BARTON, John I (d.1432), of Bartons in Buckingham.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
J.p. Bucks. 12 Nov. 1397-9, II Mar. 1404-c.1415, Oxon. 8 Mar. 1410-Feb. 1412.
Commr. of weirs, Bucks. June 1398, Essex, Mdx. Feb. 1416, Essex, Herts., Mdx. July 1416; arrest, Bucks. Mar. 1399; array Dec. 1399, Oct. 1403; inquiry, Herts. Feb. 1403 (poaching in King’s Langley park), Northants. Mar. 1404, Bucks. Sept. 1404 (insurrection), Northants. Dec. 1413 (abduction of John Mortimer*), Mdx. Mar. 1417 (treasons and felonies); oyer and terminer, Beds. Nov. 1414, London Sept. 1416, Bucks., Herts. Mar., July 1430; gaol delivery, Newgate Nov. 1415, Nov. 1417, Jan. 1420, Mar. 1422;3 to raise royal loans, Beds., Bucks. Mar. 1430, Mar. 1431.
Tax collector, Beds. Mar. 1404.
Recorder of London by 21 Sept. 1415-c. Sept. 1422.4
The two John Bartons, who were both to attain some eminence as common lawyers, were the sons of William Barton, a Buckinghamshire man who, having served in the county as coroner and j.p., died in 1389 and was buried in Thornborogh church. The brothers became members of Lincoln’s Inn and, throughout their careers, retained a remarkably close personal and professional connexion.5
The elder John had completed his legal training by 1395, when he acted as a feoffee of the manor of Bletchingdon in Oxfordshire on behalf of the Poure family; and thereafter he made frequent appearances in Chancery as a surety for defendants in lawsuits. His companion as knight of the shire for Buckinghamshire in his first Parliament, that of January 1397, was Thomas Shelley, steward of the household of Richard II’s half-brother, John Holand, earl of Huntingdon; and it may well have been through Shelley that he himself came to the earl’s notice, so that when, in the spring of 1399, Holand crossed to Ireland in the King’s train, Barton was among the attorneys he left in charge of his affairs at home. Perhaps because of this connexion Barton was dropped from the Buckinghamshire bench at the beginning of Henry IV’s reign. It did not, however, take him long to recover his reputation: he was elected to Parliament again in 1401 and, in the following year, he and his brother were both mainpernors for Master Henry Chichele (the future archbishop) who was being prosecuted by the Crown for his contempt in having contravened the Statute of Provisors. By an unusual arrangement made in February 1407, Barton senior and William Wyot received from Richard Young, bishop of Rochester, the issues of his see for three years, in return for an annual payment of 100 marks for the bishop’s maintenance. (This, most probably, had something to do with the financial consequences of Young’s capture, when bishop of Bangor, by the Welsh rebel Owen Glendower.) Meanwhile, following his third return to Parliament in 1404, Barton had been restored to the local bench. He attended the Buckinghamshire elections to Henry V’s first Parliament, in 1413, but he himself was not to be elected again after 1414, most likely because pursuance of his career meant almost continuous absence from the locality.6
In July 1415 Barton was one of nine apprentices-at-law ordered, under pain of £1,000, to be ready in the following Michaelmas term to take upon them the estate and degree of King’s serjeant-at-law. His younger brother, called at the same time, had successfully resisted promotion for three years, and Barton senior shared his reluctance to take the coif. In his case, acceptance of office as recorder of London in September was apparently considered a sufficient excuse, and he was not pressed further. Despite his arduous civic duties he continued to act in a legal capacity for landowners from his native county, of whom the most important was the wealthy Sir William Moleyns*. Barton and his brother were both party to a settlement made in 1417 on the marriage of Moleyns’s son and heir, and, at some unknown date, Sir William gave Barton senior for life the farm of his manor of Addington, Buckinghamshire, worth about £6 a year. For eight years after his retirement from the recordership in 1422, at the beginning of Henry VI’s reign, Barton received no appointments to royal commissions whatsoever. Yet he remained active in other respects: he was present at Aylesbury for the Buckinghamshire elections to the Parliaments of 1427 and 1429; and he agreed to serve (along with his brother) as an executor of the will of the Bedfordshire landowner, Thomas Pever† (d. I429). Then, in 1430, he became a trustee of the manor of Ellesborough, apparently on behalf of John Cheyne* of Chenies.7
Barton’s father had accumulated a number of properties in Buckingham, to which his sons made substantial additions, no doubt by investing the profits of their legal practice. By the end of his life John Barton senior’s holdings had come to include ‘Skeritts’ manor in the same town, premises in the vicinity at Bourton, Moreton, Gawcott, Foscott and elsewhere, as well as the manor of Stone. Further afield, he had acquired land in Oxfordshire and property in Oxford, while during his recordership of London he had leased a newly built house within the precincts of St. Bartholomew’s hospital, and also purchased a tenement near the inns of court in Fleet Street. On many occasions he assisted his brother in the latter’s even more ambitious investments, as in his purchase from Lord Fitzwalter of the valuable manor of Dinton.8 When nearing the end of his recordership, in the summer of 1422, Barton had made the master and brethren of the hospital of St. Thomas of Acon a gift of 200 marks for their relief, and had also relinquished to the hospital an annual rent of seven marks due from property in the parish of St. Mary Colechurch, asking in return that a chaplain be permanently employed at the hospital to say prayers for himself and the souls of his parents. Further elaborate provision for the welfare of his own soul after death was laid out in the testamentary arrangements he completed on 5 June 1431. His brother John and their sisters, Margaret and Isabel, were left, in succession for their lives, Barton’s tenements in Buckingham, on condition that they paid a priest ten marks a year for daily prayers, and supported the foundation of a group of almshouses (afterwards known as Barton’s hospital) for six poor persons, each of whom was to receive a groat every week. (These particular properties were to pass after the expiry of the life interests to Barton’s nephew, William Fowler†, and his issue.) Not content with this, Barton left a total of £32 to three local monastic houses, friaries in London, Northampton, Oxford and Aylesbury, and to certain London hospitals, provided that the brethren interceded for his soul; he also requested to be prayed for at the cross in St. Paul’s churchyard every Sunday for a year and every Easter thereafter, and left his chaplain in London a bequest of £10 together with an annual salary of £5 to secure his services for eight more years. Furthermore, immediately after Barton’s burial in St. Rumbold’s aisle in St. Peter’s church, Buckingham, 4,000 masses were to be said on his behalf at a cost of £16 13s.4d. Barton chose a London vintner — Alexander Sprot — among his executors, and the master of St. Bartholomew’s hospital was to be supervisor of the will. He died on 7 Feb. 1432.9