ELLIS, Robert I, of Great Yarmouth, Norf.
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Family and Education
?1s. Robert II*.
Bailiff, Yarmouth Mich. 1408-9, 1412-13.1
Robert’s relationship to other members of this prolific and important Yarmouth family has not been ascertained, though he may well have been a younger brother of Bartholomew Ellis, eight times bailiff of the town between 1391 and 1422. Certainly, it was while Bartholomew was holding office that Robert was elected to the Parliament of 1406.2 Like other Ellises, Robert was a merchant, trading from 1388 in herring, exporting cloth and importing wine and salt. The property in Yarmouth which he acquired in 1395 overlooked its own quay. In July 1402 commissioners were appointed to hear and determine ’divers indictments made before the j.p.s. in Suffolk involving Ellis and three other Yarmouth worthies; their alleged offences are not known, but may well have been connected with the town’s longstanding disputes with the men of Lowestoft. By 1408, the year of his first bailiffship, Ellis had become a leading member of the important guild of St. George in St. Nicholas’s church, to which only the more substantial burgesses belonged. Early in 1413, when ordinances were drawn up for the regulation of the herring trade at Yarmouth, they were authorized by Ellis and his fellow bailiffs, who together ratified the proposals of a committee on which his younger namesake, Robert II, had served as a member. As ‘senior’ and still one of the bailiffs, Ellis made the electoral return to Henry V’s first Parliament later that year. It was probably he who as ‘of Yarmouth, merchant’ obtained a royal pardon of outlawry on 25 Nov. 1415, following his failure to appear in court to answer in a suit for trespass.3 He was evidently living in February 1417, since the other Robert was then still being styled ‘the younger’.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Norf. Official Lists ed. Le Strange, 155.
- 2. Bartholomew was the son and heir of the Robert Ellis who, four times bailiff between 1357 and 1367, died at an unknown date before June 1398. He had a sister, Margaret, who since 1380 had enjoyed an annual rent of £5 from certain Fastolf holdings in Yarmouth (Norf. RO, Gt. Yarmouth ct. rolls, C4/92, 108), and he himself came to acquire property in Norwich (Norwich enrolments, 15 m. 38d).
- 3. Yarmouth ct. roll, C4/105; E122/149/22, 33, 150/2, 9; CPR, 1401-5, p. 131; 1413-16, p. 315; H. Swinden, Yarmouth, 810; HMC 9th Rep. pt. 1, p. 305; C219/11/1.