AUSTIN, alias BRASUTER, Henry, of Totnes, Devon.
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Family and Education
Reeve, Totnes Nov. 1408-9.3
Henry’s father, the reeve of Totnes of 1354-5 and mayor of 1358-9,4 owned, and passed on to his son, land in Farleigh and buildings (including a mill) in the villages of Bridgetown, Pomeroy and Berry Pomeroy, as well as his substantial property holdings in the town itself. John Brasuter* of Dartmouth was perhaps related to the Austins or Brasuters of Totnes, for they also held a house in Dartmouth.5 Henry himself may have purchased or rented property in Exeter, too, for it was as ‘of Exeter’ that in 1406 he took out a royal pardon of outlawry resulting from his failure to appear in the court of common pleas to answer three Totnes men for a trespass and a debt of £2. It was also at Exeter that in March 1407, at the assizes, he joined Ellis Beare* of Nether Exe and Richard Bosom* of Exeter as surety, in the sum of 40 marks, that Walter Tolk would keep the peace.6
Austin served a term as reeve of Totnes before his two elections to Parliament for the borough, but in 1416 a town jury criticized his performance in another office on the ground that he did not know how to count. He was one of the more prosperous inhabitants of Totnes, even so, being assessed in 1414 to contribute 1s.2d. towards the half fifteenth and two years later 2s. for the full fifteenth granted in Parliament.7 Austin died before 1424 when his feoffees, who included the vicar of the parish church of Totnes, transferred his property to his widow Joan, providing for the future inheritance of his sons William, John and Thomas. Joan Austin was still living in 1449.8