BENET, Hugh (d.1446), of Oxford and Thame, Oxon.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. bef. 1414, Joan.1
Chamberlain, Oxford Mich. 1397-8.2
Tax collector, Oxon. Sept. 1431.
Though he apparently held no major municipal offices, Benet frequently appears in Oxford records from 1394. In 1399 he stood surety for the attendance of John Spicer I in Parliament, and between 1402 and 1409 he often acted as a juror in the local hustings court. He first served in Parliament in 1407, and in the following year was appointed one of the corporation’s attorneys ‘de certis gravaminibus, materiis, articulis et querelis inter cancellarium et scolares Universitatis et nos’, who were to appear before Archbishop Arundel and others of the royal council. This doubtless refers to the dispute about ‘cessions of actions’, then at its height.3
A member of the borough’s common council by 1409, Benet again served in Parliament in 1410, during which session he and his fellow MP, Thomas Coventre I, stood surety for one John Galoun. Later in the same year he entered into recognizances for 40 marks with Thomas Haseley*, then clerk of the Crown in Chancery, with whom he was to have similar dealings in a bond for £22 10s. dated early in 1413. It may be that the two men were engaged in property transactions in Oxfordshire, for Haseley was also a local man. Certainly, Benet acquired land at Thame shortly afterwards, and it was perhaps on the basis of owning property outside Oxford that he was qualified to attend the county election to the Parliament of November 1414. His holdings within the town itself included a house in All Saints parish, which he had sold earlier that year to Walter Colet*, and he later leased ‘Sekyll Hall’ from University college.4
Although on one occasion Benet was referred to as a brewer, other of his activities suggest some legal training, and he was sometimes called ‘serjeant’. In 1422 he acted as an attorney for the delivery of seisin of land in the parish of St. Cross, Holywell, and in the following year he was employed as a spokesman (‘locutor’) in the hustings court of the borough on behalf of various outsiders, including the abbots of Osney, Eynsham and Abingdon. In 1428 he became involved in the great dispute between the corporation and Thomas Chace, chancellor of the university, about the market dues paid to the former body, and was one of those, including the mayor, ordered to appear in the chancellor’s court, where they were accused of making illegal exactions from victuallers. The burgesses stated on oath that the exactions were not illegal, but customary and rightful taxes. The following year William Offord* made him a feoffee of a number of his local properties.5
Benet served as a county tax collector in 1431, and in 1434, as Hugh Benet of Thame, he was considered important enough to figure in the list of local notables required to take the oath not to maintain men who broke the King’s peace. In 1436 he was party to a transaction concerning a small estate at Chinnor, not far from Thame. He was among the many witnesses to the parliamentary election for the shire held at the close of the year. He died early in 1446.6