CRISTESHAM, Nicholas (d.c.1403), of Wells, Som.
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Family and Education
s. of John Cristesham of Wells. m. bef. 1373, Maud,1 prob. s.p.
Churchwarden of St. Cuthbert’s, Wells 1362; master of Wells Mich. 1378-9, 1382-3, 1385-6, 1388-9; auditor 1380-1, 1382-3, 1389-90, 1392-3.2
Tax collector, Som. Mar. 1377, Nov. 1382, Mar., Oct. 1393.
Commr. of arrest, Som. Aug. 1380.
Cristesham was a prominent member of the community of Wells, and remained closely involved in its affairs and administration throughout his life. He became a freeman of the town before 1362 when, in his capacity as churchwarden of St. Cuthbert’s, he received a gift of an annual rent of 6s.8d. from a local merchant. He served as a juror at an inquisition ad quod damnum in Wells in 1367 and between then and 1398 he witnessed very many conveyances in the town. Cristesham provided pledges for five new freemen of Wells between 1380 and 1396. Having himself served in the office of master of the borough for no less than four of the 11 years between 1378 and 1389, he was made a member of the master’s council in 1392-3.3 His parliamentary service for the borough was outstanding in the period.
No doubt partly as a consequence of his involvement in the regional production and sale of cloth, Cristesham was often concerned in the transactions of his fellow burgesses. An associate of long standing, Richard Stoweye, enfeoffed him of his property in Wells, which eventually passed into Cristesham’s own possession. He acted as executor of the will of John Roper, a local merchant, in 1379; and Walter Power† of Bristol made him a trustee of his holdings in Wells. During his first mastership he had been given power of attorney by the widow of a Salisbury man, but again this concerned property in Wells alone. On one occasion he was enfeoffed of land outside the town, at Wanstrow.4
Cristesham had inherited a number of properties in Wells from his father, and to these holdings he added substantially over the years. In 1373 he and his wife were granted an annual rent of 34s. from a tenement on the south side of the High Street, along with its reversion on the death of the tenants for life, and the following year they acquired, also on the High Street, a shop with an adjoining chamber. This was situated next to another shop which Cristesham leased to Roger Chapman*. In addition, he held some arable land opposite ‘Parkeswalle’. It seems likely that Cristesham had no children, for he made arrangements for the bulk of his property (including 14 messuages and three tofts), estimated to be worth £4 5s. a year, to pass to the master and commonalty of Wells. Having paid a fee of £20, he secured the necessary royal licence in November 1394, and began to make the transfer of ownership in March following. Then, in 1397, he enfeoffed John Alampton, one of the cathedral canons, and others of certain buildings in the High Street and land in the north fields, for the purpose of settling it on himself and his wife for the rest of their lives. Early in 1401 he completed the conveyance of a messuage and some 40 acres of land in Wells, held jure uxoris, to two local vicars, while at the same time he placed ‘Cristeshamesyn’ and another four acres into the possession of Robert Hill* of Spaxton, John Podmore* and John Russell II*, all of whom were former officers of Bishop Erghum of Bath and Wells. The Cristeshams both died before 1407, when this particular property formed the basis of a religious foundation for the souls of the bishop and his relations.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Wells City Chs. (Som. Rec. Soc. xlvi), 87, 101-2; Som. Feet of Fines (ibid. xxii), 3-4; HMC Wells, i. 441-2.
- 2. Wells City Chs. 75-80, 85-86, 95; Wells Town Clerk’s Office, convoc. bk. 1378-1450, ff. 9, 34, 38, 57, 76, 86, 103.
- 3. Wells City Chs. 125-6, 130-1; HMC Wells, i. 368; Wells convoc. bk. f. 103; E101/343/28, 30.
- 4. Wells City Chs. 72, 89, 94, 98-99, 104-5; HMC Wells, i. 280-1; ii. chs. 408, 410-11.
- 5. Wells City Chs. 7, 87, 92-93, 99, 101-4; C143/425/16; CPR, 1391-6, p. 515; Som. Feet of Fines, 3-4; HMC Wells, i. 441-2.