LANGDON, Thomas (d.c.1433), of Canterbury, Kent.
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Family and Education
bro. of John Langdon (d.1434), bp. of Rochester. m. 1da.
Cofferer, Canterbury Mich. 1405-6; jurat 1408-10, 1412-13, 1415-17, 1419-20, 1421-2; bailiff 1420-1.1
The Langdons probably took their name from one or other of the twin parishes of East and West Langdon, situated between Walmer and Dover. The brothers John and Thomas both settled in Canterbury at the turn of the century: John became a monk of Christ Church priory in 1398, and Thomas was admitted a freeman of the city by redemption (the method used for strangers) on 24 May 1400. Richard Gervays*, the draper, acted as Thomas’s pledge for admission, and when the time came the new citizen was to serve as an executor of his friend’s will. Perhaps he, too, was engaged in the cloth trade, although no evidence survives as to his principal occupation, and in later years he was called ‘gentleman’, having by then established himself as a landowner by acquiring property at Northbourne (near the Langdons) in 1405 and at Stourmouth in 1413. During the same perod he was also building up his interests in Canterbury itself, his last recorded purchase (in 1428) being of four messuages. Early in 1432 he was to be assessed for the subsidy on land in the hundred of Wingham (to the east of Canterbury) worth 13s.4d. a year (valuations of his landed holdings elsewhere have not survived).2
Langdon began to be involved in the administration of Canterbury in 1405, as one of the four cofferers, and continued to participate in civic affairs until 1422. In November 1409 he joined other citizens in obtaining a royal licence to grant a messuage to the commonalty which was to serve as a perpetual endowment for repairs to the city walls. While a jurat in 1415-16 he made a journey to London to further the city’s lawsuit against the abbey of St. Augustine. On 10 Nov. 1421 Thomas was elected to Parliament. This was only shortly after the expiry of his only term as bailiff, and his so recent tenure of this highest office in the city was most likely the chief reason for his election. It is, however, quite possible that a contributory factor was the appointment as bishop of Rochester of his more distinguished brother, John, with whom he apparently had a close personal relationship. Admittedly, when Thomas’s election to Parliament took place, the process of episcopal appointment was still incomplete: it was not until a week later, on 17 Nov., that the papal letters providing John Langdon to Rochester were issued at the Roman Curia, and not until June 1422 that he was to be consecrated (at Canterbury) and, by Archbishop Chichele, then put into full possession of the see. The papal provision of 17 Nov. was, however, the culmination of a process of negotiation between the English government and Pope Martin V, beginning in the spring of 1421, of which an outcome favourable to John Langdon could reasonably have been taken for granted by the autumn, especially in view of the support his candidacy is bound to have had from both Henry V and Chichele. Quite possibly in these circumstances John was able to help secure his brother’s election to what proved to be the last Parliament of the reign. Whether or not this was the case, a time was to come when Bishop Langdon did not scruple to interfere in a parliamentary election for Canterbury. This was in 1429 when he persuaded the sheriff of Kent to override an election already made, and to declare as elected one of his own servants, John Bonnington†, whereupon the civic authorities were obliged to recall William Rose II*, one of their candidates. Significantly enough, it was Thomas Langdon by whose hands Bonnington’s parliamentary wages were eventually paid him.3 It is, however, only fair to the bishop to note that his servant, Bonnington, was well established as a citizen of Canterbury. The fact that Thomas Langdon was not himself again appointed as a bailiff of the city or elected to Parliament after his brother’s accession to the see of Rochester in 1421, is proof enough that if John’s influence was thenceforward ever exerted on his behalf, the citizens were sufficiently independent to resist it.
Although Langdon ceased to participate in civic administration in 1422, this was not because he no longer took an interest in the affairs of the community. In November 1431 he joined William Benet* in obtaining a royal licence to grant to the Austin friars a messuage and garden adjoining their house for the enlargement of their conventual buildings, in return for which the friars were to pay the city a yearly rent of 5s. in aid of its fee farm. Langdon died at an unknown date, but before March 1434. Under the terms of the will then made by his brother, Bishop Langdon, his daughter was to receive a bequest of £41 to provide for either her entry into a house of religion or her marriage, but in the event of her dying before her uncle, the money was to be spent on masses for the souls of her father and grandparents.4
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Canterbury Cathedral, City and Diocesan RO, city accts. FA1, ff. 70-149d; List of Canterbury Officials comp. Urry and Bunce, 49. In addition, in 1418-19 he was one of the 36 ‘worshipful men’ of the city: Canterbury A/C/1, f. 1.
- 2. FA1, f. 43d; Canterbury burghmote reg. O/A1, f. 28; CP25(1)112/264/257, 278/619, 113/279/7, 114/302/207; Feudal Aids, iii. 77.
- 3. CPR, 1408-13, p. 150; C219/12/6; FA1, ff. 121, 198.
- 4. CPR, 1429-36, p. 195; Reg. Chichele, ii. 557.