BLANKPAYN, John, of Cambridge.

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



Jan. 1377
Oct. 1377
Sept. 1388

Family and Education

m. bef. June 1369, Alice.1

Offices Held

Mayor, Cambridge Sept. 1374-5, 1379-80, 1390-1.2

Tax collector, Cambridge Dec. 1380, Nov. 1382.


Blankpayn had substantial property in several parishes within Cambridge, including a garden in Trinity parish, a toft in St. Andrew’s, lands in Barnwell and at least two houses — one houses in the market, another in Petty Cury. In 1371 he was associated in the acquisition of a messuage in St. Mary’s parish, perhaps the same as the one which, adjoining the property of Corpus Christi college, was conveyed to the clerks there in 1375, during his first mayoralty. He became a leading member of a religious guild in the church of the Holy Trinity.3 Blankpayn established important connexions even before his first return to Parliament: in 1370 he had been among those enfeoffed by Roger Harleston in the Bedfordshire manor of Dunton Chamberlain, and ten years later he was to act as surety for Harleston when the latter was elected knight of the shire for Cambridgeshire.4

In November 1380, shortly after his second term as mayor, Blankpayn received with Robert Brigham* a royal grant of pavage in Cambridge for four years, and in the following month he was appointed collector of the infamous poll tax granted by Parliament at Northampton. Not long afterwards order began to break down in Cambridge, and Blankpayn’s own activities in local politics were not irreproachable. A royal writ of 6 Feb. 1381 required him to enter into a recognizance for £100 for having obstructed the justices during their sessions and inflamed local opinion against them; and two weeks later he was bound over to be obedient to royal officers and to prevent the congregation of malcontents in the town. There is more than a hint of factional divisions among the more prominent burgesses in this unsettled period, or perhaps Blankpayn’s role as a collector of the poll tax excited resentment, for when, during the Peasants’ Revolt, violence broke out, his houses were among those singled out for attack by the local mob, which was actively supported by the mayor, Edmund Lister, and by other leading townsmen, including Blankpayn’s former colleague, Brigham.5

Seven years elapsed before Blankpayn was elected to Parliament again — to that summoned to meet in September 1388 in Cambridge itself. During the session he went surety in Chancery for a man sued for trespass in Essex. In July 1389 the mayor and bailiffs of Cambridge were sent a royal caution ‘at their peril’ not to intimidate one John Colchester, defendant in a plea brought before their court by Blankpayn regarding a rent of 10s. It would appear that an attempt had been made, to Blankpayn’s advantage, to conceal evidence, for the writ states that when ordered by the Crown to refer the case to Chancery, the mayor and bailiffs had denied knowledge of it. Early in 1390, Blankpayn released to John, duke of Lancaster, all his right in the manor and advowson of Landbeach near Cambridge, which he had probably held as a trustee. He also shared an interest in certain messuages, lands and rents in Chesterton and Cambridge with John Cotton*, John Herries* and John Thriplow*, and in 1392 they purchased a royal licence enabling them to grant these properties in mortmain to the chaplain of a chantry which was to be in St. Mary’s church, Cambridge. That same year Blankpayn obtained another royal licence, this time in association with John Wymark of Coates, to alienate two and a half acres of land in Coates in aid of the local parson.6 The last reference to Blankpayn occurs in 1402, when he sold some of his lands in the parish of Barnwell.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: E.M. Wade


  • 1. CP25(1)29/83/37.
  • 2. Add. 5833, ff. 131-3; Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xxxi. no. 376.
  • 3. Add. 5813, f. 173; Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xxxi. nos. 107, 153, 298; xxxix. 108; VCH Cambs. iii. 10.
  • 4. CPR, 1370-4, p. 217; CIMisc. iii. 847; C219/8/4.
  • 5. CPR, 1377-81, p. 559; VCH Cambs. iii. 10; J.M. Gray, Biogs. Mayors Cambridge, 15; C.H. Cooper, Annals Cambridge, i. 119; CCR, 1377-81, p. 513; Cambridge Antiq. Soc. lv. 62.
  • 6. CCR, 1385-9, p. 616; 1389-92, p. 5; Add. 5809, f. 138d; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 67, 132; C143/415/13, 18.
  • 7. Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xxxi. no. 298.