COLSHULL, John I (d.1413), of Friday Street, London.
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Family and Education
Common councillor, Vintry Ward, London 1381-7.2
Dep. butler, London 28 Oct. 1382-5 Oct. 1383, Sandwich 2 Nov. 1382-c.1390.
J.p. Cornw. 15 Dec. 1391-Feb. 1400, 18 Dec. 1405-Feb. 1407.
Steward of the duchy estates in Cornw. 24 Feb. 1392-7.3
Sheriff, Cornw. 18 Oct. 1392-7 Nov. 1393, 3 Nov. 1397-17 Oct. 1398.
Commr. of arrest, Cornw. Nov. 1392; inquiry, Cornw., Devon Mar. 1393 (smuggling and concealments), Cornw. Aug. 1394 (St. Buryan’s college), Feb., Dec. 1395 (wrecks), July 1397 (lands of an alien), Jan. 1406 (riots); weirs, Jan. 1398; array Dec. 1399, July 1402, July, Nov. 1405; against sedition May 1402.
Buyer for the royal household by Jan. 1398-midsummer 1399.
Collector of an aid, Cornw. Dec. 1401, of a tax Mar. 1404.
Colshull was a Cornishman only by adoption, for his career began in London, as an apprentice to the wealthy vintner, Thomas Gisors; and John Colshull, tailor of Old Change, was possibly his father. Having entered Gisors’s service some time before September 1369, he had finished his articles by July 1373, presumably after completing his seven years’ training. Not until 1381-2, however, did he become a member of the Vintners’ Company himself. In a case of debt he brought against his former master in the years 1381 to 1383, evidence was produced which gives an insight into Colshull’s activities as an apprentice. Between 17 Sept. 1369 and his departure, probably in 1374, on a voyage to Brittany in Sir Robert Neville’s* company, Colshull, while trading for his master, handled nearly £6,000, which he exchanged for Flemish crowns, and he visited Flanders three times and Dordrecht once.4
At the end of his apprenticeship Colshull seems to have gone into service with Richard Lyons†, another affluent London merchant, heavily involved in lending to the unpopular government of Edward III. In December 1374 with others, including John Paule, who was also one of Lyons’s men, Colshull was ordered to appear before the royal council. The reason for this has not been ascertained, but in any case the mayor’s return was to the effect that he held no property in the City and could not be found. Colshull was again associated with Paule when, two years later, inquiry was made into the theft of wine from merchants of Bordeaux; between them they had 24 casks in their possession and Colshull also had a third share in 26 more. Though there was no apparent link with Lyons in this particular affair, the presence of Alice Perrers in the list of other miscreants, at this, the very time of her own and Lyons’s downfall during the Good Parliament of 1376, presupposes a likely connexion. Colshull’s subsequent election to the common council and appointment to the post of deputy butler in the port of London suggest that his own career did not suffer in the long term.5
The case in which the facts of Colshull’s early career were brought to light arose out of a claim he made against Thomas Gisors for debt, first brought before the sheriff of London in November 1381. Gisors failed to appear immediately, and, when he did so, the case was left pending, ‘neither discussed nor terminated because the sheriff favoured John Colshull’. Gisors then appealed over the head of the sheriff to the mayor and aldermen in February 1383, whereupon Colshull gave details of his commercial activities at Bruges and elsewhere, explaining how he had paid for goods with his own money and so on. Gisors claimed that, under statute, he owed nothing for these transactions: only for Colshull then to produce a release given him by Gisors and covering all claims, in the light of which the mayor gave judgement in his favour. The case may possibly be connected with the struggle for power within the City of London at this time between John of Northampton† and Sir Nicholas Brembre†, the latter receiving the support of the Court, the former the protection of the duke of Lancaster and perhaps other barons. Whether or not this is so, it is clear to which of the two factions Colshull belonged, for he was one of the councillors appointed in June 1384 to doctor the ‘Jubilee Book’ of ordinances (previously introduced by Northampton and his fellow radicals) to suit Brembre’s party. He was also summoned to Reading two months later to urge that Northampton be put on trial and, on at least two other occasions, he was associated with Brembre in matters of private interest.6
In 1384 Colshull and John Shadworth*, a fellow citizen of London, acquired the reversion of a messuage in the parish of St. Martin’s in the Vintry, along with two cellars and other property there. But by 1386 he had begun to cultivate interests outside the City, and had obtained land at Takeley, Essex, which he then conveyed to a fellow vintner, Henry Vanner*, and another person. His first known contact with Cornwall was in May 1388, when he and Vanner entered into recognizances for 600 marks with Sir Henry Ilcombe*, John Herle* and John Chenduyt* (all three Cornishmen), and it looks as if his marriage to the late Chief Justice Tresilian’s widow, Emmeline, had already been arranged. Certainly they were married within five months of Tresilian’s execution for treason, which had taken place (following his condemnation in the Merciless Parliament) in February that year. The newly-weds lost no time in making a move to recover the property which, having once belonged to Emmeline’s father and brother, had undergone forfeiture along with Tresilian’s own estates. At first Colshull and his wife only managed to secure at Salden (Buckinghamshire), personal goods (including beds, jewellery, gold and silk cloth, and a psalter illuminated with gilt letters) worth some 1,000 marks, which had been removed by Emmeline to their house in Friday Street. Continued possession of these was permitted in consideration of Colshull’s good service to the King, whose support, which had failed both Brembre and Tresilian, stood the vintner in better stead. Indeed, Colshull was able to sell certain of these goods to the King for £20. Some of the lands of Emmeline’s own family (the Huishes) were handed over to her and Colshull in May 1391 (after the royal council had decided that her niece, a Benedictine nun, had no right to them), and more still some two months later, this time for a payment of 500 marks. The Huish estates thus acquired included six manors, some 64 messuages, over 500 acres of land, £20 in rent and the advowsons of Lansallos and St. Ewe, Cornwall, as well as property in Devon. By May 1392 the Colshulls had also secured possession of a fourth part of the manor of ‘Truro Burgh’, three manors in Devon, much land on the Scilly Isles, and two more advowsons. They were on less firm ground, however, when it came to claiming Emmeline’s dower in the Tresilian estates, especially after these were granted by the Crown to John Hawley I* of Dartmouth, but in transactions completed with Hawley in 1393 and 1394 they apparently reached some sort of agreement regarding apportionment. Colshull also acquired property in Kent, but this, the manors of ‘Littelbrooke’ and Hobury, he sold in 1397. This accession of a large estate in land did not cause Colshull to give up his business interests; rather it allowed for their extension. He was still described as ‘of London’ in 1392 when he stood surety for Adam Bamme*, citizen and goldsmith, who was then granted custody of Brembre’s estates in Kent. Moreover, it was not long before he established contacts with merchants from Lucca.7
Meanwhile, Colshull’s connexion with Richard II and the court party, which may perhaps be assumed from his previous support of Brembre in city politics, became more clearly evident. By August 1391 (shortly before his first Parliament) he was referred to as ‘King’s esquire’, namely, in a royal licence for John Preston, chaplain, to prosecute business for him in the Roman Curia. His appointment as steward of Cornwall in February following marks a further, and more significant, stage in his advancement, indeed, the beginning of a second career in royal service, only now in the West Country. However, his appointment as purveyor of the King’s household meant of course that he still retained business interests in London, and his knowledge of wines and his trading connexions in the City no doubt remained advantageous. It was presumably in his capacity as purveyor that he accompanied the King to Ireland in 1399. His services, however, were soon to be equally valuable to Henry IV, who not only confirmed him and his wife in possession of the Huish lands, but in October 1400 ordered him to supervise the carriage of harness and victuals from London to Chester for Henry, prince of Wales. However, Colshull was no longer called ‘King’s esquire’; and in November his royal letters of protection, issued that summer, were revoked on the ground that, instead of setting off for Scotland with John Norbury*, the treasurer, as evidently required, he had delayed in London. He seems to have abandoned royal service soon after this, and perhaps then retired to Cornwall for good and all. Certainly, a letter from Westminster of October 1402, asking for a ‘benevolence’ to help maintain royal garrisons in South Wales, and addressed only to Colshull and (Sir) John Arundell I* the steward of the duchy, was sent to them in Cornwall.8
Colshull is last recorded as a witness to the Cornish elections held at Launceston on 12 Oct. 1411. He died shortly before July 1413. His widow did not long survive him, and by the end of that same year their property had passed to their son, John II.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. CAD, i. C1560-1; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 204.
- 2. Cal. P. and M. London, 1381-1412, pp. 29, 53, 55, 123, 138; Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 235, 238, 299.
- 3. CPR, 1392-6, p. 32; 1396-9, p. 82; SC6/812/12, 14.
- 4. Cal. P. and M. London, 1381-1412, 34-35; Coroners’ Rolls London ed. Sharpe, 225.
- 5. Cal. P. and M. London, 1364-81, pp. 183, 231-2; CIMisc. iii. 983.
- 6. Cal. P. and M. London, 1381-1412, pp. 29, 31-35, 53, 55, 87, 123, 138; Letter Bk. London, H, 235, 238, 246, 252, 299; CCR, 1385-9, p. 133.
- 7. CPR, 1385-9, pp. 124, 542; 1388-92, pp. 55, 265, 435-6, 468; 1391-6, p. 674; 1399-1401, p. 115; T.F. Tout, Chapters, iii. 433; Reg. Stafford ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 164, 183, 211; Cornw. Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1950), 775, 781, 787; CCR, 1385-9, pp. 488, 627; 1389-92, pp. 264, 298; 1392-6, pp. 227, 250; 1396-9, p. 414; 1402-5, p. 374; CIMisc. v. 306; Corporation of London RO, hr 112/112; E403/521, 2 Dec.
- 8. CPR, 1388-92, p. 472; 1391-6, p. 604; 1396-9, pp. 524, 552; 1399-1401, pp. 115, 394, 412; CCR, 1389-92, p. 492; PCC, ii. 73, 75.
- 9. CFR, xiv. 2; C138/3/36; C219/10/6.