FITLING, John (d.1434), of Kingston-upon-Hull, 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

Family and Education

m. (1) by 19 Mar. 1408, Margaret; (2) by Nov. 1427, Joan (d. Aug. 1440), poss. da. of John Leversegge*, 1s.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Kingston-upon-Hull Mich. 1400-1; mayor 1408-9, 1409-11, 1422-3.2

Collector of customs, Kingston-upon-Hull 6 Apr. 1406-30 Sept. 1407; searcher of shipping 28 Feb. 1416-24 July 1417.

Commr. to supervise the muster of Lord Clifford’s retinue, Hull Apr. 1416; take mariners and ships to transport the same Apr., July 1416.

Surveyor of an impost on shipping, Kingston-upon-Hull 28 Nov. 1427-d.


Fitling first comes to notice during the early years of the 1390s when he was trading in commodities as diverse as cloth, wine, wool and skins. By 1398 he had also begun to deal in herring, and it is evident that he commanded a leading place in the mercantile community of Hull. He was made bailiff of the town in 1400; and some six years later he began a term as a collector of royal customs there. This appointment, made just three days after the end of the first session of the 1406 Parliament, may well have been given to him in response to a personal petition, since he had himself just embarked upon a long and notable period of service in the Lower House. His record of attendance in 11 Parliaments extending over a period of almost 25 years made him the most experienced of all the Hull burgesses returned during our period, and testifies to the importance of his position in local society. Indeed, in March 1408, he and his first wife, Margaret, obtained a papal indult allowing them to choose their own confessor; and some three years later (by which time he had also occupied the mayoralty of Hull) he was acting as a representative of the admiral of England in the port.3

Fitling’s many official commitments during this period evidently left him little time for more personal matters. In 1405 he acted as a trustee of land in Hull for a Scarborough man, and at about the same time he and a London fishmonger were involved in a lawsuit against Hugh Snawe of Barton-upon-Humber for a debt of £4. Not until much later, however, does a fuller picture of his activities emerge. In 1425 he was a party, again no doubt in the capacity of a feoffee-to-uses, to a fine transferring the ownership of property in both Hull and Scarborough. Another conveyance, made in November 1427, almost certainly concerned him more directly, and may well mark the date of his second marriage. He and his new wife, Joan, then gave seisin of a messuage and eight cottages in Hull to Sir William Cheyne, c.j.KB, who in turn confirmed their joint title. Meanwhile, Fitling was employed as an attorney by the executors of a Yorkshire vintner, who wished to dispose of a messuage and shops in Marketgate, Hull. It was during this period that Richard Reedbarrow, a hermit who lived at Ravenspur, was attempting to win financial assistance from the Crown for the construction of a beacon at the notoriously treacherous mouth of the river Humber; and although the Leicester Parliament of 1426 had supported his appeal nothing was done to implement it until the next Parliament met in October of the following year. As a Member for Hull, and an extremely experienced parliamentarian to boot, Fitling must then have been instrumental in securing royal approval for the imposition of a special levy on shipping in the Humber, the profits of which were to be used for completing the project. He was himself included among the surveyors who were to administer the money over the period of ten years specified in the terms of the grant, although he did not live to see the work finished.4

In December 1430, Fitling was chosen to act as an executor by his friend, John Waleys of Hull. He drew up his own will in April 1434 and died soon afterwards. His contempt for the vainglory and pomp of this world, his desire for the simplest possible funeral and his pious veneration of the five wounds of Christ show him to have been a man of strong religious feelings, although he still disposed of his property and possessions in a characteristically efficient and businesslike way. His second wife, Joan, received a life interest in four messuages and various gardens in Hull, the reversion of which was to be offered for sale at once, so that the profits (anticipated at £30) could be divided between his son, Robert, and one of his servants. Joan lived on until 1440, and was buried in the chapel of St. Mary’s, Hull, probably beside her late husband. She left £5 for masses to be said for his soul and the souls of John and Helen Leversegge, who may well have been her parents.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variant: Fyttelyng.

  • 1. CPL, vi. 147; CP25(1)280/155/48; Borthwick Inst. York, York registry wills, ii. f. 674; iii. ff. 384-5.
  • 2. C260/113/1B, 2, 7; Cal. Hull Deeds ed. Stanewell, D203, 208-9, 213, 262-3, 265-6.
  • 3. E122/59/23-26; CPL, vi. 147; CCR, 1409-13, p. 367.
  • 4. Cal. Hull Deeds, D200, 282; CP25(1)280/155/30, 48; CPR, 1416-22, p. 95; 1422-9, p. 457; RP, iv. 365.
  • 5. York registry wills, ii. ff. 640, 674; iii. ff. 384-5.