GARTON, John, of Dover, Kent.
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Family and Education
m. bef. 1410, Joan.
Jurat, Dover Sept. 1401-2, 1407-8; mayor 1412-13, 1415-17; dep. mayor July 1414.1
Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1425.2
Garton is recorded in the court books of Dover from 1395, and as a witness to local deeds from 1401.3 Nothing is known about his landed holdings save that, in 1410, he and his wife made an enfeoffment of a rent of barley levied on land at Ringwould and West Langdon, not far from Dover. In 1419 he undertook as surety that one of the trustees of this property, Thomas Herry, clerk, would not trouble or sue the mayor and his colleagues in a dispute over the advowsons of the churches at Dover until Archbishop Chichele returned to England.4
In 1411 many Dover men had made out bonds to Henry of Monmouth, prince of Wales, then warden of the Cinque Ports, in sums ranging from £40 to £200, to accept his award regarding certain disputes that had arisen among them (Garton himself being bound in £40). These troubles were settled, but the bonds themselves, which were unfortunately not cancelled, fell into the possession of Thomas Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, whom Henry on his accession to the throne appointed to succeed him as warden; and in June 1414, the earl, having been also appointed treasurer of the Exchequer, handed them over to this department, which then proceeded to demand the sums recorded. Garton was apparently delegated to deal with the problem while up at Westminster for his second Parliament later in the same year, and on 16 Dec., a week after the Commons were dismissed, he managed to secure a letter under the privy seal in which the King declared that the bonds had been given to him solely as a private arbiter, that their understood conditions had been fulfilled, and that, accordingly, ‘en descharge de nostre conscience’, they should be returned. Garton produced the letter in the Exchequer a few weeks later and recovered the bonds. Between 1416 and 1418 he and Richard Huntingdon* of Hastings were employed by the Cinque Ports to sue against the men of Yarmouth for breaches of the Ports’ franchise. Then, in 1423, he spent 24 days in London obtaining a renewal of the Ports’ charter—business which earned him £2 for his trouble. At the same time, and again in the following year, he secured writs to discharge the Ports from regular parliamentary taxation.5
While representing Dover in Parliament for the last time, in 1425, Garton attended for 73 days, during which period he and his colleague, Thomas atte Crowche*, also acted for their home town when the Cinque Ports sued to have their charter allowed in the Exchequer. But although his parliamentary wages (assessed at 2s.8d.a day) amounted to £9 14s.8d., the town authorities paid him no more than £5, and in 1426-7 he appealed to the warden, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, for a letter commanding Dover to hand over the remainder. A general levy was ordered, but even so Garton obtained no more than 13s.4d.and eventually had to release the commonalty from its debt.6