COTERELL, John, of Wallingford, Berks.
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Family and Education
Surveyor and controller of the royal works at Wallingford castle 28 Oct. 1389-20 Nov. 1390.
Commr. of inquiry, river Thames Feb. 1391 (illegal seizure of nets confiscated by the water bailiff), Kent June 1393 (waste in alien priory estates at Lewisham and Greenwich), Berks. Mar. 1410 (forfeited goods).
Alderman, Wallingford Mich. 1391-2, 1409-15, 1419-20, 1424-6; mayor 1417-18, 1421-3, 1426-7.1
Receiver of the honour of Wallingford Mich. 1401-aft. 1418.2
Tax collector, Berks. Dec. 1402.
John Coterell was established in Wallingford by 1380, after which date he constantly appears in local court records. It is possible that he was already a royal servant, connected with the household of Princess Joan, whose usual residence was Wallingford castle. Certainly, a few years after Joan’s death he was appointed as surveyor and controller of building works at the castle, then under the general supervision of the prior of St. Frideswide’s, Oxford. It was shortly after his tenure of office that he first served as an alderman, and also as a royal commissioner. His second commission, in 1393, took him some distance from home, for it concerned alleged waste in certain manors in Kent, then pertaining to the Crown. Between 1390 and 1398 Coterell also attended six Parliaments, five of them consecutive. In all but one he was associated with his fellow royal servant, John Derby, who sat with him in 1394 and 1395, and stood surety for his appearance in 1390 and 1397 (twice). In 1399 Coterell himself stood surety at the elections, for Walter Hervy.3
The change of dynasty in 1399 evidently had no adverse effect on Coterell’s career. At Michaelmas 1401 he succeeded John Derby in the post of royal receiver of the honours of Wallingford and St. Valery, the four and a half hundreds of Chiltern, and the borough of Wallingford; and such records as remain indicate that he retained this office until at least 1418. By 1403 he was £112 9s.8d. in arrears, but soon accounted for the greater part of this sum in payments to Thomas, earl of Salisbury, and Thomas Chaucer*, constable of Wallingford castle. Frequent payments were made to local merchants, such as John Denby I*, for building materials and repairs to the castle. During his receivership, Coterell also served as a tax collector, and in 1410, when sitting in Parliament, was appointed a commissioner of inquiry into the goods of a convicted traitor at Newbury.4
Throughout his term of office as receiver, Coterell continued to be active in the administration of the borough of Wallingford, and his permanent residence there is borne out by the large number of local deeds he witnessed. His position as receiver made him by far the most important of the local burgesses and it is not surprising that he held municipal office as either mayor or alderman almost continuously from 1409 until 1427. He attended at least three Lancastrian Parliaments, and possibly others for which the Wallingford returns do not survive. Standing surety for William Essex in 1406, he was also present at the borough elections to the Parliaments of 1413 (May), 1414 (Apr.), 1419, 1421 (Dec.), 1422, 1423, 1425 and 1426.5
Coterell’s office brought him into close contact with Thomas Chaucer, the constable, and with other local gentry. As early as 1397 he had been a fellow witness with Chaucer to a deed relating to the estates of Robert James*, and in 1409, with Robert James and John Golafre*, he became a feoffee-to-uses of part of Chaucer’s property at Ewelme and Swyncombe. Furthermore, in about 1415 he was also one of those enfeoffed of the valuable manors of Hook Norton and Kidlington, which the Speaker had purchased from the estate of