CLERE, John (by 1479-1538/39), of Colchester, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1479, 1st s. of Nicholas Clere of Colchester. m. Jane, da. of William Rich of Colchester, at least 3s. inc. Benjamin 1da. suc. fa. 17 Sept./19 Nov. 1500.2

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Colchester 1505-6, bailiff 1513-14, 1518-19, 1520-1, 1524-5, 1532-3, 1536-7, alderman by 1516; commr. subsidy, Essex 1512, Colchester 1515, 1523, 1524.3


John Clere was a clothier living in St. James’s parish, Colchester. His father died in 1500 owning at least ten houses in Colchester, among them one in East Street where John Clere then dwelt; as he was an executor of his father’s will Clere was probably already of age.4

Clere’s Membership of the Parliaments of 1512 and 1515, for which the Essex returns are lost, has been inferred from the note preserved in the Colchester records of a deed of 26 Sept. 1516 securing payment to him of a sum of £17; he was to receive this in annual instalments of 26s.8d. out of the income of the borough’s mill at the New Hythe. An identical deed in favour of John Makin for a sum of £16 10s. is likewise noted, and the conclusion that Clere and Makin were being paid for sitting in Parliament is strengthened by the precedent of 1490, when a similar arrangement had been made with Thomas Jobson and Thomas Christmas for their attendance at the Parliaments of 1487 and 1489. The sum promised to Clere exceeded what would have been due to him for the Parliament of 1515 alone (at the standard rate of 2s. a day, with two days’ allowance for travel, this came to £10 6s.) but was slightly less than two thirds of the sum (£24 16s.) due for the two Parliaments of 1512 and 1515 and thus probably represents an agreed reduction of the total liability. Clere’s appointment as a subsidy commissioner for Essex in 1512 and for Colchester in 1515 may be seen as confirming his Membership of both Parliaments, which would also have been consonant with the King’s request that the same men should be returned in 1515 as had sat in the previous Parliament. He would probably have sat again but for the infrequency of elections over the next 20 years, for he was repeatedly chosen bailiff and the occasional slanging matches in which he was involved seem not to have been of his making.5

Clere was evidently a substantial merchant, for by his will of 26 Dec. 1537 he left sums of 100 marks, £100 and £80 respectively to his wife and two of his children, of whom the third and youngest, Nicholas, was then under seven. He held copyhold land in Essex and Suffolk and his son Benjamin lived in one of his houses in Langenhoe, Essex. He asked to be buried in the churchyard of St. James’s, Colchester, and left money to pay for five sermons to be preached within a year of his death. He was still alive in December 1538 and the will was proved on 1 Feb. 1539.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. F. Coros


  • 1. Colchester town hall, oath bk., f. 118v ptd. Colchester Oath Bk. ed. Benham, 148-9.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 17 Moone, 25 Dyngeley; Colchester Oath Bk. 155.
  • 3. Colchester Oath Bk., 144, 146, 150, 153, 156, 158; Statutes, iii. 84, 169; LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, i; PCC 17 Moone ptd. Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. xxi. 245-6.
  • 5. Colchester town hall, oath bk., f. 118v; Colchester Red Ppr. Bk. ed. Benham, 27-28, 124-131; Oath Bk. 151.
  • 6. PCC 25 Dyngeley, ptd. H.F. Waters, Gen. Gleanings in Eng. ii. 1161; Essex RO, D/DU457/4.