ROGER, John I (d.1441), of Bridport and Bryanston, Dorset.
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Family and Education
?s. of John Roger. m. by 1410, Agnes, 2s.1
Constable, Bridport Mich. 1393-4, 1395-6, 1397-8; bailiff 1394-5, 1401-2, 1403-4, 1406-7.2
Collector of customs and subsidies, Poole, Melcombe and Weymouth 6 Apr. 1406-7.
Tax collector, Dorset Dec. 1406.
Bailiff, Wyke Regis, Weymouth and Portland Nov. 1421.3
Roger’s family seems to have originated in Bridport, and he himself remained involved in the town’s affairs until Henry V’s reign. He raised his line from obscurity by becoming not only a successful merchant but also a prominent landowner. Little is known about the former aspect of his career save that in 1395-6, the year of his first return to Parliament, he sold 20 cloths of assize in Dorset, and that he also manufactured and traded in rope, being authorized in September 1411 to requisition artificers to make rigging and cables for the King’s vessels. In 1404 he imported woad and madder worth as much as £270, but his notable losses in business later, at Melcombe Regis, largely on account of enemy raids, were to be quoted in 1433 when the burgesses petitioned the Crown about their poverty and consequent inability to defend themselves and their port. It may have been in connexion with his mercantile dealings that some time in 1403 he was arrested by an order under the great seal and brought to answer articles before the Exchequer, and that in 1412 the constable of the Tower was ordered to hold him in custody, but this is conjectural.4
Surprisingly little is known about Roger’s personal affairs beyond his extensive investments in land in Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset, a process which began in a small way with property in Bridport and Dorchester, and culminated in the take-over of the Lovell estate including, in Somerset, Sparkford, North Cheriton and Upton Noble and, in Dorset, Bryanston, which he made his seat. At first he was partnered in these transactions by his brother, Walter, but another close associate was William Coventre II* of Berkshire with whom, in 1409, he entered into bonds for £433 6s.8d. The manor of Berwick (Somerset) cost him 100 marks, and his other purchases included that of Allington, and lands in Whitchurch and Marshwood Vale (Dorset). In 1410 he acquired an interest for life in the manors of Clevedon and Milton (Somerset) belonging to his ward, Thomas Lovell, with whom he sat in Parliament for Bridport that same year. At the partition of the Furneaux estates in 1421 the manor of Kilve was assigned to Ralph Bush*, but in anticipation the latter had already sold it and other parts of his wife’s inheritance to Roger for 200 marks. By 1412 Roger’s estates were worth as much as £171 a year, at a conservative estimate. His election for the county of Dorset in 1421 was a reflection of his greatly improved status. Within the next few years he increased his holdings still further to include the manors of Sutton Waldron (Dorset) and Upton Lovell and Knook (Wiltshire). It was for his sons, both named John, that he acquired land in Berkshire at Benham Valence and Enborne, and in Hampshire at Mapledurham and elsewhere. Some of these properties were conveyed to him in return for his provision of building materials for Fromond’s chantry in Winchester college. By the time of his death in 1441 Roger owned no fewer than nine manors and seven advowsons, as well as other extensive premises. Moreover, some territory must have already passed through his hands to be transferred to his sons.5
In partnership with Hugh Deverell, Roger had given some property in Melcombe for the foundation of a house of Dominican friars. This, the last house of the order to be built in England before the Reformation, was sanctioned by Pope Martin V in 1418, but was opposed by the diocesan, John Chandler, who declared the friars contumacious. Roger secured a royal licence in his favour in February 1431 and then addressed a petition, successfully this time, to Chandler’s successor, Bishop Neville. He had undertaken the project, he said, because he was ‘moved by the desolation of the town’, and because there was no place dedicated to God in Melcombe. The parochial church of Radipole was a long mile and a half away and was inconvenient for the burgesses, the inhabitants were rude and illiterate, and the area lay open to enemies, ‘whereby the King’s rent was not paid and the customs were diminished’. He earnestly hoped that the foundation would encourage re-population and prosperity.6
Roger died on 4 Oct. 1441. His will, dated 21 Sept., was proved by the archbishop of Canterbury on 10 Nov. A short, businesslike document, it merely expressed his wish to be buried on the north side of the high altar of Bryanston church, to which he left £1 for the fabric fund, and noted a bequest to the rector there of a similar sum for tithes forgotten, while Salisbury cathedral was assigned £1 and the cathedral at Wells 6s.8d. His goods and the residue of his estate passed to John Roger senior, his elder son.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Contemporary variants: Rogeres, Rogger, Roggeris.
- 1. No credence should be given to the statement by J. Hutchins (Dorset, i. 250) that John’s mother was Elizabeth, da. of Sir Simon Furneaux. See Some Som. Manors (Som. Rec. Soc. extra ser. 1931), 319.
- 2. CAD, ii. C2784; iii. C3512; Dorset RO, B3/D2 f. 91, M11 ff. 10, 32, 40, 50.
- 3. CIMisc. vii. 608. Presumably for Edmund Mortimer, earl of March, who held these manors.
- 4. E101/343/29; CPR, 1408-13, p. 321; 1429-36, p. 298; Issues ed. Devon, 593; CCR, 1409-13, p. 261; E122/102/20.
- 5. CAD, i. C1544; ii. C2889; Recs. Dorchester ed. Mayo, 161, 230; Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xxii), 20, 38, 47, 180; Some Som. Manors 319, 398; Bridgwater Bor. Archs. (ibid. lviii), 31; Dorset Feet of Fines, 259, 288; CPR, 1405-8, pp. 168, 409; 1422-9, p. 263; CCR, 1405-9, pp. 90, 243, 247; 1422-9, pp. 45, 193, 203, 319; 1435-41, p. 188; Feudal Aids, ii. 70, 81, 103, 108, 112, 124, 125; iv. 376, 384-6, 392, 423-4, 427, 439; vi. 427; CFR, xv. 204; xvi. 82; C139/107/32; Winchester Coll. mun. 861.
- 6. C81/690/2020-1; CPR, 1429-36, p. 79; VCH Dorset, ii. 92.
- 7. Reg. Chichele, ii. 589.