GERARD, Nicholas (d.1421), of Shrewsbury, Salop.
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Family and Education
s. of Nicholas Gerard of Shrewsbury by Benedicta, da. of Thomas Russell. 4s. illegit.1
Town clerk, Shrewsbury by 1389-d.; clerk of the statute merchant 26 June 1404-d.2
Assessor, Shrewsbury Sept. 1394-5; coroner 1396-7, 1400-1, 1414-15; bailiff 1397-8, 1411-12.3
Commr. of arrest, Salop Sept. 1403, Oct. 1404.
Constable, Shrewbury castle 5 Dec. 1407-Sept. 1412.
Tax collector, Shrewsbury Dec. 1414, Nov. 1415, May 1416.
Nicholas was the grandson of Peter Gerard, the Shrewsbury MP of 1344. His father, who in 1360 had acquired property in Abbey Foregate and in 1365 obtained a royal licence enabling the Dominican friars to pipe water from a well (‘Flegwell’) on his land near ‘Monksmoor’ just outside the town, to their house in Shrewsbury,4 died before 1381 when Nicholas, then a minor but none the less described as a burgess, was assessed with his mother and aunt for the poll tax. Later that year, in November, securities were provided in the Chancery at Northampton for Richard and William Biriton, the condition of their defeasance being that they would not harm Gerard. On 24 Sept. 1384 the latter, described as ‘of Shropshire’ took out royal letters of protection, as about to leave England in the retinue of Sir William Beauchamp, the captain of Calais, and, risen to the rank of esquire (‘scutifer’), he was still a member of the Calais garrison in June 1386.5 However, Gerard had returned to Shrewsbury by August 1389, being then a witness to the new ‘composition’ for the reform of the government of the town; and before the end of the year he had been appointed town clerk at an annual fee of £2. Since he was also paid 2s.5d.by the commonalty for his services at the sessions in 1389, it seems likely that his career as a lawyer had begun, and during the following decade he acted as one of the borough attorneys. Gerard took out a royal pardon during his first term as bailiff in May 1398. His alleged offences are not known but may have had something to do with his earlier dispute with the Biritons, which by this date had been revived. When, in the following year, William Biriton was bailiff, he and his fellow, Robert Thornes*, alleged in a petition to the King that Gerard, with the complicity of Thomas Pride*, had embezzled a large portion of the town’s fee farm and contributions to parliamentary subsidies, which had been allowed to the townspeople by royal grant of 1394 in order to cover the cost of repairs to buildings damaged by fire. However, another petition relating to the same offence, this time from 21 Shrewsbury men, included Gerard as a petitioner, and it was Pride alone who was indicted. The feud seems to have been brought to arbitration, for on 22 Jan. 1399 Gerard offered pledges in Chancery as part of an undertaking not to harm Biriton and Roger Thornes* (Robert’s brother), and the latter and four members of the Biriton family promised in turn not to accost Gerard. Robert Thornes and William Biriton were removed from office as bailiffs just four months afterwards, and Gerard was returned to Parliament for Shrewsbury later that year, in association with one of his main-pernors, Thomas Berwick. But this was not the end of the matter: in 1400-1 Roger Thornes was paid 20s. for prosecuting Gerard on the commonalty’s behalf in the court of common pleas; and in October 1400, in the common hall of Shrewsbury and in the presence of the duke of York and the earls of Rutland and Warwick, Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, attempting to settle the discord in the town, decided that Gerard and Robert Thornes were the prime movers in the affair and should each be bound over to keep the peace on pain of a fine of £1,000 and threat of expulsion from Shrewsbury.6
Gerard found royal favour under Henry IV, perhaps by loyal conduct shown at the time of the battle of Shrewsbury, for in 1403 he obtained confirmation of his post as town clerk of Shrewsbury, in the following year he was appointed clerk of the statute merchant there, and in the meantime he secured a place on commissions set up to arrest one of his old enemies, Thomas Biriton. On 27 Aug. 1404, described as ‘King’s esquire’, he obtained, for life, an annuity of 20 marks from the estates of Griffin ap Jeuan ap Madoc, a Welsh rebel, in the lordships of Caus and Powis as well as in Shropshire. Some three years later, he was appointed as constable of Shrewsbury castle at an annual fee of £10, and also as keeper of the forests of Morfe and Shirlett, the latter grant, however, being revoked in April 1408 on the ground that the post had never fallen vacant. By June 1412 Gerard had taken the coif, for it was as a serjeant-at-law that he then received a royal grant of a corrody from Wenlock priory. A year later Henry V confirmed his position as clerk of the statute merchant at Shrewsbury, ‘so that he be not retained with anyone else’.7
In the meantime Gerard had become involved in another local dispute, this time with Urian St. Pierre* over property in Shrewsbury, Abbey Foregate and Coleham once belonging to Thomas Russell, Gerard’s grandfather. Russell’s son Richard, whom Gerard’s father, his brother-in-law, had alleged to be illegitimate, had been obliged in 1367 to surrender the property, and in September 1406, in the bailiff’s court, had made a formal quitclaim of the same to Nicholas, his nephew, admitting that all previous conveyances had been malicious and illegal. Nevertheless, in January 1407 Russell’s feoffees had sold the estates to St. Pierre, and so it was against the latter that, at the assizes held at Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury in the course of the year, Gerard brought charges. The ensuing action cost the town more than £2 10s. in payments to a serjeant-at-law, to the steward, John Burley I*, and to Roger Thornes, then borough attorney, for conducting the suits. However, in June following (1408), St. Pierre, as a member of the jury, indicted Gerard before the j.p.s (who included Thomas, earl of Arundel) for attempting to ambush him on 19 Apr. in the High Pavement (now Castle Street), Shrewsbury. The quarrel was not settled until August 1410, when St. Pierre agreed to renounce possession of the property and to secure for his adversary the earl of Arundel’s ‘good lordship’, while in return Gerard surrendered his patent of office as constable of the castle and obtained St. Pierre’s appointment in his place.8
In addition to the property already mentioned, Gerard owned buildings in the High Pavement and the Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury, and land elsewhere in Shropshire, at Broughton.9 Although before his death in 1421 he had conveyed his house in Dogpole together with the Russell holdings to one of his four illegitimate sons, the house apparently passed to his sister, Joan Bulkeley, and the rest, having meanwhile come into the Crown’s possession, was to be granted in 1462 to the local guild of the Holy Trinity.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Garrard, Jerard.
Date of Death: Shrewsbury Guildhall, box II, 67, f. 53d.
- 1. Ibid. f. 38; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), iii. 365-6.
- 2. Shrewsbury Guildhall, box II, 67, f. 50, box VIII 350; CPR, 1413-16, p. 24.
- 3. Shrewsbury Guildhall, box II, 67, ff. 10-11, 13; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 1), iii. 241, 243.
- 4. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), iii. 365-6; vii. 318; (ser. 4), xii. 157; lii. 216; CPR, 1364-7, p. 159.
- 5. E179/166/27 m. 2; CCR, 1377-81, p. 486; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiv. 243.
- 6. CPR, 1396-9, pp. 472-5; 1401-5, p. 49; Shrewsbury Guildhall, box II, 67, f. 38; box VIII 350, 353; SC8/299/14935, 14942; C67/30 m. 25; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 430, 435; E372/234 m. 39d.
- 7. CPR, 1401-5, p. 410; 1405-8, p. 424; 1413-16, p. 24; CCR, 1409-13, p. 348.
- 8. Shrewsbury Guildhall, box II, 67, f. 50; box VIII 355; Salop Peace Roll ed. Kimball, 83; KB27/613 rex m. 13; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. liv. 100-4; CP25(1)195/20/23; CPR, 1408-13, p. 466; JUST 1/750 m. 3d; Add. 30319, ff. 88, 91.
- 9. Add. 30319, f. 88; 30321, f. 79; CP25(1)195/20/13, 23; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), vii. 318; lii. 219-20; Shrewsbury Lib. deeds 3971-2.
- 10. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), viii. 183; liv. 81; CPR, 1461-7, p. 92.