SPENCER, Richard (d.1414), of Salisbury, Wilts.
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Family and Education
m. Edith, s.p.
Mayor, Salisbury 1 Nov. 1395-7.2
Coroner, Wilts. bef. Feb. 1397.
Commr. of inquiry, Salisbury Mar. 1398 (death of a chaplain); to supervise repair of roads between ‘Hertfordbridge’ and Basingstoke, Hants Nov. 1406.
Spencer came from Kington St. Michael, near Malmesbury, but nothing is known about his early life, and from 1394 onwards he lived in Winchester Street in Salisbury, becoming one of the most prominent citizens and a member of the convocation.3 In 1395 Spencer served as a churchwarden of St. Edmund’s, Salisbury, as such, on 28 Apr., formally welcoming to the church John Waltham, bishop of Salisbury, then on a visitation. A few weeks later, at the time of the commonalty’s dispute with the bishop, he acted as one of the city’s attorneys when the case came up for hearing by the royal council. During his second mayoralty he was returned to the Parliament of January 1397. On 13 Feb., the day following the closure of this session, the sheriff of Wiltshire was ordered to replace him as coroner for the county, the reason given being that he was too busy as mayor to exercise any other office. Still mayor, he was responsible for raising the loan of £200 which Salisbury was required to make to Richard II in October 1397 in order to regain his goodwill. Even so, in September 1398 the corporation of Salisbury, in common with the governing bodies of other major towns, was called upon to subscribe to an oath upholding the King’s actions in condemning the Lords Appellant of 1388 and banishing the earls of Derby and Norfolk, and though now no longer mayor, Spencer was chosen to take the common seal of the city to the King at Coventry, in order to authenticate the document on the city’s behalf. His companions were William Hulle I* and William Walters*.4
Spencer was a prosperous draper with business connexions in a number of places including London and Southampton. For his convenience, in the latter port, which he used for the shipment of cloth, he owned a house. It is thus not surprising that, despite the award to him in June 1402 of an exemption for life from appointment to public office, he was willing to act in 1406 as a supervisor of repairs to roads in Hampshire, and that in December 1413 he was one of three Salisbury men made responsible for repairing ‘Ayleswaterbrigge’, which carried the Southampton road out of the city. Spencer was also involved in a dispute over tolls between Salisbury and Southampton, in the course of which, in April 1411, he was among those delegated to meet with the burgesses of Southampton to resolve their differences. Presumably the meeting came to nothing, for a month later he and William Waryn* were licensed to act as attorneys for their fellow citizens in the court of common pleas, where the case was being tried.5
Spencer died during the first week of October 1414. In his will he made generous bequests to the churches, hospitals and almshouses of Salisbury, including £10 to be distributed on the days of his funeral to the sick poor. He also left 6s.8d. to the vicar of his village of origin, Kington St. Michael, and £2 to the nunnery there, requesting that prayers should be said for him and his parents and relations. A year before his death, he and John Moner* (now made supervisor of his will) had obtained royal licence to grant four tenements to the commonalty of Salisbury, in aid of taxes levied on the city. When he died, however, he still owned nine dwellings there, as well as the one at Southampton. In all of these his widow, Edith, was to have a life interest; and after her death they were to be sold, the proceeds going to various charities. Edith married, before October 1417, William Cambridge, a London grocer who had business interests in Salisbury.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: Charles Kightly
- 1. Salisbury RO, ledger bk. A, f. 41.
- 2. Salisbury RO, ‘Domesday bk.’ 2, ff. 1, 2.
- 3. Ledger bk. A. ff. 29, 34, 41, 43, 50.
- 4. R. Benson and H. Hatcher, Old and New Sarum, 105, 755; CCR, 1392-6, p. 355; 1396-9, p. 35; CPR, 1396-9, p. 181; ledger bk. A, ff. 7-8.
- 5. E101/345/2; CPR, 1401-5, p. 102; 1405-8, p. 267; 1408-13, p. 251; 1413-16, p. 161; ‘Domesday bk.’ 3, f. II; ledger bk. A, ff. 41-42.
- 6. ‘Domesday bk.’ 3, f. 11; PCC 29 Marche; CPR, 1408-13, p. 468; 1416-22, pp. 93, 434; VCH Wilts. vi. 126.