HARWORTH, alias FUYSTER, Robert, of Lincoln.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Bailiff, Lincoln Sept. 1379-80; mayor 1393-4.1
Assessor of a tax, Lincoln Dec. 1380; collector Nov. 1383, May, Dec 1384.
Harworth (or Fuyster as he was just as often known) is first mentioned in about 1373 when he performed jury service at the sessions of the peace in Lincoln. During his term as bailiff some seven years later he was responsible for holding the elections to the first Parliament of 1380; and, together with other members of the ruling mercantile oligarchy, he became involved in a dispute with the dean and chapter over the exercise of their respective jurisdictions in the cathedral close. Relations between the civic and ecclesiastical authorities deteriorated so badly over the next few years that in March 1390 Harworth and many other former office-holders were each bound in securities of 100 marks to keep the peace and stay well away from the cathedral. In the following May, a commission of oyer and terminer was set up to examine charges that they had repeatedly and sometimes violently tried to usurp the power of the ecclesiastical courts; and shortly afterwards a compromise, very much in favour of the dean and chapter, was reached. In an attempt to thwart their enemies, the latter had, during this period, espoused the cause of the ‘common people’ in their longstanding quarrel with the ‘more worthy citizens’ of Lincoln over the election of the mayor and bailiffs and other matters of privilege. Partly because of this outside intervention, factionalism in the city came to a head in 1393 and threatened to prove so disruptive that Sir John Bussy* was instructed by Richard II to supervise the mayoral election in person so that the outcome might be ‘pleasing to God and good for the King’. Bussy’s influence was clearly used to support the dominant hierarchy against the demands of the ‘middling citizens’ for a wider franchise, and Harworth’s election may be seen as evidence of his success.2
A substantial part of Harworth’s income came from the wool trade; and in October 1395 he obtained a royal pardon for all fraudulent or illegal transactions in this commodity. Not enough is known about wool shipments from the port of Boston for us to be able to discover the extent of his exports, but in February and December 1400 alone he paid customs on a total of seven sarplers intended for the Calais Staple.3
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Fuster, Fuystour, Harewode, Hareworth, Haworth.