LIMNER (LOMYNOUR), Henry (d.c.1409), of Norwich, Norf.

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



Jan. 1390
Jan. 1397

Family and Education

m. bef. Easter 1386, Margaret, ?2s. (1 d.v.p.).

Offices Held

Bailiff, Norwich Mich. 1371-2, 1379-80, 1386-7; treasurer 6 Nov. 1381-Mich. 1382.1

J.p. Norwich 26 May 1380-c.1381, 27 Nov. 1391-c.1392, 8 July 1401-c.1402.

Commr. of inquiry, Norf., Suff. Mar. 1381 (evasion of the poll tax), Norwich Aug. 1386 (assault on a servant of William Appleyard*); to keep the peace following the Peasants’ Revolt, Norf. Mar., Dec. 1382; remedy defects in the city’s defences, Norwich Apr. 1385; of array May 1385, Dec. 1386.

Mayor of the Staple of Norwich by Aug. 1391.2


Limner’s surname is an occupational one, borne by those who practised the art of illuminating manuscripts, and he may well have been descended from one of several illuminators recorded as living in Norwich in the 13th and early 14th centuries. But he himself was a merchant. In the 1380s and 1390s he made a number of shipments of wool and worsted cloth from Great Yarmouth to the Low Countries and imported woad and other dyestuffs. In this occupation he was followed by his son William, whose many mercantile ventures added to the considerable prosperity of them both. Henry’s standing in the merchant community is indicated by his election as mayor of the Staple when it was established at Norwich in 1391.3

Limner’s earliest known appearance dates from May 1371, when he and six other citizens of Norwich who, having complained that ‘divers dissensions lately arisen’ had made them take refuge outside the city, received the Crown’s protection for themselves, their families, tenants, servants and property, injunctions being sent to the bailiffs to ensure that ‘no hurt or violence may by any evildoers be done to the said complainants’. The protection must have been adequate, for at Michaelmas Limner took office as a bailiff, this being the first of three terms. Thereafter, he played an active part in the city’s affairs, regularly attending meetings of the assembly and, as resident in Mancroft leet, occasionally acting as an elector of civic officials. In December 1372 he was dispatched to Great Yarmouth to tender for the building of a barge which the Crown had ordered for royal service at the city’s expense; he employed an experienced craftsman from Ipswich, and went back to Yarmouth again in February and March following to supervise the fitting out of the vessel and to sign on a master and mariners. In January 1378 he and Walter Bixton* were sent to London to obtain confirmation of Norwich’s charters with such ‘increase of the liberties as they were able’, an assignment which was to occupy the two men again that autumn as the city’s representatives in the Parliament at Gloucester. Shortly after their return to Norwich, in November, Limner and Bixton were invited to join a committee of 16 citizens headed by two of the bailiffs, which decided to apply future offerings and gifts to the purchase of property for the benefit of the whole community. Accordingly, Limner was party to a number of transactions made in 1379 and later years, whereby the authorities took control over several properties, mostly situated in the market-place. When, during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, Norwich was invested by the rebels, two of the bailiffs and 11 citizens, including Limner, were authorized to treat with their leader, Geoffrey Lister, and offer him large sums of money to preserve the city from attack; but notwithstanding this, the rebels entered the gates and sacked the houses of certain noblemen and lawyers. Perhaps because of the role Limner had played as a commissioner to search out evaders of the hated poll tax, his property was also singled out for attack, and the mob made off with goods of his allegedly valued at 1,000 marks. Subsequently, he was reimbursed £10 for wine provided for the city fathers at that time. When Richard II visited Norwich in 1383, Limner supplied a number of items for the procession sent to greet him, including a canopy. The next royal visitor was John of Gaunt, who arrived at Easter 1390 to a civic reception planned by Limner and three other people. Having already represented the city in three Parliaments himself, at the parliamentary elections of 1395 he stood surety for William Appleyard. Early in 1399, when Norwich expected another visit from Richard II, Limner was among those named on a committee to consider how best to approach the King to obtain a new charter, whereby the city would acquire the status of a shire-incorporate; and he may have made representations with the same object to Henry IV in May 1400 when, accompanied by William Everard*, he travelled to London to obtain the new King’s confirmation of the existing liberties. After the charter was eventually granted (in January 1404), Limner served on the committee chosen to promulgate ordinances for the conduct of mayoral elections and establish a constitutional framework for the future government of the city. From 1400 until his death he acted as a trustee of property in the parishes of St. Edward and St. Peter Southgate, which had been bequeathed specifically to provide a fund for repairs to the banks of the river Wensum where it flowed through Norwich.4

Evidently highly regarded in the community, Limner was often asked to undertake the trusteeship of property in Norwich and the executorship of wills made by his fellow citizens. Furthermore, men of standing from the ranks of the gentry of East Anglia also required his services. Thus, he assisted the duke of Lancaster’s retainer, (Sir) John White*, to acquire lands in Scottow and Lammas in the years 1380-2 and the Earl Marshal’s retainer, William Rees*, to purchase a manor in Tharston in 1393; while among others he helped in the 1390s were Ralph Ramsey*, esquire, and Sir Thomas Hoo. When, in 1401, he decided to put his own goods and chattels into the hands of trustees for safe-keeping, he could call upon such noted figures as Robert Bukton*, John Wynter* and John Gurney* as well as on the then recorder of Norwich, John Yelverton.5

Over the years Limner had been party to various benefactions in favour of certain religious houses in Norwich. In 1380 he and one other had given the Carmelities a messuage and garden for the enlargement of their friary; in the following year he had been connected with the endowment of the collegiate church of St. Mary in the Fields with the advowson of Field Dalling; in 1384 he had assisted in the transfer of ownership of the advowson of St. Peter Mancroft to the same collegiate church; and, finally, in the summer of 1392, in association with the same co-feoffees, he made a conveyance of property in Eaton, again to the church of St. Mary in the Fields. At that time also he was party to a grant of three messuages, a number of shops and stalls, and an annual rent of 54s., to the city of Norwich itself, the income from which was to be devoted to repairing the walls, scouring the ditches and relieving the poor.6

To what extent Limner contributed personally to these donations is unclear, though, as a prosperous merchant and a property owner of some substance, he must have been wealthy enough to afford to be generous. In 1378-9 he had been taxed 30s. as living in Mancroft leet, where he held a number of buildings including stalls in the fishmarket. To these he added a share in the tenancy of two more market stalls, acquired in 1385 on a 60-year lease from the cathedral priory, and, not far away, he also had tenements in St. Andrew’s parish. He made substantial investments in land beyond the city walls, too, acquiring no fewer than four manors and three advowsons to the south at Markshall (in 1386), Caistor St. Edmund (in 1387) and ‘Cursons’ and ‘Fulburnhall’ in Swainsthorpe, and to the west ‘Hacons’ in Great Melton (in 1393).7 Limner’s son, William, died in 1401, and it may have been this bereavement which prompted him to sell some of these landed holdings. He is last recorded making a conveyance of his manor in Great Melton in 1409, and died before April 1414, when it was as his widow that Margaret Limner sold her house in the parish of St. Peter Mancroft for as much as 200 marks. The executors of the MP’s will (which has not survived) included Henry Limner, junior, perhaps a younger son, and Walter Daniel, a former mayor of Norwich. His widow was apparently still living in 1421.8

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Lemenour, Liminour, Luminer, Lymynour.

  • 1. Norf. Official Lists ed. Le Strange, 97.
  • 2. CIMisc. v. 370.
  • 3. C. Woodforde, Norwich School of Glass Painting, 4-5; E122/149/11, 17, 27, 34.
  • 4. CPR, 1370-4, p. 87; CCR, 1369-74, p. 222; Recs. Norwich ed. Hudson and Tingey, i. 271; ii. 46, 47, 52, 79-81, 231-7; F. Blomefield, Norf. iii. 108, 113, 114, 124; C219/9/11; Norf. RO, Norwich assembly rolls 46-47 Edw. III, 1, 6 Ric. II; ‘Domesday bk.’ ff. 12-23; KB27/483 rex m. 19; E. Powell, Rising in E. Anglia 1381, p. 30.
  • 5. Norwich enrolments, 14 mm. 1, 2d, 15 m. 6, 16 m. 10d; CP25(1)168/176/36, 177/73, 180/226, 181/270; 223/108/17.
  • 6. CPR, 1377-81, p. 496; 1381-5, pp. 6, 406; 1391-6, pp. 120-1; Blomefield, iii. 113.
  • 7. Recs. Norwich, ii. 46; Norwich enrolments, 14 mm. 24, 27, 15 mm. 1d, 24d, 28d; CP25(1)168/179/159, 181/275, 183/73, 94; Feudal Aids, iii. 617, 626, 631; Blomefield, v. 47-48, 60; CCR, 1392-6, p. 242.
  • 8. Norwich enrolments, 17 m. 3d; CPR, 1416-22, p. 346.