WARREN, John (by 1488-1547), of Dover, Kent.
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Family and Education
Jurat, Dover 1509-d., mayor 1525-6, 1536-7, 1540-1; commr. subsidy 1514, 1523, 1524; bailiff to Yarmouth 1533.8.
Three successive heads of the Warren family of Dover were Members for this, the leading, Cinque Port, and between them they attended 12 Parliaments spread over more than 80 years. Longest to serve was John Warren, of the second generation, who sat in seven out of Henry VIII’s nine Parliaments, beginning with the first and ending with the last.
Warren’s municipal career, which was also conterminous with the King’s reign, followed the customary pattern and for a time at least he also enjoyed official status at Dover castle, where in 1514 he received gunpowder as deputy to John Copledike, lieutenant to the lord warden Sir Edward Guildford. In the previous year he had become involved in the ports’ struggle to secure their exemption from subsidy; he was offered 2s. a day in wages (evidently in continuation of his current parliamentary allowance) ‘for the withstanding of the subsidy if it be demanded’ and promised the loan of the ports’ charter for use in the campaign. When appointed a subsidy commissioner in the following year he was instructed by the Brotherhood to lodge any money collected by 1 May with nominees of the lord warden who would hold it until the dispute was settled. In 1516 he and Robert Sparrow of Winchelsea reported their efforts in the matter: they were paid £3 each and were allowed £5 4s.4d. for disbursements to ‘learned men’ in the courer and Warren helped to secure a ruling that subsidy collectors were not to enter pending the outcome of the suit in that court.9
A variety of other matters came his way. During his first Parliament he had obtained a confirmation of the Dover charter, in 1516 the Brotherhood appointed him to sue Sandwich for wrongfully detaining a sum of £44, and four years later he and others were deputed to discuss with the lord warden the maritime service owed by the ports, a charge which led him to pay a two weeks’ visit to Calais in company with the town clerk of Dover. Then from about 1530, after the partial destruction of one of its embankments, the problem of saving Dover harbour became an endemic one. In April on 1532, on leaving to attend the fourth session of the current Parliament, Warren took with him money for payment of learned counsel who were ‘suing for the haven’; a ‘plat of Dover haven’ is mentioned among Cromwell’s remembrances of that year, and on the eve of the minister’s fall eight years later Warren was one of those charged with informing him about a new quay.10
There was thus much to absorb Warren’s attention during his frequent spells in the capital and as these multiplied they must in turn have increased his value as a representative. Why he missed the Parliament of 1523, with its swingeing subsidy exaction, does not appear, but in 1539 he probably declined election for the same ‘certain causes’ which he pleaded in the following July to secure his discharge from another mission as bailiff to Yarmouth. His sojourns in London—not necessarily to be equated with attendances in the House—and his remuneration for them can be traced with unusual precision in the borough records. Corresponding closely with the duration of the sessions concerned (travelling time being always included) the numbers of days’ service with which Warren was credited show that he could have been present throughout almost every session. To this rule there was one notable exception, the third session of the Parliament of 1529. It was not until 25 Jan. 1532 that Warren set out from Dover to attend a session which had begun ten days earlier; then both he and his fellow-Member Robert Nethersole were home from 10 to 17 Feb.; and finally Warren himself was again home by 21 Mar., a week before the session ended on Maundy Thursday. Thus out of its 74 days he must have attended on less than 50, and he was to be a week late for the next session. This is so far below his usual standard of availability, if not attendance, as to invite speculation on its cause. Among a number of possible explanations is the onset of that epidemic disease which was to kill several of Warren’s fellow-Members in the spring and summer of 1532 and from which he may have sought temporary refuge. Yet it is not without interest that by withdrawing before the end of the session Warren missed the climax of the battle over the annates bill and almost certainly spared himself what could have been a chastening experience, that of being counted when the King himself came down and ‘divided’ the Commons on this contentious measure. It must be added that if Warren’s absenteeism at this juncture owed anything to scruples over royal policy, his resumption of more regular attendance thereafter seems to imply that these were quickly overcome and did not manifest themselves again.11
There is nothing of doctrinal import in the will which Warren made on 7 May 1547, presumably on his death-bed as it was proved a month later; he simply asked to be buried near his father in St. Peter’s church, Dover. His movable goods and houses at Dover and Ripple, Kent—the latter held on lease first from St. Augustine’s, Canterbury, and later from the archbishop—he left to his wife, with remainder to his son Thomas, both being named executors. One daughter, Battell, received a tenement in Dover, the other, Elizabeth, who married the son of Richard Fyneux, was not mentioned. The eldest son John had died in 1545-6.12