ADAM, John (d.1440), of New Romney, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Feb. 1413
Mar. 1416

Family and Education

prob. s. of Stephen Adam† (d.1405) of New Romney.6 m. bef. 1419, Eleanor (c.1394-1 Mar. 1452), da. of William Northwode (d.1396/7), of Harrietsham and sis. and coh. of John, de jure 5th Ld. Northwode (d.1416), 2s.

Offices Held

Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1410, 1430.7

Jurat, New Romney 25 Mar. 1415-16, 1429-33, 1437-8;8 bailiff by Oct. 1422-Apr. 1427, by Dec. 1433-aft. July 1435, by July-aft. Dec. 1438.9

Commr. of inquiry, Cinque Ports Nov. 1434 (piracy).


John Adam was among the executors of Stephen Adam, his presumed father, and began to pay maltolts in Holyngbroke ward, Romney, in the year following Stephen’s death in 1405. He continued to be assessed for maltolts there until his own death, although after 1413 he was generally exonerated from payment by the town authorities. In the local records in and after 1422 he is usually styled ‘armiger’, perhaps to distinguish him from a tanner of the same name. By then he had become a landowner of some substance; indeed, by 1412 he had already acquired land worth £40 a year in the Kentish hundreds of Marden and Newchurch, while in Sussex he owned more at Hollington and Battle.10

Adam’s marriage not only increased his landed holdings but also enhanced his status, for his wife Eleanor was one of two grand daughters of John, 3rd Lord Northwode, who in April 1416, on the death without issue of their brother John, became coheirs to certain of the family estates. These included the manor and advowson of Harrietsham, which the Adams, together with Eleanor’s sister Elizabeth and her husband Peter Catte, successfully recovered in Chancery in May 1420, by which date both women had produced children. The Adam moiety of the manor included at the time of his death some 60 acres of arable land, the advowson on alternate turns, and the profits of the manorial court. The Northwode sisters also inherited the patronage of Wichling rectory, of which Adam acted as co-patron in 1431. Transactions of the years 1429 and 1430 show him dealing with a number of properties in south west Kent held in the right of his wife. In addition, from 1421 to 1429 Adam had also had an interest in the patronage of the chantry chapel of St. Mary at Crauthorne (near Romney), although how he came by it is unclear.11

It was in keeping with Adam’s position as a landowner that in May 1417 he took out royal letters of attorney, preparatory to sailing for France in the retinue of Thomas, duke of Clarence. However, his landed interests never led him to neglect the affairs of his native town. While attending the Parliament of March 1416, he had obtained writs ordering the sheriffs of London to respect the Cinque Ports’ general charter granting the barons exemption from tolls; and, when MP in 1423, he procured for Romney a copy of the new articles drawn up in that Parliament to regulate the Council’s handling of petitions by bill. Following the introduction in the Parliament of 1427-8 of an innovatory tax on parishes, he was one of the four delegates whom the Ports, at a Brodhull in May 1428, selected to petition for their exemption from it, as from more traditional taxes. He accordingly twice rode up to London, first to obtain counsel’s advice, and then over a connected matter raised by Sandwich. During his sixth Parliament, in 1429, he received payment for expenses incurred for 12 days spent in London as one of the barons attending Henry VI’s coronation.12

When sent as one of the Cinque Ports’ bailiffs to the Yarmouth herring fair in 1430, Adam became a victim of the obstructiveness with which the men of Great Yarmouth all too frequently received their unwelcome guests. The bailiffs of the town, Richard Ellis* and John Pynne†, refused to publish a writ which Adam tried to deliver to them on 9 Oct., ordering that the Ports’ delegates should enjoy their customary liberties in peace; nor would they let Adam and his colleagues sit to hear cases in the guildhall unless they themselves could adjudicate with them; and when, three days later, the Ports’ bailiffs set about keeping the peace of the fair and surveying the sale of herring, as they were entitled to do, Ellis and Pynne came with an armed following and assaulted them. The Ports immediately laid a bill of complaints before the King’s Council, and Adam was among those delegated to conduct the suit. Over the next four years he received a number of payments towards its costs.13 Also in 1430-1 Adam accompanied a delegation from Lydd which, on orders from Dover castle, went to Dengemarsh ‘pro bonis Scottorum recipiendis’. He very frequently represented Romney at meetings of the Brodhull in the years between 1433 and 1439, and in the meantime, in 1438, he was summoned to Dover to help towards making a settlement in the long-standing dispute between Dover and Faversham, its rebellious member-port. He was one of the Portsmen who protested at the Brodhull in December that year that they had been heavily penalized by the royal justices sitting at Rochester for their refusal to abandon their liberties and serve on county juries.14

Adam died on 6 Aug. 1440, being survived by his widow Eleanor and sons Thomas (c.1423-1444) and William (c.1432-1453). Eleanor retained their landed holdings as her jointure until her death in 1452, whereupon they descended in William’s line.15

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: A. P.M. Wright


  • 1. The electoral return lists Adam and Richard Clitheroe II*, but Thomas Rokeslee* and Thomas Smith III* were paid for attending the Parliament: Romney assmt. bk. 2, f. 92.
  • 2. He was paid £3 17s.6d. for 31 days’ attendance down to 16 Nov. 1423 (at 2s.6d. per day) and £1 for the period 13-20 Jan. 1424. From 20 Jan. to 1 Mar. he also represented Dover, so Romney paid him at the rate of 1s.4d. per day, and Dover paid him £3 3s.4d. for 38 days’ service: ibid. f. 100; Add. 29615, f. 75.
  • 3. He again gave service for Dover too, receiving 1s.8d. per day for 48 days’ attendance for that Port, besides his wage from Romney: Add. 29615, f. 136; Romney assmt. bk. 2, f. 106.
  • 4. Receiving £4 6s. for 43 days’ sevice at 2s. per day: assmt. bk. 2, f. 100.
  • 5. Romney paid him for 29 days at the rate of 2s. a day, and 45 at 1s.8d. per day, while Dover paid him for 48 days: assmt. bk. 2, f. 111; Add. 29615, f. 173.
  • 6. MP in 1376: Reg. Daniel Rough (Kent Rec. Soc. xvi), 192.
  • 7. Romney assmt. bk. 2, f. 72; Add. 29615, f. 173.
  • 8. Assmt. bk. 2, ff. 85, 109, 111, 113, 115, 125.
  • 9. Ibid. ff. 77, 94; Kent AO, NR/JBr/8, nos. 44-46; White and Black Bks. of Cinque Ports (Kent Rec. Ser. xix), 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 11.
  • 10. Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Arundel, i. f. 210; assmt. bk. 2, ff. 64-128; Feudal Aids, vi. 477; Suss. Feet of Fines (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii), nos. 2874, 3020.
  • 11. CP, ix. 758-9; CCR, 1419-22, pp. 22-23, 71-72; C138/20/36; C139/102/21; Reg. Chichele, i. 270; CP25(1)114/304/255; Kent Chantries (Kent Rec. Ser. xii), 156.
  • 12. DKR, xliv. 585; assmt. bk. 2, ff. 88, 100, 108, 110; Add. 29615, ff. 137, 147.
  • 13. SC8/296/14753-4; assmt. bk. 2, f. 115; Add. 29615, ff. 173, 177, 179, 185.
  • 14. Lydd Recs. ed. Finn, 28; White and Black Bks, 1-6, 8-12; assmt. bk. 2, f. 125; Dover Chs. ed. Statham, 184-94.
  • 15. C139/102/21; CP, ix. 758-9; CFR, xvii. 164, 299.