BRUYN, John (d.c.1437), of Bridgnorth, Salop.
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Family and Education
Bailiff, Bridgnorth, Sept. 1403-4, 1405-6, 1407-9, 1410-11.1
Escheator, Salop and the adjacent march 9 Dec. 1408-7 Nov. 1409, 13 Nov. 1423-6 Nov. 1424.
Commr. of inquiry, Salop Feb. 1412 (death of Nicholas Smith at Halesowen), Nov. 1424 (escapes of felons from Shrewsbury), July, Nov. 1431 (property of Richard Peshale of Chetwynd), Dec. 1435 (trespasses); to raise royal loans Mar. 1430, 1431; assess liability to contribute to a parliamentary grant Apr. 1431; of arrest Feb. 1433; array Jan. 1436.
Tax collector, Salop July 1413.
Sheriff, Salop 16 Nov. 1420-13 Nov. 1423, 26 Nov. 1431-5 Nov. 1432.
Keeper of the forests of Morfe and Shirlett, Salop 18 May 1423-d.
J.p. Salop 20 July 1424-12 June 1432.
It has been suggested that John Bruyn was a member of a family originally settled in Cheshire but resident at Bridgnorth by 1377. If so, he may have been the John, son of Henry Bruyn of Chester, who in 1394, when a minor, was abducted from his mother’s keeping at Wimbolds Trafford by Nicholas Bruyn, to whom his marriage pertained.2
In October 1407, early in the third of his five terms as bailiff of Bridgnorth, Bruyn was responsible for holding the parliamentary elections in the town. But he apparently abused the office, for in June 1408 he was indicted before the j.p.s for extorting £2 from the new prior of the hospital of St. John at Bridgnorth before permitting him to take up his appointment, as well as extorting various sums amounting to more than £10 from several local men, and a pipe of wine from Richard Selman†. Later, in 1414, to these charges were added allegations that in 1408 he had feloniously allowed a thief to escape from his custody, and in 1409 made use of his position to confiscate a ‘wolpakke’ worth £3. Such conduct, however, had prevented neither his re-election as bailiff nor, in the autumn of 1408, his first appointment as escheator of Shropshire. In the following February orders were issued for his arrest, but these were rescinded three months later upon the provision of securities by the steward of the royal household and prominent Cheshire landowner, Sir John Stanley, that Bruyn would both answer charges in Chancery and abstain from harming Selman.3 Bruyn attended the shire elections at Shrewsbury in 1410 and acted as a juror at the sessions of the peace held there that year and in 1411, and at Ludlow in 1412. But his misdemeanours continued. Late in 1413 the burgesses of Bridgnorth complained to the chancellor of the sheriff’s failure to arrest him for his many ‘malfaitz’, claiming that they were unable to leave the town to trade for fear of him and his adherents. They requested that John Wynnesbury*, a j.p., be commissioned with Richard Horde* and Richard Selman (Bruyn’s adversary), the then bailiffs, to apprehend him, while royal tenants there referred in a similar petition to Bruyn’s ‘malice, distructions et oppression’. Furthermore, John Dawes, a local chaplain, claimed that he had been threatened ‘de vie et de membre’ by Bruyn. These, along with other protests, were reiterated before the King’s bench sitting at Shrewsbury in 1414. The long list of indictments against Bruyn also included earlier cases of extortion: for instance, that in April 1413 he had wounded and held to ransom one man and in June had forcibly imprisoned another until he surrendered his property and bonds for £40. In more general terms it was alleged that Bruyn and his gang had been terrorizing the neighbourhood around Oldbury, Walton and Sheinton from November 1413 right up to the day of the presentments (19 June 1414). Apparently, on 11 Nov. 1413, when Richard Horde, acting under Wynnesbury’s warrant and with a suitable escort, had attempted to arrest Bruyn at Oldbury, he had met with armed resistance. The last incident had another side to it, however, for among Bruyn’s alleged accomplices on that occasion was Roger Lyney of Newport, who had been appointed with him the previous July as collector of parliamentary subsidies in Shropshire. All the local collectors claimed at the Parliaments of 1414 (Apr.) and 1415 that they had encountered extensive resistance in the shire (notably from Robert* and Roger Corbet* and Richard Lacon*), and that a large assembly of 120 men, including Horde, had attacked them at Oldbury, stolen their goods, and killed their horses, ‘toutdis criantz Sle, Sle’. It is worthy of remark that Bruyn’s principal opponents (the Corbets, Lacon and Wynnesbury) were all members of the earl of Arundel’s affinity, and it may well be the case that he himself was of that of John Talbot, Lord Furnival, who throughout this period was engaged in a dispute over land with the earl — a dispute which had led to many violent encounters between their followers. In the summer of 1416 Bruyn was reported to be in prison, but he then made use of a royal pardon, purchased three years earlier, to secure his release.4
Despite these occurrences, Bruyn was later in Henry V’s reign (although not until after the earl of Arundel’s death) appointed as sheriff of Shropshire for three consecutive years, as such holding the shire elections for the Parliaments of 1421, 1422 and 1423. Moreover, described as ‘King’s esquire’, he secured in the course of his shrievalty the keepership of the royal forests of Morfe and Shirlett. This was not all, for on the day that he relinquished office as sheriff Bruyn was re-appointed as escheator, and for the next eight years was an active member of the Shropshire bench. His son John, usually described as ‘the younger’ or as ‘of Overton’, had attended shire elections with him since 1420, and in May 1434 both Johns were among the Shropshire gentry sworn not to maintain breakers of the peace. The elder John died before March 1437 when the keepership of Morfe was vacant. His property in the High Street, Bridgnorth, including The Swan Inn, was conveyed in 1448 to his grandson, another John.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Bruine, Bruyne, Bryn.
- 1. Add. 28731, f. 5d; C219/10/4; JUST 1/753 m. 16; JUST 2/151 m. 2; E372/254 m. 38d.
- 2. J.B. Blakeway, Sheriffs Salop, 64; CCR, 1392-6, p. 274.
- 3. C219/10/4; Salop Peace Roll ed. Kimball, 81; JUST 1/753 mm. 15, 16; CPR, 1408-13, p. 66; CCR, 1405-9, p. 502.
- 4. C219/10/5; Salop Peace Roll, 97, 103, 112; C1/6/33, 189; SC8/23/1130, 231/11546; JUST 1/753 mm. 15, 16; KB27/613 rex mm. 10, 13, 614 rex m. 42, 618 rex m. 13d, 621 rex m. 11d; RP, iv. 30-31, 87-88; C67/36 m. 7.
- 5. C219/12/4-6, 13/1, 2, 14/3, 4; E101/584/22 mm. 2, 3; CPR, 1429-36, p. 408; 1436-41, p. 190; Bodl. Blakeway mss, 18, ff. 30, 51.