NEWTON, John II (d.1434/5), of Bristol.
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Family and Education
Bailiff, Bristol Mich. 1405-6; sheriff 13 Oct. 1413-9 Oct. 1414; mayor Mich. 1418-19, 1427-8.1
Constable of the Bristol Staple 26 Sept. 1407-8, Mich. 1429-30.2
Commr. of inquiry, Bristol May 1428 (illegal pilgrim traffic).
Newton began his career as an apprentice to Richard Muleward, a Bristol merchant who died in 1386. He was mentioned in the will of Muleward’s son, John, in April 1388, and had still not finished his apprenticeship when he witnessed that of the merchant’s widow at Easter the same year. Shortly afterwards, however, he was trading independently and soon also set up in business as a manufacturer of woollen cloth. Exporting this product to Bayonne would seem to have been his principal concern, as the number of his shipments in the years 1395 to 1399 suggests, and in January 1404, in partnership with two other merchants, he dispatched a cargo of as many as 199 lengths of cloth. It may have been he who, along with John Edon, petitioned the chancellor in June 1407 to reverse a judgement arising out of an appeal against an earlier decision made in their favour by the admiralty court, under which they had been fined £40.3
Newton’s appointment as a constable of the Staple at Bristol in September 1407 was followed within just a few days by his only known election to Parliament. He was named as a member of the common council of Bristol in 1409-10, and after unsuccessful nomination for the shrievalty on as many as six occasions, that is, at every Michaelmas between 1408 and 1412 and again in March 1413, he finally obtained appointment as sheriff in October of that year. As mayor of Bristol, in March 1419 Newton presided over the council when it discussed the imposition of fines for outlawry. His second mayoralty (1427-8) was uneventful save for his formal consideration in the borough court of claims made by the inhabitants of the manor of Kinver, Staffordshire. He concurrently held office as mayor of the local Staple, but it was again as a constable that he gave judgement with John Burton II*, the then mayor, and his fellow constable, Henry Gildeney*, in a case of debt, from which arose an appeal to the King’s Council. Meanwhile, Newton had attended seven parliamentary elections held at Bristol (for the Parliaments of 1411, 1413 (May), 1414 (Nov.), 1416 (Mar.), 1417, 1419 and 1427).4
In 1401 Newton had been named as the executor of the will of John Burton (father of John Burton II), and he later assumed similar positions of trust on behalf of other of his fellow burgesses. When he was mayor in 1419, and again in 1428, Robert Russell II* entrusted him with all his goods and chattels both at home and overseas, and for several years from 1420 until 1434 he acted as a feoffee of a moiety of the manor of Ashton, Somerset, on behalf of Roger Levedon†. In taking on these commitments Newton was closely associated with (Sir) John Juyn, and this connexion points to a possible relationship between him and Richard Newton, afterwards recorder of Bristol and successor to Juyn in October 1439 as c.j.c.p. About John Newton’s property little is known, save that by 1426 he was in possession of a tenement at Shirehampton, Gloucestershire, and a few years later he had shops on St. Michael’s Hill, plots of land in Grope Lane, and messuages in Redcliff Street. The messuages were no longer in his keeping by August 1435, and it would appear that he was then dead.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. xxvi. 130-1.
- 2. C267/5 nos. 39, 53.
- 3. Bristol Wills (Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. 1886), 16, 18-19; E101/339/7; E122/16/26, 34, 17/1, 9, 212/13; CPR, 1405-8, p. 334.
- 4. Little Red Bk. Bristol ed. Bickley, i. 138-9; ii. 213; CFR, xiii. 126, 161, 191, 216, 248; xiv. 15; CCR, 1429-35, p. 104; C267/5 nos. 46, 52; C219/10/6, 11/1, 4, 8, 12/2, 3, 5.
- 5. Bristol Wills, 66, 118, 123, 125; CCR, 1419-22, p. 54; 1422-9, p. 407; Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xxii), 87; Bristol RO, AC/D1/47, 48, 52, 59, 62a, M3/6.