SHORT, Hugh, of London.
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Family and Education
Alderman of Bread Street Ward by 21 Sept. 1397-c.1399; auditor of London 21 Sept. 1397-8.1
Nothing is known of Short before March 1380, when he had already begun to import quite considerable quantities of merchandise through the port of London. At this time he paid duty on goods worth £93; and he continued to trade in wine and mercers’ wares for the next 18 years at least. In May 1391, for example, he shipped a consignment of silks and other expensive fabrics worth over £44 into the capital, although he subsequently defaulted over the payment of customs and subsidies on various commodities. By December 1398 these debts had become so serious that orders were sent out for the seizure of all his goods, including those which he and Andrew Preston were currently transporting on board La Trinitee of Hook. Short’s dealings with crown officials were beset with difficulties at this time, for in the previous summer a barge carrying ‘divers merchandise’ of his to Spain had been commandeered at Dartmouth for the duke of Surrey’s passage to Ireland and the cargo put ashore. His petition for redress fortunately coincided with the usurpation of Henry of Bolingbroke, so that in August 1399, when Surrey had fallen from power, both the ship and its contents were restored to him.2
Short seems to have been quite affluent, but it is hard to determine how rich he really was. In February and May 1396 he began litigation in the court of common pleas for the recovery of three modest debts worth a total of £18, and two years later he was himself being sued for debt in the Colchester town court by a local clothier. He evidently transacted a good deal of business in this part of the country, since in January 1399 he and Roger Gratton, a fellow vintner, were summoned to the same court to answer William Venour†, a prominent member of the Grocers’ Company, who claimed that they owed him £70.3 Although he became indirectly involved in the flourishing London property market, Short himself was not a landowner on a large scale. In July 1390 he and Nicholas Bromsgrove took on the lease of six tenements and various rents belonging to William Bys and his wife in Billingsgate Ward. They agreed to pay an annual rent of 37 marks to the grantors for the rest of their lives, but in January 1393 they settled most of the tenancy upon John Walworth and others, possibly in accordance with the terms of a trust. Five years later Short joined with Sir William Walworth’s† widow and her feoffees in making a new conveyance of these tenements, which suggests that he still held all or part of the original title. He also acted as a feoffee of Hugh Ryebread’s* premises in Bridge Street at some point in the 1390s, but no other references to any similar transactions are known to have survived.4 On three occasions, all in 1397, Short was summoned to appear before the husting court of London as one of many defendants in litigation concerning the ownership of rents and tenements in the City, so it looks as if he may, even so, have been a party to quite a few enfeoffments-to-uses.5
Until his election as alderman of Bread Street Ward in 1397, the year of his one return to Parliament, Short played no significant part in civic affairs. Neither could he boast any really influential connexions among the ruling hierarchy before this date. In July 1392 he sat on the jury at an inquisition ad quod damnum held to determine if John Wade I* could dispose of property in London to the Church: otherwise he evidently had little to do with his fellow citizens. He may perhaps have died in or shortly after 1399, since the London sources contain no record of him after this date. A Hugh Short was ordered to be arrested and brought before the court of Chancery in November 1410 and again in April 1416, but there is no reason to identify him with the subject of this biography, especially as the complaints about his behaviour were lodged by tenants of the manor of Upton Scudamore in Wiltshire.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Beaven, Aldermen, i. 46, 403.
- 2. E122/71/13 mm. 2, 29d; CPR, 1396-9, p. 507; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 328-9.
- 3. Corporation of London RO, hpl 120, Monday aft. feast St. Gregory the Pope and Monday bef. feast St. Margaret, 19 Ric. II; Colchester Moot Hall, ct. roll 30 mm. 8-9.
- 4. Corporation of London RO, hr 119/28, 120/72, 121/193, 127/415; Cart. St. Bartholomew’s Hosp. ed. Kerling, app. I, no. 247.
- 5. Corporation of London RO, hcp 122, Monday bef. feast St. Martin, 21 Ric. II; hpl 121, feast St. Gregory the Pope and Monday aft. feast St. Dunstan, 20 Ric. II.
- 6. C143/417/24; CPR, 1408-13, p. 313; 1416-22, pp. 72, 321.