JOCE, Gilbert (d.1423), of Bristol.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
s. of Antony Joce by his w. Alice. m. Agnes, prob. da. and event. h. of William Somerwell of Bristol, 3s. (1 d.v.p.), 4da.1
Tax collector, Bristol Dec. 1402, Mar. 1404.
Bailiff, Bristol Mich. 1404-5.2
Collector of customs and subsidies, Reckly, Bridgwater, Dunster, Minehead (Som.), Barnstaple (Devon), Padstow (Cornw.) 6 Apr. 1406-Sept. 1407.
Possibly Gilbert was of the same family as Sir Philip Joce, the knight of the shire for Gloucestershire of 1340, whose son John served as sheriff of the county twice in the 1370s, but he himself lived in Bristol, where he is first recorded in August 1393, as attending a court held by John Hill†, j.KB. He attained no higher position in the town than that of bailiff, but he was a member of the common council, certainly in 1409-10 and 1419, and on no less than three consecutive occasions (in 1417, 1418 and 1419) he was proposed for the shrievalty of the county of Bristol, albeit unsuccessfully in the event. Joce attested the indentures embodying the results of parliamentary elections held at Bristol on nine occasions between his own return in 1406 and his death.3 It was just a few days after the end of the first session of the Parliament of 1406 that Joce received appointment, on the nomination of his fellow merchants, as customer of a number of west country ports.
Joce’s mercantile dealings as an exporter of cloth and importer of wine, would seem to have been mainly with Gascony and Bayonne, although one large consignment, of 33 casks of wine, came from La Rochelle. He shipped 14 cloths at Bristol in August 1394 and 25 in January 1395, and probably had an interest in La Welfare of Bristol, for this ship carried most of his exports to Ireland in 1398-1400 (a total of 82 cloths), and early in 1404 she set out for Spain with 20 of his cloths on board. He was definitely the owner or part-owner of one ship, the vessel involved in the capture, at Milford Haven, of a Genoese carrack—which incident was made the subject of a royal commission of inquiry in 1410. Joce presumably had trading interests in Coventry, where he, his wife and parents were all members of the fraternity of the Holy Trinity. He may also have had Oxfordshire connexions, since he and other Bristol men, as the result of a conspiracy on the part of Belinus Nansmoen (a fellow Bristolian and the steward of Rewley abbey), were falsely indicted of robbery at ‘la Hadies’ in that county in September 1392.4
The Joce family were closely connected with the Somerwells, also merchants of Bristol. When William Somerwell (probably Gilbert’s father-in-law) drew up his will in 1392 he entrusted the guardianship of his son, John, to him. Then, in April 1401, another John Somerwell bequeathed legacies to three of Joce’s children, and certain Bristol properties were to remain to Joce himself after the demise of Agnes Somerwell. Both testators named Joce as an executor. His own property in Bristol included buildings on the Quay which he erected shortly before his death, a garden in the ‘Pyttehey’, and a tenement and four shops in Baldwin Street. He must also have held land in Somerset where, before January 1410, he was suing William Middel alias Bal, his receiver, for failure to render accounts. Joce composed his will on 14 Feb. 1423, requesting burial in St. Werburgh’s church, Bristol, and leaving bequests to Worcester cathedral and South Molton parish church, Devon. One of his sons, Robert, had already died, but the rest of his children were all provided for. After his widow’s death the Baldwin Street property was to be sold in order to finance a salary for 60 years for a chaplain to conduct services for the souls of members of his family and for John Somerwell and his wife. Joce died before 21 Oct. 1423, the date of probate in the prerogative court of Canterbury.5