WROTH, John (d.1396), of Enfield, Mdx. and Downton, Wilts.
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Family and Education
?1st. s. of John Wroth† (d.v.p. 1375) of Enfield by his 1st w.; half-bro. of William*. m. Margaret, da. and h. of Sir Thomas Buckland (d.1379), of Downton, Wilts. by his w. Maud. 3s. inc. Sir John*, 3da.2
J.p. Mdx. 6 July 1377-81.
The genealogy of the Wroth family is a complex one, beset by problems of identification. Secondary sources in particular have almost without exception confused the six successive generations of father and son, each named John Wroth, who lived during the 14th and early 15th centuries; and although sufficient contemporary evidence has survived to correct the most obvious errors, a distinction cannot always be drawn between their overlapping careers. The subject of this biography was the son of John Wroth the younger, a shire knight and j.p. for Middlesex who died in 1375, predeceasing his own father, the affluent London alderman and fishmonger, John Wroth† the elder.3 The latter had acquired the manors of Enfield, Middlesex, and Puck Shipton, Wiltshire, through his marriage to Margaret Enfield; he also owned land in Edmonton, as well as a substantial bloc of property in the City, some of which came to him from his father, an equally distinguished merchant and sometime customs collector in the port of London.4 As his father’s eldest surviving son, the John Wroth considered here inherited most of these estates, and added to them by marrying the daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Buckland. In June 1377 Buckland settled his Hampshire manor of Brookley upon them in reversion, making them a further promise of the manors of Over and Nether Wallop in the same county and that of Redlynch in Downton, Wiltshire, all of which duly came into their hands on his death two years later.5 Moreover, in March 1380, Wroth’s wife was also found to be the next heir to the manor and advowson of West Grimstead in Wiltshire, which produced an estimated £9 p.a. Two years later Wroth added a fairly modest plot of land to his Enfield estates, but his only other known acquisition was made in March 1387, when he and two associates took on the farm of property in Charlton Marshall, Dorset, at an annual rent of 54 marks, payable at the Exchequer.6
Wroth’s interest and involvement in local government appears to have begun in 1377, two years after his father’s death and one year after his grandfather resigned from his aldermanry because of pressing business commitments. We cannot tell whether it was the former alderman or his grandson who, in May 1380, was ordered to pay a tallage of 40s. for living, as a freeman of London, outside the City. The grandfather may well have died before this date, however; whereas our Member, being a landowner and not, despite his background, a merchant, probably felt it was no longer necessary to keep up a London residence. The identity of the John Wroth named as a mainpernor by the eminent fishmonger, Nicholas Exton†, in November 1382, is also open to conjecture, although the absence of the designation ‘elder’ again suggests that the reference concerns our present subject, who had evidently remained on friendly terms with his grandfather’s business colleagues. On the other hand, neither Wroth nor his eldest son, Sir John, showed any desire to retain personal control of the family property in St. Botolph’s parish, Billings. gate, and in November 1394 they conveyed a tenement and shops there to a group of Londoners, offering them the promise of rents worth 15 marks a year from the manor of Enfield as a guarantee that their tenure would be undisturbed.7
From November 1385, when they were both fooffees of the Bucklands’ Oxfordshire estates, Wroth and his eldest son, who was then about 20 years old, were closely involved in each other’s affairs. Having been twice returned as a shire knight for Middlesex, Wroth set out to consolidate his position in Wiltshire, which he represented in the Parliament of November 1390. Sir John’s election as coroner for the latter county probably owed a great