PIRIE, Thomas, of Northampton.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
One of the few men to represent Northampton twice in Parliament during our period, Pirie was evidently a figure of some consequence in the borough, even though he never held office there. He is first mentioned in an alnage account for Northamptonshire drawn up in December 1372, which records that he paid a subsidy for one finished cloth; and it is evident from a subsequent account compiled in November 1396 that he continued, as a draper, to deal in the same commodity for most of his life. Only a few other items of evidence survive to illuminate his career, which cannot now be followed in any great detail. Six years after his return to the Good Parliament of 1376 he and several other local men were arraigned at the Northampton assizes on a plea of novel disseisin by one Adam Cate, who appears to have dropped his case soon afterwards. Much later, in August 1392, Pirie stood surety in Chancery for a sherman named John Forte who had been charged with leaving his employer’s service before the appointed time.1 He was also then involved in the endowment of the guild of the Holy Trinity at Northampton, being responsible (no doubt as a feoffee-to-uses rather than as a direct benefactor) jointly with a neighbour for effecting the transfer to the guild of extensive property and rents in the town. These comprised nine messuages, several shops, crofts and cottages and revenues of £8 15s.a year, all of which were to finance daily masses and other religious ceremonies in the guild church of All Saints. Pirie and the other members of the fraternity paid £100 for royal letters patent dated September 1392 permitting them to implement these arrangements, and it appears from the inquisition ad quod damnum held before the issue of the licence that he himself retained a tenement in ‘Swinewelstrete’, which was evidently his own home. We know from a deed of 1397 that he also enjoyed the use of a nearby garden, although this is the last piece of information now extant about him. Two members of the Pirie family, both of whom were also drapers, became bailiffs of Northampton during the early 15th century—John in 1402 and 1416, and William in 1418—and it is possible that they were the MP’s sons.2