SPRING, John, of Northampton.
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Family and Education
m. c. June 1408, Maud, wid. of Fremdoun de la Porte of Northampton, 1da.1
Bailiff, Northampton Mich. 1392-3; mayor 1410-11, 1414-16.2
Tax collector, Northants. May 1398.
Spring’s term as bailiff of Northampton occurred during a turbulent period in the town’s history, since it was then that the mayor, John Fox†, was ejected from office as a result of allegations of maladministration and heresy made by his enemy, Richard Stormsworth*. Interestingly enough, our Member had previously been involved in his official capacity as bailiff in enforcing an order for the confiscation of Stormsworth’s goods following his indictment in the mayor’s court for dishonest trading practices, and we cannot ignore the possibility that he and Fox were united in the pursuit of a personal vendetta. Spring was certainly one of the moving spirits behind a petition, addressed by the bailiffs and people of Northampton to the King early in 1393, which accused Stormsworth of wilfull malice and begged for Fox’s reinstatement, although his efforts proved useless and the former mayor was incarcerated in Nottingham castle.3
These events did not, however, disrupt Spring’s own business activities: the alnage accounts for Northamptonshire drawn up in November 1395 record that he paid the unusually high subsidy of 3s.1¼d. on cloth, although this fell to 10d. in the following year. Spring was clearly a man of some consequence in Northampton, for besides representing the town in Parliament and serving two terms as mayor, he was also one of the few burgesses to hold office in the county as a tax collector. We cannot now tell exactly how much property he owned, but his possessions included at least two acres of farmland in the neighbouring village of Coton together with a garden, a grove of walnut trees and other land in Northampton itself, which he settled upon a body of trustees including the draper, Thomas Overton*. The ownership of his holdings in the borough was the subject of a protracted dispute between Spring’s daughter, Agnes, and one of his feoffees, John Hancock, who had obtained an interest in the property in June 1408, at the time of the MP’s betrothal to the widowed Maud de la Porte. On Spring’s death, at some point in the early 1430s, Hancock refused to relinquish his trusteeship and was thus taken to court by the aggrieved Agnes and her husband, a Northampton cardmaker named William Kyldesby. They claimed that he had ‘maliciosly kytte downe’ and sold 400 walnut trees, so even allowing for the exaggeration common in such cases, the estate must have been quite valuable.4
During his second and third mayoralties respectively, Spring held the borough elections to the Parliaments of 1414 (Nov.) and 1416 (Mar.); and he later went surety for the attendance of the burgesses returned to the House of Commons in 1426. He was evidently a friend of John Loudham, his colleague in the Parliament of 1399, on whose behalf he witnessed a series of property transactions. He also had dealings with Ralph Passenham*, with whom he began litigation for the recovery of a joint debt of £10 owed to them by a Gloucestershire husbandman. He died while the case was still in progress; and although the exact date of his death is not known, it must have occurred between March 1430, when he witnessed a local