MONCEAUX, John, of Low Lorton, Cumb.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Amand Monceaux*.
Controller of customs, Cumb. 2 Mar. 1395-Nov. 1397.
John’s first return to Parliament in January 1390 was almost certainly engineered by his father, who was then himself representing Cumberland for the fifth and last time in the Lower House. As a busy public official, Amand Monceaux was concerned with the presentation of a parliamentary petition for the reduction of farms and taxes in the north, and he may also have been anxious to pursue private interests at Westminster. The precise dates of his term as mayor of Carlisle are not now known, but it looks as if he held office over the year ending October 1391, and was thus ideally placed to secure his son’s election, for a second time, to the Parliament which met in early November of that year. It is, however, important to remember that John commanded a good deal of influence in his own right. In February 1390 (while his first Parliament was still sitting), he was named among the witnesses to a conveyance of land in Shap by Hugh Salkeld I*; and a few months later he appeared at the assizes in Penrith as an attorney for his mother, Margaret, who was involved in a dispute over property in Cumberland. When, in 1394, his father sued out a writ of supersedeas to halt an action of account brought against him by Sir John Manners, John acted as one of his mainpernors. He also joined with Robert Lowther* and William Stapleton* in standing surety in the court of Chancery for a chaplain accused of harbouring felons.1 In March 1395, shortly after the close of his third and last Parliament, John was made controller of customs in Cumberland, an appointment which may well have been secured for him on the intervention of Amand Monceaux, who was already serving as a collector of customs there, and who was recognized as a loyal supporter of the government. Both men were, however, replaced in the autumn of 1397, by which time John had become embroiled in a violent dispute with Robert Bristowe (his former colleague in the Parliament of 1391), who was then actually representing Carlisle in the House of Commons, along with a kinsman of his named John Bristowe. The election of two such candidates, whose avowed intention was the pursuit of a feud with their powerful neighbour, suggests that John and his father had lost much of their former influence in the city, perhaps because of the withdrawal of royal favour. It is thus of particular significance that, during the parliamentary recess, John was actually bound over in personal securities of 100 marks to keep the peace towards Bristowe, further pledges in the same amount being offered by his mainpernors, who included the Norfolk landowner and future diplomat, Sir John Colville. At about this time, John himself took receipt of a bond worth £200 from Thomas Fulthorpe of Yorkshire, although the wording of the pledge suggests that he was acting on behalf of his father.2
Somewhat surprisingly, in view of his own and Amand’s evident fall from grace, John took part in Richard II’s ill-conceived expedition to Ireland in the summer of 1399, naming Sir William Curwen* and Geoffrey Tilliol† as his attorneys while he was away. He served in the retinue of the duke of Exeter, and thus evidently incurred the displeasure of Henry of Bolingbroke, whose coup d’état placed him in a rather vulnerable position. His father may not have lived to see him summoned, along with Curwen, the Cumbrian landowner, Thomas Sands*, and six other northerners currently viewed with suspicion, to appear before Parliament at Westminster ‘for particular causes specially moving the King and council’, but since these orders were issued twice, in September 1399 and again one year later, he evidently escaped punishment.3 Up to then, John had lived at the manor of Low Lorton in Cumberland, while Amand ran the rest of their estates in and around Whinfell. He does not appear to have enjoyed his inheritance for very long, because no more is heard of him after the autumn of 1400, when he either died or retired completely from public life. The John Monceaux of east Yor