HORE, William (d.1448), of Chichester, Suss.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. bef. Aug. 1413, Juliana, wid. of Roger Raketon of Chichester.1
Constable of the Staple, Chichester Mich. 1412-13, 1415-16; mayor 1421-2, 11 Jan. 1423-Mich. 1424, Mich. 1426-7, May 1432-3, 1436-29 June 1438, 28 Apr. 1440-1, Mich. 1447-d.2
Mayor, Chichester Mich. 1422-3, 1427-9, 1432-3, 1436-7, 1439-40, 1444-5, 1446-d.3
Commr. to recover goods stolen at sea, Suss. June 1431.
?Tax collector, Suss. Apr. 1440, June 1445, July 1446.4
Perhaps related to Robert Hore, the merchant who shipped wool from Chichester to Calais at the beginning of the 15th century, William also became a prominent member of the local mercantile community. He owned a tavern in Chichester, where he traded in wine and fish, and further established himself through marriage to another merchant’s widow. Before his earliest return to Parliament for the city he had served two terms as constable of the local Staple, and it may have been for this reason that he was chosen as a member of the jury which in 1418 made a valuation of the property of Geoffrey Hebbe* for recovery of a debt incurred in the Staple court. Over the years Hore built up substantial property holdings in the city and its suburbs. He acquired 12 messuages there in 1423, and in 1434 he leased from Robert Tauk, esquire (grandson of Robert Tauk* the former shire knight) three crofts known as ‘Le Honycroftes’ outside the north gate and other land, for a period of ten years. Tauk was subsequently bound by statute merchant to pay him £20, and when, in 1437, he found himself unable to fulfil this obligation, he made over the crofts to his creditor, who nevertheless continued to allow him access. A year later Tauk also conveyed to Hore a tenement in North Street, where the latter already owned a number of properties. There was litigation between him and his neighbour, a draper called John Combe, over a ‘twychene’ (narrow passage) between their houses opposite the guildhall as to right of way and easements, but this was eventually settled to mutual satisfaction in 1436.5
Hore’s popularity in certain sections of the community is clearly indicated by his election on at least seven occasions as mayor of the Staple, and on no fewer than eight as mayor of the city. Nevertheless, he did not lack for detractors, who at an inquest held before commissioners to inquire into trespasses in Sussex, at Chichester in September 1429, expressed considerable criticism of his conduct in office during the previous two years. It would appear from the presentments that he had unscrupulously abused his authority in order to advance his personal fortunes. He had violated the statute against victuallers holding civic office by keeping his tavern open during his mayoralty, and selling there saltfish and herring to the value of £150 and wine worth £40 (although when the charges were later put to a fresh inquest, the sum in question was reduced from £190 to as little as 13s.4d.). Not content with these illegal sales, he had sometimes resorted to open violence against persons or property, which he justified ‘colore officii sui’. Thus, he had seized 400 saltfish from John Daunger outside the city liberties, and kept them until they were too rotten to sell; he had wrongfully confiscated a shipment of corn being sent from Appledram to Southampton; and having imprisoned one Robert Philip, he had refused to release him until he paid a fine. He also used his position to acquire monopolies in the local market. For example, even though an old custom at Chichester had allowed all men, even ‘foreigns’, to buy and sell wool freely from 8 a.m. to noon, on 28 May 1428 Hore forbade ‘foreigns’ to do business after 10 a.m., and proceeded to buy all the wool put up for sale after that time, making a personal profit of £20. Again, when a ship laden with 200 quarters of salt docked at Dell Quay in the port of Chichester, Hore at first proclaimed that all men might buy what they needed from it at 6d. a bushel, but then came, took away the official measure, and forbade the sale to proceed. Instead, he himself bought the salt and regrated it at 8d. a bushel, making over £53 6s.8d. on the business.
Even Hore’s less controversial deeds were made the subject of accusations. It was alleged that he had dug two ditches outside the city which obstructed the highway from Chichester to Midhurst. But he claimed to have done this with the agreement of the citizens in order to drain away the surplus rainwater flooding the road, an explanation which was confirmed by the jury trying the case. However, to most of the other charges he could make no further defence, when called before the Exchequer in 1430, than the purely formal one that the alleged misdeeds had occurred after the date of the relevant commission. So he was fined £2 16s.8d. and condemned at Michaelmas 1436 to pay the King the value of the wine he had unlawfully sold. He succeeded in postponing judgement on the case of the salt until after Henry VI attained his majority, then, in May 1437, procuring a general pardon. His two re-elections as mayor in the meantime are sufficient indication that among those citizens who counted he was still highly regarded, and his name appeared in 1434 on the list of Sussex notables required to take the general oath against maintenance of those who might break the King’s peace.6
Even so, there remained a few ready to blacken Hore’s name. John Hilly* later alleged (although not until after Hore was dead) that he with ‘forcast and proposed malice’ had caused him to be falsely indicted and appealed of felony,