MERSTON, John (d.c.1416), of Oxford.
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Family and Education
m. bef. 1401, Alice.1
Commr. of inquiry, Oxford Feb. 1391 (forgery of a will).
Bailiff, Oxford Mich. 1391-2; alderman 1398-1400, 1401-3, 1404-5, 1406-7, 1408-11, 1412-15; mayor 1400-1, 1403-4, 25 Jan.-Mich. 1412.2
Alnager, Oxford 11 Dec. 1396-c. June 1399.
J.p. Oxford 6 June 1401-c.1408.
Merston, a chandler, was established in Oxford by 1380, when he paid the small sum of 1s. as poll tax, and from 1391 he spent more than 20 years in regular service in local offices. He stood surety for the attendance of Adam de la River at the Parliament of September 1397. During his first mayoralty he served as executor to Walter Bowne†, a former mayor, and as an arbitrator on behalf of Thomas Cowley* in a dispute between the latter and Oriel college. More significantly, he was appointed ex officio to the local commission of the peace, and apparently continued on the bench for six years or more. His second mayoralty had scarcely ended before (while holding the office of alderman) he sat in Parliament for the second time, at Coventry in October Four years later he was one of the attorneys appointed by the town to negotiate with the university ‘de certis gravaminibus, materiis, articulis et querelis’—probably concerning the dispute over ‘cession of actions’—before Archbishop Arundel and others of the royal council. Merston’s third mayoralty began in an unusual way, for he was appointed by the King on 25 Jan. 1412, only a quarter of the way through the normal mayoral term, the reason being the death in office of Richard Garston*. His appointment, made on direct royal authority, might seem to indicate that Merston personally enjoyed favour at Court. It is much more likely, however, that the government had merely endorsed the borough’s own choice. Two years later, and again while alderman, he served in the second Parliament of 1414.
Like most of his fellow burgesses at this time, Merston was involved in the lengthy dispute between the corporation and the abbot of Osney. In 1409 he and Edmund Kenyan* were convicted before the j.p.s of the county of having illegally disseised the abbot of a tenement in Oxford, and in April 1418, as a former mayor, his name was mentioned among those accused of encouraging the corporation to encroach on the abbot’s manors of North and South Osney, and usurp his jurisdiction.3 But the inquisition of 1418 came too late to affect Merston, who died some time between January 1415 and August 1417.4
Merston’s properties in Oxford were quite numerous and widespread: they included buildings in the parish of St. Michael, Northgate, two rented shops in St. Giles’s parish, and a tenement in St. Ebbe’s. He also rented, from the commonalty, a house called ‘Briggeswyth’ on Grandpont bridge, a condition of his tenancy being that he should keep in good repair both the bridge and the hermitage on it.5