LANE, William (d.c.1438), of Canterbury, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Feb. 1413
May 1421

Family and Education

?yr. bro. of Thomas Lane*. m. bef. Sept. 1393, Joan.

Offices Held

Jurat, Canterbury Mich. 1397-9, 1400-2, 1403-5, 1412-14, 1418-20, 1421-2, 1423-5, 1427-9; bailiff 1406-7, 1410-11, 1414-15, 1417-18, 1422-3, 1432-4;1 alderman of Westgate c. Sept. 1409-d.2

Commr. of array, Canterbury Aug. 1402, Aug. 1415; to raise royal loans, Kent Jan. 1420.

Tax collector, Kent Apr. 1428.


The careers of William and Thomas Lane were similar in many respects, and their association on several occasions, private as well as official, suggests that they were brothers. Both were vintners, and entries in the financial accounts of the city of Canterbury reveal that William, like his kinsman, often sold wine to the community for presentation to visiting dignitaries. For instance, the authorities frequently bought from him the wine that they offered to Archbishop Arundel, and Lane’s cellars also provided gifts for the chancellor, the King’s lieutenant of 1420-1 (one or other of Henry V’s brothers, the dukes of Bedford and Gloucester) and John Martin, a royal judge.3

Lane’s acquisition of property was generally carried out independently of his kinsman Thomas, but although he evidently prospered, he seems never to have equalled Thomas in wealth. His marriage brought him an interest in land outside Canterbury at Eythorne and Tilmanstone, which he sold in 1393, and he also had dealings in rents from farmland at Thanington. But his principal holdings were in the city itself. In 1400 he leased from the commonalty certain tenements in Stour Street, and two years later he was party on Thomas Lane’s behalf to a transaction regarding several other properties within the walls. Until the spring of 1408 he held six acres of land in St. Martin’s parish, which he then by royal licence alienated in mortmain to Christ Church priory towards the maintenance of a light in St. Mary’s chapel, newly built in the cathedral nave. His most important acquisition, completed in September 1409, comprised the aldermanry of Westgate, together with 13 messuages, six shops, a garden and annual rents of £5 15s.8d. in the city and its suburbs. The aldermanry (for which he rendered to the civic authorities 3s.4d. a year, for payment to the Crown) entitled him to certain privileges as well as an undefined position of authority in the government of the city.4 Some indication of Lane’s standing is suggested by his purchase in November 1411 of papal indults which enabled him and his wife to choose their own confessor and to have a portable altar. In 1431 his property in Canterbury was valued at £12 a year for the purposes of taxation, quite apart from the income he derived from his landed holdings between Canterbury and Dover, which is not recorded.5

Lane’s involvement in civic affairs had begun in 1397 when he provided mainprise for the appearance in the January Parliament of Richard Gervays, his kinsman Thomas acting likewise for Gervays’s companion. That Michaelmas he was elected as a jurat, thereafter taking an active interest in the administration of the city for over 35 years, a period during which he served for no fewer than seven annual terms as bailiff. His concern for the city’s welfare is indicated by his participation in November 1409 in the acquisition of a royal licence to grant to the commonalty a certain messuage as an endowment for repairs to the city walls. He attested the electoral indenture recording the parliamentary returns for Kent, Canterbury and Rochester in 1411; and his continuing interest in parliamentary affairs, even after his own service in the Commons had ended, is further suggested by his appearance as a mainpernor for Canterbury’s elected representatives in 1423, 1429 and 1433. Lane once more became a benefactor of Canterbury cathedral in 1426-7, by undertaking to contribute £13 6s.8d., in four equal instalments, towards the cost of rebuilding the south-west tower.6 It was at this stage of his career that Lane was summoned to Chancery as a defendant in a suit alleging negligence in the trusteeship of land in Aylesford, although when he appeared in court he asserted that he had acted entirely as required by the grantor of the property in dispute. A few years later (in or after 1432) he was charged with a more serious matter, it being then claimed that, while acting as a feoffee, he had retained the profits of certain lands at Sandwich, amounting to £200, which he refused to hand over to the right heirs. Lane was among those of Kent who in May 1434 were ordered to take the generally prescribed oath not to maintain lawbreakers.7

No more is heard of Lane after May 1436, when he and Richard Wydeville esquire of Maidstone took out royal letters of protection as being about to go to France as members of the earl of Suffolk’s retinue. His own role was probably that of a victualler. The fact that by Michaelmas 1438 he was no longer in possession of the aldermanry of Westgate may point to his death in the meantime.8

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Canterbury Cathedral, City and Diocesan RO, city accts. FA1, ff. 31-186; List of Canterbury Officials comp. Urry and Bunce, 49-50.
  • 2. CP25(1)112/172/474; CAD, vi. 5456; FA1, ff. 96-254.
  • 3. HMC 9th Rep. pt. 1, pp. 137-8; FA1, ff. 55d, 102d, 137, 148d, 153d.
  • 4. CP25(1)110/242/858-9, 245/942, 111/258/118, 112/172/474; CPR, 1405-8, pp. 423-4; FA1, f. 48.
  • 5. CPL, vi. 329, 339; Feudal Aids, iii. 56, 70.
  • 6. C219/9/12, 10/6, 13/2, 14/1, 4; CPR, 1408-13, p. 150; Arch. Cant. xlv. 44.
  • 7. C1/11/70, 26/297; CPR, 1429-36, p. 389.
  • 8. DKR, xlviii. 312; FA1, f. 254.