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|1388 (Feb.)||John Dyer|
|1388 (Sept.)||John Crakebon|
|John Welles I|
|1390 (Jan.)||John Skinner I|
|John Joce I 1|
|1391||John Welles I|
|1393||John Skinner I|
|1397 (Jan.)||John Glover|
|John Joce I 2|
|1399||John Joce I|
|1404 (Jan.)||John Burgess|
|1410||?William Wade 3|
|1413 (May)||Richard Galon|
|1414 (Nov.)||John Flower|
|1421 (May)||John Cooper II|
|1421 (Dec.)||William Burgh|
In 1377 Maldon, a small port, had a taxable population of 542, as compared with nearly 3,000 in Colchester. The burgesses had first been granted a charter in 1171, but in the late 14th century their independence was still curtailed by the bishops of London, who had acquired a moiety of the lordship of the town in 1284, and by the Lords Fitzwalter, who held the other moiety. Walter, 3rd Lord Fitzwalter, had probably been behind the return to Parliament of Thomas Wrench in 1383 (Feb.), but the family was unpopular and while Lord Fitzwalter was absent in Spain three years later the townspeople rose in rebellion and imprisoned in a house in Maldon certain of his servants, whom they then held to ransom. In 1401 a number of Maldon men were charged by Bishop Braybrooke of London and Walter, 4th Lord Fitzwalter, with infringement of their rights in the town; but the dispute was resolved two years later when, in October 1403, Braybrooke granted the burgesses and commonalty the house used as the moot hall, certain plots of land, stallages, rents of assize, a view of frankpledge and three other courts, with all liberties, customs and tolls on vessels in port, all for an annual rent of ten marks. The bishop nevertheless retained certain specified rents and forfeitures, and continued to be lord of the borough.4
Maldon had begun making returns to Parliament in 1332.5 Royal grants issued in 1388, 1392 and 1407 exempted the borough from sending representatives for a total of 17 years, so that money normally given to parliamentary burgesses could be diverted to the repair of the town bridge. Returns are extant, however, for seven of the 13 Parliaments summoned in the period covered by the exemption. It is possible that the Members served without payment, or for less than the customary rates. Indeed, the only reference to the payment of Members in the local records indicates that even before the exemption was granted the usual rate was not being observed; for service in the first Parliament of 1388 the two Maldon representatives were paid just 1s. a day.6
Returns survive for 19 of the 32 Parliaments of the period, Prynne supplies names for one more, and another gap is partly filled from local records, so that the names of 22 Members are known altogether. They were mainly tradesmen, dealing in cloth or victuals, although Richard Galon was described as a ‘gentleman’ and may have been a lawyer, and William Bennett was a ‘yeoman’, probably making a living from the land. All were resident in the town when returned and only Galon, who hailed from Northumberland, and John Flower, who came from London, originated from outside the county.
The chief officers of the borough were a bailiff and two constables until 1403, when, following the grant of Bishop Braybrooke’s charter, two bailiffs were henceforth elected. A chamberlain appeared in 1418. As far as is known (the names are missing for six years) between 1399 and 1422 the office of bailiff was monopolized by seven prominent townsmen, six of whom sat in the Commons at some time in their careers. But it was unusual for an officiating bailiff to be returned to Parliament; this apparently only happened in 1421 (May) when John Cooper II was elected in the company of the then chamberlain, Richard Bawde. By contrast, holders of minor offices in the town were returned to the Parliaments of 1386, 1388, 1402, 1406, 1407, 1417 and 1421 (Dec.). All but two of the Members were active in town government, the exceptions being William Bennett and Richard Galon. Municipal elections were held on the Friday after Epiphany, when 18 wardmen were also chosen. It is not known how parliamentary elections were conducted, although in 1559 when a borough ordinance reformed the procedure it was alleged that earlier elections had been made by ‘the baileifes, burgesses, freemen and comonynalte of the saide borrowe, unadvisedlie and rashly ... by most voiyces and greatest nombre’.7 During the period under review the returns for Maldon were recorded on the dorse of the writ, simply by listing the names of those elected and their mainpernors. No indentures were drawn up.
Richard Galon was returned nine times, John Burgess eight and Richard Bush and John Crakebon both six, but the Maldon Members sat on average less than three times each. Election to successive Parliaments occurred but three times in this period, and only Bush (1384-6) sat on more than two occasions consecutively. The same pair of Members were apparently never returned twice running, but assessment of parliamentary service is hampered by the gaps in the returns. It is certain, however, that both Members had previous experience of the Commons in at least seven of the 21 assemblies for which we know their names, and in nine more one Member was so qualified. Both of Maldon’s representatives may have been novices in the Parliaments of 1390 (Jan.), 1406 and 1421.
Author: K.N. Houghton
- 1. W. Prynne, Brevia Parliamentaria Rediviva, iv. 1052.
- 2. Election held 12 Jan.: Essex RO, Maldon ct. bk. i. f. 8.
- 3. Maldon ct. roll D/B 3/3/5 m. 1.
- 4. E179/104/47 m. 4; E359/8 m. 3; CChR, ii. 351-2; CAD, vi. C4875; P. Morant, Essex (Colchester) i. 331; CPR, 1385-9, p. 179; 1401-5, p. 307; CIPM, xvi. 379; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 489.
- 5. Morant, i. 333 says 1329, but in his list (p. xiv) he gives the Members for 1368 (42 Edw. III) as sitting in 1329 (2 Edw. III).
- 6. CPR, 1385-9, p. 508; 1391-6, p. 187; 1405-8, p. 376; Maldon ct. bk. i. f. 5v.
- 7. Maldon ct. roll D/B 3/1/3, ff. 42-43.