SHORDITCH, John I (d.1410), of Hackney, Mdx. and London.
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Family and Education
Commr. of array, Mdx. Oct. 1366, Feb. 1367, Sept. 1386, Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399, Sept., Nov. 1403; to make proclamation concerning the arrest of the insurgents of 1381 and the holding of illegal assemblies July 1381; of oyer and terminer (to suppress the insurgents) July, Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382 (bis); sewers Jan. 1383, Dec. 1395, Oct. 1398; inquiry May 1402 (seditious rumours); to raise a loan Sept. 1405.
J.p. Mdx. 6 Nov. 1377-Feb. 1407.
Surveyor of tax assessments, Mdx. Dec. 1380.
Tax collector, Mdx. Mar. 1404.
Nothing appears to be known about Shorditch before his first return to Parliament in 1363, although he may well have been related to the two London goldsmiths, William and Richard Shorditch, both of whom died during the Black Death leaving sons called John. He evidently had a number of relatives in Middlesex, two of whom, named Richard and John Shorditch, stood surety on his behalf at the county elections of 1380 and 1381.2 He had settled in Hackney by October 1365, when he offered his lands and chattels in Middlesex as security for the payment of the 50 marks which he owed to William Morton. It is now difficult to establish the precise sequence of Shorditch’s property transactions: he probably acquired or inherited holdings in Uxbridge, Ruislip and Hackney while still a relatively young man; and at an early date he owned part, if not all, of the manor of Chelsea, which eventually descended to his grandson, John†. In July 1383, John Bacon took on a five-year lease of one of Shorditch’s dwelling-houses there, perhaps as part of an arrangement whereby the shire knight was to pay him a debt of £40.3 The land in Ickenham, Southall, Hackney, Shoreditch and Chelsea which remained in the hands of Shorditch’s immediate family was said to be worth £40 a year in 1412, two years after his death. His annual landed income must, however, have been far higher, since no valuation is given for either his city properties in the parishes of St. Martin Orgar and All Hallows Barking, or the manor of Gunnersbury, Middlesex, which he purchased from Thomas Charlton† in 1390. The manor of Pinner was described as being ‘of his inheritance’ at Easter 1397, but it seems to have been settled by him in reversion on the abbey of St. Mary Graces, London, a house in whose affairs he was closely involved.4 Five years earlier he had joined with William of Wykeham, the bishop of Winchester, Sir John Peckbridge* and other trustees of the Poultney estates in seeking permission from the King for the alienation to the abbey in mortmain of the manor of Poplar, Middlesex, and land in Woolwich, Kent; and in December 1395 their petition was granted.5
Shorditch had many other connexions with the Church. In April 1379, for example, he and his wife released a plot of land ‘out of piety’ to the hospital of St. Mary without Bishopsgate so that the prior could build there. On drawing up his will in 1410, the MP gave instructions for his burial to take place in the church of the hospital, to which he made a number of bequests. From July 1383 he also had dealings with the abbot and convent of Westminster, whose temporalities were then entrusted to his care for an indefinite period by the Crown. He and the other two custodians were soon ordered to account for their arrears before the treasurer and barons of the Exchequer, although they obtained a writ of supersedeas in the following January and the matter appears to have been dropped. A John Shorditch, ‘citizen of London’, stood surety for the warden and canons of St. George’s chapel, Windsor, at the Exchequer in November 1394, although it is possible that this reference concerns Shorditch’s namesake, a London fletcher.6 Predictably for one who played such a prominent part in local affairs, Shorditch was often called upon to act as a feoffee-to-uses. He did so on a fairly regular basis between 1379 and 1404, most notably for his fellow shire knights, Sir Adam Francis*, John Durham* and Godfrey atte Perry*, the eminent London merchant, John Hadley*, and Sir William Beauchamp, the brother of Thomas, earl of Warwick.7 On the other hand, very little evidence of Shorditch’s personal dealings has survived. In March 1374, Reyner Gayton made him his attorney for the conveyance of property in Tottenham, and two years later he appears among the mainpernors who guaranteed to bring John Brokhampton before the royal council. Shorditch was apparently not a litigious man. Only once, in, or before, the Michaelmas term of 1402, do we find him active in the courts, when he was suing one John Halingbury for averring threats.8
Seven times a shire knight for Middlesex, and a regular member of the bench for almost 30 years, Shorditch devoted a considerable part of his life to the business of government at a county level, which may help to explain why he remains such a grey figure. He sat on many royal commissions, and in November 1400 his name was put forward as escheator for Middlesex, although for some unknown reason the appointment was vacated.9 Shorditch was at least 65 when he retired from the bench in February 1407, not long before the death of his only son, John, who had himself twice represented the county in Parliament. He was then still active enough to undertake the duties of an executor, but on 9 Mar. 1410 he drew up his own will, and was dead by the end of the year. He left no surviving children. Elizabeth, his widow, received the contents of his chapel, his books and missals, and the customary third of his estate, while the property which had not been settled on his young grandson was set aside for pious uses.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Scordissh, Schordich. He is not to be confused with the London fletcher of the same name, who was almost his exact contemporary (Cal. P. and M. London, 1364-81, p. 218; CCR, 1389-92, p. 361; 1396-9, p. 427), for although he owned property in the City he is always described as ‘of Middlesex’ or ‘of Hackney’.
- 1. Corporation of London RO, hr 107/136; Guildhall Lib. London, 9171/2, ff. 189-9d.
- 2. C219/8/4, 5; Corporation of London RO, hr 76/108, 77/88. Thomas and Robert Shorditch, who were also goldsmiths, likewise fell victim to the plague in 1348/9 (hr 76/300, 77/254).
- 3. CCR, 1364-8, p. 192; 1381-5, p. 387; CIMisc. iii. no. 652; VCH Mdx. iv. 136; Add. Ch. 15623; Corporation of London RO, hr 155/42.
- 4. Corporation of London RO, hr 133/107-8, 155/42; Feudal Aids, vi. 488-9; CP25(1)151/79/106, 81/160.
- 5. C143/418/12; CPR, 1391-6, p. 643.
- 6. Corporation of London RO, hr 107/136; Guildhall Lib. 9171/2, f. 189; CFR, x. 9; xi. 133; CCR, 1381-5, pp. 431, 435.
- 7. CCR, 1377-81, p. 335; 1381-5, pp. 247-8, 297; 1422-9, p. 137; CPR, 1396-9, pp. 250, 403; VCH Herts. iii. 114; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 254; C138/29/53; CP25(1)151/80/138, 83/34; Corporation of London RO, hr 133/34; Cart. St. Bartholomew’s Hosp. ed. Kerling, no. 1153.
- 8. Corporation of London RO, hr 102/111; CCR, 1374-7, p. 443; 1402-5, p. 118.
- 9. CFR, xii. 92.
- 10. Guildhall Lib. 9171/2, ff. 109d, 189-9d.