GERARD, Thomas, of Norwich, Norf.
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Family and Education
m. bef. Nov. 1389, Elizabeth.
Treasurer, Norwich Mich. 1386-7; bailiff 1388-9, 1393-4, 1400-1; sheriff 1407-8.1
J.p. Norwich 12 Apr. 1397-aft. July 1401.
Commr. of inquiry, Norwich June 1406 (concealments); to raise royal loans June 1406.
Thomas Gerard came from a well-established Norwich family. He was closely related to William Gerard† (d.1391), the MP of 1373, 1382 (Oct.) and 1384 (Apr.), and bailiff of 1374-5, and may even have been his son, although he is not mentioned in such details of William’s will as were enrolled in the city court. The two had been associated in 1384 in the acquisition of a messuage in St. Giles’s parish; and following the marriage of William’s widow Agnes to William Everard*, Thomas made a conveyance to the couple of part of a garden in the parish of St. Peter Mancroft. Together with his own wife, Gerard was possessed of a house not far away in St. Gregory’s.2 Although it was probably an older Thomas Gerard who had served as constable of the Staple at Norwich in 1370, Thomas the MP did have an interest in the wool trade and is known to have made shipments of this commodity from Great Yarmouth to the Low Countries in 1386. In November 1388, during his first term as a bailiff of Norwich, he was ordered to contribute 13s.4d. toward the cost of a royal embassy recently sent to Prussia to negotiate an agreement over acts of piracy committed against one another by English and Prussian merchants. It was perhaps to facilitate his personal supervision of merchandise passing through Yarmouth that he purchased property in the port in 1402.3
In 1399—most probably in September—Gerard was one of the citizens of Norwich chosen to deputize for the bailiffs during their absence in London for discussions with Henry of Bolingbroke, who was soon to become King, about a new charter whereby the city would be made a shire-incorporate. At that time he was a j.p. in the city, and was still on the commission when elected bailiff for a third term in 1400. In 1403, when a French invasion seemed imminent he was among the ‘chief citizens’ sent to Yarmouth with a body of men-at-arms and archers, there to remain until relief should come from the royal forces. At the parliamentary elections held at Norwich in 1406 Gerard provided mainprise for Walter Eaton, the lawyer, and in the following year he shared responsibility for making the returns, in his capacity as a sheriff. He is last recorded in February 1414 as attending a ‘great assembly’ held in the guildhall, apparently then being a member of the mayor’s council of 24.4