WROTH, Sir John (c.1366-1407), of Enfield, Mdx. and Downton, Wilts.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Coroner, Wilts. to 24 Apr. 1392.
J.p. Mdx. 20 Dec. 1397-d.
Commr. of array, Mdx. Dec. 1399, Sept., Nov. 1403; inquiry, Herts., Mdx. May 1402 (suppression of treasonous rumours); oyer and terminer, Mdx. Dec. 1403 (withdrawal of labour services), London Nov. 1405; to raise a crown loan, London and Mdx. June 1406.
Tax collector, Mdx. Nov. 1404, of a royal loan, Herts. Sept. 1405.
Controller of the wool subsidy, London 1 Mar. 1407-d.
From the time of his 20th birthday, if not before, Sir John Wroth was closely involved in the affairs of his father, a prominent landowner and shire knight for Middlesex and Wiltshire. It was almost certainly the latter who secured his election as coroner of Wiltshire shortly before April 1392, even though the young man did not himself then possess sufficient property in the county to be eligible for office and was replaced almost at once.3 He played no further part in local government for the next five years, having meanwhile inherited one substantial estate and gained custody of another. On his father’s death in August 1396, he took possession of properties centred upon Enfield in Middlesex, Downton and Puck Shipton in Wiltshire and the Hampshire manor of Brookley. According to valuations made at a somewhat later date, his patrimony must have been worth at least £63 a year and probably produced far more.4 Later in 1396 he was entrusted with one half of the large inheritance which had passed successively to his two brothers-in-law, Ralph and John Wellington, and which, on the latter’s death, was divided between his own eldest son, John, and his sister-in-law, Isabel Beaumont. Since the boy was then only five years old, Sir John undertook to farm his share of the Wellingtons’ holdings in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Gloucestershire at an annual farm of £114 6s.10d., payable at the Exchequer. On the death of Ralph’s widow, Joan, in March 1405, Wroth obtained half her dower lands too, at an additional rent of £7 18s.4d.a year. The issue of a royal pardon to him and his servant in November 1400, absolving them both from ‘all wastes and dilapidations committed by them’ on the Devon manors suggests that Wroth was not unduly zealous in protecting his son’s interests.5 At some unknown date he also acquired land in Essex, and a house in the London parish of St. James Garlikhithe. The latter may, however, have been left to him by the elder John Wroth, who had sold off most of his tenements in the City before his death.6
From 1397 onwards, Wroth occupied a prominent place among the gentry of Middlesex as a commissioner, j.p. and shire knight. Royal letters of pardon were granted to him in April 1398, presumably on formal grounds alone. He attended meetings of the King’s great council in 1401 and 1403 (representing Hertfordshire on both occasions), but although the bulk of his estates lay in the south-west he does not seem to have showed a comparable interest in the county administration of Hampshire or Wiltshire. Very little is known about Wroth’s private affairs, largely because he made no real attempt to exploit the wealth and connexions at his disposal. At some point before July 1401 he acted as a mainpernor for John Shakell who had been involved in the capture and ransoming of the count of Denia, and because of this he was himself drawn into a protracted dispute over the ransom which was still in progress two years later.