WARREN, Christopher (by 1512-71), of Coventry, Warws.
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Family and Education
b. by 1512, 1st s. of Thomas Warren of Coventry prob. by Elizabeth, da. of John Stanfield. m. Catherine, da. of John Coxon of Coventry, 2s. suc. fa. 1527.1
Warden, Coventry 1533-4, sheriff or bailiff 1537-8, mayor 1542-3, alderman by 1544.2
From his father, who was mayor of Coventry in 1518, Christopher Warren inherited wealth and standing in the city. A draper like his father, he traded on a large scale and for more than 30 years he was one of the city’s busiest officials. When representatives were to be sent to London, when action was needed on a lease, when a house was needed for the Earl of Warwick to lodge in for the night, Warren was the man called upon. Not that he was universally liked. During his mayoralty there were numerous prosecutions under the Act of Six Articles and some of those prosecuted sued Warren for proceeding against them out of revenge for their testimony in the trial of the vicar of St. Michael’s. The result of the case is unknown but there are other suggestions that Warren was apt to be harsh and vindictive; Foxe records that the martyr Robert Glover ascribed his death sentence to Warren’s ‘cruel seeking’. Yet his mayoralty also conduced to the public welfare: the city cross, erected with funds specially entrusted to him, was completed and monastic property acquired. The money for this undertaking was mainly provided by Sir Thomas White, a London merchant, who intended to bestow the income from the property to charitable uses. Warren and his fellows on the city council entered into a trust bond and he and Henry Over alias Waver were the two principally concerned in all the subsequent negotiations with White. As trustees of the money which was still during White’s lifetime at his own disposal, they disbursed it at his command and were thus his agents in much of the preliminary negotiation for the purchase of the site of St. John’s College, Oxford, and in the establishment of the college.3
Warren attended both sessions of the Parliament of 1545, although the payment of £3 4s. for the 32 days of the first was made to him on 12 Dec., 12 days before its end; for the 17 days of the second he received full payment and an allowance of a further three days at the rate of 2s. a day. He seems to have become less regular in his attendance during the following Parliament, receiving £3 18s. for 39 days towards the end of the first session and £5 16s. in full payment of all his costs a month before the close of the second, and sharing £6 11s. with his fellow-Member Henry Porter at the beginning of the third. The larger payment made to Porter for the first session (£6 8s. for 64 days, 13 longer than it lasted) suggests that it was he who took the lead in the city’s opposition to the bill for the dissolution of the chantries and guilds. It was Warren, however, who at about this time consulted George Willoughby on civic business. The bill ‘for the city of Coventry’ introduced during the second session was clearly intended to settle a related matter, the fate of Bond’s hospital, but it proceeded no further than its second reading, being abandoned after Thomas Bond had given evidence. Warren was active in the prosecution of the city’s claim on the lands in Chancery which resulted in a compromise whereby part of the property was to be vested in trustees to be named by Warren.4
When in 1554 the Duke of Suffolk was brought as a prisoner to Coventry on his way to his death in London he was confined in Warren’s house. Warren continued to be one of Coventry’s leading citizens until his death; he travelled to London on its business, attended council meetings and surpervised the city lands. From 1554 onwards, despite the fact that he sold the city land worth £6, he was considerably in its debt as well as owing several smaller sums to private individuals. This probably reflects no decrease in his prosperity: at about this time he was arranging a wealthy match for his eldest son and in 1565 he endowed the vicar of St. Michael’s with an annuity of £6 a year. He died on 18 June 1571 possessed of a grange in Binley and property within the city of Coventry which descended to his grandson William. His younger son and namesake became in his turn a leading citizen of Coventry.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. M. Thorpe
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first civic appointment. T. W. Whitley, Parlty. Rep. Coventry, 38 (mistaken in crediting Warren with Membership of the Parliament of 1539); C142/275/225; Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Gregory Hood collection 152; Coventry statute merchant rolls 48, 51.
- 2. Covently Leet Bk. (EETS cxxxiv), ii. 714, 727, 767; LP Hen. VIII, xix.
- 3. C1/1483/15; Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 620; LP Hen. VIII, xvii; St.Ch.2/3/61; Coventry mayors’ accts. 1542-61, pp. 3, 12, 13, 17, 21, 26, 28, 37, 38, 42, 43, 45, 49, 55, 58, 59, 62-64, 70, 496, 503; Cheylesmore early rental A.11 unpaginated; B. Poole, Coventry, 292-3; E314/16; St. John’s Coll. muniments xix. 3-5; C. m. Clode, Early Hist. Merchant Taylors, ii.
- 4. Coventry mayors’ accts. 1542-61, pp. 30, 35, 43, 49, 494; APC, ii. 193-5; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, ii. 184-5; CJ, i. 5-7; VCH Warws. ii. 112; C1/1209/52, 1471/10-14.
- 5. D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 100; VCH Warws. vi. 36; LP Hen. VIII, xix; Dugdale Soc. Pubs. ii. 52, 137; C142/162/180, 275/225; CPR, 1569-72, p. 365; Coventry mayors’ accts. 1542-61, pp. 70, 404, 406-8, 509; treasurers’ payments, pp. 3, 5, 7, 13; statute merchant rolls 41, 42, 44, 48, 51, 53; council bk. 1555-1628, pp. 15-125 passim.