FROME, William (d.1413), of Bristol.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. by 1398, Christine, 1s.1
Tax collector, Bristol Nov. 1383.
Bailiff, Bristol Mich. 1386-7; sheriff 4 Oct. 1387-9 Oct. 1388; mayor Mich. 1394-5, 1400-1.2
Constable of the Bristol Staple 26 Sept. 1389-90.3
Purveyor of the works, Bristol castle 9 Apr. 1390-aft. Dec. 1399.
Commr. of gaol delivery, Bristol June 1395, June 1401; inquiry, Bristol, Cornw., Devon, Som. Dec. 1399, May 1400 (illegal export of tin and concealment of goods of Richard II’s adherents), Bristol Aug. 1400 (maladministration of St. Lawrence’s hospital), July 1401 (treason and insurrection), Feb. 1408 (maladministration of St. John the Baptist’s hospital); to collect arrears of tunnage and poundage Nov. 1400.
Frome’s involvement in local affairs had begun by August 1381 with his election as a member of the common council of Bristol, and it continued through service as bailiff, sheriff and mayor (twice), his most active years being between 1386 and 1401. Evidently, he was an efficient administrator, and his promotion was unusually rapid, at any rate at first: at the end of his term as bailiff at Michaelmas 1387, he had already (26 Sept.) been nominated sheriff, being formally appointed a week later. His first spell as mayor of Bristol came in 1394, and it was during this term of office that, in September 1395, he and the council confirmed a new regulation for the local guild of barber-surgeons. Frome is first known to have attended parliamentary elections at Bristol in 1388, when as sheriff he was responsible for endorsing and returning the writs for the Parliaments of February and September. Later he was party to the electoral indentures drawn up in 1407 and 1411, but apart from these appearances and his nomination as a councillor in 1409-10, he seems to have retired from active participation in borough affairs after his second mayoralty.4
In connexion with Frome’s own parliamentary career, it is especially worth noting that only a month after sitting in the Parliament of January-March 1390 he was appointed purveyor of the works at the queen’s castle of Bristol, and made deputy to the royal clerk of the works there, being also then instructed, in association with Simon Oliver, a fellow burgess, to conscript masons, carpenters and labourers for substantial renovations, both of them being empowered to imprison recalcitrants. Four years later he received similar orders, and was still employed as purveyor in December 1399, under Henry IV, when he was granted a writ of aid during royal pleasure. The first year of Henry’s reign was a particularly busy one for Frome, who received and conscientiously acted upon a number of royal commissions, most notable among them being those to investigate concealment of the possessions of men who had rebelled on behalf of the late King, Richard II, and to collect and account for over £180 long overdue from certain merchants of Bristol for the subsidy of tunnage and poundage. These activities, as local dignitary, parliamentary representative and royal official, did not apparently interfere with Frome’s business concerns, either as an exporter of cloth to Portugal and elsewhere, or as a cloth manufacturer: he was regularly assessed by the alnager for fabric woven in Bristol in the 1390s. In July 1389 he had stood surety for Thomas Beaupyne*, the newly appointed alnager in six counties of the West Country. He was, moreover, given additional duties later that same year after the Bristol merchants had chosen him as one of the constables of their Staple.5
The extent of Frome’s property holdings in Bristol is uncertain, but in 1387 he was renting a garden in St. Mary le Port Street and at one time he owned four shops in the market, two shops and a hall opposite the Cross (in St. Peter’s parish) and a building on Winch Street by the town wall. All through his career Frome had been a regular witness and participant in local conveyances, and under the will of Walter Tedistillet of 1386 he had been required to collect rents for Tedistille’s widow and to assist her with the executorship. In May 1400 he helped settle the property dispute between John Canynges* and Agnes, widow of William Canynges*.6
Frome drew up his will on 6 Jan. 1413, requesting burial in St. Thomas the Martyr’s chapel near the tomb of John Stoket. Thirty yards of russet and white cloth were provided for gowns for six poor men and five poor women who were to pray to the Virgin Mary for his soul’s salvation. Any chaplain offering prayers either there or in St. Mary’s chapel, Redcliffe, would receive 4d., and the fraternities of St. John the Baptist and of St. Mary on the bridge were each bequeathed 6s.8d. Frome’s widow and his son, Thomas, inherited his property together with two parts of his moveable goods, the customary third having already been set aside for good works. Frome died before 14 Apr., this being the date of probate, and in 1414 Christine and Thomas Frome sold the Winch Street premises to the elder John Cokkes. As late as 1422 a local husbandman obtained royal pardon for his outlawry for failing to answer Frome’s executors for alleged debts of £27 10s.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. PCC 2 Marche; Bristol RO, Phillipps ms (Acc. 26166), 226.
- 2. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. xxvi. 128-9.
- 3. C267/5 no. 24.
- 4. Little Red Bk. Bristol ed. Bickley, i. 115, 137; ii. 69; C219/9/3, 5, 10/4, 6.
- 5. CPR, 1388-92, p. 239; 1391-6, p. 374; 1399-1401, p. 161; CCR, 1389-92, p. 45; E101/339/2; Overseas Trade (Bristol Rec. Soc. vii), 194; CIMisc. vii. 5, 139, 152-4; E364/34 m. E.
- 6. Gt. Red Bk. (Bristol Rec. Soc. ii), 296; (iv), 204; Bristol Wills (Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. 1886), 13-15, 115, 119; Little Red Bk. ii. 214.
- 7. PCC 26 March; Add. Ch. 26469; CPR, 1416-22, p. 431.