HERRIES, John (d.1418), of Cambridge.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

m. (1) Margaret; (2) Isabel, s.p.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Cambridge Sept. 1380-1; mayor 1394-6, 1404-5.1

Commr. of array, Cambridge Nov. 1403; for repair of the great bridge Feb. 1408, July 1413.

J.p. Cambridge 25 Apr.-Oct. 1415.


During Herries’s term as bailiff Cambridge was shaken by riots which originated some months before the Peasants’ Revolt. On 22 Feb. 1381 he entered into a bond for £100, undertaking not to interfere with the royal justices in their administration of the law and to prevent conventicles against them. Later that year, however, he was the subject of a complaint to the King’s Council by the clerks of Corpus Christi college. They alleged that while bailiff, and along with other prominent burgesses, including his colleague Hugh Candlesby*, he had led a mob of townspeople against the college, their object being to plunder and destroy records of the clerks’ liberties. This brought serious reprisals when Herries and his companions were summoned to appear before the Parliament of 1381-2 to account for the exaction from the university of new charters whereby, under duress, the clerks abandoned their privileges vis-à-vis the town and placed themselves under borough jurisdiction. For his part as a ringleader, Herries bore a large share of the responsibility when, the borough’s defence being rejected, its franchises were forfeited and it was committed to the custody of a royal nominee, Richard Maisterman*.2

Yet it was while Maisterman was still mayor of Cambridge, and, indeed, in his company, that Herries was elected as parliamentary burgess in 1385, and, moreover, he was re-elected a year later. Thereafter his name appeared regularly in electoral returns as mainpernor for other Members, though only in 1417, the year before his death, was he named as witness to the borough indenture of election. In 1394, following his third and last Parliament, he was made mayor, an office he held for two consecutive years. He was again elected mayor in 1404, and served subsequently on a few royal commissions in the town, culminating in his appointment as a j.p. in 1415.

Herries’s prominence in local affairs reflected his position both as a property owner of substance in Cambridge and as a successful mercer. The full extent of his holdings is unclear, but his will refers to his two tenements, known as ‘Arundells’ and ‘Crocheman corner’, both in St. Mary’s parish, and he also owned another town house, where he lived. In 1392 he joined with John Thriplow*, John Blankpayn* and John Cotton* in the foundation of a chantry in St. Mary’s church, which they endowed by royal licence with five messuages, two gardens, ten acres of land and £3 8s.8d. rent in Cambridge and Chesterton. Herries had been party to the acquisition of a number of acres of land in Chesterton two years earlier in conjunction with John Shadworth*, a prominent citizen and mercer of London with whom he was to be closely associated for a long period. Thus, in May 1405 he, Shadworth and others received royal confirmation of their rights of free warren at Impington, Chesterton and Howes, and four years later he joined his colleague in making a loan of 200 marks to John Styuecle* of Huntingdonshire. When, in January 1410, Herries decided to place all his goods and chattels in the hands of trustworthy friends, possibly as a device to safeguard himself from the consequences of debt, Shadworth and three other London mercers were the ones he selected. It was along with Shadworth, too, that he was involved in a joint purchase of lands and rents at Swaffham Bulbeck in 1411. Four years later Shadworth, possibly foreclosing on a mortgate, acquired from Styuecle part of the manor of Coppingford, and asked Herries to be party to the transaction as a feoffee. Herries’s own business dealings with Styuecle were, like his associate’s, somewhat complex. Earlier in the century he had acquired from Sir William Castleacre a share in an annual rent of £20 from the manor of Lolworth, with the right to make entry in default of payment. When Castleacre, by the terms of his will (made in 1404), required that the rent should be recovered from Herries, this was not done: instead Styuecle, as one of his executors, sold Herries the manor outright for 600 marks and, despite later disagreements over the administration of Castleacre’s estate, Herries was enabled to retain possession of the property until his own death. Indeed, in 1412 it was said to provide him with an annual income of as much as £51 6s.8d.3

Herries’s affairs were rarely straightforward, and he engaged in a certain amount of litigation. In 1388 a royal writ of supersedeas omnino had been granted him, allowing him his freedom on mainprise if arrested for menaces against Robert Beilham of Cambridge, and a similar writ was issued in the following year in favour of two men whom he was suing for trespass. Long afterwards, in 1410, Philip Coteler of Cambridge was released from the Fleet prison only on his undertaking not to do personal harm to Herries.4

Herries made his will on 2 Feb. 1418, and died on 1 Mar. following, probate being allowed in the prerogative court of Canterbury a week later. The will reveals him as a wealthy man and would-be benefactor, for he left considerable sums for charitable purposes, especially in Cambridge. Besides bequests for masses for his soul and that of his first wife, these included five marks to each house of mendicants, and clothes and blankets to the value of £100 and £20 in money to be distributed among the poor and disabled. Already in his lifetime he had improved the amenities of the town by paying for the ‘old school street’ to be gravelled, and his will made provision of £10 for repairs to the ‘vile road’ to Barley and Barkway. The rest of his property was left for her lifetime to his second wife, Isabel, whose landed holdings in the county were to be assessed in 1436 at £20 a year. Herries was presumably buried in St. Mary’s church, where his obit was kept.5 As his executors, whose task was to deal with sums of money later assessed at £1,200, Herries had named Henry Hart, a London draper, John Multon of West Wratting and John Colles* of Huntingdon. The appointment of the last named proved an unhappy choice, for it led to a dispute between the executors which came to the attention of the chancellor of England who, in 1424, bound each of them over in £1,000 to cease their quarrelling. Nor was that the end of the matter, for in the second session of the Parliament of 1427-8, Colles was accused by his fellow executors of embezzling £700 of Herries’s money, and of taking from his widow crucial evidence of the debts he owned them. The Parliament authorized Multon and Hart to execute the will without further reference to Colles. By this time ten years had elapsed since the testator’s death, and it must remain very doubtful whether all his testamentary provisions were ever fulfilled.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Authors: E.M. Wade / L. S. Woodger


Variants: Harryes, Heriz, Herrys.

  • 1. Add. 5833, ff. 132-4.
  • 2. CCR, 1377-81, p. 513; Cambridge Antiq. Soc. lv. 64; CPR, 1381-5, p. 143; J.H. Cooper, Annals Cambridge, i. 170; RP, iii. 106-7. It may have been to atone for his offence that Herries later made a £10 donation to the university library.
  • 3. CPR, 1391-6, p. 132; 1405-8, p. 11; C143/415/18; CP25(1)30/90/99, 94/66; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 69, 78; 1413-19, p. 284; 1419-22, pp. 113-14; Feudal Aids, vi. 410.
  • 4. CCR, 1385-9, p. 497; 1389-92, p. 82; 1409-13, p. 131.
  • 5. PCC 44 Marche; Cambridge Docs. ed. Palmer, i. pp. liv, 152; E179/240/268.
  • 6. CCR, 1422-9, p. 145; RP, iv. 321-2.