HEWSTER, alias BRAMPTON, John (by 1481-1525), of London.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. by 1481. m. (1) 2s.; (2) Jane, 1s.2
Gov. Merchant Adventurers 1515-21, 1523-d.; common weigher of silk, London July 1520-d.; warden, Mercers’ Co. 1522-3.3
John Hewster was probably of Shropshire origin. He held land there at his death and in 1504 he was named an executor of the will of John Martin, archdeacon of Shropshire and a possible contemporary at Magdalen College, Oxford, of William Hewster of Shropshire who had died in 1491 or 1492. It was as executor of Martin’s will and a London mercer that John Brampton alias Hewster sued out a pardon in 1509. This is the only reference that has been found to his use of the name Brampton, perhaps derived from Little Brampton near Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire; a William Brampton was factor for John Brydges in Spain.4
Hewster had been described as a citizen and mercer of London in 1502, when he and others were pardoned for mercantile offences, but he was not made free of the Company until 1506. ‘The most part’ of the mercers were said in 1521 to have ‘none other trade but only into the parts of Zeeland’; Hewster was evidently no exception to the general rule and became a Merchant Adventurer sufficiently well known and liked among the English merchants in the Low Countries to be elected their governor in 1515. As governor he was directly concerned with the diplomatic background to trading activity. In 1517 he went with Cuthbert Tunstall to protest to the Duke of Brabant’s counsellors against the threat of new tolls on English cloth coming to the Antwerp mart; in 1518 he negotiated a detailed agreement between the English merchants and the town of Antwerp and followed this in 1519 by a treaty with Bergen-op-Zoom. In June 1520 he was associated with Thomas More and others in a commission from Henry VIII to settle commercial disputes between England and the merchants of the Hanse. Early in the next year Hewster’s attention shifted to affairs at home: to meet the King’s demand for five ships to be provided by the merchants of London for a voyage to Newfoundland; to arrange, in 1522 and 1523, for convoys to protect the fleet going to and from Zeeland; and to prepare and present the cause of the Merchant Adventurers in Parliament.5
On 1 Mar. 1523 Hewster advised the general court of the Merchant Adventurers, since the time appointed for the Parliament was drawing near, to choose men ‘to devise such articles as should be thought necessary for the company of Merchant Adventurers’ and was himself one of the 19 men selected. Two days later he was elected to Parliament by the commonalty of London. On 21 May, when Parliament rose for Whitsun, the Merchant Adventurers heard read to them the supplication ‘devised’ by Hewster ‘to be made unto the King’s grace and to his Lords spiritual and temporal in this present Parliament assembled, for a reformation and enhancing of their hanse to be brought up to the sum of £40 sterling, if it may so be obtained’. If the petition was in fact presented it met with no success. This Parliament did, however, pass an Act (14 and 15 Hen. VIII, c.4) for the payment of customs and subsidies at alien rates by Englishmen resident abroad and sworn to foreign princes: the names of all such in Brabant, Flanders, Holland and Zeeland were to be certified into Chancery by the governor of the Merchant Adventurers. In compliance with this Act Hewster wrote from Bergen-op-Zoom on 14 Jan. 1524 giving the names of 17 Englishmen sworn to the Emperor.6
Hewster, although frequently abroad, was not permanently resident oversea. When in London he lived in St. Michael’s parish in Bassishaw ward, where he was assessed at £300 in goods to the subsidy of 1523; his house there he rented from the Mercers’ Company. Making his will on 4 Nov. 1525, he asked to be buried ‘in honest manner, without pomp or pride’, in his parish church, where he had prepared a marble stone, and left money for masses to be said for his soul and that of John Martin in five religious houses in and near London. He made small bequests to his brother Richard Hewster, a cleric, and to his sister, the wife of Alderman James Spencer, to the Mercers’ Company and its clerk, and to Richard Justice, Sir Thomas Seymour I and Richard Gresham. To his eldest son Christopher he left only the gold ring which had been his mother’s wedding ring and to his second son £20: both were to rest content with these legacies, remembering their father’s previous expenditure on their behalf, although they would also in time inherit, the one a life interest, the other the full reversion to all Hewster’s lands in Yorkshire. He left to his youngest son, the child of his second marriage, the reversion to all his lands in Shropshire: they included the ‘Antelope’ and other tenements in Bridgnorth and lands in the neighbouring parishes of Eardington and Quatford. Hewster’s widow was to have a life interest in his lands and in the residue of his goods; she and John Gostwick were named executors and proved the will on 11 Dec. 1525.7
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Helen Miller
- 1. City of London RO, Guildhall, jnl. 12, f. 213v; rep. 4, f. 144v.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 40 Bodfelde.
- 3. O. de Smedt, De Engelse Natie te Antwerpen, ii. 89; Acts Ct. of Mercers’ Co. ed. Lyell and Watney, 434, 500, 543, 701, 707.
- 4. PCC 20 Holgrave; Reg. Magdalen Coll. Oxf. n.s. i. 101, 113; Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. to 1500, ii. 925; LP Hen. VIII, i.
- 5. CPR, 1494-1509, p. 283; List of mercers (T/S Mercers’ Hall), 222; Acts Ct. of Mercers’ Co. 434, 447-8, 523-9, 535-7, 548-9, 553, 558, 559; LP Hen. VIII, ii, iii.
- 6. Acts Ct. of Mercers’ Co. 559-60, 568, 702, 724; LP Hen. VIII, add.
- 7. E179/251/15v; Acts Ct. of Mercers’ Co. 698; PCC 40 Bodfelde; PRO T/S, ‘Cal. deeds enrolled in CP, 1539-47’, pp. 49, 83, 106, 122; C2Eliz./C24/3.