SKINNER, Thomas (c.1343-c.1411), of Shrewsbury, Salop.
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Family and Education
Bailiff, Shrewsbury Sept. 1368-9, 1381-2, 1383-4, 1400-1, 1404-5; assessor 1388-9, 1396-7, 1398-9, 1406-7.2
Tax collector, Salop Dec. 1372 (replaced Jan. 1373).
Commr. to settle disorder, Shrewsbury Mar. 1381; of arrest Oct. 1384; array, Salop Apr. 1385.
The Skinner family had lived in Shrewsbury since the 13th century and acquired extensive property in both town and vicinity. Thomas’s grandfather, William Skinner, senior, had represented the borough in Parliament six times between 1322 and 1339 (twice in association with his son, William junior),3 and he himself became very active in the government and affairs of the commonalty, being elected bailiff for five annual terms and representative in the Commons on no fewer than 12 occasions.
Early in his career, in May 1367, Skinner was present in London at the formal settlement of a local dispute. During his first Parliament, in March 1371, a royal commission was set up to investigate complaints by John Routhale of Ludlow that he had broken into a house in Shrewsbury and stolen half of the goods (valued at 200 marks) which were locked up there for safe-keeping. However, there is a strong likelihood that the MP had acted in some official capacity. In February 1379 Skinner provided securities in Chancery for Hugh Acton, a clerk from the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield then appealing against episcopal sentence of excommunication, and on 28 Apr. of the same year, four days after the opening of his fourth Parliament, he found surety in the Exchequer for Thomas Butler*, nephew and coheir of John, Lord Sudeley, who was then in the process of securing a royal lease of the latter’s estates. The burgesses of Shrewsbury sent several petitions of mutual complaint to the Parliament at Northampton, and it was probably in response to one of these that, in Chancery (housed in the Franciscan priory) on 20 Nov. 1380, Skinner, then again sitting in the Commons, was required to undertake on penalty of of £100 that members of the Biriton family would not assault Nicholas Gerard*. On 29 Mar. 1381, three days after being commissioned to settle the factional disputes which were seriously disrupting the peace in his home town, he headed the list of the council of in elected at ‘Castle Isabel’ in the presence of Richard, earl of Arundel, to assist the bailiffs to govern for two years from September following. However, in the event he himself was made bailiff for the official year 1381-2, in the course of which he represented the borough in the Lower House twice more. He was returned to Parliament for the ninth time, in April 1384, while again in office as a bailiff, and five years later, in August 1389, he appeared once more as a member of the council of 12. The fact that in some years, even when he was not a borough official, Skinner received a fee of 20s., suggests that he was almost continuously active on the community’s behalf, and lends credence to the supposition that he was a lawyer. He was among the burgesses who, early in 1399, petitioned Richard II for redress following the alleged embezzlement of their funds by Thomas Pride*, and he served as an assessor at meetings of the Shrewsbury guild merchant in December 1397 and on 31 Jan. 1408 (the latter occasion being that of his son John’s admission as a burgess).4 Soon after this, however, in August 1408, Skinner secured royal letters patent exempting him from further office-holding on the ground that he was over 65 years of age.5
Skinner’s obvious competence in administrative affairs had led him, in December 1385, when again representing Shrewsbury in Parliament, to be associated with Thomas Lee I*, then knight of the shire for Shropshire, as a trustee of property in his home town once belonging to Reynold Perle†. More important, ten years later, and also with Lee, he was made a feoffee of estates belonging to Sir Hugh Zouche in Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire and Sussex, and, probably as a consequence, also of the manors of Upton and Cantley, Norfolk, and Great Bradley, Suffolk, held by the prominent Shropshire landowner Hugh, Lord Burnell, whose second wife, Joyce, was Zouche’s heir.6 In addition to extensive property in Shrewsbury, Skinner himself held parcels of land nearby, in Lynches, Fenemere and Coleham. Furthermore, by 1400 he had acquired an interest for life in the Shropshire estates formerly belonging to his kinsman, Sir Hamon Vaughan, as well as in the latter’s manor of West Tilbury (Essex). On a more permanent basis, he took possession before his death of Vaughan’s manor of ‘Plumbaron’, also in Essex, which, however, he instructed his executors to sell.7
Skinner made his will on 20 Oct. 1411. In it he asked to be buried in the chapel dedicated to St. Thomas the Martyr in St. Chad’s church, where, if his executors could obtain a royal licence, they were to found a chantry. Bequests went to the four orders of friars in Shrewsbury, to John Burley I*, and to members of Thomas Lee’s family, and, in addition, Skinner provided for prayers for the souls of Katherine Weston and Sir Hamon Vaughan and his wife. Most of his possessions, including robes trimmed with fur, garments of silk, silver goblets, armour, swords and daggers, were to pass, along with his lands, to his son, John. Although probate was not granted until 16 May 1416, there is no evidence of activity on Skinner’s part after October 1411, and it is doubtful if he survived for much longer.8 His son must have died soon afterwards, for it was Thomas’s sister, Eleanor, wife of Reynold Mytton† of Shrewsbury, who inherited the estates, including those of Sir Hamon Vaughan, which, after coming into the possession of John Falk* of Hereford by right of his wife, Katherine Bockleton, were to be, in 1437, conveyed by Falk’s son to Eleanor’s grandson, William Mytton, esquire.9 Several years after Skinner’s death Sir Thomas de la Barre* claimed in a suit in Chancery, apparently unsuccessfully, that, in furtherance of a bond worth £500 which the MP had delivered to him under the Shrewsbury statute merchant, all the latter’s lands in Shropshire should belong to him, but that he had been disseised by Margaret Mytton and others.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Name: He is not to be identified with Thomas Skinner of Bridgnorth, MP for that borough in 1362, 1363, 1372 and 1376, for the Shrewsbury assembly bk. ‘A’ made a definite distinction between them: Shrewsbury Guildhall, box II, 67, f. 40d.
Date of Birth/Date of Death: CPR, 1405-8, p. 465; PCC 34 Marche.
- 1. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), i. 28-29; (ser. 4), xii. 151-2.
- 2. Ibid. (ser. 1), iii. 240, 242; (ser. 3), vii. 317-18; liv. 80; Add. 30321, ff. 17, 58; Shrewsbury Guildhall, box II, 67, ff. 9-12.
- 3. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), i. 28-29.
- 4. Ibid. (ser. 3), iii. 79; v. 39, 48, 51; liv. 102; CPR, 1370-4, p. 104; 1381-5, p. 2; 1396-9, pp. 472-5; CCR, 1377-81, pp. 227, 486; CCR, ix. 133; H. Owen and J.B. Blakeway, Hist. Shrewsbury, i. 169, 172; Shrewsbury Guildhall, box VIII, 349, 351, 353; SC8/299/14942.
- 5. CPR, 1405-8, p. 465, enrolled in Shrewsbury Guildhall, box II, 67, f. 74d.
- 6. CCR, 1385-9, p. 104; 1392-6, p. 508; 1399-1402, pp. 144, 305; 1402-5, p. 71; 1405-9, p. 244; CPR, 1401-5, p. 170; HMC Hastings, i. 280-1.
- 7. CCR, 1364-8, pp. 366-7; Add. 30321, ff. 48-49; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 184; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 3), i. 29; P. Morant, Essex, i. 232-3, 288-9.
- 8. PCC 34 Marche.
- 9. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 1), viii. 391; (ser. 3), i. 28-29; CCR, 1435-41, pp. 120, 123, 130; Shrewsbury Lib. deed 3926.
- 10. C1/4/173. The bond had been sealed in 1392, but was, in fact, for 500 marks only: Shrewsbury Guildhall, box II, 67, f. 45d.