ESTON, Thomas, of Exeter, Devon.
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Family and Education
?s. of Robert Eston of Exeter.1 m. (1) by 1395, Agnes, da. and coh. of Thomas Smythesheghes of Exeter; (2) by 1418, Maud.
Steward, Exeter Mich. 1394-5, 1408-9; member of the council of 12, 1397-8, 1400-2, 1403-8, 1409-14, 1415-19, 1420-8; receiver 1402-3; mayor 1414-15, 1419-20, 1422-3, 1426-7.2
Constable of the Staple, Exeter Feb. 1397-Mar. 1398, c. 1403-4, Jan. 1414-Oct. 1415, Nov. 1420-1; mayor Nov. 1417-18.3
Collector of customs and subsidies, Exeter and all ports from Bridgwater to Sidmouth 24 Mar. 1401-Dec. 1404.
Tax collector, Devon Nov. 1404, Exeter July 1413.
Eston entered the freedom of Exeter on 5 Apr. 1389, on completion of a seven-year apprenticeship as a merchant. He became actively involved in the expanding cloth industry of the city, being assessed for alnage in 1399-1400 on 15 cloths of assize, and he built up a successful overseas trade through Dartmouth and the ports of the Exe, dealing chiefly in cloth and wine but also shipping fish, fruit, cider and coal.4 In 1398 Eston took out a lease for 58 years from the churchwardens of St. Mary Major of a tenement next to his dwelling-place in South Street, agreeing to rebuild a ruined kitchen at his own expense. Other property, including a tenement next to ‘The Magdalen’, and annual rents amounting to 40s, were probably part of the estate of Thomas Smythesheghes, which was divided between Eston and Peter Sturt (who was to be his fellow representative in Henry IV’s last Parliament) as an outcome of their marriage to the coheirs.5 Although active in the government of Exeter (he was named on the panel of electors of civic offices on over a score of occasions between 1393 and 1426, and served four terms as mayor), Eston established no contacts of importance outside the locality, although he may have been the man of this name who served in France in Sir Thomas Carew’s retinue in 1420. (If so, his role was probably that of victualler.) Not recorded afte