WALTHAM, Thomas, of Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorks.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. by Jan. 1383, Katherine.1
Bailiff, Kingston-upon-Hull Mich. 1376-7; mayor 1386, 1385-6.2
Waltham had already established a flourishing business as a vintner in Hull by 1364, when he obtained a royal licence to export £50 in silver and gold to Gascony so that he could buy wine for shipment back to England. Not much is known of his activities over the next few years, but it seems likely that he was the Thomas Waltham who received 22 s. in expenses in the spring of 1369 for conveying money for the Crown from the port of Boston to Hull.3 His involvement in the affairs of the borough began in 1376 with his election as bailiff, after which he went on to serve twice as mayor and three times as a parliamentary burgess. According to one local antiquary he was a leading protagonist in the quarrel between the townspeople and Alexander Neville, archbishop of York, over the development of the haven of the river Hull (Sayer’s Creek). The archbishops of York traditionally advanced a title to certain franchises and privileges in the haven, but in 1382 the burgesses secured a royal charter which effectively enabled them to ignore these claims and proceed with their own plans for expansion. Incensed by this turn of events, Neville is said to have visited Hull in person while Waltham was in office as mayor, and to have taken issue with him over his usurpation of archiepiscopal authority. Tradition has it that Waltham ‘was so provoked at the contested claim, that, forgetting the respect due to the archbishop’s character, he forcibly wrested the crosier out of the Prelate’s hands’. A full-scale brawl apparently ensued as the MP laid about him, and, as a result, all those involved were summoned to Westminster to answer for their conduct. The confrontation is, however, unlikely to have been quite so dramatic, since no-one seems to have been punished, and Waltham himself attended at least one more Parliament, at Cambridge in September 1388 (albeit after Neville, an unpopular royal favourite, had suffered forfeiture and exile at the hands of the Lords Appellant). He had witnessed a local deed just a few weeks before, but no more is heard of him from then onwards.4 The identity of Waltham’s wife, Katherine, remains unknown, although she may, perhaps, have been related to the Adam Coppandale of Beverley to whom she and Waltham released four messuages and farmland in several villages around Hull during the Hilary term of 1383.5