HYDE, William I (d.1402/3), of London.
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Family and Education
Common councillor, Cheap Ward 31 July 1384-aft. Mich. 1396.2
Auditor of London, 21 Sept. 1396-7; alderman of Broad Street Ward c. June 1397-Dec. 1401.3
Sheriff London and Mdx. Mich. 1399-1400.
Hyde’s early background remains obscure, although he may have been a kinsman of William Fryth, stockfishmonger of London (d.1386), who left him all his property in the parish of St. Giles Without Cripplegate together with the reversion of farmland and tenements in Shore, Kent.4 Hyde became a member of the Grocers, Company in 1373, and soon adopted the common practice of trading in wool as well as spices. Between October 1384 and February 1385, for instance, he obtained royal licences to export over 32 sarplers of wool and a considerable quantity of fleeces to Calais. The London customs accounts are too fragmented to give an accurate picture of Hyde’s business activities, but they none the less show that he was investing fairly heavily in the market. On 6 Mar. 1397 alone he shipped 36 sarplers from London to Calais, and on 7 Sept. 1398 he sent out a further 16 sarplers to the same destination. He continued, meanwhile, to import spices from abroad, and also dealt on a more modest scale in finished cloth.5 By January 1391 he had established connexions with the influential Florentine banking house of Albertini, being then given a receipt for a bond in £100 which he and one of its members had surrendered to Denis Lopham, the distinguished canonist and diplomat. That Hyde was potentially, at least, a wealthy man is clear from his appearance as a plaintiff in actions for debt. In November 1385 he was owed £260 by Ralph Algar* of Colchester, and six years later he joined with John Sibille, the fishmonger, in trying to recover a bond worth £200. In 1385 and again in 1396 he began litigation in the court of common pleas against three men who together owed him and his fellow grocer, William Piccard, a total of £230.6
Part of Hyde’s income came from property both in and out of the capital. His wife, Albreda, brought with her a substantial dower, which had been settled upon her by her first husband, John Curteys of Wymington. This seems to have comprised land in Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, as well as shops, tenements and rents in the London parishes of St. Martin Orgar, St. Laurence Pulteney, St. Leonard East Cheap and St. Benedict Paul’s Wharf. Albreda’s title to four of these tenements was challenged in February 1396 in the trusting court of London, but the case never came before a jury and was evidently settled by private arbitration.7 In April 1387 Hyde added to his inheritance from William Fryth by acquiring a second tenement in the parish of St. Giles Without Cripplegate, and soon afterwards he began buying up land in the Shore area—probably because Fryth’s bequests had already given him an interest there. By the summer of 1389 he had also purchased the manor of Peckham in Kent, together with a messuage and extensive farmland in the surrounding countryside.8
A considerable amount of Hyde’s time was taken up with the often onerous task of executing the wills of his friends and business associates. He performed this service for John Curteys, his wife’s first husband, becoming involved in quite extensive litigation for the recovery of debts owed to the deceased. Hyde was also named as an executor by both William Ancroft†, the mercer (who appointed him guardian of his young son), and the above-mentioned William Fryth, on whose behalf he made a generous endowment of property in London to the collegiate church (of St. John the Baptist in Shottesbrook, Berkshire. The woolman, John Clenhand*, one of Hyde’s feoffees, also left him a bequest of £40 as a reward for acting as his chief executor; and in December 1393 he was chosen by the parishioners of the church of St. Martin Orgar to dispose of the possessions of John Bedford, a wool merchant who had died intestate.9 Once, in November 1392, Hyde found himself under arrest while attempting to carry out his legal obligations. In their capacity as joint executors of Agnes, the widow of Adam Francis†, he and his friend, John Sibille, were both convicted before the royal council for concealing a sum of £200 which should have been paid into the Exchequer as part of the confiscated effects of the banished judge, Sir Robert Bealksnap. The two men denied any attempt at fraud on their part and were eventually pardoned in March 1393, albeit only upon payment of a £100 fine. Hyde had previously acted as a trustee of Sir Robert’s estates in Essex, as well as being less precariously involved in the property transactions of his fellow Londoners.10
Although he willingly assumed his share of official duties, Hyde did not otherwise seek to play a leading role in civic affairs. He was one of the 24 men, described as being in secundo gradu potentiores civitatis, who were summoned with the dignitaries of London to wait upon the King at Nottingham on 25 June 1392 and answer certain unspecified charges of misgovernment. However, since he was not an alderman at that time, he escaped the immediate consequences of Richard’s quarrel with the ruling hierarchy. In the autumn of 1397 Hyde and his wife obtained papal indults permitting them to choose their own confessor and make use of a portable altar, a mark of favour which further testifies to the grocer’s social standing. His endowment, with others, of the Carmelite friary at Calais, as well as his continued interest in the wool trade, provides further evidence of connexions across the Channel.11 Hyde continued to wear his company livery until May 1398 if not later, but he had evidently had enough of public responsibilities by 1400, when he completed a term as sheriff of London. On 3 Dec. of that year he secured an exemption for life from service as a juror, royal official or MP, and was also excused from taking up knighthood.12
Hyde died at some point between 22 April 1402 and 23 Aug. 1403, and was buried in the church of the Carmelite friars of London. He made generous bequests to many city churches, but was still able to leave his wife a cash sum of £500 in compensation for the customary widow’s dower, or third of his estate. Most of Hyde’s property appears to have gone directly to his only son, William, who married Elizabeth, the daughter of William Parys of Ludlow, in or before January 1409, and thereby acquired a joint title to land worth 400 marks on the open market. According to the lay subsidy return of 1412, William’s rents and tenements in London gave him an annual income of £14, above whatever revenues he enjoyed from estates in the country. Hyde was remembered in the wills of his two friends and feoffees, William Piccard and William Cresswyk, both of whom left money for the upkeep of a chantry for the welfare of his soul in the church of St. Martin Orgar.13