STRETE, John (d.c.1414), of Dover, Kent.
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Family and Education
Custos bonorum, Dover Sept. 1371-4; mayor 1377-8, 1381-2, 1385-6, 1394-5, 1396-9, 1404-6, 1408-11; dep. bailiff Mar. 1379-c.1380; jurat Sept. 1384-5, 1388-90, 1393-4.3
Collector of poundage, Dover 30 Oct. 1371-2, petty custom 22 Jan. 1380-c.1382, tunnage and poundage, Sandwich 30 Nov. 1390-8 Dec. 1391, wool customs 30 Nov. 1390-1 Mar. 1391; controller of tunnage and poundage, Dover 25 May 1382-c. Dec. 1386, Sandwich 8 Dec. 1386-10 Jan. 1387.
Jt. keeper of stores for Dover castle 4 Feb. 1390-20 June 1391.4
Commr. to assemble vessels against pirates, Dover May 1398.
In 1370-1 Strete paid 5s. in maltolts at Dover on five tuns of wine sold in his tavern, and for several years his principal occupation was that of inn-keeper. In 1376-7 he was one of the collectors of the maltolts on wine, and the lieutenant of Dover castle was once entertained to breakfast at his house. Besides his property in Dover he owned land in the east Kent hundred of Bewsborough on which, as a Portsman, he claimed tax exemption. Over the years he was frequently engaged on the town’s business. In 1372-3 he went to Folkestone to buy ashlar for Dover’s walls, and in 1376 he was sent not only to Canterbury to buy fur for a gown which the Cinque Ports wished to present to their new warden, Edmund, earl of Cambridge, at his installation in the court of Shepway, but also to Dover’s member-port of Faversham to collect its annual contribution. In the course of his mayoralty of 1377-8, he attended several meetings of the Brodhull, and also made four journeys to London on Dover’s behalf, on one of these occasions securing the renewal of the Ports’ charter. Certain of these visits were doubtless connected with a grant by the Crown for repairs to the town walls: in February 1378 the lieutenant of Dover handed over to him £38 19s.8d. in accordance with a royal order to disburse £40 on this project. Strete spent the money before June on erecting a new tower, but with excessive enthusiasm, for he exceeded his budget by nearly £30, which the Exchequer refused to allow when he presented his accounts.5 In the course of Strete’s mayoralty of 1381-2, he not only represented Dover in the Commons and at a number of Brodhulls, but also, during the parliamentary recess of December-January, he attended the coronation of Anne of Bohemia, for which furred robes had been specially made for him and his colleagues from the Cinque Ports.6
Strete was frequently employed as collector or controller of the customs, first at Dover and then, after its independence as a head port was ended in 1386, as the representative of Dover’s shipowners at Sandwich. His interests in shipping included a part share in the Cristofre, a vessel which accompanied the fleet with which John of Gaunt raided Scotland in 1384 (he was paid 60s.for providing the vessel and its artillery), and another craft which in 1395 he fitted out for mercantile ventures. By that time he had built up considerable interests in trade, for unlike most other Dover men he engaged in the export of wool to the Staples at both Middleburg and Calais, receiving royal licences to do so. Indeed, under Henry IV he shipped wool on a quite substantial scale, exporting 3,744 woolfells in the spring of 1404, and 40 sacks and 8,360 woolfells between February 1406 and June 1407. In addition, he sometimes traded in cloth, wine, alum and madder.7 In 1402 Strete headed a consortium of Dover men given assignments at the Exchequer worth £79 as part payment of £155 due to them for transporting Richard II’s widow, Isabella de Valois, across the Channel to Calais, as well as 20 marks for providing passage for the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II. Then, in May 1409, Henry IV ordered that Strete and his fellows be paid £9 4s. for bringing over Cardinal Uguccione of Bordeaux, ambassador of the Council of Pisa.8
Strete was among the men of Dover who in June 1411 were bound in £40 to abide by the arbitration of the prince of Wales, then warden of the Cinque Ports, on certain disputes arising in the town; but he died before September 1414 when the Exchequer tried to sue for payment. Indeed, he is not recorded alive after October 1411.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: A. P.M. Wright
- 1. He was paid 61s.6d. for 14 days’ attendance: Add. 29615, f. 29.
- 2. He was paid 91s.8d. for 29 days’ attendance: Egerton 2091, f. 7.
- 3. Add. 29615, ff. 20, 23, 27, 52; Egerton 2088, ff. 15, 19, 61, 84, 95, 109, 116, 139, 148, 154; 2091, ff. 17, 43, 65; CPR, 1377-81, p. 335.
- 4. E364/25 m. A; CPR, 1388-92, p. 177.
- 5. Add. 29615, ff. 18, 25, 38, 45, 53, 54, 57; E179/225/4, 7, 11, 22, 27; CPR, 1377-81, p. 119; E101/463/25.
- 6. Egerton 2091, ff. 6, 7, 12; Romney assmt. bk. 1, f. 11.
- 7. Egerton 2088, f. 79, 2091, f. 94; CCR, 1385-9, p. 167; 1405-9, p. 320; E122/126/33, 36-38, 45, 127/12.
- 8. E404/17/249, 24/480; Issues ed. Devon, 282-3.
- 9. E159/190 Trin. rot. 7; Egerton 2088, f. 161.