BLAKE, John I, of Winchester, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

Sept. 1388

Family and Education

m. (1) Alice, (d. by 1388), wid. of John Wodemancote of Winchester; (2) by 1404, Alice.1

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Winchester Mich. 1376-7; constable 1380-1; mayor 1383-4, 1393-4, 1403-4, 1407-8.2

Assessor of the poll tax, Winchester May 1379.

Controller of a subsidy for repairing the city walls, Winchester 15 Sept. 1389-94.3

Biography

A leading merchant and one of the wealthiest citizens of Winchester, Blake sold as many as 112 cloths in the years 1394-5 and 1398-9. He was later one of the supervisors of the fulling mill at Priors Barton and, from 1409 to 1411, keeper of the new city mill at Coitebury. His trading contacts included merchants of London and Salisbury, among them Thomas Fauconer*, a London mercer who in 1413 brought a plea against him in the Exchequer for failure to render an account. But as well as dealing in cloth, Blake also traded in fish: in the 1380s he had been a frequent offender in the local courts for regrating, but nevertheless the city granted him a lease of the ‘fishbed’ from 1416 to 1420 at 13s.4d. a year; and it was as ‘piscenarius’ that, in 1421, he sold some property. A burghmote enactment made later in the century stipulated that all non-resident fishmongers ought to do business ‘in novo stallagio iuxta fontem communem’ which Blake had had built.4

Blake’s progress in the civic administration had been rapid, and he was constantly involved in local affairs. In 1389 he was appointed, with Richard Frye*, to supervise the expenditure of the £20 p.a. granted by Richard II for five years from the local alnage yield on repairs to the city walls, and later, in 1406-7, he himself supplied eight cartloads of sand for the works. He frequently served as a feoffee of property in Winchester and was a trustee for the administration of the chantry founded by Frye’s widow, a supervisor of the will of Richard Chamberlain, a draper, and a co-feoffee of La Starre inn, which he made over to the city in 1414. At the parliamentary elections of 1397 and 1411 he had provided securities for the attendance of two fellow clothiers, Nicholas Tanner and Mark le Faire, respectively. Also in 1411 he was one of five citizens given full power by the corporation to negotiate on the city’s behalf in a dispute with Bishop Beaufort.5

The number of John Blake’s properties in Winchester was outstanding. A large group at the lower end of Tanner Street, in Mosa Lane, High Street and Buck Street centred on his dwelling in St. George’s parish, and included two cottages next to ‘Petytslake’, a great gate ‘by the which men go towards mullond att Coytebury’, and a site on the north side of High Street, where by 1417 he had erected a row of cottages with stalls. Elsewhere in Winchester he held the ‘Posternemulle’ and property in the lane linking Gar Street and Gold Street, where he had lived with his first wife. In 1421 he conveyed a tenement in Fleshmonger Street, as well as the Rede Hat inn, to Henry Somer*, the chancellor of the Exchequer, and his wife Katherine, le Faire’s daughter.6 Blake was still living in 1423 when he was fined 64s. at the assizes for rental arrears, but he had died before 1430 by which date his executors were in possession of the Tanner Street properties.