BANBURY, John I (d.1403/4), of St. Michael's parish, Gloucester.
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Family and Education
m. (1) bef. June 1384, Christine; (2) bef. Apr. 1398, Joan, 1s. 1da.
Tax collector, Gloucester Nov. 1382.
Bailiff, Gloucester Mich. 1390-90.1
Banbury, first recorded as living in Gloucester in 1378, was well established among the freemen of the borough by 1380, when he stood surety for one Robert Janus in the latter’s application for a licence to exercise his trade in the town. It was not, however, until 1389 that Banbury was made a bailiff. This, the only year in which he held civic office, was notable for a lengthy dispute over property between the commonalty and the priory of Llanthony by Gloucester, but this did not reach a climax until after Banbury had represented the borough in Parliament.2 Subsequently, he is known to have witnessed several local deeds, and when, in November 1391, the bailiffs made out a 60-year lease of certain borough property, he was one of the six leading burgesses who formally assented to the transaction on the commonalty’s behalf.3
Banbury was both a merchant and a cloth manufacturer. So, too, was his namesake John Banbury II* of Bristol, and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between their trading activities, especially as the Gloucester man carried on at least part of his trade through Bristol. It was certainly he of Gloucester, however, who in February 1386 had obtained a royal licence to purchase 300 quarters of corn in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire for shipment overseas, the ordinances prohibiting the export of grain notwithstanding; and he was once again described as ‘merchant of Gloucester’ when, in June 1398, he took out a royal pardon. Banbury evidently developed close trading connexions with the wool merchants of Cirencester, one of whom was a debtor of his in the early years of the 15th century, and he went so far as to acquire shops and tenements there. Evidently his concerns prospered, and he became wealthy enough to be able (in association with Roger Ball*) to advance Henry IV a loan of £100 towards the suppression of the rebellion in Wales.4
Banbury made considerable investments in property both within and outside Gloucester. In 1384 he and his first wife had acquired 13 messuages, arable land, meadows and fishing rights in Longney (six miles from the town), and he was subsequently in possession of an estate at Horsemarling. He continued to add to his holdings in Gloucester itself, making substantial purchases in 1398 and 1402, which included those shops, houses and curtilages in Eastgate Street and Grace Lane which had previously belonged to Richard Baret*.5 Over the years Banbury established connexions among the gentry of the shire. William Heyberer, his fellow MP of 1390, who had in the course of his career also represented the county in Parliament, appointed him as an executor of his will, and in January 1395 Banbury provided securities for the knights of the shire elected at Gloucester for the Parliament of that year: Sir Thomas Fitznichol and Sir Gilbert Denys. Possibly more significant than these links, however, was the one he made with Thomas, Lord Berkeley, who in 1397 or 1398 granted him the manor of Upton St. Leonards near Gloucester for life, ‘in recompense of his service’, the property normally having a rental value of ten marks a year.6
By his will, drawn up at Gloucester on 23 June 1403, Banbury requested burial next to his first wife in the Greyfriars church, although he bequeathed £20 to his parish church of St. Michael for the provision of prayers there. The principal beneficiary was his son Thomas, who was also to inherit all the merchant’s property following the death of his mothe