MONYN, John, of Dover, Buckland and Canterbury, Kent.
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Family and Education
?s John Monyn, senior, of Dover. m. (1) bef. Feb. 1380, Isabel, ?1s. Thomas*; (2) bef. Apr. 1405, Alice.
Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1373, 1375, 1411.6
Jt. warden of St. George’s fraternity, Dover by July 1394.7
Commr. to assemble vessels to attack pirates, Dover May 1398.
Jurat, Canterbury Mich. 1410-11, 1417-19.8
Monyn came from a family that had been established in Dover for several generations. The story of a Sir Simon de Monyn who came over with William the Conqueror is doubtless apocryphal, yet members of the family are known to have performed useful services to later monarchs, for example John Monyn, the ‘King’s yeoman’ who, in 1328, was granted a messuage in Dover as a reward for his support for Queen Isabella and her son, Edward III. The MP was probably a descendant of John Monyn the mayor of 1342, who held part of the manor of Lenacre in Whitfield (just outside the town), and he was evidently closely related to Simon Monyn† (d. bef. 1384) and his son, Nicholas Monyn of Waldershare, for the latter was to serve as a trustee of his own landed property. It seems quite likely that he was the son of John Monyn ‘senior’, the mayor of 1372-3 and 1375-6.9
Monyn himself, as John ‘junior’, is first mentioned in the local records in 1366 and quickly made himself useful in the affairs of the community. He attended Brodhulls as one of Dover’s representatives in 1370, and in the following year accompanied the mayor to negotiate with the collectors of the parish tax at Canterbury. Present at a number of Brodhulls in the years 1372 to 1376, he also went twice to Faversham to collect its contribution as a member-port of Dover.10 Although the Dover MP in the Good Parliament of 1376 is nowhere described as either ‘senior’ or ‘junior’ it seems quite likely, in view of services already rendered to the town, that it was the younger man who then sat in the Commons, especially as the elder was busy about his mayoral duties at the time. Early in September 1379 Monyn and nine other leading Portsmen were summoned before the King’s Council which promptly ordered their imprisonment in the Tower for a week, but the cause of royal displeasure is not recorded. In March following a writ of aid was issued in Monyn’s favour as deputy to the bailiff of Dover, a position he subsequently held for five years or more. An opportunity was presented by the murder of Richard Lyons, the detested London merchant, during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, for Monyn and others to seek redress of old grievances against him. While Monyn was attending Parliament in May 1382 a royal commission of inquiry was set up, headed by the constable of Dover castle, to investigate claims that various goods belonging to the King’s enemies in ships captured by him and other Portsmen ten years earlier had been unjustly seized by Lyons, and that no compensation had been offered subsequently. In July 1383 Monyn was among those who appeared in Chancery as guarantors under penalty of 200 marks that the King’s prisoner, John Foxton, would appear in court to stand trial when required; but Foxton broke bail, and a year later an order went out for Monyn’s own arrest in execution of the bond.11
Monyn must have been the unnamed mayor of Dover whom Sir Simon Burley, the warden of the Cinque Ports, was accused in the Merciless Parliament of February 1388 of bringing before Richard II at Shene, apparently in order that he might be induced to raise 1,000 armed men from the Ports to aid the King against the Lords Appellant. His response is not recorded. Monyn continued to represent Dover’s interests both in Parliament and elsewhere. When a dispute broke out between the Benedictine monks of Dover priory and the townsmen over financial support of a secular priest at the high altar of the priory church, it was Monyn who in January 1390 accompanied John Gyles*, the mayor, to Lambeth for an audience with Archbishop Courtenay, there to agree on the town’s behalf that in future all resident burgesses would contribute to the priest’s income. Three years later Monyn joined others in obtaining a royal licence to grant to the priory properties in Hougham, Sibertswold, Alkham and Canterbury, for the provision of such services as the benefactors would ordain. Soon after Henry IV’s accession Monyn assisted Gyles, who was then sitting in the Commons, to secure from the new King an exemplification of certain letters patent of his predecessor, relating to an article in an ordinance, issued under Edward III, which restricted to the port of Dover the passage of pilgrims going overseas.12
Over the years Monyn substantially increased his family’s landed interests along the coast near Dover, while retaining property in the town itself (such as the building in Delf ward which he was holding in 1391, and a house in Morine ward in which he had an interest in 1415). Thus, he acquired holdings in Great Mongeham in 1370, and interests at East Hougham and elsewhere in 1378. His first wife brought him land and rents in Eythorne; but perhaps his most important acquisition was an estate at Buckland, which, consisting of about 90 acres, he obtained from John Alkham* in the summer of 1397, after a royal licence had been secured for the settlement on him and his wife of that part of the property which Alkham held of the King in chief. This same estate was to be entailed on Monyn and his second wife by a licence dated May 1408, and then, by another (granted in October 1416), it was settled on Thomas Monyn (quite likely his son) and the latter’s wife and issue. When completing this last transaction Monyn included in the settlement on his kinsman other properties in Buckland and in Charlton by Dover as well.13
Monyn’s interest in the city of Canterbury began before the end of 1407. In December that year he and his wife received back from trustees all the properties once belonging to Sir Richard Hoo and Richard Skypp in the parishes of St. Paul and St. Martin (which apparently included the manor and park known as ‘The Moate’), together with lands outside the city at Littlebourne and Fordwich. He acquired full citizenship on 18 Nov. 1409, when, being admitted a freeman by special favour, he was exonerated from the customary fine, owing to the affection and esteem in which he was held by the jurats. Less than a year later he himself was elected as a member of the governing body of the city. In April 1412 Monyn was involved in a dispute with a Canterbury widow; the parties undertook, each in recognizances of £200, to abide by the award of arbitrators (who included, at Monyn’s behest, the lawyer Roger Rye*, whom the city itself employed as counsel), or, failing agreement, by the judgement of Archbishop Arundel. Then, as on earlier occasions, Monyn was designated ‘esquire’; and that he was indeed armigerous is shown by his seal on a deed dated 1415, displaying his heraldic arms as three crescents. Although he was called ‘the elder’ in 1416, there is no reason to doubt that he was again named as a jurat in September 1417, and was returned to Parliament by Canterbury shortly after serving two consecutive terms in this capacity.14