HACON, John, of Great Yarmouth, Norf.
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Family and Education
?s. of Richard Hacon of ‘Hacons’ in Great Melton, Norf. m. bef. Mar. 1380, Alice.1
Dep. butler, Yarmouth 6 Feb.-6 Nov. 1382.
Bailiff, Yarmouth Mich. 1384-5, 1390-1, 1395-6.2
Commr. to recruit seamen for royal service, Yarmouth Sept. 1386; assemble shipping for service against pirates May 1398.
John was perhaps descended from Roger Hakun of Cantley on the river Yare, whose daughter acquired property in Yarmouth in 1322-3, or from John Hacon of Kirkley, Suffolk, master of the Rose of Little Yarmouth 20 years afterwards. If (a third possibility) he belonged to the Great Melton branch of the family, then he must have been the man who in 1393 conveyed the manor of ‘Hacons’ to Henry Limner* of Norwich.3
Hacon made a career in royal service. In 1370, upon the renewal of the war with France, he joined the fleet under the joint command of the admirals of the west and north as master of La Cog John of Yarmouth, manned by a crew of 60 mariners; and later from 11 May to 3 July 1377 he was in charge of Edward III’s ship La Dieu la Garde. Another vessel, which at Richard II’s command the citizens of Norwich commissioned to be built at Yarmouth, was left under Hacon’s supervision in the autumn of 1379, and the fact that a committee of citizens conferred with John of Gaunt’s confessor, Walter Diss, D.Th., about Hacon’s employment in this way, suggests that he was at that time already retained by the duke. Certainly, for the next seven years, at least, he received an annual fee of £10 charged on Gaunt’s estates in the locality. He may well have served as a commander in the fleets which transported Lancaster’s armies to Gascony and Spain; and it was at the duke’s request that in July 1391 the King granted him 6d.a day for life to be taken from the wool customs collected in the port of Yarmouth. While up at Parliament in February 1393 he secured a writ ordering payment of arrears of this stipend.4
Hacon officiated as a bailiff of Yarmouth for three annual terms, and was holding that post when returned to his second Parliament in 1384. He was one of the 24 jurats by 1386, being named third on the list of those then assigned to select borough officials. Besides his naval career, he carried on a successful business as a merchant, dealing mainly in salt, which he sometimes brought from France in his own ships. He also had an interest in the lucrative pilgrim traffic, obtaining, in the spring of 1394, a royal licence as master of Le Gabriel of Yarmouth to take 40 passengers on pilgrimage to St. James of Compostella in Spain. Hacon was part-owner with Hugh atte Fenn* and William Oxney I* of the vessel built at Cley-next-the-Sea in Norfolk which, on 22 Mar. 1406, captured the future James I of Scotland while on his way to France, and he shared in the reward given by Henry IV a month later.