PORTER, Henry (by 1501-55/56), of Fletchamstead and Coventry, Warws.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Steward, Coventry by 1553.2
Little has come to light about Henry Porter. Like his brother Baldwin, he may have received a legal education, for the plaintiff in a chancery suit brought against him as steward of the mayor’s court described him as ‘learned in the law’. According to the certificate of musters taken in 1522, he was then a tenant in Smithford Street ward, Coventry. In July 1524 he obtained a 40-year lease of the manor and tithes of Sherborne, Warwickshire, from the Knights of St. John and it may thus well have been he who (then said to be resident in London) assisted Sir George Throckmorton five years later in ejecting Martin Dowcra from the commandery of Balsall. (Throckmorton’s son John was to be Porter’s fellow-Member in the Parliament of 1555.) In 1537 and 1539 Porter acquired leases of the rectory of Harbury and the tithes of the rectory of Offchurch.3
Porter sat with Christopher Warren in the Parliaments of 1545 and 1547. On 12 Dec. 1545 he received £3 10s. for his charges ‘by 37 days’, a generous allowance for the 32 days of the first session of the Parliament of 1545 which, however, did not end until 24 Dec., and early in the following reign he had £2 8s. for his attendance at the second session. The first session of the Parliament of 1547 lasted 51 days but Porter was paid £6 8s. for 64 days, this time at the statutory rate of 2s. a day, and a further £3 for his other charges. The next payment made to him on 15 Feb. 1549 was of £5 and a year later he received £9 3s.2d., of which £7 14s. was for his attendance at the third session (at the beginning of which he had also shared £6 11s. with Warren) until 16 Jan. 1550, just over a fortnight before its close. His additional expenses during the first session and his prolonged sojourn in London may have arisen out of the Coventry Members’ vigorous opposition to the bill for the dissolution of the chantries. ‘None were stiffer nor more busily went about to impugn’ the inclusion of guild lands in this measure than the Coventry Members and their colleagues from Lynn. Coventry’s case was that of the two churches in the city serving 11 or 12,000 people one was dependent on the revenues of guild lands, and it asked, successfully, for a promise of a new grant of the lands. Although in May 1548 the Privy Council agreed, it was not until September 1552 that the grant was made, and then at a cost to the city of £1,315. The bill ‘for the city of Coventry’ introduced into the second session concerned the related matter of Bond’s hospital but after Thomas Bond had been questioned about his grandfather’s bequest no more is heard of the bill.4
Porter made his will on 5 Aug. 1555 but was presumably still in good health when on 8 Oct. he was returned to Parliament for the third and last time. Nothing is known of his attendance or role in the House: the two Mr. Porters appearing on the list of those who opposed a government bill were the Members for Gloucester and Grantham. His will shows that he had settled at Fletchamstead, a manor less than three miles from Coventry which his brother had leased 25 years earlier. He asked to be buried there, provided £40 for alms to the poor and left a further £40 to his ‘ghostly father’. Other bequests included £20 each to his nephews Henry and William Porter and £10 each to his four nieces, and he left the residue of his goods (no lands are mentioned) to ‘poor householders decayed and to young setters up’ in Coventry. His brother Baldwin was an overseer of the will which was proved on 2 Nov. 1556: the date of Porter’s death is otherwise unknown.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. M. Thorpe
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 20 Ketchyn; C1/1459/84.
- 2. C1/1321/50.
- 3. Ibid.; Coventry accts. various 18, f. 12v; CPR, 1566-9, pp. 361-2, 395; St.Ch. 2/17/401; LP Hen. VIII, x; VCH Warws. vi. 198.
- 4. Coventry mayors’ accts. 1542-61, pp. 30, 35, 43, 49, 494, 496; APC, ii. 193-5; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, ii. 184-5; CPR, 1550-3, pp. 337-43; CJ, i. 5-7.
- 5. PCC 20 Ketchyn; VCH Warws. vi. 235; C1/872/52-55.