WESTON, John (d.c.1433), of Coventry, Warwick and Worcester.
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Family and Education
m. (1) Joan;1 (2) by 1423, Katherine.
J.p. Warws. 13 Feb. 1407-Oct. 1433, Worcs. 16 Jan. 1414-Dec. 1417, 12 Feb. 1422-July 1423.
Bailiff, Worcester Mich. 1409-10.2
Steward of the court of St. Mary’s college, Warwick Mich. 1410-11.3
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Worcs. Oct. 1411; inquiry, Warws. Jan. 1412 (liability to contribute to a subsidy), Worcs. Jan. 1414 (lollards), Coventry Nov. 1414 (counterfeiting), Worcs. May 1419 (concealed crown income); to raise royal loans, Warws., Leics. Mar. 1430, 1431; of gaol delivery, Warwick Feb. 1431, Nov. 1432; to assess a parliamentary grant, Warws. Apr. 1431.
Recorder, Coventry c.1415-33.4
Dep. sheriff, Worcs. (by appointment of Richard, earl of Warwick), 20 Oct. 1420-6 May 1422.
Weston was probably a member of the Coventry family of this name. He had no doubt completed his training in the law by 1398, when he is recorded as standing surety in Chancery for a defendant in a suit for trespass brought in Warwickshire; and five years later he acted similarly for the Exchequer lessees of the alien priory of Monks Kirby in the same county. Shortly after representing Warwick in Parliament for the second time (1406), he was appointed to the bench for the shire, thereafter being a member of the quorum of every Warwickshire commission of the peace over the next 20 years, and sitting frequently in quarter sessions. Since his services as a lawyer were sought by the inhabitants of no fewer than three towns (Warwick, Worcester and Coventry), he had to divide his attention between them. So, during his term of office as a bailiff of Worcester (1409-10), he complied with a request from the sheriff of Warwickshire to deliver a summons to the defendant in a suit over the keepership of Warwick gaol; and in January 1410 he accepted election to Parliament for both Worcester and Warwick. By Michaelmas following he had been engaged as steward for St. Mary’s college, Warwick, as such being paid a fee of £2 for his counsel in the ensuing year; and he witnessed conveyances in Warwick in 1410 and 1412. For seven years from July 1411 he acted as co-administrator with the prior of Coventry of the convent of Henwood, and on one occasion, when the prior was indicted for a felony, he provided securities of £100 on his behalf.5 Weston was the earliest of a distinguished series of lawyers connected with Coventry. He held office as the city’s recorder for at least 18 years, starting in or before 1415, as such being ex officio a j.p. and justice of gaol delivery there. Over the years he ‘received’ the attorneys of various local dignitaries, and took responsibility for pleading in the central courts on behalf of the mayor and bailiffs. It is interesting to note the mention of his office in the Coventry Leet Book, the compilation of which was begun in 1421. Here it is specifically recommended ‘that all good ordynance of the leetys be sought up and wryton in a regestre, that they may be of record for evermore, be oversight of the recordere’. In 1425 he was rewarded with as much as £20 by the civic authorities ‘for his labour and advice’.6
Weston’s appointments to the Worcestershire bench, where, as in the neighbouring county, he served as a member of the quorum, led to his participation in a number of commissions of gaol delivery at Worcester castle. There is ample evidence of his competence as a lawyer, and, it may be presumed, as a spokesman, to account for his elections to eight Parliaments as a representative for one or other of the boroughs of Warwick and Worcester; and the abbot of Evesham, too, was clearly well satisfied with his performance, for having named him as his proxy in the Parliament of 1406, he did so again in 1407 (when Weston is not otherwise recorded as attending the assembly), 1414 (Apr.) and 1416 (Oct.).7 To what extent he owed his success to his connexion with Richard, earl of Warwick, the most influential magnate in the region, is now impossible to assess. He had been retained as legal counsel to the earl as early as 1408-9, with an annual fee of 20s., and following his rise (within the next nine years) to the rank of apprentice-at-law, this fee was doubled. In 1417-18 he was actively engaged in the earl’s service, making journeys to Berkeley, London and elsewhere to conduct his business. To this Beauchamp attachment must be ascribed his appointment in October 1420 as deputy sheriff of Worcestershire (the shrievalty being held by the earl in fee), and, although the parliamentary writ was returned formally in Warwick’s name, it is likely that it was Weston who conducted the shire elections the following month, at which he himself was chosen to represent the county. By then he was a member of Lincoln’s Inn (perhaps having been so for several years). It may well have been Weston who was the Worcestershire j.p. and lawyer responsible for the compilation of various types of writs and indictments made in about 1422 and afterwards included in the Boke of Justyces of Peas, printed in the 16th century. In November 1424 he was summoned under a penalty of £1,000 to take upon himself the degree of serjeant-at-law, and after so doing he appeared more frequently in the courts at Westminster. Weston was one of a group of men headed by Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, and Thomas Polton, bishop of Worcester, which in November 1431 was granted custody of the monastery at Alcester, Warwickshire.8
A man of Weston’s obvious dependability would naturally be sometimes required to act as a feoffee-to-uses. He had been named as such in 1419 by John Wood I (his fellow MP for Worcester on two earlier occasions), who had already risen in their profession to be a serjeant-at-law, and Wood was to remember his colleague in the will he made many years later. From 1420 Weston was associated with William Babington, c.j.c.p., as co-feoffee of part of the manor of Lapworth and other properties on behalf of John Catesby†. Then, in December 1421, during the Parliament convened that month, he was formally appointed by William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, as a trustee with, among others, the earl of Warwick, in certain estates pertaining to William, Lord Clinton, on the latter’s initiative. Thomas Stafford* (d.1425) gave him a fiduciary interest in his manor of Wolston in Warwickshire.9
Weston was evidently sometimes resident in Warwick, being so described in 1419 when he witnessed a deed there. But, since he was occasionally recorded as ‘of Coventry’, where, furthermore, he was assessed for parliamentary subsidies, he must also have held some property in that city. In 1424 he and his second wife purchased from Richard Knightley* the manor of Weston-under-Wetherley, situated between the two places. He is known to have acquired premises in Worcester early on in his career, and these were estimated to be worth £10 annually in 1431, when he was described as ‘esquire, of Warwickshire’. Weston’s holdings in Worcestershire also included land in Barbourne, Northwick and Whistones. As his last appearances in the central courts and on the Warwickshire bench took place in 1433, and he was superseded as recorder of Coventry by January the following year, it seems likely that he died about this time. Certainly, he was dead by 1446, by which date John Wood had acquired his Worcestershire lands, possibly after marrying his widow. Weston may well have been buried in Worcester cathedral, where his heraldic arms were later displayed.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Reg. Holy Trinity Guild Coventry (Dugdale Soc. xiii), 16, 42, 104.
- 2. Worcester Chs. (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1909), 193.
- 3. Miscellany (Dugdale Soc. xxxi), 147, 149.
- 4. Recs. Holy Trinity, Coventry (Dugdale Soc. xix), 170; Coventry Leet Bk. ed. Harris, 44, 144.
- 5. CCR, 1396-9, p. 310; 1409-13, pp. 83, 332; 1413-19, p. 200; VCH Warws. viii. 196; CFR, xii. 204; CPR, 1408-13, pp. 27, 295; Collectanea (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1912), 14, 19.
- 6. CPR, 1416-22, pp. 130, 172; 1422-9, pp. 2