SUTTON, Hamon (c.1392-1461/2), of Lincoln.
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Family and Education
b.c.1392, s. and h. of Robert Sutton*. m. by July 1426, Margaret, da. of Sir Henry Vavasour (d.1413) of Cockerington, Yorks. by Margaret (d.1414/15), da. of Sir William Skipwith† (d. by 1389) of Ormsby and Skipwith, j.c.p., c.j.KB. of Ireland, 3s. inc. Robert Skipwith† (d.v.p.) and Hamon Skipwith†, at least 2da.1
Commr. of inquiry, Lincoln Nov. 1422 (wastes at the hospital of the Holy Innocents), Lincs. July 1426, Feb. 1431 (wastes at Somerton castle), Apr. 1431 (persons liable for taxation), June 1432 (upkeep of Foss Dyke), Feb. 1438, July 1439 (evasion of customs), Nov. 1446 (misdeeds of Sir John Pigot†), Dec. 1448 (ownership of the manor of North Ingleby); to raise a royal loan Mar. 1430, Mar. 1431, Nov. 1440, Mar. 1442, Mar. 1443; arrest ships, Kingston-upon-Hull, Boston, Grimsby July 1451; distribute a tax rebate Lincs. Jan. 1436, Apr. 1440; of array (Lindsey) Jan. 1436, (Kesteven) Sept. 1457, (Lindsey) Sept. 1458, Dec. 1459; oyer and terminer July 1437 (disorder at North Witham); gaol delivery, Lincoln Mar. 1439; to assign archers, Lincs. Dec. 1457; arrest robbers, Lincoln Nov. 1460.
Escheator, Lincs. 13 Nov. 1423-6 Nov. 1424.
Sheriff, Lincs. Mich. 1429-10 Feb. 1430.
Mayor of the Calais Staple by 24 May 1433-aft. 10 May 1453.2
J.p. Lincs. (Lindsey) 8 Aug. 1433-Dec. 1434, 22 Oct. 1436-Nov. 1458.
Dep. to Sir Ralph Butler (later Lord Sudeley), chief butler of England, Kingston-upon-Hull 28 Oct. 1435-aft. 10 May 1453.
Ambassador to treat for a truce with the duke of Burgundy and the Flemish towns 1435, Feb. 1446.3
Assessor of a tax, Lincoln Jan. 1436, Lincoln, Lindsey Aug. 1450.
According to the terms of his father’s will, Hamon Sutton was to inherit £1,000 in cash as well as extensive estates in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, others being promised to him in reversion on the death of his mother. Those lands in Lincoln, Faldingworth and Waddington which were not already in the hands of trustees holding to his use were delivered to him by the local escheator in July 1414 (some three months after his father’s death). Thus, at the age of about 22 he became one of the richest men in Lincoln, a fact which explains his first return to Parliament just two years later and his frequent elections thereafter. Although he clearly kept up and, indeed, extended his father’s commercial interests, little is known about him before November 1421, when he was present in the guildhall at Lincoln for the ratification of ordinances for the use of the common seal of the city. He attended another ‘congregation’ there two years later, but on the whole he was reluctant to play much part in these affairs (especially as more prestigious appointments such as the escheatorship and shrievalty of Lincolnshire were beginning to come his way); and in August 1429 he obtained letters from the mayor and corporation exempting him from holding civic office.4 Meanwhile, in 1425, he and his parliamentary colleague, the lawyer, Robert Walsh*, acted as trustees for William Blyton*. He had by then become involved in what appears to have been a particularly violent dispute with Edward Foljambe of Derbyshire, who, in the summer of that year, was bound over in securities of 1,000 marks to keep the peace towards him. We do not know exactly when he married, but his wealth and rapidly improving social position enabled him to take as his wife the daughter of Sir Henry Vavasour, one of the most influential landowners in east Yorkshire. In July 1426 the couple obtained two papal indults granting them plenary remission of sins at the hour of death and the right to appoint a private confessor. Sutton’s landed income increased appreciably at about this time because his mother died leaving him the land in Cold Hanworth, Ownby and other areas of Lincolnshire which she had retained in jointure. Part of this property was confirmed to him in June 1427 by a fine levied in the court of common pleas; and we may assume that from this date onwards he enjoyed the annual revenues of £105 upon which he was taxed eight years later. In fact, by the mid 1430s he ranked among the five richest non-baronial landowners in Lincolnshire, which was itself one of the most prosperous counties in England.5
It is thus hardly surprising that in 1431 Sutton was returned to Parliament as a shire knight rather than a burgess, as had previously been the case. Yet he continued to pursue his trading ventures with unabated vigour, having by then become a merchant of the Calais Staple. At some unknown date he filed an appeal in Chancery against the mayor of the Staple for the unwarranted confiscation of wool and money from one of his agents; and he sued another of his employees for defrauding him of valuable merchandise as well. Subsequently, in March 1431, he offered securities of £400 as a guarantee of his readiness to appear in court at the suit of a consortium of his fellow staplers (including Nicholas Wotton*, Thomas Walsingham* and Nicholas James*) who claimed that he owed them over £923. By May 1433, if not before, he had himself been appointed mayor of the Calais Staple, and was permitted by the Crown to export bullion worth £300 when crossing the Channel to take up office. One of the drawbacks of his appointment was having to deal with William Flete*, a particularly quarrelsome member of the mercantile community, who accused him of employing ‘grete malice’ to frustrate a lawsuit he was then bringing in Chancery against several other staplers. One of those concerned was, in fact, Hamon’s own son, Robert, although Flete was such a compulsively litigious man that it is difficult to take all his allegations at face value. During the first year of his mayoralty, Sutton was instrumental in raising a loan of 8,000 marks made by the Staple towards the cost of national defence. The government’s initial plans for repayment proved unworkable because of the over-assignment of revenue, and in 1436 he and his associates were allowed to sell their wool free of customs charges until the money should be recovered. He was evidently satisfied with this arrangement, for he then advanced a further £200 to the Crown. His services had already been rewarded with the post of deputy butler at Kingston-upon-Hull, and in 1443 he obtained a second licence for the export of gold and silver, this time to the value of £500. (Such grants were particularly lucrative because of prevailing conditions in the international money market, and he received three altogether.) In the following year, while still mayor, Sutton obtained formal letters from Henry VI confirming the privileges of the Staple, while at the same time he managed to secure for himself the gift of a fishery near Calais. A further mark of royal favour came his way in 1447 with the assignment of two tuns of Gascon wine annually for life from the port of Kingston-upon-Hull; and although the second Parliament of 1449 temporarily annulled it, the award was renewed four years later.6
Despite the fact that he was often abroad during this period, Sutton did not neglect his affairs at home, where he also benefited from his connexion with the government. In May 1438, for example, he obtained the wardship and marriage of Agnes, the daughter and heir of John Hawley, a local landowner, whom he regarded as a suitable bride for his son, Robert. The pair were married at some point over the next 11 years, and Robert duly obtained seisin of land in and around Burgh on Bain in Lincolnshire. Sutton experienced rather more problems over the marriage of his daughter, Agnes, who became the wife of Sir John Bussy’s young son and heir, John. Although Sutton claimed to have implemented the terms of the contract without delay by paying Sir John 260 marks at the time of the wedding, the latter showed less alacrity in fulfilling his share of the bargain (that is making a settlement of land worth £20 p.a. on the couple), and a protracted round of litigation began between the two parties. Agnes was eventually allowed a life interest in a substantial part of the Bussy estates, comprising the manors of Park Hall in Derbyshire and Wigsley in Nottinghamshire, but only in 1449 after she and John had been divorced.7 Sutton was obliged to fight three other lawsuits during this period. One was begun against him in the court of Chancery by Sir John Good, whom he had allegedly tried to defraud over the terms of a mortgage. Good’s petition is particularly interesting because it suggests that Sutton made a practice of lending money on quite heavy securities. The second concerned a more modest debt of £10 owed to him by the parson of Holme in Nottinghamshire, while the third was a case of trespass on his estates at Burton-by-Lincoln. Very occasionally Sutton appears as a mainpernor, witness or feoffee, but he seems to have been far too preoccupied with official and commercial business to perform these duties on a regular basis. Indeed, in September 1442