WYNTER, John (c.1364-1414), of Barningham Winter, Norf.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b.c.1364, s. and h. of William Wynter (c.1336-1397/8), of Barningham ?by his 1st w. Maud. m. (1) ?— Braylesford, 1s. Edmund*; (2) bef. Apr. 1398,1 Elizabeth, da. and coh. of William Hethersett of Hethersett, Norf. by his w. Eva, 1da.; (3) bef. Jan. 1407, Eleanor (d. Mar. 1416), wid. of Ivo Harleston (d.1403), of Cambridge, 2da.
Escheator, Norf. and Suff. 2 Jan.-24 Oct. 1392, Norf. 16 Nov. 1397-26 Nov. 1399, Cambs. and Hunts. 1 Feb.-30 Nov. 1407.
Commr. of inquiry, Norf. Mar. 1392 (theft), Mar. 1397 (forfeited goods), Suff. May 1400 (purprestures at Dunwich), Devon, Cornw. Mar. 1401 (forfeited lands), Norf. Feb. 1406, Nov. 1408 (insurrections at Lynn and Thetford), Feb. 1410 (disputes at Wymondham), July 1410 (misdemeanours by victuallers of the Household); to survey forfeited estates, Cambs., Hunts., Norf., Suff. Oct. 1397; of oyer and terminer, Norf. Mar. 1399, Cornw., Devon Aug. 1410, Norf. Mar. 1411; array Aug. 1403.
Receiver of the duchy of Lancaster estates, Norf. and Suff. Mich. 1396-8.2
J.p. Norf. 5 Mar. 1397-Feb. 1407, 16 Nov. 1410-d.
Steward of the estates of the duchy of Cornw. 29 Sept. 1399-16 bef. Feb. 1402.
Dep. to Sir Thomas Erpingham as constable of Dover castle and warden of the Cinque Ports by 30 Sept. 1399-bef. May 1400.
Receiver-general of the estates of Henry, prince of Wales, by Apr. 1403-c. Mar. 1413.
Steward of the duchy of Lancaster estates in Norf. and Suff. 31 May 1408-d., in Cambs. 5 Apr. 1413-d.3
Dep. butler, Gt. Yarmouth and Cromer 8 May 1409-d.
The first member of the Wynter family to achieve a position of any note in East Anglia was William Wynter, John’s father, who twice served as sheriff of the joint bailiwick of Norfolk and Suffolk. From his father, John inherited in 1398 the manor and advowson of ‘Toun’ Barningham, where they lived, together with lands close to the same parish in north Norfolk in Aldborough, Matlask, Wickmere, Plumstead, Baconsthorpe and Bessingham, and probably also the manors of Egmere and Wighton which his father had purchased. It was apparently he himself who acquired their manor in Bodham.4 Through two of his marriages Wynter extended the family holdings beyond the borders of the county. The manor of Chepenhall near Fressingfield in Suffolk, which he came to possess, was apparently the inheritance of his second wife’s mother, Eva Hethersett; while his third wife, Eleanor, held as jointure from her previous union with Ivo Harleston manors in Bumpstead, Wimbish and Roydon (in Essex) as well as another in St. Clement’s parish in Cambridge. The Harleston estates were to be assessed in 1412 for the purposes of taxation at £37 a year, but this was probably an underestimation. Wynter enjoyed an income from them for the last eight years of his life, after which they reverted to his stepson, John Harleston†. From the 1370s the Wynters had also had an interest in the manor of ‘Loundhall’ in Saxthorpe (Norfolk), principally as trustees on behalf of John Gurney* and his father, and in 1409 our MP purchased it from Gurney’s widow.5
Wynter was trained in the legal profession. He was one of the ‘men of law’ paid by the city of Norwich to examine its charter at Westminster at the beginning of Henry IV’s reign, having earlier been asked by the citizens for his counsel on various other matters. His career in royal administration began seven years before Richard II’s deposition, and he served that King as escheator for three terms, as well as on a number of important commissions, including one for the seizure and survey of estates forfeited by those of Richard’s enemies condemned for treason in the Parliament of 1397-8. Nor did he lack connexions with persons in favour at Court: indeed, in 1396 Sir Nicholas Dagworth*, a retired knight of the King’s chamber, asked him to act as an executor of his will. However, he served for at least two years in the 1390s as local receiver of the estates of John of Gaunt, and many of his closest associates were retainers of the house of Lancaster, including his brother-in-law, John Reymes*, who was his fellow executor of the will made by his father late in 1397, and Sir Thomas Erpingham, Sir John White* and Sir Robert Berney*, all of whom were then named as overseers. In October 1398 John was among the people whom Erpingham, on the eve of his departure overseas with the banished Henry of Bolingbroke, entrusted with the care of his manorial holdings at Erpingham and Wickmere.6 John Payn II*, who had married a sister of Wynter’s second wife, also travelled in Henry’s entourage, acting as butler of his household. So, although Wynter had displayed no outward reluctance to continue to discharge the escheatorship of Norfolk and Suffolk under Richard II, he was nevertheless predisposed to welcome Bollingbroke’s return to England in July 1399 and to support his seizure of power events which resulted in Erpingham’s spectacular rise to prominence and Payn’s immediate promotion as chief butler of England. Wynter may well have joined his friends in the victorious cavalcade as it moved south from Cheshire to London. Certainly, on the day before Richard’s formal resignation of the Crown (29 Sept.) he was granted for life the stewardship of the duchy of Cornwall, an appointment formally made ‘by the advice of the duke of Lancaster’. He was confirmed in this office by Henry as King six days later (being then described as a ‘King’s esquire’), and by his heir Henry of Monmouth shortly after the latter’s creation as duke of Cornwall. Wynter’s preferment may be ascribed to the influence of his friend Sir Thomas Erpingham, for whom he must have begun to deputize in the offices of constable of Dover castle and warden of the Cinque Ports even before Henry’s actual accession. Certainly, it was he who made the parliamentary returns for the Cinque Ports in reply to the writ dated 30 Sept. In December, when Erpingham was granted custody of certain of the Mowbray estates in East Anglia, Wynter appeared as his mainpernor at the Exchequer. And even though he ceased to be Sir Thomas’s deputy in the Cinque Ports a few months later, he nevertheless always remained on good terms with him and his family. (For example, he acted as a trustee of the estates of Sir Andrew Butler*, husband of Erpingham’s niece.) Yet, while he probably owed his initial entry to the court of Henry IV to Erpingham, his retention in high office by the King and his son must be ascribed to his own ability with regard to administrative and financial matters. Royal grants began to come his way: by 1400 he was receiving a life annuity of five marks charged on the Norfolk estates of the duchy of Lancaster, and in October that year he was given a tun of wine to be taken annually at the port of Bishop’s Lynn.7
Wynter devoted the rest of his life to service with Henry of Monmouth. In November 1401 he and Hugh Mortimer* made a report to the King’s Council ‘touchant l’estat et governance de Monsieur le Prince’, and when, three months later, he relinquished his post as steward of the duchy of Cornwall, he did so only in order to take up the more exacting one of receiver-general of all of the prince’s estates. As Prince Henry’s chief financial officer right up to the death of Henry IV, he automatically occupied a place on his council, and from 1403 onwards he was responsible for handling the large sums of money disbursed by the Exchequer and by special treasurers of war to fund the prince’s campaigns in Wales. The importance of his position is also indicated by the size of his fee, which stood at £50 a year.8 Wynter naturally came into close contact with others retained by Henry of Monmouth, such as John Spencer*, the controller of the prince’s household (with whom he had become acquainted even before the Lancastrian usurpation), Hugh Mortimer, his chamberlain, and John Phelip*, his friend (and, incidentally, Erpingham’s nephew). It was on Phelip’s behalf that Wynter was party to transactions in Worcestershire in 1408, and became involved in the acquisition of the manor of West Greenwich in Kent five years later. Sir William Bourgchier*, another of the prince’s more prominent retainers, named Wynter in 1410 as a trustee of the estates in Essex and Suffolk which he wished to settle in jointure on his wife, Anne, countess of Stafford, Prince Henry’s cousin. On one occasion, in 1412 or 1413, when the city of Norwich sent Wynter a gift of wine, he was found supping in his lord’s London residence, and, indeed, most of his time must have been taken up with Henry’s affairs. It may be assumed that it was in Henry of Monmouth’s interest that Wynter was returned to five of the Parliaments of Henry IV’s reign, the most significant from the political point of view being those of 1410 (when Prince Henry and his allies, the Beauforts, took control of the government), and 1411 (when their authority was being undermined). In this context it is worth remarking that he owed his deputy butlership of Great Yarmouth to Thomas Chaucer* of Ewelme, cousin of the Beauforts and a staunch supporter of the prince’s faction.9
Despite his commitments elsewhere, Wynter was also expected to undertake the business of several royal commissions in East Anglia, and in 1408 he was appointed steward of the estates of the duchy of Lancaster in the region, an office he was to retain for the rest of his life. This was a time of considerable prosperity for Wynter; his landed interests were expanding, and he was able to take advantage of his connexions at Court to secure a share in royal patronage. Thus, in 1408 he and his wife obtained custody at the Exchequer of certain forfeited lands in Trumpington (Cambridgeshire) and he purchased from a crown lessee the wardship of the manor of Conington (Huntingdonshire); and in 1410 he shared the keeping of a number of parcels of land in Norfolk and Suffolk, for which he initially paid 50s. a year but, after forming a syndicate with his brother Robert (the rector of Barningham) and others including Erpingham, he later bought outright for £20. Following the accession of Henry V, Wynter’s duchy stewardship was extended to include Cambridgeshire, and he continued to receive other marks of royal favour. From June to September 1413 he shared with three others retained by the King when prince—Erpingham, Spencer and John Wodehouse*—the guardianship of the temporalities of the vacant see of Norwich. He was elected to the first two Parliaments of the new reign.10
Wynter had always given freely of his services as a trustee and attorney to members of the local gentry. He did so, for example, on behalf of Sir Robert Ufford and William Rees*. He was also an administrator of the estate of his brother-in-law, John Payn, the late chief butler, and in 1408 he was associated with Thomas, Lord Morley, in making a grant of certain lands to Beeston priory. It is not surprising that the citizens of Norwich continued to seek his counsel: in 1411-12 he was given a breakfast at the Saracen’s Head and a supper at the Rams Head, both in London, at the city’s expense, and just before his death he was concerned with the settlement of constitutional disputes between local factions, his name appearing among the mediators. (Judging from the fact that the latter consumed nearly 24 gallons of wine in their chambers at the time of the drawing up of the concord, this affair was one of great difficulty.) 11
In 1408 Wynter had obtained papal indults on behalf of himself and his third wife, Eleanor, enabling them to have a portable altar and a confessor of their choice, and it had been in order to make adequate provision for Eleanor that in the same year he had completed certain settlements of his estates. Three years later he secured from his daughter, Elizabeth, and son, Edmund, formal confirmation of their stepmother’s right to hold the bulk of the Wynter estates for life, along with ratification of his own tenure of Elizabeth’s inheritance in Suffolk. Wynter could call on many of the leading landowners and officials of the region to act as his feoffees, among them being Sir Simon Felbrigg KG, Sir William Argentine*, Edmund Oldhall* and John Lancaster II*.12
Wynter attended the Norfolk elections to the Parliament of November 1414, but he died before the end of the year. He was buried in Barningham church. His widow, who died within ten days of making her will on 12 Mar. 1416, was interred in St. Clement’s church, Cambridge, next to her first husband, Harleston. It is of interest to note that she felt able to ask the King’s grandmother Joan, countess of Hereford, to supervise the will’s administration.13
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. CPL, v. 139; C47/6/1 m. 15.
- 2. S.K. Walker, ‘John of Gaunt and his retainers, 1361-99’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1986), 293 (taken from Norf. RO, Norf. Rec. Soc. ms 15171; DL 29/289/4744).
- 3. Somerville, Duchy, i. 594.
- 4. CCR, 1405-9, p. 522; F. Blomefield, Norf. v. 97; viii. 97-98; ix. 223-4, 368.
- 5. CCR, 1409-13, p. 234; PCC 5 Marche; C137/44/33; CPR, 1405-8, p. 290; Feudal Aids, vi. 411, 446; HMC Lothian, 52-54.