PLUMPTRE, John (d.1415/16), of Nottingham.

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



Feb. 1388

Family and Education

m. bef. Nov. 1378, Emma (d.1403), s.p.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Nottingham Mich. 1373-4; mayor 1385-6, 1391-2, 1394-6, 1408-9.2

Poll tax collector, Nottingham Mar. 1377.

Commr. of inquiry, Notts. Feb. 1383, Oct. 1402 (liability to contribute to repairs to the bridges over the Leen at Nottingham); arrest Aug. 1395.


The family of Plumptre took its name from the village five miles south of Nottingham. John himself was actively engaged in the affairs of the town from 1371 for more than 40 years, as a juror, feoffee and witness to conveyances, serving as mayor in the meantime for no fewer than five annual terms.3 Having successfully built up his business as a merchant stapler, in April 1379 he joined with two other Nottingham burgesses in making a loan of 100 marks to the King. As a manufacturer of woollen cloth, between September 1392 and July 1395 he was assessed for alnage on as many as 322 ‘dozens’, a quantity which far exceeded the output of any other local producer. Between 1401 and 1405 his total production was just short of 500 ‘dozens’, probably much more than would be required for the home market. This being the case, occasionally in partnership with his brother Henry (mayor of Nottingham in 1387-8), he exported cloth from Kingston-upon-Hull: shipments such as 25 broadcloths in 1381, a cargo valued at £92 some three years later, 52 lengths of fabric worth £78 in 1390 and 84 more worth over £125 in December 1391. He also exported hides and, more important, raw wool—of the latter as much as 59 sacks, 61 stone and two cloves in October 1390, and 148 sacks and 100 stone in the spring of 1392. His imports included large quantities of woad, madder, oil, wine, iron, timber, coal, wax and herring.4 Since he traded extensively with Middleburg, Zeeland, Danzig and elsewhere in the Baltic, in 1388 Plumptre was naturally among the east-coast merchants required to contribute towards the cost of a royal embassy to Prussia to resolve disputes between English and Hanseatic traders, his share being set at £2 10s. In 1392 he went surety in £200, the object of the bond being to secure the restoration of goods taken into Scotland in alleged breach of the truce. Other set-backs occurred nearer home: in the same year, in fact, a barge of Plumptre’s, sailing up the river Trent towards Nottingham loaded with victuals and other commodities, was attacked at East Bridgford by Sir William Chaworth and his servants, who stole the goods and wounded members of the crew.5

Profitable trading ventures enabled Plumptre in 1404 to participate in another royal loan of 100 marks, this time to Henry IV, and also to purchase property at home. He and his brother had owned premises in Nottingham since 1378, when they sued another burgess for causing damage by flooding; and John went on to buy tenements, granges and gardens in Fisher Gate, Little Marsh, The Poultry, Wheeler Gate and Penny Foot Street, as well as lands on the Rye hills, while Henry took up residence in the Vout hall on Drury Hill.6 As he was childless, with these properties John Plumptre decided to endow a hospital at the Bridge End (now Red Lion Square), which still bears his name. Plumptre’s foundation was already being planned by November 1390 when, by reason of a temporary infirmity, he asked his brother to arrange on his behalf for the enrolment in the borough court of a purchase of two tenements next to the hospital. Legal sanction had not yet been obtained, but in May 1392 a royal inquiry established that Plumptre wished to provide for 13 aged poor widows and two chaplains in honour of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and to grant them two messuages, nine cottages and two tofts. He purchased the necessary royal licence in July following, and the chantry was ordained eight years later, a stipend of £5 being assigned to each of the chaplains and the right of presentation after the founder’s death vested in the prior and convent of Lenton. Meanwhile, in 1393, he had acquired special recognition of the altar from Pope Boniface IX (who in 1402 was to grant to the warden and inmates exemption from the jurisdiction of the ordinary, taking them under the immediate protection of the Apostolic See); and in addition he obtained for them an episcopal bull and indulgence. Other members of John’s family also took an interest: by her will of 1403 (proved on 11 Oct.) his wife, Emma, left to the widows a dozen lengths of woollen cloth, and five years later Henry Plumptre bequeathed 12d. to each of the occupants of the hospital beds. John himself devoted much energy to the project: by 1414 he had established two chapels within the hospital precincts, one dedicated to St. Thomas the Martyr, the other to St. Mary; and the following year he executed an amending instrument by which he raised the stipend of the warden to £6, while limiting the number of widows to seven. At the same time he augmented the foundation by promising it his dwelling in The Poultry after the deaths of himself and Thomas Plumptre, chaplain, his kinsman.7

By his will of December 1415 Plumptre left £1 to each poor woman in his hospital and £80 to maintain four chaplains for four years, two at the hospital and two at the altar dedicated to All Saints in St. Peter’s church, where he was to be buried before the crucifix, next to his wife and brother. The monetary provisions of the will exceeded £190, including £10 to the poor, £5 each to two of Plumptre’s sisters and a brother, John, a chaplain, £20 to another John Plumptre, his nephew, and £10 for repairs to the hospital. His executors included John Tansley*. The testator died before 5 Feb. 1416.8

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. R. Thoroton, Notts. ed. Throsby, ii. 80; Nottingham Archs. ct. roll 1280 m. 2d. He was not married to a woman called Anne as Thoroton suggested; the mistake being copied from G.C. Deering, Nottinghamia, 146.
  • 2. Nottingham Recs. ed. Stevenson, i. 425-6; ii. 427; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Middleton ms D781; CCR, 1392-6, pp. 14, 152.
  • 3. Nottingham Archs. ct. roll 1287 m. 19d; Middleton ms D784; CCR, 1409-13, p. 216; Nottingham Recs. ii. 83, 94, 401; C219/10/6; KB9/204/1 m. 29.
  • 4. CPR, 1377-81, p. 637; E101/343/21, 346/9; E122/59/7, 8, 15, 16, 23-25, 159/11.
  • 5. CCR, 1385-9, p. 566; 1392-6, p. 33; KB27/526 rex m. 3.
  • 6. CPR, 1401-5, p. 417; CP25(1)186/35/27; Nottingham Archs. ct. rolls 1280 m. 2, 1291 m. 25d, 1293 mm. 1d, 10d, 1302 m. 1d; Nottingham Recs. i. 281, 311-13.
  • 7. A. Stapleton, Rel. Insts. Old Nottingham, 75-87; Nottingham Recs. i. 249-53; ii. 96-99; C143/413/17; CPR, 1391-6, p. 116; VCH Notts. ii. 174-5; CPL, iv. 450; Borthwick Inst. York, York registry wills, iii. f. 98.
  • 8. York Reg. Bowet, f. 361.