HOWELL, John (d. by 1392), of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb.
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Family and Education
m. by Apr. 1373, Maud (d. by Aug. 1392).1
Bailiff, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Mich. 1366-7, 1368-9, 1376-7.2
Commr. of array, Newcastle-upon-Tyne Feb. 1367; to appraise and sell two French ships July 1369.
J.p. Newcastle-upon-Tyne 20 Jan. 1369.
Howell is first mentioned in May 1357, when he acted as a mainpernor at the Exchequer for Hugh Mitford as keeper of certain family estates in Northumberland. He himself was a merchant, and in 1364 he and some of his associates were shipping wool and other goods from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Calais when their vessel was nearly lost off Great Yarmouth. Fortunately, however, they managed to obtain permission from the government to exchange the wool for 200 quarters of barley and malt, which they duly brought home and sold. Howell was serving his third term as bailiff of Newcastle when he was returned to Parliament in January 1377 for the first time. He had by then gained valuable experience as a royal commissioner and local j.p., and was clearly a figure of consequence in the community, so it is hardly surprising that he was now chosen to represent the townspeople at Westminster. Even so, he had strong personal reasons for seeking election on this particular occasion, and may, indeed, have actually exploited his official position to obtain a seat. Howell and his wife, Maud, had for some years been anxious to found a chantry in the church of St. John the Evangelist, Newcastle; and in April 1373 an inquisition ad quod damnum had finally been held to determine if they might alienate three messuages and a tort worth four marks p.a. in the town for this purpose. Although the jury found in their favour, no royal licence was forthcoming: after innumerable delays Howell decided to offer himself as a parliamentary candidate with the intention of pressing his case in person. This approach proved successful, and in February 1377 letters patent were at last issued to him, in return for a payment of 20 marks, sanctioning the endowment. Having achieved his purpose, he went on to represent Newcastle in four more Parliaments. Paradoxically, neither he nor his wife seem to have taken any further practical steps with regard to their chantry, since the task of transferring the property was left to their trustees after they were both dead. In August 1392 the latter paid a further ten marks for a second royal licence authorizing the transaction, which was duly effected in memory of the deceased. Howell’s other holdings in Newcastle were valued (conservatively) at £5 a year, although he was probably far richer. Not surprisingly, he was active as a witness to conveyances in the town throughout his life, although little is known about his other, more personal affairs.3
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Houel, Houuel.