BRIGHAM, Robert, of Cambridge.

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



Oct. 1377

Family and Education

prob. s. of Robert Brigham† (d.1349) of Cambridge by his w. Maud. m. Isabel, 1s. Robert†.

Offices Held

Mayor, Cambridge Sept. 1378-9, 1386-8, 1393-4, 1396-9, 1405-6; bailiff 1389-90.1

Tax collector, Cambs. May 1379.

Commr. of array, Cambridge Oct. 1386, Nov. 1403; gaol delivery June 1388, July 1398.

J.p. Cambridge 13 July 1394-c. Mar. 1400.


With a family tradition of local public service behind him,2 Brigham himself had an active career in Cambridge, beginning with his return to Richard II’s first Parliament in 1377 and his election as mayor in the following year. Clearly a burgess of standing, in November 1380 he and his mayoral successor, John Blankpayn*, were granted pavage in the town for four years. About this time he was attending inquisitions conducted locally as a juror of presentment. However, Brigham’s promising career was nearly brought to an abrupt end because of his involvement in the great revolt of 1381. He was accused by the clerks of Corpus Christi of having led the rioters who attacked the college, and his goods along with the issues of his property in Cambridge (three messuages, eight shops and three cottages which provided him with revenues of £5 16s. a year) were all confiscated by the Crown. Even so, he received royal pardons in October 1381 and February 1382, which enabled him to recover his movable possessions; and in October following the escheator of Cambridgeshire was instructed to restore to him all the property he had forfeited when put in exigent, together with all the mesne profits accruing since his more recent pardon.3

From this crisis in his affairs Brigham made an excellent recovery. It is not surprising that his fellow townsmen were willing to make him mayor for four more terms, during two of which (1386 and 1394) he again represented the borough in Parliament. But the government, too, was so far prepared to overlook the past as to appoint him to the commission of gaol delivery and as a j.p. in Cambridge. Brigham acted as mainpernor for the attendance in Parliament of John Cotton, John Thriplow and Hugh Candlesby in 1383, 1397 and 1399, respectively. Meanwhile, in February 1386, he had been one of the six Cambridge burgesses who had founded the guild of the Purification in the church of St. Mary.4

Besides the property forfeited after the revolt, Brigham subsequently acquired four roods of land in the fields of Barnwell, and it was to give him untroubled possession of these that Robert Beilham was bound in £10 in 1395-6. Two years later he bought a messuage in Preacher Street in St. Andrew’s parish, and he made further purchases of a messuage and two shops in the town in 1401. Nothing more is heard of this prosperous burgess after his mayoralty of 1406. He died before 1411-12, when his widow, Isabel, and their son, Robert, sold 13 acres of land in the fields of Cambridge and Barnwell in execution of his will.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: E.M. Wade


  • 1. Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xlix. 44; Add. 5833, ff. 132-4; CPR, 1385-9, p. 261.
  • 2. VCH Cambs. iii. 40; J.M. Gray, Biogs. Mayors Cambridge, 11. His putative father had served as parliamentary burgess and mayor; John Brigham, a contemporary of the Member and mainpernor for him in 1394, was a tax collector in the town, and during the 15th century successive generations of Brighams were to hold borough offices.
  • 3. CPR, 1377-81, p. 559; 1381-5, p. 143; Cambridge Antiq. Soc. lv. 46; JUST 1/103 mm. 4, 5; C67/29 mm. 28, 41; CCR, 1381-5, p. 169; E. Anglian, n.s. vi. 245.
  • 4. Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xxxix. 97.
  • 5. Ibid. xxxi. nos. 146, 355, 358; CP25(1)30/92/6. Robert junior was to represent Cambridge in the Parliament of 1437, by which time his landed property in Cambridgeshire was worth £12 a year: E. Anglian, n.s. xii. 363.