HADLEY, John (d.1410), of London.

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



Jan. 1377
Apr. 1384
Nov. 1384
Nov. 1390

Family and Education

s. of Robert Hadley of Hadleigh, Suff., by his w. Alice. m. (1) bef. Mar. 1368, Margaret, 2da.; (2) bef. Dec. 1400, Thomasina, 1st da. and coh. of Thomas Goodlake* of London and Uxendon, Mdx.2

Offices Held

Auditor, London 21 Sept. 1373-4, 1379-80, 1391-2; alderman, Tower Ward 17 Mar. 1375-12 Mar. 1377, 12 Mar. 1378-9, 1380-1, 1394-d.; Lime Street Ward 1384-26 June 1392; mayor, London 13 Oct. 1379-80, 1393-4.3

Tax collector, London Nov. 1377.4

Commr. of gaol delivery, London Apr. 1380, May 1394, Oct. 1393;5 array July 1383; to take custody of stolen merchandise Feb. 1386.

Warden of the Grocers’ Co. 1383-4.6

Treasurer for the wars 13 Dec. 1385-1 Aug. 1387, 8 May-25 Dec. 1390, 25 Mar.-14 Nov. 1404.7

Mayor of the Staple of Westminster 12 Dec. 1390-26 Jun. 1392; of the Staple of Calais 26 Jun. 1392-bef. 1 July 1394.8

Collector of wool customs, London 8 Dec. 1391-23 July 1392.9


Described by the chronicler Ralph Higden as ‘vir sapiens et discretus’, John Hadley rose from relatively humble beginnings to occupy a prominent position in both civic and national affairs. He appears to have been born in the Suffolk village of Hadleigh, where his uncle and a number of poorer kinsmen were still living at the time of his death. He was sufficiently well known in the Cheap Ward of London to witness a deed there in July 1366, however, and he had begun trading as a pepperer (or grocer) in the City two years later.10 Very little evidence of his commercial activities has survived, although like most grocers he dealt in many different commodities, often imported from overseas. In June 1370 a commission was set up to inquire into a complaint that ships laded by Hadley and a consortium of London merchants at Sluys had been plundered after a storm off the Calais coast. Four years later, when reprisals were taken against French merchants in England because of their compatriots’ piracy in the Channel, Hadley was found to be in possession of drapers’ goods worth £30 belonging to a trader from Amiens. Most of these he kept in part compensation for his own considerable losses at sea, although later, in October 1381, he had to sue out a writ of supersedeas, preventing the Exchequer from reclaiming the value of the merchandise. Meanwhile, in August 1377, he successfully petitioned for permission to ship goods bought in Flanders to London viathe port of Sandwich.11

A further sign of Hadley’s growing prosperity may be found in his early appearances as a royal creditor: on 1 Feb. 1371 he lent 40 marks to Edward III; and he was also among the leading contributors to other royal loans of £3,000 in December 1374 and of £10,000 in September 1377. Half the latter sum was assigned to him and three other prominent Londoners out of the wool custom in October 1377, since they were then agents for the repayment of all the other merchants concerned. He also donated £4 towards the gift raised in January 1379 by the people of London to persuade ‘the great lords of the realm’ to return to the capital. Growing wealth brought with it considerable influence; and it is a mark of Hadley’s status in mercantile circles that in August 1377 he was one of the four representatives of the City chosen to attend a great council at Westminster, where the conduct of the French war and the protection of commerce figured high on the agenda. Again, in the spring of 1382, he served on a committee of merchants set up by the Commons to consider the possibility of a loan of £60,000 being made to the Crown by the merchants of England. Like the rest of his colleagues, he was reluctant to share the unhappy fate of earlier royal creditors such as Richard Lyons, and the proposal met with a unanimous refusal. Hadley also lent money to private individuals, although not much direct evidence of these transactions survives, perhaps because they were usurious, and thus against the law. In 1377 Henry, Lord Scrope of Masham, settled his manor of Stepney, Middlesex, upon the grocer and his heirs, binding himself to pay 400 marks should the latter’s tenure of the estate be disturbed in any way. It seems almost certain that he had entered into a mortgage in return for credit, and others may well have done the same.12

A considerable proportion of Hadley’s income from trade was invested in property both in and out of London, so that by the time of his death he ranked as a landowner of some consequence. His first purchase in the City took place in March 1368, when he and his wife bought land and tenements in St. Antholin’s parish. By March 1379 he was the owner of additional premises worth £7 a year in the parishes of St. Benedict Shorhog and St. Pancras, giving to the latter church a plot of land for use as a burial ground. His second marriage to Thomasina Goodlake, the grand daughter of the wealthy London vintner, John Stodeye†, brought him other rents and tenements in the City. As one of Joan Stodeye’s three daughters, Thomasina inherited not only a third share of her mother’s extensive London properties, but also, in December 1404 and June 1408, a substantial part of the estates which had belonged respectively to her aunt, Margaret Vanner, and her sister, Idonea Grey. When he died, Hadley was in possession of at least nine tenements and the same number of shops in five London parishes, which, together with miscellaneous rents, gave him an annual income probably far in excess of the £36 returned in his inquisition post mortem.13 His estates in Essex, Surrey and Middlesex were even more lucrative, bringing him almost £40 a year, if not more, over and above his rapidly expanding interests in East Anglia. An indenture of December 1376 refers to Hadley as one of the many freeholders of Sir John Knyvet’s manor of Mendlesham in Suffolk. He maintained a strong connexion with this, his native county, paying £167, in 1381, for the reversion of the manor of Hintlesham. His unlicensed entry there was pardoned and his title confirmed by the Crown on two subsequent occasions. Although Richard II had granted the advowson of Hintlesham church to King’s college, Cambridge, the warden and scholars agreed to part with it, so that by 1387 Hadley’s estate in the manor was complete. He had meanwhile acquired the two smaller neighbouring manors of ‘Talbot’s’ and ‘Pipparde’s’, having perhaps also obtained custody by then of the ten messuages and extensive farmland in Hadleigh which he recovered formally from his brother-in-law, John St. Jermayn, during the Michaelmas term of 1409. Hadley evidently wished to consolidate his holdings immediately to the north of London as well, for in March 1404 he agreed to exchange his manor of Melton by Gravesend in Kent for all of Sir Reynold Cobham’s property in Essex and Middlesex. This gave him the manor of Cobham’s in Stepney, land in Hackney and a few acres of pasture in Stratford. From his second wife came various acquisitions in Harrow, as well as the manor of Mile End in Stepney, from which, in October 1404, he was selling timber to the wardens of London Bridge. Other, more scattered purchases included a messuage in Bermondsey, and unspecified premises in the town of Calais, which Hadley probably acquired during his years as mayor of the Staple there. Moreover, in 1405 he and two others took on the farm of the manor of Cranford, Northamptonshire, which they leased at an annual rent of £11 from the Crown.14

Hadley’s wealth and connexions meant that he was in great demand as a mainpernor and feoffee. He performed the latter service for many eminent persons, including the influential grocer, Hugh Fastolf*, the abbess of the convent of the Minoresses, London, Sir Nicholas Brembre† and his own son-in-law, Sir William Pecche*. He was particularly involved in the affairs of the mercer, John Frosh*, who often made him a feoffee, and in 1397 appointed him to supervise the execution of his will. Their friendship was well established by December 1382, when Hadley offered sureties of 1,000 marks for Frosh’s good behaviour as a prisoner in the Tower.15 Hadley frequently acted as a mainpernor for other merchants, such as the mercer, Thomas Austyn, who was tried before the royal council in 1387, and Angelus Cyba, a Genoese trading in England. In December 1391 he joined in standing bail of £1,000 on behalf of Sir William Bryan, whose arrest and summons to appear before the chancellor caused a dispute between Richard II and John Hende, the mayor of London. Hende’s claim that no Londoner could be detained without the mayor’s prior consent angered the King, and on 20 Jan. 1392 he and three of Bryan’s mainpernors, including Hadley, were instructed to wait upon the royal council for the next eight days with the prisoner, each man being bound in £1,000 as a guarantee of his daily attendance.16

As a feoffee for others and a landowner in his own right, Hadley became involved in a number of property disputes heard before the husting court of London. The first occurred in May 1377, and ended two years later with Hadley renouncing his title to the land in question. He appeared as defendant in six similar actions between May 1393 and November 1408, but seems to have avoided prolonged legal action by settling out of court, probably because most of these suits were collusive.17 The recovery of debts posed a far greater problem, and led Hadley to sue at least eight men for sums totalling almost £80 over the years 1376 to 1382 alone. In November 1403 he petitioned the court of the mayor of the Staple of Westminster for help in collecting a debt of £14 from a Colchester dyer with whom he had evidently been doing business some 18 years before; and at some point he was himself sued in Chancery over the terms of a recognizance in £100 to which he had been a party. All this experience of commerce and the law made Hadley particularly well qualified to arbitrate in the disputes of others, and he was twiced called upon to do so, on the second occasion, in 1393, in a case involving John, Lord Beaumont, and the Genoese merchant Leonellus Vivaldi.18

Although long and distinguished, Hadley’s civic career did not begin well. He was one of the 12 Londoners arrested and sent to the Tower on the King’s orders on 12 May 1371 because of a prolonged and serious outbreak of violence in the City. The notorious radical, John of Northampton, and three of his most active supporters were also detained at this time, although it does not look as if Hadley then had any permanent connexion with them. He was set free at the beginning of August after a further period of incarceration in Moorend castle, Northamptonshire, having offered sureties of £200 for his future good behaviour and readiness to appear before the royal council. The outcome of the case is not known, but three years later Hadley had sufficiently recovered his reputation to be made both an auditor of London and a supervisor of the expenditure of funds held by the commonalty in the chamber of the Guildhall. In August 1374 he was appointed to audit other accounts submitted to the chamberlain, and four years later he served on a committee chosen by the common council to work out a scale of duties leviable on foodstuffs being sold in London. He was also one of the aldermen elected in July 1378 to watch over and direct the exercise of civic liberties.19

Despite his position as a prominent member of the Grocers’ Company, Hadley was not entirely hostile towards John of Northampton and his attempt to reduce the monopolistic powers of the victualling guilds. Perhaps his antagonism towards the Fishmongers, a particular target of Northampton’s reforming zeal, was sufficient reason for him to support the populist mayor’s re-election for a second term of office in October 1382. When, one year later, Northampton was succeeded by his opponent, Sir Nicholas Brembre, Hadley tried to keep the peace between the two men, but Northampton’s extremism eventually drove him into the other camp. He was present at a meeting of the common council in June 1384 when it was unanimously decided that Northampton alone was to blame for the recent riots and disturbances in London. He also attended Northampton’s summary trial two months later before the royal council at Reading; and on 22 Mar. 1385 he was among the Londoners who met in an emergency session of the common council to press vainly for the condemned man’s immediate execution. On the following day he was one of the 12 aldermen chosen to examine the question of strengthening the City’s defences against a possible repetition of disorder. A very real fear of Northampton’s demagogic powers still hung over London one year later, when Hadley and his fellow citizens decided to petition the King not to repeal or modify the sentence of banishment which had been passed against their enemy.20

When Richard II’s quarrel with London came to a head in the early summer of 1392, Hadley was alderman of Lime Street Ward, and as such was summoned with the other civic officers to attend upon the King at Nottingham on 25 June. Allegedly in response to certain ‘notable and evident defaults’ on their part, but really because they had refused to advance him several thousand pounds on credit, Richard suspended the normal government of the City and had the mayor and sheriffs arrested. It is hard to tell whether Hadley’s new appointment as mayor of the Calais Staple, made on the advice of the royal council one day later, was a mark of favour or a sign of Richard’s displeasure. His immediate removal from both his aldermanry and the office of mayor of the Westminster Staple, as well as his replacement on 23 July as collector of the wool customs in London, suggest that the King wanted him out of the way. He would not, however, have been transferred to such an important post had Richard not retained some trust in him: perhaps it was hoped that he would use his great influence to win financial support for the Crown from the wealthy merchants of the Staple. He was included in the formal royal pardon accorded to the citizenry in the following September, and was actually elected mayor of London one year later, so there can be no question of his being in permanent disgrace.21

On 29 Jan. 1395, some three months after the end of his second term as mayor, Hadley was denounced outside Newgate gaol by a rabble-rouser named John Walpole, who declared ‘that of all the mayors John Hadlee was outwardly the finest talker, but inwardly the falsest’. Walpole, ‘a great disseminator of discord’ with many supporters among the London poor, was bound over in £100 to keep the peace, and appears prudently to have refrained from any further attacks on civic dignitaries. Hadley’s reputation could easily withstand slanders of this kind. His impressive parliamentary record, his experience of trade and commerce and his knowledge of government finance (derived from two periods in office as collector of subsidies and treasurer for the wars during the reign of Richard II) made him an ideal choice as one of the four treasurers for the war officially appointed in March 1404 at a salary of 100 marks a year to control the receipt and expenditure of a parliamentary subsidy. The Commons had insisted that the new tax should be administered by their own independent nominees, and at first Hadley and his colleagues managed to exercise fairly strict supervision over the economy. By November 1404, however, two new treasurers more favourable to the King had replaced the original four, and in the following January orders were issued for a final audit of the latter’s accounts.22

Hadley remained an active member of the Grocers’ Company until 1408, but then appears to have retired from public life. He died on 7 Feb. 1410, and was buried in the parish church of St. Pancras in Cheap beside his first wife. In his will he made provision for the poor of Hadleigh and also directed that a chantry with two chaplains should be set up in the local church. Both his daughters had contracted good marriages: Joan, who died just a few weeks after him, was the widow of the Kentish landowner, Sir William Pecche, and currently the wife of Sir William Argentine*, a prominent figure in Suffolk, while Katherine, her younger sister, married William Wingfield, whose family also enjoyed great influence in East Anglia. Most of Hadley’s estates outside London had already been settled upon the two women and their heirs, leaving his widow, Thomasina, in possession of his property in the City. Thomasina had married Sir John Boys* before January 1411, when she began a collusive action for the recovery of her dower. She was still alive in April 1426, being then involved in a number of suits for the defence of her title to the Stodeye inheritance. In the following May William Chichele*, one of Hadley’s executors, made a bequest of £10 for ‘bokes notable’ to the new Guildhall library as a memorial to his old friend.23

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 117-18. Hadley may have sat for London in the May Parliament of 1382, since he was a member of the committee of merchants to whom the Commons referred the question of a loan to the Crown. Six other Londoners served with him, however, and only four can have been returned.
  • 2. Corporation of London RO, hr 96/23, 109/21, 130/77, 135/108, 147/43; hcp 135 m. 1d; PCC 20 Marche; C137/78/28.
  • 3. Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 136-7, 153-4, 367, 385, 401, 417; Beaven, Aldermen, i. 174, 197-8; ii. 390.
  • 4. Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 83.
  • 5. C66/306 m. 23d, 338 m. 13d.
  • 6. Ms Archs. Grocers’ Company ed. Kingdom, i. 22.
  • 7. RP, iii. 204; J.H. Wylie, Hen. IV, i. 413-14; ii. 109-10.
  • 8. C67/23; Rot. Gasc. et Franc. ed. Carte, ii. 165, 167.
  • 9. E403/541 m. 18.
  • 10. R. Higden, Polychronicon ed. Lumby, ix. 281; Corporation of London RO, hr 96/23, 24, 116; PPC 20 Marche.
  • 11. CPR, 1367-70, pp. 469-70; Cal. P. and M. London, 1364-81, p. 233; CCR, 1377-81, p. 36; 1381-5, pp. 11-12.
  • 12. Cal. Letter Bk. London, G, 275-6; H, 73, 79, 124; CPR, 1374-7, p. 36; 1377-81, pp. 24-25; CFR, ix. 41-42, 59; RP, iii. 123; CCR, 1377-81, pp. 109-10.
  • 13. C137/78/28; C143/394/27; Corporation of London RO, hr 96/24, 103/96-98, 109/21, 123/135, 124/3, 130/77, 132/41, 133B/22, 135/108; CAD, v. A 11640; CPR, 1391-6, p. 420; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 48-49.
  • 14. CP25(1)222/103/3, 6; 223/112/10; PCC 20 Marche; C137/78/28; Corporation of London RO, Bridge Masters’ acct. xvii, m. 1; hr 147/43; CPR, 1381-5, pp. 32, 414; 1385-9, pp. 328, 331-2; 1396-9, p. 8; 1405-8, p. 121; CCR, 1374-7, p. 510; 1381-5, p. 91; 1405-9, pp. 168-9; 1409-13, pp. 48-50, 144; CAD, ii. C364, 2725, 2777, 4735.
  • 15. Corporation of London RO, hr 113/115, 128/30, 127/64, 129/88, 147/43; CCR, 1381-5, pp. 120, 243; CPR, 1385-9, p. 406; 1391-6, p. 690; 1396-9, pp. 198, 250; C143/415/29; Cal. P. and M. London, 1381-1412, p. 176.
  • 16. CCR, 1377-81, p. 261; 1385-9, p. 359; 1389-92, p. 424; 1392-6, pp. 38, 453; 1399-1402, pp. 553, 571; Cal. P. and M. London, 1381-1412, p. 234; J.F. Baldwin, King’s Council, 489.
  • 17. Corporation of London RO, hcp 119, Monday aft. feast St. Agatha, 18 Ric. II, 130, Monday aft. feast St. Agatha, 7 Hen. IV, 133, Monday aft. feast St. Katherine, 10 Hen. IV; hpl 99, Monday aft. feast St. Petronilla, 51 Edw. III, 101 m. 17d, 119, Monday bef. feast St. Margaret, 19 Ric. II, 124, Monday aft. feast St. Peter’s Chair, 1 Hen. IV; Cal. P. and M. London, 1381-1412, p. 203.
  • 18. C1/17/385; C241/194/66; Corporation of London RO, hcp 100, Monday aft. feast St. Augustine, 50 Edw. III, 102, Monday aft. feast Annunciation, 1 Ric. II, 105 m. 17, 107, Monday aft. feast St. Andrew, 6 Ric. II; hpl 98, Monday aft. feast St. Andrew, 6 Edw. III; CCR, 1374-7, p. 522; CPR, 1374-7, p. 471; Cal. P. and M. London, 1364-81, p. 201; 1381-1412, pp. 6, 198.
  • 19. Cal. Letter Bk. London, G, 281, 325, 316; H, 90, 94; CCR, 1369-74, pp. 322-3; R. Bird, Turbulent London Ric. II, 72.
  • 20. Bird, 79-82; Cal. P. and M. London, 1381-1412, pp. 53-57; Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 245-6, 279.
  • 21. Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 372; CCR, 1392-6, p. 1; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 130, 171.
  • 22. Cal. P. and M. London, 1381-1412, pp. 229-30; Wylie, i. 413-14; ii. 109-10.
  • 23. Kingdon, i. 103; C137/78/28; PCC 20 Marche; Corporation of London RO, hr 147/43; hcp 135 m. 1d; J. Stow, Surv. London ed. Kingsford, i. 261; Reg. Chichele, ii. 340; Cal. P. and M. London, 1413-37, pp. 177, 179, 189, 196.