CLYVE, John (d.1431), of Broad Street, Bristol.

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



Nov. 1414

Family and Education

m. (1) Joan, 1s. d.v.p. 1da.; (2) Isabel.1

Offices Held

Tax collector, Bristol Mar. 1401, Nov. 1404.

Bailiff, Bristol Mich. 1405-6; sheriff 9 Oct. 1408-9; mayor Mich. 1412-13, 1425-6.2


As an outcome of successful commercial enterprise, Clyve became a prosperous and prominent figure in Bristol in the early years of the 15th century. Following his term in office as a bailiff, he remained active in the government of the borough for the rest of his life. In September 1407 he was one of the three candidates for the shrievalty of the county of Bristol, but it was not until a year later that he was appointed to the office. This was followed in due course by election to the common council of 42 (on which he is known to have served in 1409-10), and then, in 1412, to the mayoralty. In the 1420s he resumed his place on the town council. How closely involved he was in local activities generally is also attested by the fact that he attended no fewer than 15 out of the 17 parliamentary elections held at the guildhall between 1407 and 1430, his last appearance as an elector being on 26 Dec. 1430, only shortly before his death.3

Clyve’s mercantile ventures had begun no later than July 1398, when he is known to have loaded The Christopher of Bristol with 53 cloths for shipment to Spain, followed, during the winter, by 38 more for the same destination and another 15 for Ireland. His imports included considerable quantities of wine from Gascony. Not all of his shipments reached port in safety, however, for in the autumn of 1400 seven Bristol ships, of which one, The Trinity, was carrying oil, scarlet dye and other merchandise valued at 9,000 nobles (£3,000), belonging to Clyve, Mark William* and other Bristol merchants, were all captured by Spanish pirates when sailing home from Seville. So far as the home market was concerned, Clyve had well-established trading connexions in the Midlands, and he and his first wife became members of the guild of the Holy Trinity at Coventry.4

Clyve’s relationships with his fellow burgesses were not always cordial: on one occasion he petitioned the King’s Council ‘a cause dune faux suggestion’ made about him by a man calling himself ‘le Baron de Blakkemore’; and on another, some time after 1429, he and Roger Levedon† were, as executors of John Mavyell, accused by the lawyer Thomas Young† of failing to return a bond in £240, despite legal proof that restitution had been made of an earlier obligation under the statute staple entered into by Young’s father ( Thomas Young III*) in favour of the deceased. Meanwhile, however, Clyve had been trusted, in 1422, to stand surety for the newly-appointed guardians of John Frere’s orphans.5

Over the years a considerable amount of property in Bristol came into Clyve’s possession, much of it acquired by purchase from fellow burgesses or their executors. His holdings were said to be worth as much as £20 a year when assessed for the purposes of taxation in 1412. To these he added by possibly dubious means, for in November 1421 he was called before the royal council in connexion with premises belonging to the hospital of St. John the Baptist in Bristol, which the hospital claimed had been wrongfully alienated; Clyve, however, asserted that he had purchased the disputed property for 115 marks and a hogshead of wine.6 At some stage in his career Clyve sold 14 shops in Grope Lane to John Leycestre*, but nevertheless, at the time of his death, he was still holding no fewer than 19 shops, seven tenements and four messuages in various parts of Bristol, as well as lands at nearby Shirehampton, Gloucestershire, and Tickenham, Somerset. Most of this property was bequeathed in his will, dated 3 Jan. 1431, to his widow Isabel and his nephew Thomas Clyve alias Berkeley. Clyve was to be buried in Holy Trinity church, Bristol, where a chaplain was to pray for his soul for 12 years. To the commonalty he donated more than £40, a memorandum later showing that he had stipulated that this portion of his gift be used to repair the town walls. Clyve died before 27 Jan., the date of probate. The escheator of Bristol was sent instructions in July to take custody of his property, but this appears to have soon passed to Thomas Clyve, whose own will was dated 1436. Subsequently, much of the premises came into the possession of Richard Erle (d.1467), the son of John Clyve’s daughter, Margery.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Cleve, Clyf, Clyffe, Clyue.

  • 1. Bristol Wills (Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. 1886), 117-18; Bristol RO, Phillips ms (Acc. 26166), 14.
  • 2. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. xxvi. 130-1.
  • 3. Little Red Bk. Bristol ed. Bickley, i. 138; ii. 144, 148; C267/5 nos. 40, 51; C219/10/4, 6, 11/1, 8, 12/2-5, 13/1-5, 14/1, 2.
  • 4. E122/16/34, 17/1; CFR, xii. 96; xiii. 81; Oversease Trade (Bristol Rec. Soc. vi), 45-46; CPR, 1408-13; p. 19; Reg. Holy Trinity Guild Coventry (Dugdale Soc. xiii), 36.
  • 5. SC8/84/4196; C1/7/147; Little Red Bk. i. 183.
  • 6. Feudal Aids, vi. 448; Bristol Wills, 64, 128; PCC, ii. 309-10.
  • 7. Bristol Wills, 117-18; CFR, xvi. 4; Great Red Bk. (Bristol Rec. Soc. iv), 130; (ibid. viii), 207; Add. 29866, ff. 2-5; Phillips mss, 135, 278, 281. The Isabel Clyve of Bristol, who made her will on 30 Apr. 1434 as widow of David Ruddock, may have been the MP’s relict, but if so the five children mentioned therein must have been the offspring of Ruddock or of a previous husband: PCC 22 Luffenham.