MAPLE, William (d.c.1399), of Southampton.
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Family and Education
Lt. to the admiral of the west by Feb. 1384.1
Commr. of inquiry, Suss., Hants Feb. 1384 (theft of the cargoes of La Katherine and La Thomas of Bishop’s Lynn), Hants July 1386 (alleged fraud by Thomas Appleby*, the controller of customs, Southampton), Southampton Feb. 1389 (withholding of rents due to Queen’s Hall, Oxford); to ascertain the quality of wool awaiting export May 1397.
Mayor, Southampton Mich. 1386-9, 1390-1, 1396-7.2
Tax collector, Hants May 1398.
A seafaring man from Hamble, Maple is first noted, in October 1377, as standing surety at the Exchequer for the lessee of the estates of Hayling priory. A year later he acted similarly for Sir Hugh Calveley the celebrated war-captain, who was then taking custody of part of the Sudeley inheritance in Gloucestershire and elsewhere. By 1383 he was sharing a lease of a house on the west side of English Street, Southampton, and had apparently settled in the town. He was probably already serving as lieutenant to the earl of Devon, admiral of the west. Certainly it was in this capacity that he wrote from Southampton on 9 Feb. 1384 requesting repetition of governmental instructions for the release of 150 casks of wine cast up on the Hampshire coast from a wrecked ship, which cargo he was subsequently ordered to deliver to specified London merchants. Despite his office, in the following year he was arrested following a dispute with Roger Walden, the royal clerk who was later to be Richard II’s secretary and archbishop of Canterbury, over ownership of La Redecogge of Hoke, only for the matter to be settled in Chancery on 27 Oct. when he and his colleague, Nicholas Exton†, the wealthy London fishmonger, agreed to pay Walden the sum of 80 marks.3
A man of considerable standing in Southampton, Maple was not required to serve in any lesser office than that of mayor. In 1387 during the first of his five terms he took out a 60-year lease on a plot of land in French Street. Despite his commitments at home he was returned to the Merciless Parliament in 1388. His subsequent tasks included arresting Roger Mascall* for manslaughter, and, in May 1397, he approved an agreement between the priory of St. Denys and the town whereby the priory tenants living at Portswood were permitted to attend the borough court leet at ‘Le Cutthorn’, the canons and the town sharing any profits arising thereby. Later that year, and still in his official capacity, he was accused at the Winchester assizes of unlawfully dispossessing a local widow of ten messuages in Southampton. At the same time, in August, Maple made a personal loan of £20 to Richard II, doubtless to prove his loyalty to the King, who had only recently ordered the arrest of the principal Lords Appellant of 1387-8 and was bent on exacting revenge against anyone implicated, however tenuously, in the acts of the Merciless Parliament.4
Maple had established connexions with a number of London merchants: in 1390 when he had been suing a former steward of Southampton, John Swaffham, for trespass, his sureties in the court of common pleas, along with Sir William Heron†, were Nicholas Exton and other prominent figures in the City. On this occasion he pledged £200 to keep the peace towards Swaffha