HELDE, John, of Winchelsea, Suss.
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Family and Education
Mayor, Winchelsea Easter 1399-1401, 1404-5.1
Helde owned land at Telham, Brede, Udimore, Icklesham and Knelle, on which as a Portsman he claimed exemption from taxation in the early 15th century.2 In the 1390s he had been on good terms with Sir Benedict Sely, one of Richard II’s retainers, who in 1394 made him a trustee of his estates in Sussex. In 1398 he witnessed a deed on Sely’s behalf. Following Sely’s execution in January 1400 for treason against Henry IV, Helde and his co-feoffees remained in possession of his esates until 1404, when the Exchequer ordered an investigation, claiming that they should have been forfeited to the Crown.3 Meanwhile, when mayor in 1399, Helde had taken an active part in buying beer and other provisions for the crews of the five ships supplied by Winchelsea for Richard II’s second expedition to Ireland. About Whitsun that year he was called to a conference of the Cinque Ports convened at Dover, and in July he attended a Brodhull. He was present at the session of the court of Shepway at which Sir Thomas Erpingham was installed as warden, following his appointment by Henry of Bolingbroke. Helde had a business partnership with Thomas Bette* with whom in 1402 he sued John Sly of Sarre to render his account as their former receiver; and he was also friendly with John Salerne II*, who in 1410 made him one of the trustees of his property for the performance of his will. Helde’s service to Winchelsea is recalled by a contemporary inscription on the west gateway of the town.4