BISLEY, John I, of Gloucester.
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Family and Education
Commr. to visit and reform St. Bartholomew’s hospital, Gloucester Oct. 1380, July 1381, Mar. 1382, Mar. 1383; of inquiry, Glos. Feb. 1400 (maladministration of Deerhurst priory).
Bailiff, Gloucester Mich. 1393-4, 1401-2.2
Tax collector, Gloucester Oct. 1393.
J.p. Glos. 27 Jan. 1397-May 1400.
Steward and receiver of St. Oswald’s priory, Gloucester 8 Aug. 1398-aft. May 1408.3
Alnager, Gloucester 17 Oct. 1399-May 1401.
Members of the Bisley family had lived in Gloucester since the 13th century, and Thomas Bisley, probably John’s father, served there as bailiff for six terms between 1366 and 1377.4
A lawyer by profession, John Bisley is recorded from 1381 onwards as standing surety in Chancery for various defendants engaged in legal proceedings, among them his putative father (in a suit for debt) and a monk from Winchcomb abbey. Doubtless on occasion his visits to Westminster to conduct business in the lawcourts coincided with sessions of the Parliaments to which he had been elected. Little is known of his career in Gloucester itself until after he had already represented the town in the Commons on four occasions, and it was not until 1393 that he was chosen bailiff. It seems likely that he played a part in securing for Gloucester the royal charter granted in March 1398, for in the following month he was one of the five burgesses who entered into recognizances for 100 marks payable to the keeper of the hanaper of the Chancery.5
Meanwhile, Bisley had become closely concerned in the administration of certain religious houses in the district. Between 1380 and 1383 he had been frequently commissioned, along with the abbot of St. Peter’s, Gloucester, to visit St. Bartholomew’s hospital in the town, said to be urgently in need of correction, to examine the warden and brethren and then draw up the necessary ordinances for the reform of the house. In August 1388 he was present when his kinsman Thomas Bisley granted property in Oxbode Lane to the hospital. Later, in 1398, John took on the secular offices of steward and receiver of St. Oswald’s priory, then under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of York. A significant indication of his status was his appointment in the previous year as a j.p. in the shire; he is known to have attended sessions at Gloucester in June 1398 and at Westbury in May 1399, on the latter occasion hearing indictments concerning obstructions of the rivers Severn and Wye.6
Under the terms of a settlement made by Thomas Bisley in 1380, John and his first wife Margery had taken possession of six messuages, five shops and rents in Gloucester. To this he added property outside the town: before the spring of 1397 the judge Sir John Wadham* granted him and his second wife an interest for life in two parts of the manor of Sandhurst near Gloucester, for which they paid 22 marks a year as rent; and in 1399 the prior of St. Margaret’s h