LEVERSEGGE, John (d.1411/12), of Kingston-upon-Hull, Cottingham and Beverley, Yorks.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. by July 1397, Helen (fl. 1412), poss. 1da.; 1s. illegit.1
Bailiff, Kingston-upon-Hull Mich. 1393-4; mayor by 28 Mar.-bef. 3 Apr. 1394, by 25 June-6 Aug. 1395, Mich. 1396-7, 1399-1400, 1403-4, 1407-8.2
Commr. of inquiry, Yorks. (E. Riding) Dec. 1395 (shipwreck at Bridlington), Dec. 1400 (goods of John Barkworth), c.1404 (dispute between William Terry* and William Prince),3 July 1406 (breaches of statutes against forestalling); to requisition horses Sept. 1397; stamp out piracy, Kingston-upon-Hull May 1398.
Collector of customs. Kingston-upon-Hull 26 Jan. 1396-5 Oct. 1399, 24 Nov. 1400-7 July 1401, 13 Feb. 1405-16 Oct. 1411.
[J.p. Beverley 15 Apr. 1396.]
Receiver of the manor lordship of Beverley and the manores of Bishop’s Wilton and Patrington. Yorks. for Thomas Arundel, abp. of York, to 25 Sept. 1396.4
A prominent member of the mercantile community of Hull, Leversegge first appears in about 1391, when he was shipping cloth and wool overseas and importing wine from Gascony. He dealt regularly in these commodities over the next ten years at least, being no doubt able to further his commercial interests through his appointment as a collector of the royal customs at Hull. But not all his ventures were successful, and in 1397 Richard II intervened personally in an attempt to recover cloth worth 600 nobles belonging to Leversegge and his partner, Adam Tutbury*, which had been confiscated at Danzig and Elbing because of an infringement of the regulations there.5 From 1393 onwards, when he became bailiff of Hull, Leversegge played a notable part in the life of the borough, discharging no less than six terms as mayor, during the last of which he returned himself to the Gloucester Parliament of 1407. It seems more than likely that he sought election for the specific purpose of obtaining the substantial compensation due to him for guarding and repairing two ships called La Cristofre and La Maryknyght, which had been declared forfeit by the government. The session was still in progress when a royal warrant was sent to the treasurer and barons of the Exchequer ordering them to pay him £40 to cover these expenses, and he was able to return home satisfied. Although he did not pursue a parliamentary career, Leversegge was, even so, one of the most experienced administrators to represent Hull during our period, for as well as serving on a number of royal commissions, being appointed to (but not actually sitting on) the bench in Beverley and spending many years as a customs official, he had been singled out by the two most influential landowners in the area to assist them in the running of their estates. In June 1394 he and Simon Grimsby I* were chosen by Sir Michael de la Pole to act as attorneys for the conveyance of certain family property near Hull which had belonged to his father, the late earl of Suffolk. The earl, who was one of Richard II’s favourites, had been attainted for treason in absentia by the Merciless Parliament of 1388, but the family fortunes revived, and Sir Michael eventually recovered the title. Consequently, in 1408, Leversegge was able to witness the endowment of a Maison Dieu in Myton (Hull) with the land which he himself had handed over to the de la Pole trustees. We do not know when he became receiver of the lordship and manor of Beverley, and of two other Yorkshire manors for Thomas Arundel, archbishop of York, but he held the post in September 1396 at the time of Arundel’s translation to the see of Canterbury. Investigations held in the autumn of 1397, just before the archbishop was banished for his involvement with the Lords Appellant of 1388 (and, implicitly, in the destruction of the earl of Suffolk), revealed that Leversegge had handled revenues in excess of £767 p.a. while in office, so his responsibilities were clearly great.6
Although chiefly dependent upon trade for his income, Leversegge was himself a landowner of some consequence, either through his wife, Helen, or because of his own investment in property. The couple were married by the summer of 1397, when Leversegge used his influence as a former employee of Archbishop Arundel to secure permission from the Pope for them to choose their own confessor and make use of a portable altar. Three months later an indult granting plenary remission of sins was issued to them both, and in 1401 Leversegge’s illegitimate son, Richard, was given papal letters of dispensation allowing him to take holy orders despite the circumstances of his birth. Not surprisingly, Leversegge was held in high regard by his fellow burgesses. He was called upon to witness the wills of William Willingham and William Wilton in 1391 and 1401 respectively; and during the 1390s he acted as an executor for two affluent merchants, Robert Crosse and John Calthorp. He and his friend, Simon Grimsby II*, experienced some problems in collecting the debts owed to Calthorp, and as late as 1401 they were still involved in litigation over the deceased’s estate.7
It looks very much as if Leversegge died at about the time of his replacement as collector of customs in October 1411. In the following year his widow, Helen, was taxed upon an estimated income of £20 p.a. from land in Hull, Cottingham and Beverley, but no more is heard of her after this date. Much later, in August 1440, Joan, the widow of John Fitling (Leversegge’s colleague in the Parliament of 1407), left £25 for masses to be said in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin, Hull, for the souls of John and Helen Leversegge, which suggests that they may well have been her parents. There is also reason to suppose that Leversegge was connected with the influential Frost family of Hull and Beverley, and thus by marriage with Thomas Holme*, one of the wealthiest merchants in York. Certainly, in his will of August 1421, Thomas Frost set aside the reversion of £270 in cash to pay for masses for the souls of various kinsfolk, including the subject of this biography.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. CPL, v. 46, 51, 59, 402; Feudal Aids, vi. 546; Borthwick Inst. York, York registry wills ii, f. 674.
- 2. C219/9/10; E368/180 rot. 105v; Cal. Hull Deeds ed. Stanewell, D175, 180-2, 185, 188, 197, 199; CAD, i. no. A707.
- 3. SC8/229/1 1428-9.
- 4. CIMisc. vi. nos. 340, 342-3.
- 5. E122/59/19, 23-26, 158/2, 159/11; VCH Yorks. (E. Riding), i. 64, 66; Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. lxiv. 22; Dip. Corresp. Ric. II (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, xlviii), 72.
- 6. E404/23/149; Kingston-upon-Hull RO, Charterhouse recs. WT1/35, 39; CIMisc. vi. nos. 340, 342-3.
- 7. CPL, v. 46, 51, 59, 402; CP25(1) 279/148/38; York registry wills i, ff. 34, 85, 86; iii, f. 82; CPR, 1401-5, p. 74.
- 8. Feudal Aids, vi. 546; Yorks. registry wills ii, f. 674; Test. Ebor. iii. 237.