VERSY (FURSEY), John, of Portsmouth, Hants.
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Family and Education
Bailiff, Portsmouth Mich. 1444-5, 1449-51, 1453-4.1
Commr. of inquiry, Portsmouth Nov. 1444, Hants May 1450 (piracy), Aug. 1451 (the wreck of The George of Sluys); arrest Apr. 1451, Dec. 1453.
John Versy was probably related to a namesake who had been assessed by the alnager of Hampshire in 1394-5 and 1403 for payment of subsidies on cloth. As ‘of Portsmouth, merchant’, in July 1426 he took out royal letters of protection lasting a year, which period he was to spend in Normandy as a member of the retinue of Thomas Burgh, esquire, the captain of Avranches. Most likely he was engaged in victualling the garrison under Burgh’s command, for his trade through the port of Southampton in the years that followed was mainly concerned with foodstuffs, such as garlic, onions and herring, as well as with wine.2 In March 1435 it was alleged that Versy had made an armed assault at Portsmouth on certain commissaries of the admiral (deputies of the duke of Bedford) in the course of their administration, and a royal commission was authorized to arrest and imprison him. But this incident evidently did not affect his career adversely: within two years he was at liberty, and he went on to serve as bailiff of Portsmouth for at least four terms. It is not known precisely when Perin Roger, acting as attorney for a burgess of Rouen, brought a suit against Versy in his capacity as bailiff for allowing a debtor to escape from custody, although doubtless to cover himself for misdemeanours of this sort the former MP took out a royal pardon on 16 Nov. 1452. He is last heard of in December 1453, the occasion being his appointment (as bailiff) to confiscate all merchandise found aboard the Mawdelen Lisle, which had belonged to the late earl of Shrewsbury, and to arrest her crew.3
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Firsey, Fryssey, Fryssay, Virsey.