BURGH, John II (d.1434), of Wallington, Surr.

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



May 1413
Nov. 1414
Mar. 1416

Family and Education

m. Katherine, great-niece and h. of Henry Yevele (d.1400) of London, at least 3s.1

Offices Held

Under clerk of the Receipt of the Exchequer 12 Dec. 1390-1404; clerk of the Receipt 2 Mar. 1405-9 Dec. 1410; under treasurer to Henry, Lord Scrope of Masham, 30 Sept. 1410-16 Dec. 1411, to Thomas, earl of Arundel, 21 Mar. 1413-19 Dec. 1416.2

Commr. to requisition horses for Queen Isabella’s return to France, London area May 1401; audit the accounts of Calais July 1414;3 of array, Surr. July 1419; to raise a royal loan, Kent Nov. 1419, Jan. 1420, Surr. May 1428.

J.p. Surr. 1 July 1411-23.

Escheator, Surr. and Suss. 8 Dec. 1416-30 Nov. 1417, 26 Feb.-6 Nov. 1424.

Bailiff, Havering-atte-Bower, Essex, for Queen Joan bef. 1419.

Sheriff, Kent 23 Nov. 1419-16 Nov. 1420.

Keeper of the King’s council house at Westminster to d.


Burgh’s early life and background remain obscure, although it seems likely that he was a relative — perhaps the son — of the John Burgh of Sandore in Sussex who, in 1369, became keeper of the archbishop of Canterbury’s parks in Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. This John Burgh was a feoffee-to-uses of the archiepiscopal manor of Croham in Surrey, which passed briefly into our MP’s hands, so we may justifiably assume that some connexion existed between the two men. John Burgh senior appears to have been a close relative of Simon Burgh*, his predecessor as parker to the archbishop, whose loyal service to the see of Canterbury was matched by a distinguished career as a yeoman of the Crown and royal administrator, during the course of which he rose to become treasurer of Calais. The subject of this biography may well have owed his initial appointment as an under clerk of the Receipt of the Exchequer to Simon, since the latter was certainly in a position to further his interests.4

Nothing is known about Burgh during his early years at the Exchequer, which evidently passed without incident. In August 1394 he was chosen to act as an attorney in England for one of the clerks serving on Richard II’s Irish expedition, although it was not until July 1395 that he undertook any official assignments, being then sent on unspecified Exchequer business to Windsor. He spent half the Michaelmas term of that year in the household of Roger Walden, the treasurer, and was duly rewarded in December 1397 with an annuity of £10 payable for life direct from the Exchequer. A second grant worth the same amount came his way in February 1399, and, despite his involvement in the defence measures taken against Henry of Bolingbroke in the following summer (he acted as paymaster to Richard II’s supporters), both fees were confirmed to him by the usurper within weeks of his coronation.5 Far from proving a set-back to his already successful career, the change of dynasty seems to have worked greatly to Burgh’s advantage. He and the new treasurer, John Norbury*, were responsible for paying the wages of the men recruited to suppress the earl of Kent’s rebellion; and it is interesting to note that on 13 July 1400 Burgh advanced a substantial part of his expenses (£6 13s.4d.) to the Crown as a loan. In December 1401, however, he was awarded revenues worth 24 marks a year from the manor of Moreton Hall in Essex, during the minority of the duke of Norfolk’s heir. This was followed seven months later with the joint keepership (shared with a London fletcher) of certain property seized by the Crown in the city parish of All Hallows Staining. Burgh, who had by now become a fully-fledged clerk of the Receipt, was next rewarded in November 1406 with the farm of the above-mentioned manor of Croham, leased to him at a rent of 50s. p.a., although his title was successfully challenged in the following spring by the existing tenants, and his letters patent were revoked. To compensate for this loss, he obtained a lease for 16 years of the manor of ‘Briddesgrave’ in Surrey, dated retrospectively from Michaelmas 1406, and stipulating a comparatively low rent of £7 p.a. In April 1408, Burgh travelled to Evesham as assistant to the then treasurer, Nicholas Bubwith, but promotion to the rank of under treasurer did not come to him until the resignation of his colleague, Henry Somer*, at the beginning of the Michaelmas term of 1410. For the next six years Burgh and Somer alternated in this post, largely as a result of political circumstances: whereas the former’s tenure of office coincided with the Beaufort chancellorships, the latter professed himself as Archbishop Arundel’s man. Their respective careers clearly reflect the struggle for power between the two factions which reached a head during the last years of Henry IV’s reign.6 Burgh owed much of his success to his association with Thomas, earl of Arundel, Henry V’s first treasurer, who did not share the political views of his uncle, the archbishop, and may well have used his local influence to secure his return to the Parliaments of May 1413 and November 1414. Ability more than any other factor must, however, account for Burgh’s rise in the Exchequer hierarchy, a rise which was marked with many tangible rewards during this period. Within a few weeks of his first appointment as under treasurer, Burgh was made keeper of the estates of Sir John Roches’s* next heir (but only until the following February); and he also received nine marks p.a. from Sir John Lewknor’s manor of Denne in Sussex together with the marriage of his daughter, Joan, for which he paid less than £13. Even after his replacement by Somer, Burgh enjoyed further marks of royal favour, as, for instance, in December 1412, when Henry IV granted him the estates, marriage and wardship of Edmund Soterley, whose inheritance in Suffolk was said to be worth £40 a year. Henry V’s accession in March 1413, saw the triumph of the Beaufort party and Burgh’s return to office, secure in the pension originally awarded to him by Richard II. His connexion with the earl of Arundel grew stronger over this period: in September 1414 he was sent to Calais with the earl to audit accounts and pay the garrison. It appears from Arundel’s will of August 1415 that his clerk had by then assumed custody of the tallies assigned to him for the repayment of a personal loan of 1,150 marks, and as late as 1418 Burgh was rendering accounts at the Exchequer on behalf of his former master.7 Burgh himself lent frequently to the Crown, often in a purely official capacity, but sometimes as a private individual. In January 1415, for instance, he advanced £100 to the King; and the Exchequer receipt roll of Easter 1417 records further loans worth the same amount. In return he was made farmer of the estates of two more royal wards, comprising land and rents in Tooting and elsewhere in Surrey, as well as property along the Welsh marches. Burgh left the Exchequer for good on 16 Dec. 1416, shortly after his last visit to Calais as a treasury official, and within a few days of his appointment to the escheatorship of Surrey and Sussex. He did, however, take part in the Normandy campaign of 1417, indenting to accompany the King with a retinue of three lances and nine archers. His remarkable record of long service was not forgotten, for in October 1421 he obtained a lease for five years of the manor of Havering-atte-Bower in Essex at an annual rent of £112. Burgh already held office there as Queen Joan’s bailiff, and was, therefore, the most suitable candidate to take on the farm after her estates had been confiscated by the Crown. His pension, which was again confirmed to him in February 1423, continued to be paid regularly until his death 11 years later, and he was thus free to take up a second career as a country gentleman.8

We do not know exactly when Burgh first acquired property in Surrey, but it was during the Easter term of 1400 that he made his first recorded purchase — of a messuage and land in the manors of Beddington and Carshalton. Six years later he bought other holdings in Croydon, which he further consolidated in the summer of 1407. He had settled in Wallington by January 1413, although there is no means of telling if the manor was included in the general assessment of his landed income (£22 13s.4d. p.a.) made in the previous year.9 Nor can we be certain that his wife’s inheritance was then taken into account, since the date of his marriage remains unrecorded. Katherine Burgh came of a distinguished family of stonemasons, being the grand daughter of the Black Prince’s chief mason, Robert Yevele, and the great-niece (and heir) of one of England’s most outstanding medieval architects, Henry Yevele, through whom she succeeded to property in St. Olave’s parish, Southwark. Burgh’s next major acquisition took place in 1424, when Sir Guy Bryan’s trustees sold him the manor of Woodmansterne, together with property in the Surrey villages of Chipstead, Ewell, Banstead, Sutton, Carshalton and Beddington. By 1430, if not long before, he was also in possession of land in Mitcham, Wandsworth and Wimbledon. He does not appear to have made purchases in any other part of England.10

Burgh’s involvement in local government began in 1411 with his appointment to the Surrey bench, but it was during the years immediately after his departure from the Exchequer that he devoted most of his energy to activities of this kind. Although he did not again sit in Parliament after resigning his clerkship, he attended the county elections to the Commons of 1422, having by then served two terms as escheator of Surrey and Sussex and one as sheriff of Kent. The keepership of the King’s council house at Westminster may have been awarded to him at this time as a sinecure. In contrast to his official career, Burgh’s private life remains shadowy, and not much evidence has survived about his personal affairs. From 1400 onwards he made fairly regular visits to his property in Beddington — as his presence among the witnesses to local deeds testifies; and at some point before 1418 he became farmer of revenues from the parish church there.11 He was included from time to time among the feoffees-to-uses of landowners in the south-east, such as John Fray*, Nicholas James* and William Ryman* (the first and last of whom occupied senior posts at the Exchequer). Burgh’s frequent appearances as a mainpernor underline his close connexion with other government officials, although it is hardly surprising that he and Henry Somer, William Loveney*, John Innocent and John Aspilon should have associated with one another in this capacity. He seems also to have been on friendly terms with William Yerde, with whom he was returned to the Parliament of March 1416; and with Richard, earl of Oxford, who made him a trustee of land in Buckinghamshire.12 Burgh’s financial affairs seem to have been quite complex. In May 1400, for example, John Godard* pledged his property in Kent as security for the repayment to him of debts totalling £190. In February 1421 Sir Humphrey Stafford II* and two of his distinguished kinsmen bound themselves to pay £513 6s.8d. to Burgh, his friend, Nicholas James, and William Babbington, the chief baron of the Exchequer. Seven years later Burgh himself owed 80 marks to Thomas Frowyk* perhaps because of their mutual interest in the Lewknor estates; and at the time of his death his land in Wallington was allegedly mortgaged to one John Leicester, who had lent him 100 marks.13

Burgh was among the Surrey gentry required in May 1434 to take the general oath not to support persons breaking the peace. He made a nuncupative will on 14 Dec. of that year, and appears to have died soon afterwards, leaving the bulk of his estates to his eldest son, John. The latter became involved in litigation over the payment of his late father’s debts, while the widowed Katherine Burgh also faced problems arising from the implementation of certain unspecified bonds. She was still alive in November 1443, when she and her second son, William, rented out some of their property in Wimbledon.14

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


There is at present no evidence to connect our MP with John Burgh III, who sat with him in the Parliaments of 1413 (May) and 1415 as representative for Rutland, and who was later returned for Leicestershire. Nor does he appear to have belonged to the Yorkshire family of Burgh (Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxx. 334-43), although it is easy to confuse him with the John Burgh whose name appears regularly on royal commissions in the North Riding during the late 14th and early 15th centuries. The problem of identification is further compounded by the activities of John Burgh, citizen and vintner of London, who, again, cannot always be distinguished from the subject of this biography.

  • 1. C1/9/113; Add. Chs. 23174, 23177; CCR, 1429-35, pp. 91, 298; 1441-7, pp. 481-2.
  • 2. PRO List ‘Exchequer Offs.’, 196, 205, 213.
  • 3. DKR, xliv. 554.
  • 4. CCR, 1360-4, p. 302; 1364-9, p. 401; 1370-4, p. 250; Suss. Rec. Soc. xxix. 78-79.
  • 5. CPR, 1391-6, p. 475; 1396-9, pp. 275, 483; 1399-1401, p. 111; E403/551/554, 562.
  • 6. E401/619; Issues ed. Devon, 278; J.L. Kirby, ‘The Rise of the Under Treasurer of the Exchequer’, EHR, lxxii. 667-72; CPR, 1401-5, p. 24; 1405-8, p. 312; CFR, xii. 164, xiii. 52; DL42/16 (3), f. 102; E403/595.
  • 7. CFR, xiii. 197, 203; CPR, 1408-13, p. 243; 1413-16, p. 60; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 341-2; CIMisc. vii. no. 450; Reg. Chichele, ii. 73.
  • 8. E401/667, 677; CFR, xiv. 131, 176, 407-8; CPR, 1422-9, p. 110; Issues, 348; TRHS (ser. 3), v. 133.
  • 9. CP25(1)231/66/8, 67/50, 55; CCR, 1405-8, p. 79; 1409-13, p. 434; Feudal Aids, vi. 517; Add. Chs. 23174, 23177.
  • 10. J. Harvey, Eng. Med. Architects, 312-20; CP25(1) 232/71/39, 40; CCR, 1422-9, p. 206; 1429-35, p. 91; 1441-7, pp. 388, 480-2; Add. Ch. 23174; Feudal Aids, v. 124; VCH Surr. iv. 249.
  • 11. C219/13/1; Add. Chs. 23160, 23169-70, 23540, 23632; CCR, 1413-19, p. 510; 1422-9, p. 417.
  • 12. CP25(1)232/70/2; Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii. 243; O. Manning and W. Bray, Surr. ii. 283; Add. Chs. 23450-1; CFR, xi. 301; xiii. 43, 56, 149; xv. 20; CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 557-8; 1402-5, p. 118; 1419-22, p. 259; CPR, 1413-16, p. 397.
  • 13. CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 182-3; 1402-5, pp. 179-80, 183; 1419-22, pp. 132-3; 1422-9, p. 400; C1/9/113.
  • 14. Add. Ch. 23177; CPR, 1429-36, p. 380; CCR, 1441-7, p. 388; C1/9/113, 12/239.