LONG, Thomas, of Rye, Suss.
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Family and Education
Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1436.3
Long was active as a merchant importing wine as early as the spring of 1398. Under Henry IV he was occasionally involved in the piracies of his presumed brother William. Thus, in August 1407 he shared with William and others of Rye in the spoils of a vessel belonging to certain merchants from Bruges, and in September 1408 the government ordered his arrest as one of William’s accomplices. Thomas is given as mayor in records of court proceedings at Rye on 1 and 2 Apr. 1410, but William witnessed a deed as mayor the next day, so it seems likely that Thomas had been merely acting as his kinsman’s deputy during his absence at Parliament. When mayor in his own right, in December that year, he obeyed the order, issued by the prince of Wales as warden of the Cinque Ports, to arrest William’s ally, Sir John Prendergest, only for the latter to be quickly rescued by his followers. Long served as master of the Jesus of Winchelsea, one of the vessels sent by the Cinque Ports to serve Henry V, but nothing more is heard of his seafaring activities subsequently.4
Thomas continued to make Rye his home, for he witnessed other deeds there from 1409 to 1441, and in 1419 and 1420 he and William acted together as patrons of the chantry of St. Mary and St. Nicholas in the local parish church. But he also held land outside the town, at Udimore, Wivelridge and Hope, on which as a Portsman he obtained exemption from taxation between 1405 and 1422. Conveyances completed at Rye in later years show him dealing with premises with a cellar in 1427 and acquiring a number of acres of land in St. Mary’s croft in 1428. He also acted as a feoffee of property on behalf of other townspeople.5
At some time, probably during the reign of Henry VI, Long was accused in the town court at Winchelsea of certain crimes committed at Portsmouth. But he protested vigorously that he should not be tried in that court for offences which had taken place in an area over which it had no jurisdiction, and demanded to be released from prison. In 1433 he stood surety in Chancery for John atte Downe, who was suing William Fynch† of Winchelsea for wrongful seizure of his lands. His association with privateers had evidently continued, for in 1435 William Morfotet, who was being sued for trespass in the admiralty court at Dover, made over all his property to him, so that when orders came to confiscate Morfote’s holdings and levy £75 from them, Long could claim them as his own, enabling the authorities at Winchelsea to return that Morfote owned nothing in their liberty.6
When mayor in July 1436 Long represented Rye at the Brodhull assembled at New Romney. Thomas Long, junior, probably his son, had acted similarly three months before, and both men sat in Parliament for their home town in the following year. It was the younger who attended the Brodhull of December 1438.7 The date of Long senior’s death is not known.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: A. P.M. Wright
- 1. Cat. Rye Recs. ed. Dell, 136/154, 156, 157.
- 2. Rye Corporation mss, 33/7, f. 39; 77/1, 2; Cat. Rye Recs. 136/138; White and Black Bks. of Cinque Ports (Kent Rec. Ser. xix), 8; E364/57 m. Hd.
- 3. White and Black Bks. 8.
- 4. E122/33/33; CCR, 1405-9, p. 324; CPR, 1405-8, p. 484; Rye Corporation ms, 33/7, f. 36; Cat. Rye Recs. 133/4, 5; 136/160, 190.
- 5. E179/225/31, 33, 34, 42; Cat. Rye Recs. 122/6, 7, 136/174, 183, 184, 137/12; Rye Corporation ms, 33/7, f. 14.
- 6. Cotton Julius BIV, ff. 30, 60; C1/10/20.
- 7. White and Black Bks. 8, 11.