PORTER, Baldwin (by 1487-1560/65), of Coventry, Warws.
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Family and Education
Attorney, Coventry in 1516, steward and town clerk by 1524-52 or later, subsidy collector 1545; j.p. Warws. 1524-52 or later; commr. tenths of spiritualities, Coventry and Warwick 1535, relief, Warws. 1550; escheator, Leics. and Warws. Nov. 1532-Feb. 1534.3
Baldwin Porter came of a line of Warwickshire lawyers which included the Thomas Porter who was knight of the shire between 1431 and 1447 and his son Baldwin who was brother-in-law to the eminent judge Sir Thomas Littleton. This older namesake was probably Porter’s grandfather and the John Porter who was steward and town clerk of Coventry from 1507 to 1521 his father. First mentioned as a feoffee in 1507-8, and thus probably of age by that time, Porter was described as of New Inn when admitted to clerks’ commons at the Inner Temple in January 1514 and pardoned certain offices, his sponsor being William Shelley. In 1519 he and another were assigned a chamber in the inn, but he is not again mentioned in its records. When, three years earlier, Coventry had appointed him its attorney, its grant of the ‘whole office’ and whole fee suggests that he was already sharing the office, perhaps with his father. The civic career thus begun was to last for some 40 years and was to include a 30-year tenure of the offices of steward and town clerk, and one known election to Parliament which has passed unrecognized in the local history. That he was not returned on other occasions probably reflects the town’s preference for choosing its recorder and keeping its chief executive officer at his post, but he was given a vicarious interest in other Parliaments through the election of his brother. Until the Dissolution his services were retained by several religious houses in Warwickshire and as long as he was steward and town clerk of Coventry he had a place on the county bench.4
Porter inherited from his father the manor of Eastcote Hall, near Solihull, Warwickshire, and the leasehold of other property in the locality. In November 1530 he himself took a lease for 21 years of the manor of Fletchamstead, less than three miles from Coventry; the rent was £21 a year, but he was allowed a reduction of 20s. a year ‘for a fee for his counsel in the law’ given to his landlord Sir Walter Smith. The lease was the subject of litigation between 1538 and 1544, Porter alleging wrongful expulsion from the premises, withholding of his counsel’s fee and numerous breaches by Smith of the terms of the lease, Smith counterclaiming for payment of the rent due. Porter drew his own bill of complaint, the sum in dispute being £24 plus costs. Probably the action was amicably settled and Porter granted a new lease, for his brother Henry settled at Fletchamstead and it was there that Henry died in 1555. He himself lived in the Spoon Street ward at Coventry, where his assessment of 20 marks for subsidy in 1550 reflects prosperity but not conspicuous wealth by the city’s