PIRIE, John, of Canterbury, Kent.
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Family and Education
Jurat, Canterbury Mich. 1395-6, 1401-1, 1403-4; bailiff Mich. 1401-2.1
Commr. of array, Canterbury Dec. 1399, Aug. 1402.
Pirie is first recorded at Canterbury in January 1390, as a recipient of a gift of goods and chattels from John Brenchesle, esquire. He was subsequently employed by Thomas Chillenden, prior of Christ Church, as surveyor and clerk of the works at the cathedral—doubtless in connexion with the rebuilding of the nave—and, as his time was fully occupied, he was included with the masons in an exemption from compulsory royal service on assizes, juries and inquisitions in the city for a period of five years, starting in May 1393. However, before the expiry of this period, Prior Chillenden, ‘for the speedier completion of the works’, had Pirie’s exemption renewed (in February 1397) for a further five years.2 Notwithstanding this opportunity to avoid official commitments, Pirie had become a jurat for the first time in 1395. In July 1398, along with John Proude*, he applied for a royal licence to grant three messuages in Canterbury to a chaplain to provide certain religious services in the city church of St. Mary Bredman, but although a local jury, meeting in January following, could find nothing in the proposal which might prove detrimental to the Crown’s interests, no such licence was issued. Besides property in Canterbury the two men were said to own land at Goodnestone and Wingham, but how much of this belonged to Pirie alone is unclear. In 1401, the year of his only known return to Parliament and of his subsequent election as bailiff at Canterbury, Pirie donated £2 to the commonalty as a contribution towards the purchase of a court-house. During his bailiffship he was paid four marks for having provided three silver shields charged with the city’s heraldic arms, for use by the city players. Early in 1403 he travelled to London with John Sheldwich I* to procure a royal licence enabling the commonalty to acquire land in mortmain in aid of the city’s fortifications. No record of him has been found following his re-election as a jurat later that year.