LEYCESTRE, John (d.1436/7), of Bristol.
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Family and Education
m. Emma,1 prob. s.p.
Bailiff, Bristol Mich. 1408-9; sheriff, 1 Oct. 1417-15 Oct. 1418; mayor Mich. 1424-5, 1443-1.2
Leycestre first became a prominent figure in Bristol borough affairs in 1408, when elected as a bailiff. In the following mayoral year (1409-10) he was named as a member of the common council, and it was doubtless as such that he was returned to Henry V’s first Parliament. He was listed among the three nominees for the shrievalty in September 1415, and was again nominated in 1416, being finally appointed the year after. During his mayoralty of 1424-5 he confirmed the new ordinances drawn up for the cordwainers of Bristol, and gave instructions that the liberties granted in 1423 to Joan, widow of Henry IV, be entered in the ‘Little Red Book’, at the request of certain of her tenants at Dorchester. He again served on the town council in 1429-30, and most likely at other times when he was not holding office, too. The mayor of Bristol exercised the patronage of the chapel of St. Thomas, and, a vacancy occurring when Leycestre was mayor for the second term, he presented to this benefice in May 1431. In the course of his career he attended the parliamentary elections held at Bristol on 12 occasions between 1407 and 1431.3
Leycestre was of some importance as both a manufacturer and exporter of cloth. By 1399 he was engaged in shipping the products of local looms to Bayonne and Bordeaux, the Bristol fleet, which sometimes included his own ship Le Gracedieu, often returning with wine freighted in his name. He also traded with Ireland: in May 1413, while up at Westminster for Parliament, he obtained a royal licence to load La Trinite of Bristol with wine and cloth for sale there, and to purchase salmon for import. His vessels were not always employed peacefully, however: in January 1410 he and William Hamme had entered into recognizances of £500 with Raphael Testa, the owner of a Genoese carrack, undertaking to make full restitution for goods stolen from the carrack at Milford Haven by the crew of Le Gracedieu. Another of Leycestre’s ships, Le Gabriell, was requisitioned in June 1417 to take part in Henry V’s impending expedition to France. There is a strong possibility that Leycestre had some trading links with Italy, too, for Ubertinus de Bardes, a Lombard merchant, received permission in February 1428 to furnish him with a letter of exchange.4
Leycestre had some landed holdings outside Bristol: in November 1432 he purchased a royal licence for himself and his wife to enfeoff his brother-in-law, Roger Bath, and Roger Strete, a local tanner, in a tenth part of the manor of Redwick in Magor and other property in Monmouthshire at Porton and Pill. But his most important possessions were naturally in Bristol itself, and at least some of them were mentioned in his will, made on 1 Oct. 1436. Leycestre then conveyed to Strete and others his property in the market and on Redcliffe hill, 14 shops in Grope Lane (which he had purchased from John Clyve*), a shop on the Quay and rents and services from buildings in Redcliffe Street, all of which were to be held by these feoffees for 20 years on condition that they provided a chaplain to hold services in St. Stephen’s church where, in the chapel of St. Mary, Leycestre was to be buried, and that they subsequently disposed of the remainder on other religious purposes. The trustees of the manor of Frenchay near Bristol were instructed to surrender it to Leycestre’s widow, the latter also receiving premises in the suburbs of Bristol with remainder to the testator’s sister, Margaret Bath. Legacies went to the rector and fabric of St. Stephen’s, Worcester cathedral, the Bristol houses of the four orders of friars, every local almshouse, to Leycestre’s sisters, brother and nephew, and to one Emma Payn, a nun at Tarrant. Certain poor people were to receive sums amounting to £10 and clothing worth a further £10 on the day of the MP’s burial, and £20 was provided for funeral expenses. Thorleston church received £5, and a chaplain required to hold services there for two years was left £11. Ten pounds was provided for the liberation of poor prisoners from ‘Monkebrigge’ gaol, and similar amounts were to be disbursed for mending roads near Bristol and in aid of the marriages of poor girls. Leycestre died before 26 Jan. 1437, the date of probate before the prerogative court of Canterbury. His will was proved before the mayor of Bristol in July following.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. CPR, 1429-36, p. 242.
- 2. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. xxvi. 130-1.
- 3. Little Red Bk. Bristol ed. Bickley, i. 137; ii. 144, 148, 213, 216; CFR, xiv. 118, 168; Reg. Stafford (Som. Rec. Soc. xxxi), 97; C219/10/4, 6, 11/4, 12/3-5, 13/1-4, 14/1, 2.
- 4. E101/339/7; E122/16/34, 17/34, 212/13; CCR, 1409-13, p. 89; 1413-19, pp. 11, 397; 1429-35, p. 376; CFR, xii. 96; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 215.
- 5. CPR, 1429-36, p. 242; Bristol Wills (Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. 1886), 109, 128-9; PCC 23 Luffenham.