WATERDEN, Thomas (d.1425), 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. 1390

Family and Education

?s. of Robert Waterden*. ?2s. Richard Waterden and John Waterden*.

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Lynn Mich. 1380-1, 1390-1, 1395-6; councillor 1389-90, 1391-2; mayor 1397-8, 1404-5.1

Commr. of array, Lynn May 1398, Oct. 1403; arrest Feb. 1403; inquiry May 1408.

Mayor of the Staple, Lynn 31 Dec. 1399-Oct. 1400, 25 Apr. 1408-9.2

Tax collector, Lynn May 1408.

J.p. Lynn 26 Feb. 1407-Nov. 1412, 16 Aug. 1414-Dec. 1417.


Even though, on 15 Jan. 1371, Thomas entered the freedom of Lynn as a former apprentice of Robert Waterden, he was probably the latter’s son or younger brother. He later lived in Skinner Row, and from 1404 until his death rented properties in Webster Row and Baxter Row.3 His mercantile interests were considerable. By 1388 he was trading extensively with Germany and Denmark, and in that year he made the large contribution of £7 16s.3d. towards the cost of a royal embassy whose object was to settle grievances between Prussian and English traders. In the summer of 1390 his imports of iron, timber (17,500 wainscots), oil, pitch, tar, sacking, oars and wax were worth altogether more than £210. He also dealt in herring, eels, malt and coal. His main export was lengths of cloth, in such quantities that in 1392 his shipments were valued at £245 and in May 1405 at £134. On 20 Feb. 1406 a single cargo of miscellaneous goods worth nearly £200 was shipped into port for him and his partner, Thomas Brigge*. Meanwhile, Waterden had served as scabin of the prestigious Holy Trinity guild in 1385-6,4 and when, in June 1400, Henry IV ordered him and other Lynn merchants to restore to men from Dieppe a barge they had illegally captured, he was acting as mayor of the local Staple. He was chosen again for this post by his fellow merchants eight years later. In July 1410 he joined eight of them in lending 200 marks to the Crown for naval defence.5

Thomas clearly took a full part in the affairs of Lynn. In August 1383 he had been one of the royally appointed guardians of the ward Emma Beeston, Robert Waterden being another. A jurat from quite early on in his career, he acted as an elector of the town officers in 1383, 1384, 1388, 1392 and 1393, and of the parliamentary burgesses in 1385, January 1390 (when Robert Waterden was returned), 1391 and 1394, and his name also appears in the indentures of election to Parliament returned to Chancery in 1407 and 1413 (May).6 In the summer of 1399 Waterden and Robert Botkesham* rode to Chester with a letter from the local authorities addressed to Henry of Bolingbroke, for which task they were subsequently reimbursed as much as £9 16s.10d.for their expenses; and it was these two who were then elected to represent Lynn in the Parliament destined to acknowledge Henry as King. It seems very likely that they had expressed support for the Lancastrian usurpation. Botkesham was later to choose Waterden as one of his executors. In July 1402 Waterden and other leading burgesses of Lynn were each required to provide the sheriff of Norfolk with bail in £100, and undertake not to molest their overlord, Bishop Despenser of Norwich, in the wake of serious local disturbances directed against the bishop’s officers. Disputes among the townsmen themselves followed, and in 1411 he was chosen as one of the 18 arbitrators who, drawn from three separate parties, were to settle conflicts over the borough’s electoral procedures. He was not, needless to say, a member of the committee of nine, composed only of mediocres and inferiores, which took over control of expenditure in May 1412 and subsequently disallowed his claim for expenses incurred during his mayoralities, which amounted to more than £70. (The committee was, however, more considerate than in the case of others of the potentiores, for he did eventually receive the sum of £44.) Waterden remained hostile to the then mayor, Roger Galion, a member of the opposition party against whom he even went to law: on 31 Aug. 1412, just two days after Galion’s re-election, he, along with John Brandon*, entered into recognizances in Chancery, guaranteeing payment to the mayor of such costs as the court might award if they failed to prove their charges against him. Clearly they were unsuccessful in their suit, for on 21 Nov. following, Waterden joined with Edmund Beleyeter* and John Wentworth*, both of them his fellow potentiores, in making a general release of any personal actions against Galion, and on the same day he alone made over a bond in £20 to his adversary, as guarantee of good intent. Not surprisingly, the party in power then secured his removal from the local bench. The disputes were, of course, far from being at an end, and on the night of 20 Aug. 1414 Waterden and others of his party were assaulted by members of the opposition, led by William Halyate*, John Tilney*, John Bilney II* and Bartholomew Petipas. This was in reaction to the potentiores’ attempt toreturn to power. Indeed, just four days earlier Waterden had been formally re-appointed as a j.p.7

Naturally on good terms with others of his peers among the wealthier merchants and lesser gentry of Norfolk, Waterden had acted as a feoffee of premises in Lynn in 1412 for Stephen Garlek of Sporle, and five years afterwards as trustee of Edmund Beleyeter’s manor in Great Massingham. In 1419 he assisted Thomas Hunt I* in a property conveyance.8 Waterden was still a jurat in September 1424, but then ceased to attend meetings of the council and died before Michaelmas 1425.9 In his last years he had the satisfaction of seeing two other members of his family, John and Richard Waterden (perhaps even his own sons) returned to Parliament for their home town.

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Red Reg. King’s Lynn ed. Ingleby, ii. ff. 120, 131, 133, 135, 166; HMC 11th Rep. III, 245; Norf. Official Lists ed. Le Strange, 190.
  • 2. C267/7/18, 19.
  • 3. Recs. King’s Lynn ed. Harrod, plate C; Red Reg. f. 150; King’s Lynn Town Hall, Bc 3, Ea 42.
  • 4. Lynn Town Hall, Gd 47; CCR, 1385-9, p. 565; E122/93/31, 94/11, 12, 95/27; Harl. Roll H23; N.S.B. Gras, Early Eng. Customs System, 445, 528, 530, 532, 541, 542, 552-3, 555.
  • 5. Letters Hen. IV ed. Hingeston, 34; PPC, i. 347; CCR, 1409-13, p. 47.
  • 6. CPR, 1381-5, p. 304; Red Reg. ff. 116, 117, 121, 124, 129d, 131d, 135, 169; C219/10/4, 11/1.
  • 7. Lynn Town Hall, Ae 17, Ea 40; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 575; 1409-13, pp. 353, 404, 408; HMC 11th Rep. III, 192-3; CIMisc. vii. 517.
  • 8. CP25(1)169/184/148, 185/36; CCR, 1441-7, p. 302.
  • 9. Lynn Town Hall, assembly bk. 1, ff. 91, 100.