BAMME, Adam (d.1397), of London.
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Family and Education
m. (1) bef. May 1375, Eleanor, ?wid. of John Burgys or Brygys of London, goldsmith; (2) bef. Dec. 1391, Margaret (d.1431), da. of John Stodeye† (d.1376) of London, vintner, by his w. Joan Gisors, wid. of John Berlingham† (d. by Jan. 1375) of London, mercer, Sir John Philipot† (d.1384) of London, grocer, John Fitznichol (d. Mar. 1391) of London and Bradwell, Suff., esquire, 1s.1
Renter, Goldsmiths’ Co. 19 May 1371-2; warden 19 May 1372-3; prime warden 19 May 1377-8.2
Tax collector, London Dec. 1380, May 1384.3
Alderman of Aldersgate Ward 12 Mar. 1382-3, Cripplegate Ward 1384-5, 1387-8, Cheap Ward 1388-93, Lime Street Ward 1393-d., auditor, London 21 Sept. 1389-90; mayor 13 Oct. 1390-1, 1396-d.4
Sheriff, London and Mdx. Mich. 1382-3.
Collector of murage, London (Cripplegate Ward) Mar. 1387.5
Commr. to make arrests, London Oct. 1390; of gaol delivery Nov. 1390, Dec. 1396; oyer and terminer Mar. 1393.6
Collector of the wool custom and subsidy, London 23 July-24 Oct. 1392, 31 July 1396-17 Feb. 1397.
One of the wealthiest and most influential Londoners of his day, Adam Bamme owed his success to a striking combination of shrewd political sense, business acumen and good fortune. Nothing is known about him before 1369 when, as a practising member of the Goldsmiths’ Company he took on the first of his six apprentices. His reputation for outstanding workmanship and expertise in the making of jewellery and plate grew steadily over the years, so that by 1380, if not before, he had become one of the chief suppliers to the household of John of Gaunt. On 2 Jan. of that year, for example, Gaunt’s wardrober was instructed to pay over £72 for gold cups, enamelled tablets and other items of goldsmiths’ ware from Bamme’s workshop. In March 1381, Bamme delivered goods worth more than £123, the finest of which were given by Gaunt to his friends and kinsmen; and in May of the following year he provided a further consignment of plate valued at almost £200 for the ducal wardrobe. His appearance among the three master goldsmiths chosen to examine the jewels offered by Richard II as surety for the repayment of a loan of 4,000 marks raised by the City in September 1383 suggests that he was then recognized as a leading practitioner of his craft.7
Bamme’s early career was no doubt greatly assisted by his marriage to Eleanor Burgys, the administratrix, and almost certainly the widow, of a fellow goldsmith. Nearly all the references to Bamme as a young man concern the many lawsuits which he and his wife brought for the recovery of sums owed to John Burgys, although in June 1372 he was suing for debt on his own account.8 It was his second marriage, contracted shortly before December 1391, which contributed most to Bamme’s rising fortunes. On her father’s death in 1376 Margaret Stodeye had inherited gold and silver plate of great value as well as one quarter of a large estate in London and the country. As the widow of John Berlingham she had in addition already received a legacy of 100 marks, and some property in the city, but prospective suitors were then chiefly attracted by the Stodeye inheritance. Her second husband, Sir John Philipot, was without doubt one of the richest men in London, and when he died she secured a life interest in all the lands, rents and tenements which he had acquired in Middlesex and the capital. A third marriage to John Fitznichol brought the widowed Lady Philipot another tenement in the parish of St. George East Cheap, together with the manor of Bradwell and other appurtenances in Suffolk. Her property in London alone was said to be worth over £110 a year in 1412 — a figure well below its earlier value, since she had sold off most of her parents’ estate for 220 marks in 1405. This large annual income, augmented by rents and profits from land in the country, made her one of the most desirable commodities on the marriage market, and Bamme’s success in obtaining such a prize is surely a sign of his own stature in the City. In December 1391 he invoked his position as a citizen, goldsmith and recent mayor of London when petitioning the King that proceedings against his wife’s stepson, John Fitznichol, for the recovery of a joint-recognizance in £9,000 might cease — and he was granted his appeal in consideration of past services.9
Not all Bamme’s property came to him through marriage. From 1381 onwards, if not before, he took on a number of long-term leases in the City, as well as buying other rents and tenements outright. He acquired by leasehold a brewery, three shops and a dwelling house in the parishes of St. Margaret Friday Street and St. Peter West Cheap, and two tenements with shops attached in Wood Street. His purchases included premises known as ‘Le Countour’ and ‘Le Countour Aleye’, together with two tenements, a brewery, rents worth £7 a year and several shops in Cheapside and the parishes of St. Mildred Poultry and St. Peter Wood Street.10 His holdings outside London were also considerable, comprising the manor of ‘Wylby’ in Tottenham, Middlesex, granted to him for life by John, Lord Beaumont; a knight’s fee in Moulsoe, Buckinghamshire, for which he paid £10 a year to Sir Richard Talbot; and a messuage with extensive farmland at Waltham Holy Cross, Essex, bought in 1391 from Matthew Langrych, a London fishmonger. In January 1392 Bamme obtained a ten-year lease of all the Kentish estates forfeited by his wife’s late brother-in-law, Sir Nicholas Brembre†, after his condemnation for treason in the Merciless Parliament four years before. He initially undertook to pay an annual rent of £16, charged retrospectively from Michaelmas 1387, for Brembre’s three manors and extensive farmland in the Dartford area, but in the following year King Richard agreed to sell them to him outright in return for the cancellation of a debt of 200 marks, which he then owed Bamme for goldsmith’s work. It must have given the latter considerable satisfaction to derive so much benefit from the downfall of one who had previously been such an implacable political opponent.11 Bamme had less reason to congratulate himself on the purchase of the manor of Horseheath in Cambridgeshire, however, since it involved him in a violent and no doubt costly dispute with the influential Hasilden family and their supporters. In April 1395 orders were given for the arrest of Hugh*, Richard* and Thomas Hasilden II*, who had been responsible for Bamme’s eviction; and on 5 May both parties bound themselves in £1,000 to accept the chancellor’s final award. Matters were still undecided, when the rival claimants again took possession of the manor by force, although on 24 Aug. a royal commission was at last set up to reinstate Bamme and remove the offenders. Nothing more is heard of the feud, which may none the less have dragged on until the goldsmith’s death.12
This was not the only occasion on which Bamme turned to the law for redress. Besides those suits brought on behalf of his first wife, Eleanor Burgys, he appeared as plaintiff in at least eight actions for debt, three of which were for the recovery of bonds totalling £600. These gave rise to further litigation in the court of Chancery, and may well have involved an attempt by Bamme to secure part of the late Sir John Philipot’s estate.13 Moreover, in April 1391 Bamme was suing a group of Norfolk men for trespass, which suggests that he may also have owned property in East Anglia. Three years later, one Geoffrey Denham of Bosham in Sussex faced a legal action arising from his alleged failure to render an account while employed as Bamme’s receiver, but he never appeared in court and was eventually pardoned his outlawry. On the whole Bamme managed to avoid property disputes in the City, being rarely mentioned in this context.14
Because of his wealth and position, Bamme was inevitably drawn into the affairs of his fellow merchants and other prominent persons. Over the years he stood surety for many members of the Goldsmiths’ Company, including (Sir) Nicholas Twyford at the time of his celebrated confrontation with Sir Nicholas Brembre, the mayor of London, in March 1378. On acquiring the wardship of Lord Poynings’s son and heir in September 1388, Richard, earl of Arundel, named Adam Bamme among his six mainpernors. Sir Robert Launde twice empowered the goldsmith to act as his attorney, and eventually made him an executor.15 Bamme was in constant demand as a trustee, both for friends such as John Colshull I* and John Bosham*, and for members of his own family, who, like Henry Vanner* (the husband of another of Stodeye’s daughters), called upon Bamme to assist in the transfer of property and the execution of their wills. His precise relationship to Henry Bamme, another prominent London goldsmith, remains unknown, although they may well have been brothers. Henry Bamme conveyed his Suffolk and Middlesex estates to Adam, evidently as a feoffee, in 1387, having previously given the latter powers of attorney to act on his behalf. In June 1388 the two men acquired the manor of Bridesgrave in Epsom from William Croyser’s* mother, and in the following month they took from her recognizances totalling £200, perhaps as security for the payment of a debt or mortgage.16
As a former renter and warden of his livery company, Bamme played a prominent part in the acquisition by the Goldsmiths of land and rents in London after they had been granted their new charter by the Crown in February 1393. Although no record of the negotiations leading up to the award has survived, it seems likely that Henry and Adam Bamme, together with their associate Drew Barantyn*, were chiefly instrumental in obtaining King Richard’s favour. They were the three goldsmiths subsequently authorized to alienate in mortmain to the wardens and Company property worth £19 6s.8d. a year, which had already been settled on them for this purpose; and by late May all the necessary arrangements were complete.17
Bamme had first begun to assume civic responsibilities in November 1378, when he was chosen by the common council to serve on a committee dealing with repairs and building work in London. Two years later he contributed five marks towards a gift raised by the City for placating the great magnates. Perhaps by this date he had already joined his friend, (Sir) Nicholas Twyford, in offering support to John of Northampton†, who had by then placed himself at the head of a ‘non victualling’ party intent on reducing the power of merchant capitalists such as Brembre. Bamme and Twyford were far wealthier and better respected than Northampton’s other supporters, and undoubtedly used their influence to secure his re-election for a second term as mayor in October 1382. The evidence produced against Northampton by his former secretary, Thomas Usk, in 1384 names Bamme among those busy at the second election, anxious ‘to make ful certein the communes atte that day shulde chese the forseyde John Northampton to be mair & non other’: indeed, according to Usk’s testimony (a source coloured by personal animosity), Bamme was one of the mayor’s closest advisers, who attended every council meeting and planned ‘to haue had holden vnder, or elles de-voyded owt of towne, al the persones that had be myghty to haue wyth-seyde hem, & the remenant, that had non such myght to haue holden hem vnder for euer’. As sheriff of London, Bamme certainly played a leading and not entirely impartial role in the indictment of the five aldermen whom Northampton and his friends sought to remove in November 1382 because of their alleged treason during the Peasants’ Revolt. He was, however, too shrewd to commit himself entirely to a man whose political ascendancy depended to an unusual degree upon popular support, and with considerable foresight he abandoned the former mayor on his failure to secure re-election in October 1383. This calculated act of betrayal saved Bamme from the fate of Northampton’s more enthusiastic adherents. So complete and evidently convincing was his change of allegiance that in June 1384 he appeared on the committee of eminent Londoners elected by the common council to revise the notorious ‘Jubilee Book’ of ordinances compiled while Northampton (and he himself) had been in power. In the following August he attended Northampton’s summary trial before the King’s Council at Reading; and in March 1385 he was one of the commoners chosen at the Guildhall to examine the question of strengthening the City defences against future disturbers of the peace.18
In no way harmed by his early connexion with Northampton, Bamme continued to occupy a position of great authority in the City, especially after his marriage into the rich and powerful Stodeye family, which may have made him more acceptable to the merchant capitalists, not least because Bamme himself had made one of the Stodeye girls his wife. He was not without enemies, however. In August 1388 a gaoler employed by the sheriff, William Venour†, insulted him with ‘many shameful and opprobrious words’ and was briefly committed to prison for his offence. Bamme subsequently interceded on his behalf, but remained hostile towards his master, Venour, whose election as mayor of London in October 1389 he contested. A combination of goldsmiths, mercers and drapers — who had earlier provided most of Northampton’s support among the non-victuallers — claimed that Bamme had in fact won more votes than his rival, but in order to prevent an outbreak of old hostilities they reluctantly agreed to accept the latter as mayor. Partly as a result of this new readiness to compromise, Bamme was elected to succeed Venour in 1390, enjoining all Londoners ‘to be of one accord’ and forbidding them to revive the old quarrel between Brembre and Northampton. This, his first mayoralty, was long remembered by the people of London, not only because it marked the end of years of faction in the City, but also because it was on Bamme’s initiative that steps were taken for securing a regular grain supply to the capital during times of shortage. On the strength of his own personal recognizances, £400 was set aside from the chamberlain’s funds for the purchase of wheat which he intended to store for future use. Such a farsighted plan naturally won him great popularity, and may explain why he was again made mayor in 1396.19
Meanwhile, in 1392, Bamme was caught up in the quarrel between Richard II and the City, which led to his appearance, with all the other dignitaries of London, before the King at Nottingham on 25 June. The normal government of London having been suspended, Richard set up a commission to investigate ‘the notable and evident defaults’ perpetrated by Bamme and his colleagues. The latter gave evidence on 18 July at Eton, and four days later were fined a total of 3,000 marks by the King because of certain undisclosed offences. Bamme and most of his fellow aldermen were confirmed in office, albeit only at Richard’s pleasure, while the mayor and sheriffs, who had been in prison since June, were released on bail of £3,000. Bamme joined with three other eminent Londoners in offering sureties of £1,000 on behalf of the two sheriffs, one of whom was his brother-in-law, Henry Vanner. Not until September 1392 did the King agree to excuse the aldermen their fine and restore the liberties of the City, and even then the very real threat of his displeasure remained. When, in the following October, Bamme and 14 other aldermen each bound themselves to pay the chamberlain of London £11 6s.8d. at the end of November, they may well have been contributing towards some kind of gift or ‘loan’ to retain Richard’s favour.20
Bamme died on 6 June 1397 during his second mayoralty, and was buried in the church of St. George in Botolph Lane. His only son, Richard (d. 1452), stood to inherit a sizeable fortune in property and plate, although part of the deceased’s estate was confiscated by the Crown to pay off a debt of £497, which he had allegedly owed since 1392 as collector of the wool custom in the port of London. Richard Bamme still did well for himself, marrying Joan, the daughter of John Martin, c.j.c.p., and acquiring a large estate at Dartford and Gillingham in Kent. His mother, Margaret, lived on to enjoy her life interest in the lands and rents of four wealthy husbands, and was still active in February 1427, when she fought the last of a long series of legal actions in defence of her title to John Stodeye’s London property. She drew up her will in late March 1431 and died within a month or so, aged well over 75. Although she had persistently styled herself as Lady Philipot during her last widowhood, no doubt for reasons of snobbery as much as sentiment, she asked to be buried beside Adam Bamme, rather than Sir John, and left all of her property and most of her effects to Richard, her executor. It is worth noting, too, that although she arranged for masses to be said for the souls of both Bamme and Philipot she made no mention of her other two husbands, or her children by her first marriage.21
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. The identification of Bamme's two wives poses certain problems. It appears that the pardon for outlawry granted to a man who had been sued by 'Adam Bamme and Katherine his wife, administratrix of John Burgys' at some point before February 1376 is mistaken as to her Christian name, since all the other legal records of the period refer to her as Eleanor (Corporation of London RO, hpl 97, Monday bef. feast St. Margaret, 49 Edw. III; hr 110/81; CPR, 1374-7, p. 231; 1385-9, p. 294). Bamme's second wife was undoubtedly the daughter of John Stodeye, although it seems that her previous husband, Sir John Philipot, had two wives named Margaret. The first, who died between February 1375 and October 1376, was the daughter of Richard Croydon, fishmonger (Cal. Wills ct. Husting London ed. Sharpe, ii(1), 167-8); in October 1376 Philipot obtained custody of the children whom his second wife, Margaret Stodeye, had already had by her previous husband, John Berlingham. These children were remembered in his will, which confirmed their mother in property formerly belonging to Stodeye (ibid. 275-7; Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 49). For Margaret's ancestry and the importance of her marriage see R. Bird, Turbulent London Ric. II, 2, app. 1; Corporation of London RO, hcp 117 m. 1; hpl 120, Monday bef. feast St. Margaret, 20 Ric. II; CPR, 1391-6, p. 4; PCC Rous; Guildhall Lib. London, 9171/1, f. 26d, 3, ff. 275-5v.
- 2. T.F. Reddaway and L.E.M. Walker, Early Hist. Goldsmiths’ Company, 325-6.
- 3. Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 157, 164, 248.
- 4. Beaven, Aldermen, i. 2, 101, 129; Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 344, 355, 357, 434, 436.
- 5. Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 299-300.
- 6. Ibid. 392; C66/331 m. 7d. 344 m. 9d.
- 7. Reddaway and Walker, 277; Reg. Gaunt, 1379-83, nos. 111-12, 178, 233, 557-8; Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 218.