CROWSHAW, John (d.1399), of Nottingham.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Feb. 1388

Family and Education

m. by 1380, Cecily1 (d.1404), 1s.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Nottingham Mich. 1371-2; mayor 1376-7, 1382-3, 1388-90.2

Poll tax collector, Nottingham Mar. 1377.

Commr. of inquiry, Notts. Feb. 1383 (liability to contribute for repairs of bridges at Nottingham over the Leen); to confiscate cloths put up for sale in breach of the Statute of 1380, Coventry, Leics., Yorks., Lincs., Notts. Nov. 1389; of arrest, Notts. Aug. 1395.

Controller and supervisor of the works, Nottingham castle 8 Nov. 1387-97.


A prominent and successful merchant stapler, Crowshaw was active in Nottingham affairs from 1371, as a juror, bailiff and collector for the guild of All Saints in St. Mary’s church.3 Mayor for no fewer than four annual terms, during the first of them he obtained a royal pardon for the burgesses and commonalty, six days before Richard II’s accession. Already a wealthy man, on 1 Apr. 1379 he joined with two other Nottingham merchants in advancing a loan of 100 marks to the young King’s government. Crowshaw’s standing was founded upon trade. From 1382 he was engaged in taking produce down the river Trent to Kingston-upon-Hull, whence he exported wool (in substantial quantities), hides and cloth. The latter was produced on his own looms in Nottingham; for example, between September 1392 and July 1395 he was assessed for alnage on 73 ‘dozens’. His imports included small shipments of Swedish iron, cumin, wax and woad. Such ventures naturally encountered set-backs: early in 1388 the Godberade of Camfer, Zeeland, was wrecked off Cromer with a consignment of Crowshaw’s wool destined for the Staple at Middleburg; about a year later, John Hoo, a London grocer, defrauded him of ‘great sums’ of money that Crowshaw owed for customs at Hull; and in December 1392 he had to provide securities of £200 in Chancery to secure the restoration, to fellow merchants of York and Nottingham, of goods worth 600 marks taken into Scotland contrary to the truce.4 However, his own business deals were not above suspicion: in 1392 local juries accused him, in the King’s bench then sitting at Nottingham, of using false weights during the previous eight years when buying wool, and in particular of a fraud in the purchase of 30 sacks of wool from the prior of Newstead. Even so, when the case came up for a hearing in the Michaelmas term, Crowshaw obtained an acquittal by presenting a royal pardon bought for £10 on 8 Oct., specifically with regard to any extortions in respect of his dealings in wool. At the same time he obtained exemption from holding royal office against his will. As a ‘wool-buyer’ or ‘merchant’ of Nottingham, he again took out pardons in October 1395 and August 1398. Perhaps bearing in mind his Membership of the Merciless Parliament, he contrived for the second pardon to indemnify him for anything he had done in support of the Lords Appellant.5

Crowshaw’s ability to secure royal pardons may perhaps be attributed to his employment, from November 1387, as controller of the works at the castle of Nottingham, which was then in Queen Anne’s custody. The queen had also been assigned the lordship of Mansfield and the manor of Linby, and during the next ten years Crowshaw was responsible there for organizing repairs to sewers, mills, houses and weirs.6 Perhaps as a result of these appointments, one of his associates, William Horbury, who was a Chancery clerk, appointed him in April 1393, along with a fellow clerk in the Chancery, Nicholas Bubwith (who was later to be bishop of Bath and Wells), as executor of his will. Two years later Crowshaw and Bubwith had to pay 200 marks to obtain exoneration for any sums owed by Horbury at the Exchequer. The latter had allowed to Crowshaw and his heirs in his will first option on the reversion of the manor of Wingerworth, Derbyshire, and four messuages in Derby and Chesterfield, at £20 below the price any other purchaser was prepared to pay, although whether he ever took up this option does not appear.7 Crowshaw’s Nottingham property consisted of at least four messuages, eight tenements, eight cottages, gardens and solars in High Pavement, the Saturday Market, Hounds Gate, Wheeler Gate, St. James’s Street, Lorimer’s Street and Castle Gate.8

It was in 1399 that Crowshaw made his own will. In it he left 40 marks towards the fabric of St. Mary’s church, where he was to be buried. He died that same year, before 19 Sept., when Archbishop Scrope commissioned the prior of Newstead to veil his widow.9 Their son William followed Crowshaw to the grave early in 1402, and Cecily Crowshaw died shortly before 26 Jan. 1404 leaving £50 to religious foundations and the poor, about £75 in other bequests and £80 for chaplains to celebrate masses for her soul and that of her late husband.10 Nor was this all: Crowshaw’s only grandson, William, also died within the year, before attaining his majority; for 18 months from February 1405 his father’s feoffees (including Robert Glade* and John Tansley*) were engaged in selling off the family property.11

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Craweshawe, Crawshagh, Crouschaghe, Crowschawe.

  • 1. Nottingham Archs. ct. roll 1281 m. 11.
  • 2. Nottingham Recs. ed. Stevenson, i. 425, which, however, lists no mayor for 1376-7. For this mayoralty, see C67/28 m. 11.
  • 3. Notts. IPM (Thoroton Soc. xii), 24; Nottingham Recs. i. 193; C67/28 m. 11.
  • 4. CPR, 1377-81, p. 637; E101/346/9; E122/59/7, 8, 16, 23, 24; CCR, 1385-9, pp. 378, 571; 1392-6, p. 33.
  • 5. KB27/526 rex m. 13; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 188, 628; C67/31 m. 12.
  • 6. CPR, 1388-92, pp. 7, 252; 1391-6, pp. 7, 46, 287; 1396-9, p. 108; E101/478/12.
  • 7. CPR, 1391-6, p. 584; Oxon. Wills (Oxon. Rec. Soc. xxxix), 7-8.
  • 8. Nottingham Archs. ct. rolls 1280 m. 19, 1291 m. 6, 1294 m. 13d.
  • 9. Trans. Thoroton Soc. xxi. 65; Test. Ebor. iv. 340.
  • 10. Borthwick Inst. York, York registry wills, iii. ff. 92, 221-2.
  • 11. Nottingham Archs. ct. rolls 1302 m. 26, 1303 mm. 1d, 16d, 18d, 27d; Nottingham Recs. ii. 31-33, 402.