SALERNE, John II (d.1410), of Winchelsea, Suss. and New Romney, Kent.
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Family and Education
Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1388.3
Jurat, New Romney 25 Mar. 1394-5.4
Mayor, Winchelsea Easter 1407-9.5
Commr. of inquiry, Cinque Ports Nov. 1408 (theft of timber).
The son of a successful Winchelsea merchant who acted as mayor in 1374-5, this John Salerne also had trading interests, for he imported salt in his mother’s ship, the Lythenard of Winchelsea, in the 1390s.6 It would appear to have been his first marriage which brought him to New Romney, where he is recorded paying maltolts from 1385 to 1397. In 1386, the year of his first return to Parliament for the town, he acted as patron of the local hospital of St. Stephen and St. Thomas (as he was to do again in 1395 and 1409), apparently obtaining the right of presentation through his wife, Katherine, who was probably the widow of John Fraunceys, the man responsible for the hospital’s refoundation. Katherine was a kinswoman of Sir Richard atte Lees of Sheldwich, who in his will in 1394 was to leave the sum of ten marks to be shared between her, her husband, and her unmarried daughter. In 1398-9 Salerne made enfeoffments of the advowson of the hospital together with land once belonging to John Fraunceys. In the meantime he had also acquired landed holdings in the hundreds of Langport and St. Martin, adjacent to Romney, as well as in that of Blackbourne, to the north, on all of which as a Portsman he claimed exemption from taxation.7
Over the years Salerne performed several useful tasks on behalf of the commonalty of Romney. While attending Parliament in 1386 he paid 14d. for a writ addressed to the keepers of Rochester bridge, ordering them to allow the barons to pass free of toll according to their charter. That year or the next he visited Dover on account of Romney’s trouble with its member-port of Lydd, and also travelled to Westminster with John Ellis I* to obtain for the Cinque Ports in general a copy of their ‘magna carta’, which cost £2. His trading concerns led him to purchase from Romney in the years 1387 to 1389 seven tuns of wine and 22 barrels of white herring, priced at almost £26. In 1387 or 1388 he accompanied William Holyngbroke (his companion in the Merciless Parliament) not only on visits to Dover, but also to Orwell (Suffolk) in connexion with a suit about Romney’s common barge. Holyngbroke was regarded by Archbishop Courtenay as a ringleader in Romney’s rebellion against his jurisdiction, and it is clear that Salerne shared the archbishop’s opprobrium, although the townsmen managed to prevent Courtenay’s officers from delivering a summons to him to appear in the ecclesiastical courts for alleged spiritual offences. Early in 1396 he accompanied John Gardener I* up to London to answer charges made against the town by the archbishop for further encroachments on his franchises, and on their return they visited the primate at Maidstone to try to negotiate an agreement satisfactory to their fellow barons.8 At the turn of the century Salerne left New Romney to settle in his father’s home town of Winchelsea, and when, in January 1400, he attended a Brodhull, it was as a delegate from that Port. He may have been the man of this name who was sent to the Tower on 8 Dec. following, and only released on the 24th when four Londoners bound themselves in £500 to produce him before the King’s Council in January; but even if so, his alleged misdemeanours are not recorded. Salerne witnessed a deed at Winchelsea in February 1406, shortly before representing the town in Parliament for the second time, and he served as mayor there for two consecutive terms in 1407-9.9
In 1403 Salerne had acted as a feoffee of land at Lydd and elsewhere of which his kinsman, John Salerne I* of Iden, had possession for the lifetime of his wife, Agnes. His relations with certain other members of his family were, however, far less satisfactory: in 1409 his cousin Alice (the daughter of his uncle, Robert Salerne) accused him of depriving her of certain property at Winchelsea governed by an entail, and in June that year she obtained a royal commission to examine her complaints. This was probably ineffective, for she was to have it renewed in July 1411, after the MP’s death, perhaps hoping for more success when he was unable to intervene.10 By the time he came to make his will, on 29 May 1410, Salerne had become a landowner of some consequence. He arranged for the bulk of his holdings at Winchelsea, Hastings, Iham and Icklesham to go in the first instance to his widow, Margaret, for her lifetime, and then after her death to pass to his daughter, Joan, and the latter’s descendants. If she had none, his feoffees were to convey those lands not otherwise designated to another body of trustees who were required to divide them into three parts: two to provide funds for the repair of the churches of St. Thomas and St. Giles, and the third to supply money for the fortification of Winchelsea. In the event of the failure of Joan’s line, Salerne’s lands at Icklesham, acquired by inheritance from his father and uncle (and on which, as a Portsman, he had claimed tax exemption), were in part to go to Vincent Fynch I*, and the rest to Robert Oxenbridge. He gave certain properties at Hastings to the local community, making provision also that if Joan died childless, land worth as much as £10 a year should be set aside for the foundation of a chantry in the church of St. Clement, under the patronage of the bailiff and jurats. Salerne’s rents at Iham were destined for its churchwardens’ revenues, while shares in windmills there and at Hastings were left to William Cheyne* of Shurland and Richard Brenchesle, the sons-in-law of his kinsman, John Salerne I.11
Salerne died before 15 Feb. 1411, when his feoffees conveyed some of his land to his widow, by then already the wife of Seman Champayne. His daughter married William Catton*, but their issue predeceased them, and following Catton’s death in 1431 the provisions in Salerne’s will regarding his property at Winchelsea and Hastings were put into effect. A royal licence for the foundation of ‘Salerne’s chantry’ at Hastings was acquired in 1443, more than 40 years after his death.12
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Authors: A. P.M. Wright / L. S. Woodger
- 1. Cotton Julius BIV, f. 45.
- 2. Arch. Cant. xcvi. 22.
- 3. Romney assmt. bk. 2, f. 18.
- 4. Kent AO, NR/JBr/4, no. 7.
- 5. Add. Ch. 20202; E368/162 m. 119.
- 6. CPR, 1364-7, p. 16; 1367-70, p. 138; CCR, 1385-9, pp. 329-30; Add. Ch. 20192; E122/33/25, 28.
- 7. Romney assmt. bk. 2, ff. 6-39; Kent Chantries (Kent Rec. Ser. xii), 243-4; Arch. Cant. xcvi. 22; PCC 3 Rous; E179/225/22.
- 8. Assmt. bk. 2, ff. 11, 12, 15, 18, 41; Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Courtenay, f. 285.
- 9. Add. Ch. 16432; CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 37, 227, 242; Cat. Rye Recs. ed. Dell, 136/158.
- 10. CP25(1)290/60/66; CPR, 1408-13, pp. 110, 312.
- 11. Cotton Julius BIV, ff. 43-45.
- 12. Ibid. ff. 42, 44-50; CPR, 1441-6, p. 197.