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.7 In July 1404 Sir John settled the manor of Little Hockley in Essex upon his eldest son and his wife, Joan, but retained a reversionary interest in the property. The illness which prevented him from attending the Parliament of 1406, after his election as a shire knight for Middlesex, was evidently over by March 1407, when he became controller of the wool subsidy in the port of London. One month later he bound himself in 1,000 marks to a group of persons among whom were his brother-in-law, Sir Payn Tiptoft* (who had married Agnes Wroth), and the latter’s son, Sir John Tiptoft*, the then treasurer of the royal household. The nature of this transaction remains obscure, especially as Wroth did not have any other obvious dealings with his influential kinsmen.8
Wroth died on 21 Aug. 1407, having specified that he wished to be buried quietly at Edington in Wiltshire without any members of his family present at the funeral. His executors included his two brothers, Richard and Robert, Sir Humphrey Stafford I* and William, Lord Willoughby of Eresby. At the time of his death, he had custody of two young wards, whom he left, together with his four young children, to the care of others. His three sons were all dead by 1412, when the family estates passed in reversion first to his daughter, Elizabeth, who married Lord Botreaux’s cousin, Sir William Palton†, and then, in October 1413, to Sir John Tiptoft, the next heir.9