PILLE, John, of Devon.
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Controller of customs and subsidies from Bridgwater to Sidmouth 5 Nov. 1406-7, Fowey, Plymouth and Dartmouth Jan. 1407-8, Plymouth and all ports of Cornw. 14 Mar. 1410-May 1413, Exeter and Dartmouth 8 July 1417-18.
At the time of his only return to Parliament for Dartmouth, Pille was acting as controller of customs in the port. He is not known to have been a local man, however, although he did appear, much later in 1423, as one of two men who with the water bailiff and the mayor and bailiffs of Dartmouth sat in session in the town to give judgement in cases of debt and detinue; and two years later still he was enfeoffed by William Glover II* of property there.1 He was probably a merchant, and is known to have had commercial dealings with a weaver of Pyworthy, Devon, and a butcher of Marnhull, Dorset, who both took out pardons in November 1421 of their outlawry for failing to appear in the court of common pleas to answer his suits for debt. His usual place of residence is unclear: when, in the same month, he himself obtained a similar pardon in connexion with his own debts to a London vintner, he was described as ‘of Plymouth, gentleman’; but it was as ‘of Totnes’ that a month later he entered into recognizances for eight marks with one Richard Sturgeon, and as ‘of Bradninch’ that in July 1422 he was granted a lease at the Exchequer of two houses in Bampton. Although the lease was intended to run for 40 years it was in fact terminated in 1428, the year that a John Pille was recorded as part-holder of a knight’s fee in Pancrasweek.2 Whether, as regards these transactions, we are dealing with the same man throughout is far from certain.