BRUNHAM, Robert, of Bishop's Lynn, Norf.
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Family and Education
?s. of John Brunham† of Lynn.
Chamberlain, Lynn Mich. 1395-6, 1401-2; mayor 1406-7, 1408-9.1
Commr. of arrest, Lynn Feb. 1403; array Aug. 1403.
Constable of the Staple, Lynn 3 July 1406-c.1407.
J.p. Lynn 26 Feb. 1407-Dec. 1417.
Alderman, Holy Trinity guild Lynn by Sept. 1413-aft. Apr. 1420.2
Robert may have been the son or nephew of that wealthy member of the potentiores, John Brunham, several times MP for Lynn between 1365 and 1384, six times mayor, alderman of the Holy Trinity guild and father of the famous mystic, Margery Kempe.3 A freeman by 1395, he held property in ‘Fuller Row’ and rented a cellar and solar from the merchant guild to which he belonged.4 He, who from 1392 exported cloth through the port, also traded in corn, and in the winter of 1405-6, usually in partnership with William Herford*, he imported at least 344 casks of wine, and shipped out more than 276 quarters of grain. He formed business connexions with Kingston-upon-Hull merchants. A shipowner, in May 1400 he had been aboard his vessel, the Holygost, one of a small fleet of six ordered to sea by Henry IV to make war on the Scots. In their zeal he and John Brandon* then captured a barge of Dieppe which the King ordered them to restore to its owner. In August 1405 the royal searcher confiscated from a boat of Brunham’s sturgeon said to pertain to the Norwegian king’s treasurer. The following year he was chosen by his fellow merchants as constable of the Staple, and in July 1410 he contributed to a loan of 200 marks to finance naval defence.5
Brunham occasionally acted as trustee of properties in the vicinity of Lynn. In 1395 he was enfeoffed by William Doraunt, esquire, of lands in Setchey, South Lynn, Clench Warton and elsewhere; in 1401 by the Leicestershire knight, Sir Thomas Boyville, of the manor of Bealfus in South Creake; in 1414 of lands in Wormegay, Runcton and Middleton; and before 1417 by Edmund Beleyeter* of his manor of ‘Feltham’s’ in Great Massingham.6
In September 1407, during his first mayoralty, Brunham attested the parliamentary election indenture, and he acted similarly in May 1413 and November 1414. Meanwhile, in December 1411, as one of the potentiores, he had been bound over in £100 to obey the mayor, and was then appointed as one of the 18 arbitrators who, drawn from all the three parties which were in conflict, were authorized to settle the town’s constitutional disputes. He was automatically excluded from the committee of nine (composed only of inferiores and mediocres) which took over the administration of the borough the following May. When, as alderman of the guild, Brunham held the municipal elections on 29 Aug. 1419 he encountered opposition from members of the 27. He is reported as saying ‘Above all things peace is good for you’, to which an opponent, Geoffrey Bilney, replied, ‘we might have had peace and tranquillity in this town for a long time back if you had wished it, but you prevented it’.7 He is last heard of in April 1420.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Red Reg. King’s Lynn ed. Ingleby, f. 120; HMC 11th Rep. III, 224; Norf. Official Lists ed. Le Strange, 190.
- 2. King’s Lynn Town Hall, Ca 3, Be 46.
- 3. Bk. of Margery Kempe (EETS, ccxii), 359-61, where it seems that three John Brunhams are confused; the MP probably died before 1392 (CCR, 1389-92, p. 541).
- 4. H. J. Hillen, Hist. Lynn, i. 132; Recs. King’s Lynn ed. Harrod, plate B; Lynn Town Hall, Gd 55.
- 5. N.S.B. Gras, Early Eng. Customs System, 547; E122/95/27, 181/39; Harl. Roll H 23; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 291; 1413-16, p. 215; Letters Hen. IV ed. Hingeston, 34; PPC, i. 347.
- 6. CCR, 1392-6, p. 422; 1441-7, p. 302; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 478; CP25(1)168/183/75, 169/185/10.
- 7. C219/10/4, 11/1, 4; Recs. King’s Lynn, 98; HMC 11th Rep. III, 192; Lynn Town Hall, Ae 17.