DAMIET, William, of Dartmouth, Devon.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. by 1390, Christine, wid. of William Henry† of Dartmouth.
Bailiff, Dartmouth Mich. 1389-90; mayor 1395-7.1
Collector of customs and subsidies from Bridgwater to Melcombe Regis 20 June 1392-4, Feb. 1397-8; Melcombe Regis and adjacent ports 16 Dec. 1404-5.
Damiet was probably a native of Dartmouth. By marrying the widow of William Henry, the parliamentary burgess of 1381 and a kinsman of the mayor of 1389-90 (when Damiet himself was bailiff), he acquired an interest for life in property in the town and on the other side of the estuary at Kingswear.2 A merchant and sea captain, he was involved in the capture of a Flemish vessel in 1387; however, this being a time of truce, the King’s Council decided that full compensation should be made to the owners for the stolen cargo of wine, and Damiet appeared with John Hawley I* before the Council to negotiate an honourable settlement, even though their confederates refused to do so. This incident evidently did his career no great harm, and it was while serving as a collector of customs in the ports of Devon and Cornwall that in 1394 he was elected to his only Parliament. As mayor of Dartmouth two years later, he was responsible for granting permission on behalf of the town for a chaplain to serve in the newly-built chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and also for making the final arrangements with the abbot of Torre regarding patronage of the chapel and the payment of tithes. In June 1396 he acted as mainpernor at the Exchequer for the prior of Modbury, but such appearances at Westminster were rare. Damiet was first and foremost a mariner, although occasionally a customs official as well. In 1402 he served under Richard, Lord Grey of Codnor, the admiral of the north.3
Damiet’s last term as a customer, which began in 1404, centred on Melcombe Regis in Dorset, and it was there that he settled during his later years. In 1408 he leased out his house and garden on the sea-front at Dartmouth to his stepson, William Henry, for the term of his own life, and in the following year, now described as dwelling at Melcombe, he made a formal release to Henry of his interest in the property.4 There is no further trace of him.