TANSLEY, John (d.c.1418), of Nottingham.

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



Apr. 1384
May 1413
Apr. 1414

Family and Education

s. of John Tansley of Nottingham by his w. Joan. m. Alice (d.1439), da. and h. of Henry Marteney of Bradmore, Notts. by his w. Cecily,2 4da.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Nottingham Mich. 1395-6; mayor 1399-1400, 1410-11; j.p. 1414-15.3

Dep. butler, Kingston-upon-Hull 23 Feb.-24 Oct. 1401, 12 Feb. 1402-c.1407.

Commr. of inquiry, Notts. Oct. 1402 (liability to contribute for repairs to bridges over the Leen at Nottingham).


Tansley’s father, a cloth manufacturer, had been a chamberlain of Nottingham before 1378, but unlike his son held no other office there. He was still alive in 1389.4 The younger John also made cloth, being assessed for alnage in the period 1392-5 on the sale of 70 ‘dozens’, and he exported the product of his looms through the port of Kingston-upon-Hull. It was as ‘merchant of Nottingham’ that he took out a royal pardon in June 1398, this being probably to escape penalty for non-payment of customs duties, for two months earlier a royal commission set up in Yorkshire for the collection of money had been ordered to extract £34 14s.8d. long overdue from him and John Bingham*. His involvement in the wine trade led to his appointment by two successive chief butlers of England, John Payn II* and Thomas Chaucer*, as their deputy in Hull; and he was clearly successful in his ventures, for in 1404 he was able to join with other Nottingham merchants in making a loan of 100 marks to Henry IV.5

Tansley was very active in local affairs, as a witness and pledge for his fellow burgesses both in the borough court and before the King’s bench when it sat at Nottingham in 1392. On one occasion he provided securities for his son-in-law, John Samon, senior, a rich merchant and five times mayor, and before 1399 he became a feoffee of the property of John Crowshaw*, whose son and widow both subsequently named him as overseer of their wills. By 1408 he was one of the aldermen of the prestigious guild of the Holy Trinity in the town. Tansley had attended Henry IV’s first Parliament when mayor; he went on to serve for a second term and also to act as a j.p. in the borough. He is known to have been present at the parliamentary elections of 1411 and 1417, and was sworn as a juror to give evidence against local lollards in March 1414.6

A property owner in Nottingham by 1389, if not earlier, during the next 25 years Tansley acquired premises in St. James’s Street, Fletcher Gate, the Saturday market, Listergate, Warser Gate, and the weekday market, together with lands on Hunger Hill. His most substantial acquisitions were made in 1416, when a number of properties in Stoney Street and elsewhere were conveyed to him.7 In the meantime, he had encountered difficulties over the inheritance of his wife, who was the grand daughter of Henry Marteney of Bradmore (alias Henry Bradmore, the Nottingham bailiff of 1370-1) by his second wife. In 1398 they commenced a suit at the assizes against Maud, daughter of Robert Howden*, Marteney’s grand daughter through his previous marriage, over a third of a messuage and lands in Bradmore; but the case was not finally settled until 1417 when Tansley and his wife were confirmed in their possession of two messuages and 16 acres of land in the village. Meanwhile, in October 1414 he had purchased a royal licence to grant one of his Nottingham properties to Dale abbey, in aid of the canons’ maintenance.8

Tansley had made his will on 17 Jan. 1414, shortly before election to his fourth and last Parliament. He requested burial before the altar of St. John’s chapel in St. Mary’s church, and among his bequests, which amounted to over £350, were gifts to several other local religious foundations: the town churches of St. Peter and St. Nicholas, the priories of Lenton, Shelford and Newstead, Darley abbey, the hospital founded by John Plumptre* (whose will he was to be asked to execute in 1415), and the houses of the Franciscans and Carmelites. Four chaplains were bequeathed £80 to provide masses for the souls of the testator, his parents and benefactors. The sum of £10 went toward repairs of Hethbeth bridge. His heirs were four daughters: Margaret, the widow of John Samon and then wife of Roger Humberston* of Leicester; Cecily, who later married Richard Wentworth; Agnes Fereby and Margery. John stipulated that if the younger three died without issue, the whole estate should pass to John Samon, his grandson, with remainder to Elizabeth Humberston, Margaret’s daughter by her second husband. If Elizabeth died without heirs, the lands which he had held on a 100 years’ lease from Newstead priory were to be sold for pious uses. His executors included Peter Saltby, a merchant from Lincoln, and Richard Taverner of Nottingham (mayor 1417-18), while a supervisor of the will was the recently appointed King’s attorney, William Babington of Chilwell (later c.j.c.p.). After his death, which occurred at some point after November 1417 and before the autumn of 1423, the executors had the will enrolled in the borough court.9

In October 1423 Tansley’s widow obtained a papal indult for a confessor to grant her plenary indulgence at the hour of death. For the next 13 years she was concerned in settling her late husband’s affairs: in 1425, along with Chief Justice Babington, she was sued for debt in the court of common pleas, and accused at the assizes of evicting Thomas, son of Thomas Mapperley* from his lands; and in 1436 she brought a suit in the borough court claiming breach of contract with regard to an altar piece in the chapel where her husband lay buried. By her will made on 8 June and proved at York on 29 June 1439, she altered her husband’s provisions slightly by dividing up their property between their daughters (Cecily Wentworth being the main beneficiary), with remainders of part of it to John, son of Ralph Mackerell* (who received an outright bequest of a messuage and two cottages), and of the whole to Elizabeth Humberston (now married to Nicholas Widmerpole). The Samons were excluded. Alice provided £93 6s.8d. for a chaplain to celebrate for 20 years in St. John’s chapel, where she was buried next to her husband.10

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Called ‘junior’ on the return; OR, i. 221.
  • 2. Nottingham Archs. ct. roll 1279 m. 17; JUST 1/1508 m. 10; Borthwick Inst. York, York registry wills, iii. f. 576.
  • 3. Nottingham Recs. ed. Stevenson, i. 426; ii. 426-7; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Middleton ms D787.
  • 4. Nottingham ct. rolls 1280 m. 3, 1288 m. 16d; E101/343/21.
  • 5. E101/346/9; E122/59/23-25, 159/11; C67/31 m. 11; CPR, 1396-9, p. 363; 1401-5, p. 417.
  • 6. Nottingham Recs. i. 239, 285, 335; ii. 68; Nottingham ct. roll 1302 m. 26d; York registry wills, iii. ff. 92, 222; KB9/204/1 m. 29; KB 27/526 fines m. 1; C219/10/6, 12/2.
  • 7. Nottingham ct. rolls 1288 m. 16d, 1293 m. 14d, 1297 m. 19, 1304 mm. 15d, 18d; Nottingham Recs. ii. 111-17.
  • 8. JUST 1/1508 m. 10; CP25(1)186/38/5; CPR, 1413-16, p. 243.
  • 9. Nottingham Recs. ii. 88-95; Borthwick Inst. York, Reg. Bowet, ff. 367-9. An alabaster table-tomb in St. Mary’s is probably his.
  • 10. CPL, vii. 308; CPR, 1422-9, p. 246; JUST 1/1537 mm. 15, 17d; CP25(1)186/39/6; Nottingham Recs. ii. 155; Trans. Thoroton Soc. xxi. 53-54, 76-79; York registry wills, iii. ff. 576-8.