DURANT, John, of Alsthorpe, Rutland.
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Family and Education
Commr. to deliver Oakham gaol, Rutland Dec. 1403; make an arrest June 1407.
Controller of a tax, Rutland Mar. 1404.
J.p. Rutland 27 Jan. 1406-11.
Steward of the liberty of Peterborough by 16 Jan. 1408.1
According to one local antiquary, this MP was a younger son of Sir Henry Durant of Cottesmore in Rutland by his wife, Margaret St. Liz, and although no other evidence has survived to support this belief it seems likely that they were related in some way, albeit perhaps distantly. Durant first appears during the Michaelmas term of 1397, when Walter Scarle* and his wife settled certain property in South Luffenham and Barrowden upon him as a trustee. One year later, Elizabeth, widow of William, Lord Zouche of Harringworth, offered securities of £44 to John Durant and three others, one of whom was the mercer, Richard Whittington*. Nothing more is known about this transaction, which may have had something to do with the late Lord Zouche’s debts. Indeed, despite his subsequent elevation to the local bench and his appointment as steward of the liberty of Peterborough, Durant remains a shadowy figure. Together with one Henry Durant (who was not a knight) he witnessed a deed for John Culpepper* at Exton in July 1400, but he did not otherwise play any significant part in the affairs of his neighbours.2 Some of his time after 1408 may have been spent abroad in the service of the Crown. A John Durant was active on royal business in Normandy from 1417 onwards, and was rewarded by Henry V with a grant of confiscated property there, and later, in February 1419, with the serjeanty of the forest of Bort.3 It is possible that he lived on to witness the Rutland parliamentary elections of 1429, although we cannot be sure that the John Durant whose name appears in the return had previously represented the county himself. He was certainly dead by 1443, since the land in Alsthorpe which he had held of Joan, dowager countess of Kent (d.1442), was then reported to have been ‘lately’ in the hands of his heirs.4
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Contemporary sources record at least four other men with the same name. Of these, the most important is John Durant of Luton, Beds. (fl. 1407-23), whose family enjoyed considerable local influence, and who himself served on various commissions in the county (VCH Beds. i. 375; iii. 285; CFR, xiii. 92; xiv. 85, 120). It is also possible to confuse the subject of this biography with John Durant of Herefs. (fl. 1387-95) (CFR, x. 209, 356; CPR, 1391-6, p. 547); John Durant of Herts. (fl. 1394) (CCR, 1392-6, p. 270); and John Durant of Barston, Warws., gentleman (fl. 1409-18) (ibid. 1409-13, pp. 60, 171; 1413-19, p. 509). Because of the problem of identification, only those sources which refer specifically to John Durant of Rutland have been used here.