ACCLOM, Robert, of Scarborough, Yorks.
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Family and Education
Acclom’s first return to Parliament, in 1401, undoubtedly owed a great deal to his father, John Acclom I, one of the most influential residents of Scarborough, where he owned extensive property. In his will of 8 May 1402 John I left his eldest son a set of 12 silver spoons and a horse mill situated just outside Scarborough, as well as other holdings in the borough, his tenure of which was made conditional upon his willingness to support the youngest of his three brothers, Peter. In addition, Robert inherited the six tenements which his late mother, Isabel, had occupied in her own right as daughter and heir of Stephen Carter, although a substantial part of his father’s estate remained in the hands of his widowed stepmother, Alice, with whom he shared the task of executing the deceased’s will. The award to him in October 1402 of royal letters of protection as a member of the earl of Northumberland’s retinue at Berwick-upon-Tweed suggests that these duties did not prove too onerous at first, but he and Alice (who married John Smith of Whitby soon afterwards) eventually found themselves at odds over the settlement of John I’s accounts as collector of customs in Scarborough, a post which he had occupied at the time of his death. In a deposition presented at the royal Exchequer early in 1404, Robert argued that Alice alone was responsible for paying off his father’s debts, since she occupied the bulk of his property. In the event, however, all the executors (who also included William Percy*) were deemed liable until a full inquiry could be held by the sheriff of Yorkshire. There is now no means of telling if the bond in £100 which William Suwardby of York offered to Robert Acclom at this time had anything to do with the dispute, although it certainly looks as if Robert had himself returned to the October Parliament of 1404 with the intention of pressing his suit in person. The threat of forfeiture which hung over him for a while was evidently avoided, for references survive to his 1405 a vessel which he and William Harom* owned continued ownership of the Acclom family holdings in Scarborough.2
In common with many northern shipowners, Robert was quite prepared to engage in acts of piracy when the opportunity offered. At some point before October they had between them captured two ships travelling from Hamburg with a mixed cargo of wood, iron, beer and linen. The Hanse merchants who had sustained the loss petitioned the King’s Council for redress, claiming at first that their goods were worth £280, but later increasing their demand to £300. Two successive royal commissions for the restitution of these sums proved totally ineffective, and since Harom and Acclom chose to ignore repeated proclamations requiring their appearance before the Council at Westminster, the Crown had no alternative but to issue orders in May 1407 for their immediate arrest and imprisonment until their victims obtained satisfaction. By now the compensation had been reduced to £231, although the two men still managed to evade the law and had yet to hand over the money 17 months later. It seems quite likely that the authorities, in the person of the sheriff of Yorkshire, had no real intention of making them pay, not least because piracy was such a lucrative and popular activity along the North Sea coast. Little is known about Robert Acclom after this date. In November 1416 he obtained a royal pardon for not appearing in court to answer the London fishmonger, Thomas Doufhouse, when being sued for a debt of almost £5, but he otherwise disappears from view.3