HALLE, John I (d.c.1409), of Dover, Kent.
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Family and Education
Mayor, Dover Sept. 1371-2, 1373-4, 1380-1, 1388-9, 1391-2, 1393-4; jurat 1382-3, 1384-6, 1397-8, 1400-1, 1407-8.11
Collector of tunnage and poundage, Dover 16 Nov. 1378-20 Nov. 1386.
Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1379, 1383, 1389, 1391.12
Commr. of inquiry, Cinque Ports Apr. 1381 (shipwreck); to assemble vessels to attack pirates, Dover May 1398.
Lt. warden of the Cinque Ports by Nov. 1394-bef. 1397.13
Halle was the son of a Dover inn-keeper who himself sat twice in Parliament and served five times as mayor.14 He began by becoming his father’s partner in trading ventures (in October 1364 the two vintners obtained a royal licence to take £60 in gold to buy wine of the new vintage in Gascony). However, by 1365 he was owner of his own tavern. Halle also derived some of his income from land: from 1373 to 1402 he had holdings in the east Kent hundreds of Bewsborough, Cornilo and Folkestone, to which he had added by 1388 property in the hundred of Eastry. This last may well have comprised the 150 acres of land and 75s. rent settled on him and his wife in 1381. By 1379 he was wealthy enough to be assessed at 3s.4d. for the poll tax.15
Halle was active in the affairs of his home town for more than 40 years. As early as 1365 he was chosen as a delegate from Dover to the court of Shepway and the Brodhull, and in the course of the next ten years he frequently attended both ordinary and special meetings at which barons of the Cinque Ports conferred.16 On several occasions he was sent to Westminster to conduct business on behalf of the Ports. In April 1369 he and Simon Monyn† went to London ‘ex assignacione domini Regis’; in January 1370 the same two were elected to represent Dover at a great council held to discuss the safeguard of the seas; and in December following Halle waited on the King’s Council for decisions about the Ports’ affairs. During the 1370s and 1380s—the period of his parliamentary service, in which he represented Dover 12 times—he was busily employed in measures not only to ensure that the Ports’ privilege of exemption from parliamentary fifteenths was not eroded, but also in attempts to have it extended to more novel forms of taxation. Thus, when mayor in 1372, he put their case before the collectors of the parish tax at Canterbury; in 1377 he went to London ‘pro allocacione’ of the 4d. poll tax; and in July 1381 he appeared before the Council on a deputation suing for the allowance of the Ports’ exemption from an ordinary subsidy.17
During the same period Halle’s energies were also employed on account of the renewal of the French war by Edward III. In April 1372 he went to London in the retinue of the warden of the Cinque Ports, William, Lord Latimer, to arrange about arraying the Ports’ ships ‘pro guerra supra mare’; although when, later that same year, along with other barons of Dover, he sent out a naval force to plunder the King’s enemies, it was only to see their spoils seized at disembarkation by the London merchant and financier, Richard Lyons†. (Not until after Lyons had been murdered in the Peasants’ Revolt did they venture to complain; and when sitting in the Commons in May 1382, Halle and his companion from Dover, John Monyn*, presented a petition for redress.) In 1378 the lieutenant of Dover was ordered to treat with Halle and Peter Rede with a view to their serving as captains of barges needed for an expedition to the north.18 Meanwhile, in July 1377, Halle had attended Richard II’s coronation as one of the canopy-bearers sent by the Ports, and had been present at a meeting of the royal council in London in the following month. When, in 1378 Dover became a head port for collecting tunnage and poundage, he was appointed a collector, securing the post until, eight years later, Dover was once more merged with Sandwich for this purpose. He was also employed by the government in redressing acts of piracy. In March 1379 he was given custody by the warden of £160 which the bailiff and customs officers at Rye had wrongfully extorted from certain German merchants to whom he had acted as host. However, certain of his own activities were not above suspicion: six months later he was summoned with other leading Portsmen before the Council and briefly committed to the Tower, for reasons unstated.19 In the Parliament of 1381 Halle procured an exemplification of an ordinance of Edward III which ruled that pilgrims should not leave the realm save through the port of Dover. That year or the next, he was summoned to Westminster by a royal writ, ‘pro diversis causis tangentibus veritatem’, possibly over the disturbances recently raised by Walter Ellis† and others against St. Martin’s priory, but apparently in Dover’s interest, for the town paid him 36s.8d. for his expenses. The other Ports also reimbursed him for business undertaken on their behalf at other times: in 1382 New Romney employed him as an advisor on how to manage its dispute with its member of Lydd; six years later, Winchelsea paid him 11s.8d. for suits undertaken since 1384; and, also in 1388-9, New Romney gave him 10s. ‘de prosequendo pro viagio’ (probably in connexion with securing a reduction to ten vessels of ship-service for the earl of Arundel’s naval campaign).20
In 1392 Halle and two other wealthy Dover barons gave St. Martin’s priory property in Hougham and elsewhere worth ten marks a year, to pay for a perpetual light on the high altar and other charitable charges ordained by the donors. The peak of Halle’s career was reached a year or two later, for by November 1394 he had been appointed by the warden, John, Lord Beaumont, as his lieutenant at Dover castle. As such he made the returns for the Cinque Ports to the Parliament of 1395.21
Halle had been occasionally involved in lawsuits at Dover for many years, and is last recorded as engaged in proceedings in May 1408. He died before 1410, when the Exchequer began to press his executors in connexion with securities he had once provided for a merchant from Sandwich. His heir was his son Ingram.22
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: A. P.M. Wright
- 1. Attending for 31 days: Add. 29615, f. 19.
- 2. He and Walter Ellis were paid £5 3s.6d.: ibid. f. 25.
- 3. He and John Monyn were paid £7 19s.10d.: ibid. f. 37.
- 4. Attending for 21 days: Egerton 2091, f. 7.
- 5. Attending for eight days: ibid. f. 8.
- 6. He was paid £3 6s.8d.: ibid. f. 28.
- 7. He was paid £2 6s.8d.: ibid. f. 28.
- 8. He also represented New Romney for a while, receiving £2: Romney assmt. bk. 2, f. 5.
- 9. He also represented New Romney for 38 days, receiving 20d. per day: ibid. f. 12.
- 10. CP25(1)108/216/211.
- 11. Add. 29615, ff. 20, 27; E364/6 m. Cd; Egerton 2088, ff. 19, 31, 53, 108; 2091, ff. 1, 14, 18, 24, 43, 65.