HEAD, John (d.1391), of Gloucester.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. Lettice, ?1s.
Steward, Gloucester Mich. 1375-6; bailiff 1387-9.1
Tax collector, Gloucester Mar. 1377; assessor May 1379.
Controller of the works, Gloucester castle 14 July 1377-c.1378, 12 May 1379-Mich. 1381, 28 Oct. 1389-d.
Commr. of array, Gloucester June 1385.
Possibly John was the son or grandson of Roger Head, the Gloucester bailiff of 1323-4, and certainly his was a Gloucester family, for a William Head was prior of St. Oswald’s there in 1349-66, and another William, perhaps John’s son, was living in the town in the 1380s. He himself set up in business as a draper. It was while he was serving as one of the four stewards of Gloucester that, in June 1376, when the burgesses obtained a royal grant of pavage for one year, he was named in association with William Heyberer* as supervisor of the expenditure of the levy.2 Then, in the following summer, he and Heyberer were appointed surveyors and controllers of the work of repair at Gloucester castle undertaken by its constable, Sir John Beauchamp† of Powick, and both continued to supervise the operations for the rest of their lives. Head alone was named controller of the works in May 1379 and in November 1381 he personally presented at the Exchequer the first of a series of counter-rolls. In October 1389 he was re-appointed, this time with reference to repairs to houses in the castle precincts, only he died before he could submit his accounts of 1390-1, and these were eventually tendered by his widow and one of his executors, Thomas Hewes†.3
Head’s connexion with Heyberer continued throughout the later period of his life. In 1377 Sir Thomas Roos of Dowsby, Lincolnshire, had entered into recognizances in £20 with them both, and before October 1380 they were jointly suing John Pykenham the younger in the court of common pleas for a debt of £30. From August 1383 the two acted as trustees of the manor of Haresfield, Gloucestershire, which belonged to Sir Edward St. John of Stopham, Sussex, and his wife Joan. Later, in 1387, they secured a royal licence to acquire from the prior of St. Bartholomew’s hospital a shop in Gloucester in exchange for a messuage and lands in Hardwicke. No doubt they travelled to Westminster together to attend the Merciless Parliament of the following year, in which Heyberer represented the shire and his friend the borough (where he was then serving as bailiff). The findings of an inquiry held in May 1389 favoured a grant to Gloucester abbey by Head and Heyberer, in association with Sir Laurence Sebrooke*, of a small estate in Maisemore, the jurors revealing that Head himself owned eight messuages and ten shops in Gloucester and land in the suburbs, altogether worth £10 annually. Head’s associates in Gloucestershire had earlier included Guy, Lord Bryan, the constable of St. Briavels castle, for both had found securities guaranteeing the loyalty of the prior and monks of the alien house at Beckford during the war with France. Of lesser interest was Head’s trusteeship of the Gloucester property of a fellow burgess, William Griffith.4
Head died shortly before 27 Mar. 1391, when his widow, Lettice, bestowed her goods and chattels on Thomas Pope*, whom she was then about to marry. In 1393 Pope completed Head’s conveyance of certain of the Maisemore properties to Gloucester abbey. During the dispute between Llanthony priory and the borough of Gloucester over a plot of land in Southgate Street, next to St. Kyneburgh’s chapel, it was the burgesses’ contention that the prior had only acquired the disputed property in 1388, before which date it had bel