BANBURY, John II (d.1404/5), of Limerick, Ire. and Bristol.
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Family and Education
m. Joan, s.p.
Bailiff, Bristol Mich. 1389-90; sheriff 9 Oct. 1391-17 Oct. 1392; mayor Mich. 1397-8.1
Commr. of gaol delivery, Bristol Feb., Mar. 1398.
This John Banbury was most likely of Irish origin, being first heard of, in February 1378, described as ‘of Limerick’, on the occasion that he secured the Exchequer lease of the royal fishery in that town for a term of ten years. He was similarly described some three years later, in December 1381, when engaged in shipping hides from Ireland to Flanders, and although he apparently settled in Bristol before 1385 he always maintained close links with the province. In Bristol he quickly achieved prominence, becoming a bailiff in 1389, and two years later being nominated sheriff of the urban county. As such he was responsible for holding the parliamentary election in November 1391. Later in his shrievalty he was sent a royal precept calling on him to require anyone possessing land worth £40 a year to take up the order of knighthood, but his inquiries, made in May 1392, revealed that no one in Bristol was so qualified. It was after being elected MP early in 1397 that, in September following, Banbury was chosen as mayor of the town. As such, one of his earliest concerns was the question of the prisage of wine at Whitsuntide belonging to St. James’s priory but contested by the chief butler of England: at the prior’s request Banbury had the guildhall records searched for evidence. At this time it was usual for the mayor concurrently to occupy the mayoralty of the Staple at Bristol, and Banbury was duly elected to the latter office on 26 Sept. 1397, in that capacity presiding over hearings in the final stages of the dispute between Richard Hautysford and John Spyne*, delays having been occasioned by the conflicting opinions of the two constables of the Staple. As mayor Banbury was twice commissioned to try prisoners in Bristol gaol.2
Since his namesake, John Banbury I* of Gloucester, was a cloth manufacturer with business interests in the wool town of Cirencester, it is possible that it was he, and not John Banbury of Bristol, who regularly shipped cloth from Bristol in the late 14th century. But certainly both men traded in this product, and one of them appears in the records as exporting 55 cloths in 1386-7, 104 in 1390-1, and, in the autumn of 1391, six dozen cloths worth £60 and a dozen Welsh cloths worth £62 8s. Regular shipments of cloth left Bristol in Banbury’s name over the next few years, their destinations being Portugal, Gascony, Spain and, more especially, Waterford and Limerick. This suggests that it was Banbury of Bristol who was the more important of the two when it came to overseas trade. Certainly, his mercantile interests in Ireland long continued: in October 1389 (having just taken on the bailiffship of Bristol) he nominated attorneys to carry on his business in the province for the next two years; in the following month he provided guarantees that a cargo of hides which his fellow merchant Elias Spelly* had purchased in Ireland would be freighted for Calais and not elsewhere; and at the time of his death he still owned two watermills and other property in Limerick. Moreover, in his will he bequeathed 33s.4d. to St. Mary’s church at Limerick and eight marks to the Friars Minor there. Although one of Banbury’s principal imports to Bristol was most likely Irish salmon, he was also greatly concerned in the wine trade with Gascony. A consignment of wine, said to be worth £1,000 was on a ship of Banbury’s which, having gone aground in the Severn estuary in January 1394, had been broken up by a gang of 300 Welshmen, who assaulted the crew and stole the merchandise. Banbury petitioned the King and Lords in Parliament, and obtained in March following the appointment of a commission of oyer and terminer to investigate the incident, but it is extremely doubtful whether he ever recovered the lost cargo. Besides the stricken vessel, Banbury owned a crayer called La Welfare of Bristol, which became the subject of a petition sent to the King in April 1398, when Banbury, in association with