WILFORD, John (d.1418), of Exeter, Devon.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
yr. bro. of William Wilford*.
Steward, Exeter Mich. 1399-1400, 1401-2, 1412-13, 1414-15; member of the council of 12, 1403-4, 1405-9, 1410-12, 1413-14, 1415-d.; receiver 1404-5.1
Constable of the Staple, Exeter 1411-12, Jan. 1414-Oct. 1415.2
John’s career was overshadowed by those of his father, Robert (13 times mayor of Exeter), and his elder brother, William. Although he became a freeman of Exeter on 5 Apr. 1389 (after completing an apprenticeship to his father), he held no office in the city until three years after the latter’s death. Two of his later terms in civic office (1404-5 and 1412-13) coincided with his brother’s mayoralties, but he himself was never elected to such an exalted position even though he clearly performed his duties competently. He was not mentioned in his father’s will, and his only bequests from William Wilford’s substantial estate was a jewel worth four marks and the sum of five marks for acting as an executor.3 John appeared as an elector of the local governing body 14 times between 1398 and 1418, but it was not until after his brother’s death in 1413 that he was returned to Parliament and became a constable of the Staple. Like other members of his family, he traded mainly in wine and cloth, albeit on a smaller scale. It seems that he tried to make his mark outside Exeter, for described as living at Lyme Regis, in April 1410, he took out royal letters of protection to serve for one year in the retinue of John Gerard†, esquire, then captain of ‘Lancastretour’ above the gates of Calais. Perhaps Gerard had recruited him to see to the victualling of the fortress.4
By his will, made on 27 Feb. 1418, Wilford left to St. Kerian’s church an acre of land outside the north gate of Exeter and a toft and garden on St. David’s hill, on condition that his obit be kept every year for 99 years on the Tuesday before the feast of St. Kerian. The will was proved by the official of the archdeacon of Exeter on 6 Mar. and in the mayoral court on 25 Apr.5