WHITEFIELD, Thomas, of Hereford.
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Family and Education
Mayor, Hereford Nov. 1383-Oct. 1384, 1393-5.1
J.p. Herefs. 1 Mar. 1384-Nov. 1385.
Commr. of inquiry, Hereford Sept. 1400 (crimes committed by Thomas Buryton*).
Whitefield, a cloth merchant by trade, was one of the 25 men of Hereford nominated by the Crown on 20 July 1377 to act as keepers of the city, with full powers to array the inhabitants, and it was in the following year that he was first chosen to represent Hereford in Parliament. From then onwards for some 25 years he was frequently required to witness local deeds. That he stood high in the estimation of his fellow citizens is indicated by his being selected, in the winter of 1383, as Hereford’s first mayor ever, and by his re-appointment for two consecutive annual terms during the last decade of the century.2 Shortly after the end of his first mayoralty, Whitefield stood surety at the Exchequer for the prior of Abergavenny. Always prominent in the deliberations of the city council, he was among the nine leading citizens of Hereford most closely involved in the dispute between the authorities and the dean and chapter of the cathedral, which reached a climax in 1389. However, in August 1397 he witnessed an indenture drawn up at Hereford on behalf of Bishop Trefnant. When, in April 1398, he attested a notarial instrument in the city, he was described as a literate person. In September 1400 he was appointed to the royal commission set up to investigate assaults allegedly made by Thomas Buryton on the dean of the cathedral, the royal councillor Master John Prophet, and his servants, but on 2 Feb. following, when he was again sitting in the House of Commons at Westminster (after an absence of 23 years), the Exchequer officials were instructed to cease all process against him relating to the commission, on the ground that it had never been delivered. About this time, and in association with Hugh Wigan, his fellow Member, Whitefield was enfeoffed by the King’s knight, Sir Richard Arundel, of various manors in Northumberland conditional upon their conveying them to the use of the earl of Northumberland’s son, Henry Percy, it being understood that Arundel should recover the estates on payment to Percy of 500 marks. In May 1402, at Hereford, Whitefield and Wigan duly completed the first part of the transaction, although after Hotspur’s death in July 1403, and the consequent forfeiture of his estates for treason, Henry IV was to regrant the manors to Arundel, even though he had not fulfilled his part of the bargain.3
In June 1404 Whitefield was recorded in possession of property near the north gate of Hereford, but the whereabouts of his other holdings has not been discovered. Some three years later he attested the parliamentary election indenture at the guildhall, but nothing is heard of him thereafter.4
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. The list compiled by J. Duncumb in Hist. Herefs. i. 364, errs in placing Whitefield as mayor a year before Nov. 1383, when the royal charter creating the mayoralty was granted. Harl. 2141, f. 1; Cal. Hereford Cathedral Muns. (NLW 1955), no. 418; Hereford City Lib. MT/VI/3; C219/9/11; CAD, vi. C6518, 6733.