KENT, John I (d.1413), of Reading, Berks.
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Family and Education
Tax collector, Berks. May 1379, Mar., Oct. 1393, May 1398, Mar. 1401, Dec. 1402.
Mayor, Reading Mich. 1391-2, 1393-4, 1401-2, 1405-6, 1409-10; bailiff 1403-4.2
Coroner within the abbot of Reading’s liberty 1395-7; Berks. at d.3
Kent, a mercer by trade,4 was resident in Reading where he possessed property and, between 1378 and 1411, witnessed a large number of deeds. In many of these transactions he was associated with David atte Hacche* and William Catour*, two of the wealthiest burgesses. Catour, indeed, was a business partner: in about 1395 Kent and he were jointly charged 6s. alnage on cloth offered for sale.5
Like Catour, Kent was much concerned with the administration and parliamentary representation of the town. Five times mayor, he also served terms as bailiff and coroner, and, in 1395, he was a member of the Reading jury which presented cases before the county j.p.s. On several occasions he appeared as a mainpernor for the parliamentary burgesses, doing so in 1382 when William Shortwade was elected, in February 1388 on behalf of atte Hacche, in 1394 for William Saville, in January 1397 for John White I, in September 1397 for Robert Godewyn and Thomas Selham, in 1399 for Roger Hay, in 1406 for John Hunt I and Philip Richard and, finally, in 1407 for John Mereham.6 He was also active at a county level, serving six times as a tax collector in Berkshire. Before October 1396 he was appointed coroner for the shire and although he was then discharged as insufficiently qualified, he must have been re-appointed for he was again coroner at the time of his death in March 1413.7
The last recorded notices of Kent show him as a benefactor of the parish church of St. Laurence, Reading: in 1410, during his fifth mayoralty, he contributed the sum of 13s. towards the repair of the roof, and he is also known to have presented a set of mass vestments of ‘red cloth of bawdekyn with birds and floures of gold’. He was buried in the chancel, where the brass commemorating him and his wife still remains.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: Charles Kightly
- 1. C. Kerry, Hist. St. Laurence, 158.
- 2. VCH Berks. iii. 373; Reading Pub. Lib. deeds 79, 80, 90, 91; C219/10/5; CAD, i. A554.
- 3. JUST 2/10 m. 3; CCR, 1413-19, p. 5.
- 4. Thus on the 1383 return: C219/8/9. John Kent ‘piscator ’ appears in the 1379 poll tax return (E179/73/42) and a John Kent ‘cordwainer’ in a deed of 1382 (Reading deed 69).
- 5. CPR, 1370-4, p. 80; CAD