ICKHAM, Thomas (d.1415), of Canterbury, Kent.

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



May 1382
Jan. 1390

Family and Education

m. bef. 1380, Joan, wid. of — Buckland, 1s. 1 William*.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Canterbury Mich. 1382-3, 1384-5, 1395-6, 1402-4, 1407-8; jurat 1383-4, 1385-91, 1393-5, 1397-9, 1400-2, 1406-7, 1408-10, 1411-13, 1414-d.; alderman of Northgate ward by Jan. 1402, of Burgate ward by Sept. 1402.[footnote]

Commr. to reconstruct the archives of the abpric. of Canterbury, Feb. 1399; of sewers, Kent June 1399, Dec. 1400, Kent, Suss. June 1407; inquiry, Kent Sept. 1399 (whereabouts of the possessions of Roger Walden, former abp. of Canterbury), Dec. 1411 (evasion of alnage); array, Canterbury Dec. 1399, Aug. 1402.


Ickham was the outstanding figure in the affairs of Canterbury during the reigns of Richard II and Henry IV, although at the beginning of his career he was concerned not with local administration but with landed estates, some of which were far removed from the city. These belonged to the influential family of Poynings, seated in Sussex but owning several manors in Kent. In November 1375 he was acting as guardian of Richard (d.1387), brother and heir of Thomas, Lord Poynings, and in August 1377 he shared custody of a manor in Suffolk pertaining to his ward’s inheritance, for which alone he paid £20 a year into the royal Exchequer. After Lord Richard came of age, he not only made Ickham a trustee of the same Suffolk manor and of certain properties in Kent, but also granted him a life annuity of four marks charged on the manor of Preston next Faversham.2

Ickham was living in Canterbury by July 1381 when, in accordance with the will of Joan, widow of William Staple, he obtained possession of a messuage in St. Peter’s parish, conditional on him providing a priest at the cost of £2 to offer masses for the soul of the testatrix. He may have been Joan’s son-in-law, for she left him and his wife her home and two shops in the same parish, besides a messuage in All Saints’ parish, in return for a payment of £20 to her executors, of whom he himself was one. In the 1390s Ickham and his wife acquired several other properties in Canterbury, together with rents in Thanington and farm buildings and some 200 acres of land in Petham and Waltham, all situated to the south of the city.3

Ickham’s official career began in 1382, in which year he was not only elected to Parliament for Canterbury, but also chosen as one of the city’s bailiffs for the first of six terms. He was to display an active interest in civic affairs until his death over 30 years later. In February 1386 he was one of six leading citizens who made recognizance to the King for 800 marks as security for a royal grant of £200 from the issues of Kent, on condition that they themselves would provide an equivalent sum within the next two years, which, put together with a gift of 200 marks from Archbishop Courtenay, was to be used for renovating the city walls and fortifying them to resist the French should they land again in south-east England. In the event the works needed a much larger sum than was supplied; so much so that when the bailiffs accounted at the Exchequer in 1393, they had overspent by about £86, without having completed the task. Nothing more is heard of the operations until Ickham himself conducted a survey of the walls (perhaps in response to a royal order of October 1402 addressed to the then bailiffs, of whom he was one). In 1409 the local authorities were licensed to acquire property up to the value of £20 a year as a permanent endowment for repairs to the walls, and Ickham promptly came forward to donate four-and-a-half acres of land in the suburbs, worth £1 8s.8d. p.a.4

The records provide no hint of Ickham’s trade or profession, although he seems to have dealt in livestock, for in February 1389 he was given permission for himself or his agents to export 1,000 head of sheep to Calais for the provisioning of the town. The reason why in November 1393 Nicholas Carew* and John Bonet*, both of Surrey, entered into recognizances with him and others in 200 marks is not known, but when in May 1397 Edmund Horne* of Canterbury did likewise, as well as offering another bond for £20, this was to insure them against any loss they might incur for acting as Horne’s mainpernors pending an appeal against a judgement of the civic court at Canterbury.5

Meanwhile, on 10 Aug. 1394, Ickham had secured exemption for life from being compelled to hold any royal office against his will, and Henry IV was to confirm this privilege to him six years later. In 1395 he and his parliamentary colleague, William Ellis, carried with them to Westminster a copy of Canterbury’s charter of liberties for confirmation, and on the same occasion Ickham also obtained formal acknowledgement of the city’s exemption from such exercise of jurisdiction by the royal justices as had pertained earlier in the century. In the following year he was in trouble at the Exchequer over his account for the first six months of his bailiffship in the official year 1395-6, after the audit revealed a discrepancy of £14 6s.8d. He was ordered to be arrested and brought before the barons, but then he found sureties and was released on 23 Aug., pending his appearance on the following 1 Oct.6

It seems likely that Ickham was employed in some official capacity in the administration of the estates of the see of Canterbury. This is suggested by his appointment to a royal commission set up at the request of Archbishop Roger Walden early in 1399, its purpose being to reconstruct the archives of the archbishopric which had been extensively destroyed by insurgents during the Peasants’ Revolt. Yet, like other citizens of Canterbury, he may well have resented the autocratic rule of Richard II, who had banished Walden’s predecessor, Thomas Arundel, for it was he who, together with John Sheldwich I*, was chosen in the late summer to ride to London to convey the city’s welcome to Arundel and Henry of Bolingbroke on their return from exile. Both delegates were promptly appointed, on Bolingbroke’s nomination, to a royal commission of inquiry, ostensibly to discover the whereabouts of the moveable goods of the now deposed Archbishop Walden, but doubtless in effect to recover any of Arundel’s own possessions which had been removed from the archiepiscopal residences. Subsequently, in 1408, Ickham appeared as a witness to deeds dated at Herne and Reculver, in association with Gregory Ballard, the steward of Archbishop Arundel’s estates, and it looks as if he might still have been in the archbishop’s service, albeit in an undefined position.7

Meanwhile, in 1407, Ickham had been named as an executor of the will of Sir William Septvance, an important Kentish landowner who was to be buried in Canterbury cathedral. It is perhaps an indication of his own standing in the community that following his death, which occurred on 26 Aug. 1415, he too was interred there. In his lifetime Ickham had been a benefactor of St. Peter’s church, Canterbury: in 1405 and 1408 he had obtained royal licences to grant the church plots of land for the enlargement of its cemetery and the maintenance of lights, in return for the performance of certain works of piety. He and his wife were remembered in an inscription placed in the glass of a window there.8 His widow and son, William, survived him.

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


A surname derived from the place a few miles east of Canterbury. Variants: Hykham, Ikeham, Ikham, Jokham.

  • 1. C1/6/154.
  • 2. CCR, 1374-7, pp. 178-9; 1385-9, pp. 351, 355, 373, 560; CFR, ix. 10; CIPM, xvi. 612, 615.
  • 3. Canterbury O/A1, ff. 3, 4d; CP25(1)110/237/727, 242/859, 245/942, 247/992; CCR, 1396-9, p. 505; C. Cotton, Grey Friars of Canterbury, 22.
  • 4. CCR, 1385-9, pp. 120-1; CPR, 1401-5, p. 185; 1408-13, pp. 104, 150. Ickham’s survey of the walls, as given in FA1, f. 312 and O/A, f. 59, bears no date save that of his death in 3 Hen. V. Somner’s dating of the survey as 3 Hen. IV (Antiqs. Canterbury, 8) may therefore have been an error.
  • 5. CCR, 1385-9, pp. 563-4; 1392-6, p. 233; 1396-9, pp. 126, 132-3.
  • 6. CPR, 1391-6, p. 472; 1396-9, pp. 61-62; 1399-1401, p. 281; Canterbury FA1, f. 25.
  • 7. FA1, f. 40; CCR, 1405-9, pp. 354, 356, 367.
  • 8. Canterbury consist. ct. Reg. i. f. 16; Canterbury O/A1, f. 59; CPR, 1405-8, pp. 93, 424; Kent Obit and Lamp Rents (Kent Rec. Ser. xiv), 31; Somner, i. app. 69; E. Hasted, Kent, xi. 265.