COVEHITHE, Thomas (d.1430/1), and Great Yarmouth, Norf.
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Family and Education
m. Alice, 3s. 1da.
Bailiff, Yarmouth Mich. 140-11, 1413-14, 1416-17, 1419-20, 1423-4.1
This burgess’s name was taken from Covehithe, a coastal parish in Suffolk. Thomas was actively engaged in trade at Yarmouth from 1398, importing such items as thread, linen cloth, furs, skins, glass, iron (from Sweden), wax, woad and salt, as well as quantities of timber in the form of wainscots, clapboard and staves. He also dealt in fish — mainly herring, but on occasion sturgeon. In November 1418, mindful of his own interests, he served on a jury giving evidence at Yarmouth about clandestine sales of herring within seven leagues of the town, an infringement of Yarmouth’s charter for which the penalty was forfeiture of the vessels and wares concerned. At some unknown date, he and other ‘fishers’ of Yarmouth petitioned the King (either Henry V or, more likely, Henry VI), saying that they dare not put to sea during the usual fishing season between Easter and Michaelmas for fear that their vessels would be requisitioned to assist in the transportation of the King’s forces to France, and asking for special exemptions so that fishing might continue unimpeded.2 Covehithe took an active part in the government of Yarmouth, being chosen as bailiff five times. In 1427 he was one of five burgesses named as present at the local parliamentary elections, and in 1429 he was not only among the four so named, but also appeared as surety for Thomas Halle†.3
Covehithe held a number of properties in Yarmouth, including a plot with a quay adjacent to it, acquired in 1411, and a ‘fish-house’, curing-house and ‘salt-house’, purchased from Richard Cley’s* executors some time after 1420. In 1424 he acted as an executor of the will of William Covehithe, who perhaps was his brother.4 His own will, dated 20 Dec. 1430 and proved at Norwich consistory court on 31 Mar. following, contained bequests of £2 to the high altar of St. Nicholas’s church, where, in the graveyard, he was to be buried, 12d. to every member of the fraternity of St. Mary’s hospital, 40d. to the lepers outside the walls and £1 to each order of mendicant friars. Ten marks were set aside for repairs to the town gates. He was able to leave his sons, John and William, and his daughter, Rose, as much as £40 each, while his third son, Bartholomew, was to have 40 marks. His executors included his widow and Ralph Browning† of Yarmouth.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Norf. Official Lists, ed. Le Strange, 155-6.
- 2. E122/149/34, 150/1, 9, 151/21; SC8/162/8079; E101/512/25.
- 3. C219/13/5, 14/1.
- 4. Norf. RO, Gt. Yarmouth ct. rolls, C4/121, 136.
- 5. Norf. RO, Reg. Surflete, f. 61; Gt. Yarmouth ct. roll, C4/141. Rose later married John Crowmere, merchant of Yarmouth, and sold the property she inherited from her father: C4/149.