SPICER, John II (d.1423/4), of Bishop's Lynn, Norf.

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



Nov. 1414
Mar. 1416

Family and Education

m. 1da.

Offices Held

Collector of customs and subsidies, Lynn 24 May 1398-Oct. 1399, 8 Oct. 1404-Apr. 1406; controller 18 Oct. 1399-July 1401, 21 Oct. 1401-3.

Dep. butler, Lynn 6 Sept. 1399-Nov. 1418.

J.p. Lynn 28 Feb. 1407-Nov. 1412, 16 Aug. 1414-d.

Mayor, Lynn Mich. 1420-3.1


Spicer entered the freedom of Lynn on 4 Nov. 1384 on completion of his apprenticeship to the enterprising merchant, John Brandon*, and six years later he was living in St. James’s Street. From 1410 he leased from the Holy Trinity guild six cellars (three of them rent-free), and shortly after, for £1 annually, he was granted ‘le Feryryght’ by the authorities.2 His independent mercantile ventures covered the export of corn, oats, rye, cloth, blankets and red herring; but his main trading interest was in wine: in April 1390 he imported as many as 143 casks, and in 1406-7 he provided the royal household with wine worth £72, for which he was still owed five years later. It was doubtless this interest which brought him appointment as deputy at Lynn to John Payn II* and Thomas Chaucer*, who were successively chief butlers of England, and kept him employed in this capacity for as long as 18 years, during which period he was returned to Parliament on three occasions. For some of this time, early on, he served concurrently as either collector or controller of customs in the port.3

By 1390 Spicer had established a friendship with another of the potentiores, Thomas Brigge*, and in 1392 he joined him on the body of jurats responsible for governing the town. In July 1402 he was included among a number of burgesses each of whom was required to provide securities in £100 before the sheriff of Norfolk to keep the peace towards their overlord, Bishop Despenser of Norwich. Although he was appointed in December 1411 as one of the 18 arbitrators assigned to settle the current disputes about Lynn’s constitution, Spicer did not find the opposition party’s control of the town acceptable, and in the following year he was removed from the bench. Then, on the night of 20 Aug. 1414, immediately after his reinstatement, he and other potentiores were assaulted by William Halyate* and his followers when on their way home from a local tavern.4 It was some time after these upsets that Spicer was elected mayor, but, once chosen, he evidently proved both competent and popular, for he was twice re-elected and served for three consecutive years. On the Saturday after he was first sworn in, in 1420, he was formally presented by William Paston, the bishop’s steward of the liberty of Lynn, to Thomas Derham*, the steward of the episcopal manor of Gaywood, as was the custom. That winter the guildhall was burnt down, and Spicer, as mayor, had to organize its rebuilding. During his second mayoralty his son-in-law, John Gibbon, was allowed to become a burgess by virtue of their family relationship. As mayor he naturally attested the indentures of election to the Parliaments of 1420, 1421 and 1422.5 He died at an unknown date between Michaelmas 1423 and July 1424.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Norfolk Official Lists ed. Le Strange, 191.
  • 2. Red Reg. King’s Lynn ed. Ingleby, f. 121; Recs. King’s Lynn ed. Harrod, plate C; King’s Lynn Town Hall, Ea 46, 47, Gd 55.
  • 3. N.S.B. Gras, Early Eng. Customs System, 537, 544, 548; E122/93/31; E404/27/194.
  • 4. Lynn Town Hall, Ae 17, Be 508, 510; Red Reg. f. 115d; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 575; HMC 11th Rep III, 192; CIMisc. vii. 517.
  • 5. Recs. King’s Lynn, 105; Cal. Freemen Lynn, 33; C219/12/4, 5, 13/1.
  • 6. CCR, 1422-9, pp. 149, 185, 191. Another John Spicer, burgess of Lynn, made his will on 1 Mar. 1440 in the house of the Friar’s Augustine (Norf. RO, Reg. Doke, f. 121). Neither his relationship to the MP, nor that of Thomas Spicer, Member for Lynn in 1433, is known.