WHITE, Richard I, of Bury St. Edmunds, Suff. and Norwich, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

Sept. 1397

Family and Education

m. bet. May 1417, Juliana.

Offices Held

Treasurer, Norwich Mich. 1391-2; bailiff 1393-4, 1399-1400; sheriff 1411-12.1

Biography

White had originally been a burgess of Bury St. Edmunds. Accused of having taken an active part in the Peasants’ Revolt, when the rebels attacked the great Benedictine abbey there, he was one of 20 townsmen specifically excepted, ‘by reason of many grievous misdeeds’, from the pardons granted in the Parliaments of 1381 and 1382. However, as these particular offenders subsequently ‘submitted themselves humbly to his grace’, the King was prepared to pardon them and all the other local people who were alleged to have been implicated, on payment, by instalments, of a fine of 2,000 marks, for the assessment of which White and the 19 others named were made responsible in December 1382. A year later only half of the fine had been paid, but partly because of ‘compassion for the inhabitants’ estate’, and also because the abbot of Bury had failed to give his promised acquittance, the King then decreed that payment of the last two instalments of 500 marks each should be deferred until February 1384. When the appointed day came, payment was again postponed until the matter should have been ‘finally determined by the King and Council’. White and six others described as ‘les pluis suffisantz persones’ of Bury St. Edmunds, went as a delegation to Salisbury where Parliament was being held that April, but forceful representations made there by the abbot led to them being ordered to make personal recognizances to the King and the abbot for the stupendous sum of £10,000 apiece. In all, between then and February 1385, well over 700 persons of Bury were called upon to enter into identical recognizances. It was later alleged by some of the burgesses that White and his colleagues had levied the fine of 2,000 marks ‘unlawfully’. They demanded a re-assessment, but when, before December 1385, the King appointed the bailiffs of Bury as assessors, the abbot at once claimed that the order was in derogation of his liberties, guaranteed under royal charters. The abbot had his way: the order was cancelled, and he himself took on the role of assessor, which, of course, opened up further opportunities for him to oppress the townspeople.2

A petition probably addressed by the ‘men of Bury’ to the same Parliament of 1384 to which Whit