LOWYS, James (d.c.1454), of New Romney, Kent.
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Family and Education
prob. s. of John Lowys of New Romney.5 m. 1da.
Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1414, 1434.8
Commr. of inquiry, Cinque Ports Nov. 1434 (piracy).
Lowys paid maltolts in Olberd ward, Romney (as his putative father had previously done), from 1411 to 1453. Little is known about his property in the town or its neighbourhood, although for a time he owned a mill, and in 1436 he is recorded acquiring land in St. Nicholas’s parish.9
Shortly before attending Henry V’s first Parliament in May 1413, Lowys was present at the new King’s coronation, as one of the barons of the Cinque Ports privileged to bear the royal canopy. In the previous year he had acted as a feoffee for James Tiece*, and now joined him in serving as executor for his brother, Hugh Tiece, under whose will they gave five marks to the commonalty of Romney as alms, after first visiting Archbishop Arundel at Cranbrook to obtain leave to make this gift. In association with Hugh Fleger, Lowys sold the local authorities a building in Colbrond ward to serve as the common house, so that the jurats could stop using St. Nicholas’s church for public business. Over the years he was frequently employed on the town’s behalf. In 1424 he was sent to Dover to arrange shipping for the proposed expedition of the warden, Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, to Hainault. Two years later he lent Romney £4 2s.8d. towards the expenses of the MPs at Leicester, a loan which was repaid in 1427. In December 1429 he was among the barons who attended Henry VI’s coronation. On various occasions Lowys also intervened in the affairs of Lydd, Romney’s principal member-port: in 1428 he visited Dover on behalf of a Lydd man; in 1430 he accompanied the jurats of Lydd to Dengemarsh on orders from Dover castle to seize the goods of some Scots; four years later he held an inquest at Lydd; and in 1440 he went there to learn the contents of a royal commission. These and many other of Lowys’s activities suggest that he had some training in the law.10
On several occasions Lowys was kept busy engaged in matters which affected all the Cinque Ports. Thus, in 1432-3 he spent 22 days in London suing for writs to be issued to the collectors of the parliamentary fifteenths to ensure that the Ports’ customary exemption from the tax would be allowed. When attending the Parliament of 1433 he put forward a bill on which he needed to take counsel’s opinion. This may well have related to the suit undertaken by the Ports about that time, of which he was chosen one of the four managers. If so, it concerned certain letters sent to the barons, probably from Dover castle, which they claimed to be in violation of their liberties, and resolved to demand from the warden that such missives should not be dispatched in future. The four delegates were promised that if any of them were vexed or troubled in this common cause, he would be supported and helped to the best of the barons’ power. Lowys very often represented Romney at the Brodhull (doing so 47 times between January 1434 and March 1453, attending all but two of the meetings convened in that period). At the assembly of January 1434 he and three others were appointed to sue in the Exchequer for outstanding tax allowances due to Portsmen, and were granted as much as £10 each for their expenses. In fact, in the course of a year he received from Dover alone £11 10s. for this business, and is known to have spent at least 23 days in London before its satisfactory completion. In 1438 Lowys was called to Dover to assist in the settlement of the Port’s longstanding dispute with its member-port of Faversham. Nor were the interests of his home town neglected, for in 1441-2 he was put on a deputation to Canterbury for discussions with Archbishop Chichele’s steward about Romney’s proposal to be allowed to hold its bailiffship at farm.11
Lowys was sometimes asked to act as a feoffee-to-uses, in particular by the Holyngbroke family of Romney, but on at least three occasions misdemeanours or negligence on his part resulted in lawsuits in Chancery. Thus it was said that he had refused to relinquish certain lands he held as a trustee for William Canoun* of Hythe to the right heir. At an unknown date between 1413 and 1417 he was sued by William Ickham* of Canterbury and his wife, Margaret, it being alleged that he and his co-trustee of the property once belonging to William Holyngbroke* had unjustly failed to make a settlement of jointure on Margaret as widow of Holyngbroke’s son, Hugh. Another William Holyngbroke (probably Hugh’s brother) made him a trustee of certain lands for the benefit of his daughters, but it took a petition sent to the chancellor, Bishop Stafford, in the early 1440s, to make him comply with Holyngbroke’s wishes.12
In 1452-3 Lowys was harassed by a writ of summons, and, because of his age and local distinction, Romney sent a messenger to speak with the lieutenant warden, Sir Gervase Clifton†, and a letter to Clifton’s wife to obtain her intercession, in order to spare him the labour of responding. In his will made on 20 Mar. 1454 he left money to the nurses who had tended him in his sickness. He asked to be buried in the cemetery of St. Nicholas’s church, Romney, next to his parents; and besides legacies to the church itself, including, if the parishioners desired it, six marks for the purchase of a copy of the ‘Legend of all the Saints’, he made bequests to local religious fraternities. His heirs were the children of his daughter Isabel, who had, by her first husband, William Martin, a son William and two daughters, Alice and Agnes, and, by John Porter (still living), a daughter, Petronilla. On the 24th Lowys ordered his feoffees and executors to sell his property in Romney and use the proceeds to furnish portions of £2 each for the girls when they married or reached the age of 18, and five marks to young William when he attained his majority, provided he behaved well. The remainder was to be used for works of charity. There is no date of probate, but Lowys probably died soon after making the will.13
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: A. P.M. Wright
- 1. Romney paid him £8 8s.4d. for attending for 69 days, to which Dover added 10s. for ten days service: Romney assmt. bk. 2, f. 102; Add. 29615, f. 86.
- 2. Attending for 29 days: assmt. bk. 2, f. 111.
- 3. Romney paid him at the rate of 2s. a day for 72 days, and 20d. a day for 44 days, while Dover paid him 20d. a day for 43 days: assmt. bk. 2, f. 117; Add. 29615, f. 198.
- 4. Attending for 48 days: assmt. bk. 2, f. 131.
- 5. Who paid maltolts in Olberd ward from 1385 to 1411: ibid. ff. 3-70.
- 6. Ibid. ff. 76-129; 3, ff. 9, 13, 21.
- 7. Ibid. 2, ff. 72, 77, 98, 100, 103, 111, 119, 131.
- 8. Ibid. ff. 82, 119; White and Black Bks. of Cinque Ports (Kent Rec. Ser. xix), 4.
- 9. Assmt. bk. 2, ff. 70-130; 3, ff. 2-17; Kent AO, NR/JBr/8 nos. 13, 17.
- 10. Assmt. bk. 2, ff. 79, 80, 102, 103, 110; NR/JBr/6 no. 2; Lydd Recs. ed. Finn, 15-16, 20, 28, 29, 33, 52, 74.
- 11. White and Black Bks. 3-10; assmt. bk. 2, ff. 117, 119, 125, 131; Add. 29615, ff. 192, 198; 29810, f. 2; Dover Chs. ed. Statham, 184- 94.
- 12. Assmt. bk. 3, f. 10; NR/JBr/8 no. 16; C1/6/57, 11/173, 72/57.
- 13. Assmt. bk. 3, f. 18; Canterbury Cathedral, City and Diocesan RO, consist. ct. wills, reg. 1, ff. 67-68.