FYNCH, Vincent I, of Icklesham and Netherfield, Suss.
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Family and Education
Tax collector, Suss. Mar. 1388.
Commr. of sewers, Suss., Romney Marsh Feb. 1394, Nov. 1396, July 1397, May, July 1403, Feb. 1409, Oct. 1415; to examine and amend ordinances regarding the commission of sewers, Pevensey Marsh Nov. 1401; of inquiry, Suss. June 1414 (estates of Boxley abbey).
Mayor, Winchelsea Easter 1398-9, 1405-6.2
Escheator, Surr. and Suss. 28 Nov. 1399-10 Feb. 1400.
Sheriff, Surr. and Suss. 3 Nov. 1412-6 Nov. 1413.
The family of Fynch had played a very active part in the early history of Winchelsea. Its founder, a merchant named Vincent Herberd, was dwelling in the newly built town by 1292, and many of his descendants, who subsequently changed their name to Fynch, served it as bailiffs, mayors and MPs. In the course of the 14th century the Fynches acquired, through the profits of trade, the manors of Netherfield in Battle and Kitchenour in Beckley, besides the overlordship of the manor of Icklesham, thus leaving to our Vincent Fynch a sizeable inheritance.3 Yet despite becoming landowners, the Fynches never lost contact with the affairs of Winchelsea. Vincent’s uncle John (d.1364) had been mayor in 1356-7, and his father had served as bailiff from 1354 to 1368 and as MP in 1366.4 He and his own sons were to carry on this tradition.
Fynch became heir to his father and uncle before 1386, when he was suing for the recovery of 40 acres of land at Icklesham as part of his inheritance. He appears to have borrowed money from John Salerne I* of Iden, to whom he was bound to pay £96 in instalments of £12 each, the terms of the bond being, however, met before Michaelmas 1392. In 1398 he acquired the reversion of the manor of Icklesham (of which he was overlord) and two years later this property fell to him on the death of Alice, wife of Sir Nicholas Haute*. By 1400 he had come to be generally known as ‘esquire’. Nor had the expansion of his landed interests ceased, for in 1410 John Salerne II of Winchelsea (his companion in the Parliament of 1402) left him in his will the reversion of his uncle Robert Salerne’s lands in the event of failure of his own line (which eventually happened). In 1412 Fynch’s manors of Icklesham and Netherfield were assessed for the purposes of taxation at £30 a year, but it seems likely that his total income well exceeded this amount.5
Fynch established useful connexions among the gentry of Sussex. In 1386 he had become a feoffee of Benedict Sely’s lands in that and the neighbouring county of Kent, and his association with Sely was to continue even after the latter’s promotion as a ‘King’s knight’ by Richard II. Under the terms of an Exchequer lease secured by Fynch and Robert Oxenbridge in July 1396, they were to share the farm of the manor of Iham, near Winchelsea, for ten years, paying only the 13s.4d. p.a. to which flooding had reduced its value. However, they relinquished it after just the first year of the lease, whereupon it was granted to Sir Benedict, for whom both Fynch and Oxenbridge were still acting as feoffees. Fynch’s premature removal from the royal office of escheator in February 1400, barely two months after his appointment by Henry IV, may probably be accounted for by his close connexion with Sely, for the latter had participated in the Epiphany plot to murder the King and reinstate Richard of Bordeaux, and had met a traitor’s death accordingly. For a while Fynch continued to act in the deceased’s interests. For instance, he joined his fellow trustees of Sely’s estates in a legal action against Robert Dyne† of Rye to make the latter render account as receiver of revenues there.6
Fynch always kept up his links with Winchelsea, where he twice served as mayor. In the late summer of 1399 he had visited New Romney on the town’s behalf to discover whether the men of the eastern Cinque Ports intended to send to London to secure the return of ships recently offered for the King’s service; and besides representing Winchelsea at a Brodhull at the end of January 1400, he also attended a Guestling held at Hastings a few days later. Not long afterwards, for his part in suing with other Portsmen for the renewal of the Ports’ general charter, he was given £8 8s., this money (Winchelsea’s share of the expenses) being sent to him at Netherfield. Fynch’s property in Winchelsea was the subject of a number of conveyances made between 1395 and 1409; and in 1415 it was decided that some of his land there would need to be assigned for the proposed building of new walls within the original perimeter of the town. In August 1413 he and his wife, Isabel, had obtained from the Franciscan friars of Winchelsea the promise that prayers would be said for them after they died. However, the dates of their deaths, when they eventually occurred, are nowhere recorded.7
Fynch left two sons, Vincent II and William, the elder of whom had been elected to Parliament for Winchelsea during his father’s mayoralty of 1405-6.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Authors: A. P.M. Wright / L. S. Woodger
- 1. Arch. Cant. xiii. 321-3; VCH Suss. ix. 91-92.
- 2. E368/172; Cat. Rye Recs. ed. Dell, 136/158; Rye Corporation ms 57/4, f. 147.
- 3. VCH Suss. ix. 71, 107, 146, 187, 235; Suss. Arch. Colls. lxx. 19-31.
- 4. CFR, vi. 393; vii. 71; W. Boys, Sandwich, i. 561; Add. Ch. 20159.
- 5. Arch. Cant. xiii. 321; Add. Ch. 20198; Suss. Feet of Fines (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii), no. 2686; VCH Suss. ix. 187; Sale Cat. Battle Abbey Chs. (1835), 92; Cotton Julius BIV, f. 44; Feudal Aids, vi. 527.
- 6. CCR, 1385-9, p. 483; E159/180 Easter rot. 2; CFR, xi. 185; CPR, 1408-13, p. 16; C88/84, no. 111.
- 7. Add. Chs. 16432, 20200, 20201, 20203; CIMisc. vii. 503; Cat. Winchelsea Recs. ed. Dell, no. 2043.