GAYMER, Henry (d.1596), of Green Hall, Rye, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
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Family and Education

?s. of Robert Gaymer (d.?1551), chamberlain of Rye 1527-8. m., at lease 1s.

Offices Held

Jurat, Rye by 1562, mayor 1572-3, 1588-9, 1589-90; brodhull rep. in at lease 1572, 1573, 1583, 1586, 1594; customer of the Chichester area by 1572; commr. sewers for Rye area 1595.


The Gaymer family had been settled in Rye since at least the end of the fifteenth century and Gaymer himself rented some property, including a shop, from the corporation in 1573. In 1576 he bought houses and land in the Playden area. In Parliament he and Clement Cobbe were petitioned (May 1572) by the Rye fishermen to try to protect their interests by an Act. Later he and Robert Carpenter were instructed to deal with the silting up of the harbour and with the preservation of the woods around Hastings, Winchelsea and Rye which had become a matter of concern because of the inroads made upon them by iron and glass works. Thus it is likely that it was Gaymer, rather than Thomas or Walter Games who was the ‘Mr. Gaymes’ who sat on a parliamentary committee to confer with the Lords about this problem in March 1581. The two Members were in London in 1579, between parliamentary sessions, petitioning the Queen and the Privy Council for financial assistance with the new harbour works. Lord Cobham, the lord warden, was sympathetic, but little progress was made. In 1590 Gaymer informed his fellow-townsmen that they progressed ‘by fits’. By the time that elections were held for the 1593 Parliament, the harbour works were still Rye’s main concern, Gaymer and Carpenter being returned again to continue their efforts. They were to ask permission to tax local landowners towards the work and to negotiate with an Italian who had proposed a scheme for dealing with the situation. For the 1593 Parliament the two Members were paid 5s. a day instead of the usual 4s. Gaymer may have attended two committees to which all the burgesses of the Cinque Ports were appointed, concerning the import of fish (6 Mar. 1587) and the explanation of statutes (28 Mar. 1593).

At different times, Gaymer was confronted with such varied problems as supervising the town’s contribution to the Queen’s service on the Narrow Seas, the organisation of an efficient postal service between Rye and London for official despatches, and the sale of Rye vicarage, a matter which involved visits to Lords Buckhurst and Cobham in London. He was responsible for negotiations with French merchants and the granting of safe conducts to ships’ masters sailing to France. From 1582 he farmed the ‘petty passage’, or money paid by passengers on entering or leaving Rye. In 1573 he got into trouble for diverting into the Rye treasury most of £200 received from a French merchant as ransom for certain French men-of-war. It was in August of that year that the Queen visited Rye. He received her at his house, and presented her with 100 gold angels in a purse, as well as lending the authorities £100 towards the preparations. A memorial stone bearing Gaymer’s name, erected some years later to commemorate the visit, still remains. As regards Gaymer’s activities as customer, an informer who maintained that he had ‘no cause to say evil of Mr. Gaymer’ wrote to Cecil in 1594:

There has been transported out of Rye within twelve months not less than £10,000 worth of prohibited wares which have been landed at Dieppe ... The leather is shipped at Rye in the dead of night, perhaps with the privity of some officers of the revenue; some of them may have sometimes been the leaders or helpers to put such wares aboard, and they have become so bold by success, that there is not a ship that comes from thence and other places but there are prohibited wares, more or less.

He died 6 Apr. 1596 and was succeeded by his son Robert, then at least 35.

E. Suss. RO, Rye, mss; L. A. Vidler, New Hist. Rye, 45, 50, 63, 65, 160; Cinque Ports black bk. ff. 1, 4, 45, 53, 61; Lansd. 14, f. 107; CSP Dom. 1591-4, pp. 83, 491; HMC 13th Rep. IV, passim; CJ, i. 136; D’Ewes, 412, 511; Rye Recs. ed. Dell, 70; Suss. Arch. Colls. v. 191-2; C142/247/40.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.E.M.