FREEMAN, Ralph (by 1509-58/59), of Northampton.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. by 1509, poss. s. of John Freeman of Northampton. m. Margaret, da. and h. of John Molle of Northampton, 5s. 4da.1
Mayor, Northampton 1550-1.2
By 1530 Ralph Freeman was one of the principal merchants of the Calais staple. Each year he shipped considerable quantities of wool in his own name and sold wool fells to other merchants. In 1545-6 he had dealings with the Cave and Johnson partnership of wool merchants, who were generally his rivals in business and found him a hard bargainer. In the year of his death he was one of those licensed to send wool to Bruges because of the fall of Calais.3
Freeman’s marriage to the daughter and heir of John Molle, last of a well established Northampton family, was suitably advantageous: Molle settled his valuable town property in reversion on Freeman and his heirs. A lifelong resident, Freeman was held to be too powerful to have judgment given against him in a town court, yet he took only a limited part in municipal government: he did not serve the customary year as bailiff or chamberlain before becoming mayor and he was only occasionally named a trustee for the corporation or an adviser on its ordinances. He was none the less an appropriate choice for the Parliament of November 1554, satisfying the Queen’s requirement that borough Members should be townsmen, and he was not one of those who quitted it prematurely and without leave.4
Freeman’s death was almost certainly due to the prevailing disease: it coincided with those of a number of prominent townsmen and he made his will when his wife was lying sick. The will, dated 20 Sept. 1558 gives evidence of considerable wealth, especially in plate, but the younger sons received modest legacies of £60 and a daughter only £20; the bulk of the estate, including the Northampton properties, went to the eldest son John, a future merchant of the staple and prominent townsman. The will was proved on 8 Mar. 1559.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. M. Thorpe
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. C1/220/70; PCC 48 Welles; Northampton ass. bk. 28, 29, 45.
- 2. Recs. Northampton, ed. Cox and Markham, ii. 551; Bridges, Northants. ii. 494.
- 3. LP Hen. VIII, xx, xxi; CPR, 1557-8, p. 301.
- 4. Northampton ass. bk. 10, 28, 29, 45, 315; C1/746/1; Recs. Northampton, 157.
- 5. PCC 49 Welles.