DEBENHAM, William I, of Ipswich, Suff.
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Family and Education
?1s. William II*.
Dep. butler, Ipswich 1 Jan. 1397-13 Oct. 1398, Ipswich and Colchester 14 Oct. 1399-27 Sept. 1401.
Bailiff, Ipswich Sept. 1402-4.1
This Member was presumably not the same man as was returned for Ipswich under the Lancastrians, although it is difficult to determine where the career of the one ended and the other began. They were probably related to the Debenhams who lived at Little Wenham, some six miles from Ipswich, but unlike Gilbert Debenham*, who lived there and trained to be a lawyer, the Debenhams of Ipswich were merchants. William was assessed for alnage on cloth sold in Suffolk between 1394 and 1397 and made regular shipments of this product to the Low Countries. He imported wine and salt, and is also known to have traded in iron brought from Spain (purchasing part of one such cargo from John Bernard III, his fellow parliamentary burgess).2 Debenham was serving as deputy butler at the time of his election to Parliament in 1397; and he retained connexions with his superior the chief butler, Sir Thomas Brownflete, for when, in April 1401, he was enfeoffed of land at Thurlestone and Whitton by John Arnold I*, Brownflete, by then controller of the King’s household, was among his fellow trustees.3