CARTER, John I (d.1408), of Scarborough, Yorks.

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



Sept. 1388
Jan. 1397

Family and Education

s. and h. of Adam Carter of Scarborough. m. ?2s. inc. John II*.1

Offices Held

Commr. of array, Scarborough May 1398.

Bailiff, Scarborough Mich. 1399-1400, 1402-3.2


As the son and heir of one of the leading figures in 14th century Scarborough, John was assured of a prominent position in the town. His father, Adam Carter, achieved notoriety in 1348 by ‘maliciously breaking into small pieces and tearing and burning’ a composition between the potentiores (or wealthier burgesses) and other residents, who already resented the high-handed behaviour of Carter and his associates. Despite his repeated brushes with the law as a smuggler, forestaller and thief, Adam served at least one term as bailiff of Scarborough; and he was evidently still alive in 1386 when John first entered Parliament. From the time of his second return, two years later, the latter was much in demand as a witness to local property transactions.3 He also attested the will of John Rillington, another influential burgess, who died in 1392, and he was named as an executor by William Sage I*, from whom he received a ship called Le Petre, complete with tackle. The customs accounts for Hull for 1398 and 1401 show that he was importing modest amounts of wine, iron and skins; and his commercial interests were evidently quite wide-ranging. By March 1403, for example, he had become involved in a protracted dispute with two Scarborough mariners over an action of account brought against him arising from the sale and repair of another of his ships called The Marie. He eventually won his case, although the two plaintiffs launched a counter-appeal four years later. He was, moreover, one of the group of Scarborough merchants to be fined 400 marks, in May 1407, for acts of piracy against a member of the Hanseatic League named John Dordewant, whom they had robbed of a valuable cargo in the North Sea.4

Although he represented Scarborough in the House of Commons for the last time in 1397 (Jan.), John acted as a mainpernor for his friend, William Harom, when the latter was returned to the Parliaments of 1399 and 1406. By then he ranked as one of the foremost residents of Scarborough, a fact reflected by his appointment, in November 1401, as executor of William Wayte, clerk to the household of Henry, earl of Northumberland. Wayte specifically entrusted him with the distribution of his jewels and other effects; and it was he who obtained probate of the will later in the month. John himself died shortly before October 1408, when orders were issued for the arrest of his son, Richard, and all the others who had consistently ignored Dordewant’s demands for compensation. Paradoxically, the task of arresting Richard and his associates fell, in 1412, to John Carter II, the then bailiff of Scarborough, who was probably another of his sons.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. C219/9/1; CCR, 1385-9, p. 499; SC1/57/30.
  • 2. E159/176, Easter m. 11; E368/175 m. 160; CPR, 1401-5, p. 202.
  • 3. A. Rowntree, Hist. Scarborough, 119-21; White Vellum Bk. Scarborough ed. Jeayes, nos. 24B, 28B, 32C; CCR, 1385-9, p. 499; 1399-1401, p. 394.
  • 4. E122/60/2, 159/11; Borthwick Inst. York, York registry wills, i. ff. 51-51v; ii. ff. 4v-5; CPR, 1401-5, p. 215; 1405-8, pp. 130, 334, 353.
  • 5. C219/10/1, 3; SC1/57/30; York registry wills, iii. f. 70.