FROME, John (d.1404), of Buckingham, Bucks. and Woodlands, Dorset.

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



Feb. 1388
Jan. 1390
Jan. 1404

Family and Education

s. and h. of William Frome of Woodlands by Elizabeth, da. and h. of John Brewes of Buckingham. m. bef. 1382,—de Tregos, 2da.1

Offices Held

Tax assessor, Southampton May 1379; collector, Dorset Mar. 1380.

Commr. of inquiry, Dorset Apr. 1380 (decay of Lyme), Bucks. Feb. 1387 (levy for archers), Som., Dorset July 1391 (concealments), Hants Feb. 1401 (marriage agreement), Dorset July 1402, Mar. 1404 (piracy), Bucks. Sept. 1404 (felony); to put down rebellion, Dorset Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of arrest June 1384, Wilts., Dorset June 1402; oyer and terminer, Bucks. July 1384, Dorset Feb. 1385; array, Dorset, Bucks. Apr. 1385, Mar. 1392, Dorset Dec. 1399, July 1402, Aug. 1403; weirs June 1398; to determine appeals from the constable’s ct. Feb., July, Sept. 1401, Mar. 1403, from the admiral’s ct. June, Nov. 1401, Aug. 1402; make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well, Dorset, Bucks. May 1402, of the King’s right of presentation to a benefice, Dorset Mar. 1404; take possession of stolen valuables July 1402.

J.p. Wilts. 4 July 1391-c.1392, Dorset 28 Nov.1399-d., Bucks. 16 May 1401-Mar. 1404.

Ambassador to Brittany Dec. 1391.

Member of the King’s Council 10 Mar. 1401-?d.2

Sheriff, Som. and Dorset 29 Nov. 1402-5 Nov. 1403.


Frome’s career falls into two distinct parts, the break coming in 1399. In the first part his activities were predominantly those of any country landowner prepared to do the King service locally; in the second, as a councillor of Henry IV, his activities ranged more widely. Frome’s involvement in public service in the localities had begun by 1380. He was probably already holding the manor of Buckingham, which had belonged to his maternal grandfather, and by 1384 he was well established in Buckinghamshire. In Dorset he inherited from his father the hundred of Knowlton, the manor of Woodlands and other scattered properties in the valley of the Winterborne and elsewhere. By 1401 he was holding part of a knight’s fee in Wimborne St. Giles of the duchy of Lancaster, and he also possessed tenements in Dorchester. Besides these estates in Buckinghamshire and Dorset, valued at over £81 a year at his death, Frome owned a house in London, and in 1388 he shared in a royal grant of pavage to repair St. John’s Street from Smithfield to Islington. Frome also acquired interests in land in Oxfordshire, at Thorp and Kidlington, which in 1388 he and others granted to Osney abbey for the maintenance of a light at the high altar on the five principal feasts of St. Mary; and in 1390 he joined in a further grant to the abbey of the reversion of five messuages in the suburbs of Oxford, this time for a perpetual light to shine at mass.3

It was only to be expected that Frome would receive royal grants of land in return for his public services. In 1380 he had shared with Sir Edward Dallingridge* custody of the estates of the alien priory of Frampton (Dorset), at a farm of £90 a year payable at the Exchequer, and ten years later he was granted keeping of property in ‘Baggeridge’ in the same county on a ten-year lease. The latter was confirmed and extended in 1401. A later award gave him temporary custody of Farley Chamberlayne (Hampshire) during the minority of the son and heir of Sir Edmund Missenden*, to whom he married his elder daughter. Frome was clearly a man of considerable standing, particularly in Dorset; his frequent appearances as a witness or surety were for such distinguished persons as the abbess of Tarrant and Sir Ivo Fitzwaryn*, and he was made an executor of the will of John, Lord Arundel (son of the earl of Arundel). Perhaps his most important connexion was with the earls of Salisbury; in 1394 he was acting as a feoffee of property in Cookham, Berkshire, which had belonged to William Montagu, and in December 1397, at London, he witnessed letters patent issued by the next earl, John.4

Other aspects of Frome’s career before 1399 are not without interest. He seems to have contemplated military service in 1386, but his royal letters of protection were cancelled because, although he had undertaken to go overseas in the retinue of Sir William Hoo, captain of Oye, he remained behind in London. He was in France, however, in December 1391 when he was assigned with others to supervise the government of the castle and town of Brest, and to negotiate with the duke of Brittany for a truce or a treaty of peace. After the accession of Henry IV both Frome’s commissioned service in the localities and his connexion with affairs of national concern took on greater importance, and mark him clearly as a firm supporter of the house of Lancaster. It is possible that a summons before the Council of Richard II in April 1398 sent to Frome and several others (some of whom are known to have been closely connected with Henry of Bolingbroke) marked the beginning of a change of allegiance, although from April 1399 he acted as an attorney for Thomas Despenser, earl of Gloucester, during his absence in Ireland, and neither the latter nor the earl of Salisbury, with whom (as we have seen) Frome was also connected, were anything other than staunchly loyal to the King.5

Frome’s support for the new regime is indisputable. He was appointed a j.p. in Dorset immediately after Henry IV’s accession, and on the last day (10 Mar.) of the Parliament of 1401, in which he had represented that county for the fifth time, he was named as a member of the King’s Council. Eight days later he witnessed ordinances for measures against the rebel Welsh; in May the King sent his ‘beloved esquire and councillor’ from Wallingford to the Council to explain his views concerning an embassy to France; and in October Frome was in London for the examination of a suspected heretic. As a councillor he received an annual fee of 100 marks, and his attendances were frequent, at least until February 1403. Summonses to the great councils of August 1401 and 1403 were issued to him as one of the representatives of the county of Buckinghamshire; but it was as a resident of Dorset that, in the meantime, he had been appointed, with Sir Humphrey Stafford I*, to negotiate a ‘benevolence’ in the shires of Somerset and Dorset.6

Frome was not destined to enjoy this prominence for long, for he died on 22 Nov. 1404. His will, dated 18 Nov., was proved six days later before the commissary of the archbishop of Canterbury. Frome wished to be buried at Sonning in Berkshire. To the fabric funds of churches in Dorset and Buckinghamshire and to the cathedral at Salisbury he bequeathed a total of £7 10s., and he mentioned, with suitable bequests, two hermits at Buckingham, his villeins at Bourton (Dorset) and the abbot of Sherborne. The Franciscans at Dorchester were left £10 to pray for his soul. Numerous small bequests were made to his three brothers and to several other individuals, the total amount of money involved being £25 12s. Frome’s household effects included six beds, minutely described, which were evidently his prize possessions. His heirs were his daughters Isabel and Joan, the wives of Bernard Missenden and William Filoll*, respectively. Fillol and Frome’s brother, Richard, were the executors.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421


  • 1. G. Lipscomb, Bucks. i. 395; Harl. 1533, f. 103.
  • 2. E404/17/201; E28/8, 9.
  • 3. VCH Bucks. iii. 481; iv. 396; CIPM, xiii. 184; CPR, 1377-81, p. 475; 1381-5, p. 500; 1385-9, pp. 430, 537; 1388-92, p. 185; CIMisc. iv. 107; Lipscomb, ii. 587, 593; CFR, xii. 297; Feudal Aids, vi. 633; Dorchester Recs. ed. Mayo, 160, 268; Oxf. Hist. Soc. xc. nos. 882-9; CP25(1)191/24/5.
  • 4. CFR, ix. 180; x. 337; xii. 125, 159, 203; CPR, 1391-6, p. 517; 1399-1401, p. 384; CCR, 1381-5, pp. 425, 446; 1396-9, pp. 295, 301; VCH Berks. iii. 316; Reg. Wykeham (Hants Rec. Soc. 1896-9), ii. 313.
  • 5. C76/76 mm. 8, 9; CPR, 1385-9, pp. 139, 141; 1396-9, p. 520; CCR, 1396-9, p. 277.
  • 6. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 470; PPC, i. 129-30, 158; ii. 73, 75, 88; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 474; E404/17/201; TRHS, ser. 5, xiv. 62.
  • 7. HMC Middleton, 101-2; CFR, xii. 297; PCC 7 Marche; C137/46/14.