GATE, Roger atte, of Winchelsea, Suss.
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Family and Education
prob. s. of William atte Gate. m. bef. 1415, Isabel.1
Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1403, ?1431.2
Commr. of inquiry, Winchelsea Dec. 1414 (proposals for new walls); to take musters of forces going to France July 1432.
In the 137os atte Gate’s putative father had held land at Pett and Fairlight on which, as a Portsman, he claimed exemption from taxation. He himself made similar claims for holdings in the same places in the early 15th century, as well as on land at five other villages in the locality. In 1408 a chest containing his silver and other valuables, worth £5 in all, was stolen from a friend’s house at Guestling. Atte Gate’s property in Winchelsea included land, held in right of his wife Isabel, which the jurors providing information to a royal commission in January 1415 stated would be affected by the proposals to build new walls within the original perimeter of the town. (He himself was serving on this same commission, whose task included a careful survey of the terrain.) In addition, he and his wife acquired in 1418 from Thomas Rokeslee* of New Romney a moiety of a messuage and about 88 acres of arable land and 42 of saltmarsh at Icklesham and Guestling.5
In the course of his career atte Gate was occasionally asked to act as a feoffee. His links with Robert Onewyn* of Rye were particularly close: the two men joined in acquiring land at Winchelsea in 1409, and more elsewhere (from William Worth†) in 1411; and in 1428, after Onewyn’s death, atte Gate was party to settlements of his various properties. He himself enjoyed a reversionary interest in certain of these, subject to the death without issue of his friend’s son, Robert†. Besides this, he acted as a trustee of Alan Kynton’s property in and near Winchelsea, from 1419, and of that belonging to William Skele II*, from 1421. By virtue of his mayoralty of 1431, he headed the group of townsmen who took possession of the land bequeathed in reversion by John Salerne II* to the use of the community.6
Atte Gate was otherwise active in the affairs of Winchelsea and, indeed, of the Cinque Ports generally, for more than 40 years. After representing the town for the first time in the Parliament of 1399 (which he attended for five weeks), he went on in 1400 to be its delegate at a Guestling held at Hastings in February, and at a Brodhull at New Romney in March. While mayor in 1410, he was ordered by the prince of Wales, then warden of the Cinque Ports, to arrest Guy Busshe, owner of a barge responsible for the capture of a Prussian ship off the Isle of Wight. He did so, but 120 of Busshe’s accomplices, led by the barge-master, assailed and wounded his fellow townsmen with swords and arrow-shots, and forcibly rescued Busshe from his custody. In 1418 he himself was accused of abetting piracy. The King’s Council was informed that in March 1416, contrary to the truce with Flanders, a Lübeck ship, chartered by two merchants of Bruges to carry grain from Brittany to Flanders, had been captured off Winchelsea by two English balingers, one of which belonged to the King himself, the other being jointly owned by atte Gate and John Tamworth*. As a result of a royal inquiry, in May the Council ordered that both Winchelsea men be summoned before it, under penalty of £100. The outcome is not known. A few months later, when again mayor, atte Gate was made responsible for the disposal of four Breton ships which, with their cargoes of wine and bacon, had recently been