedia knowledge of a wide variety of subjects, but was noted for having an irritating habitat of automatically correcting any misstatement made by people around him.
His family motto was: Aut Vincere Aut Mori, which translates as Conquer or die.
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