MASTER, John (by 1490-1558), of Sandwich, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1490. m. (1) by 1511, 2s. 2da.; (2) by 1549, Elizabeth, da. of one Thomson of Canterbury, 2s.2

Offices Held

Auditor, Sandwich 1517, 1521-5, 1531, 1532, 1535, 1538, 1542, 1546-8, 1550, 1551, 1556, treasurer 1517-18, common councilman (St. Clement’s parish) 1517-18, (St. Mary’s parish) 1518-23, jurat 1523-58, mayor 1527-8, 1543-4, 1552-3, 1557-d., keeper of the common chest when mayor and 1544-8, 1551-2, of the orphans when mayor (except 1552-3) and 1538-41, 1544-8; bailiff to Yarmouth 1529; commr. gaol delivery, Kent 1543, sewers 1554.3


John Master was a merchant and brewer. When on 2 Apr. 1543 he and a fellow-townsman were committed to ward by the mayor for breaking the regulations for brewing in the town, Master obtained a writ of habeas corpus from the lord warden for their release. Although the deputy mayor held this to be contrary to the charter of the Cinque Ports, a month later the pair were assisting the mayor in dispensing justice. After the dispute had been referred to the town’s learned counsel, it was decreed that any brewer refusing to pay his duties would lose his freedom, and in October Master paid ‘his money of brewing’ and the costs of the suit. While arbitration was pending, he was elected to go to the Brotherhood with the mayor; although he did not do so on this occasion he was one of the deputation from Sandwich 16 times between 1518 and 1558. In 1533 he was a representative of the town at the coronation of Anne Boleyn, in 1534 at the installation of Lord Rochford as lord warden, and two years later at the installation of Rochford’s successor, Sir Thomas Cheyne. His testimony against Vincent Engeham’s defence of idolatry in 1543 shows that he did not share Engeham’s view, but whether as a convinced Protestant is not known.4

In September 1544 Master and his eldest son bought for £1,138 two manors in Kent, lands in Woodnesborough, houses in Dover and Sandwich, some property in London and a messuage called the ‘Abbot’s Place’ within the Tabard, Southwark; it was perhaps at the last of these that he stayed while attending Parliament. He had been an unsuccessful candidate for Sandwich to the Parliament of 1542, and it was perhaps in compensation that he was returned to its successor. He and his fellow-Member Thomas Menys then agreed to serve for 18d. a day, thus forgoing 6d. of the usual 2s., but when he was re-elected nine years later to Mary’s second Parliament neither he nor Simon Linch was asked to accept less than his due. In 1555 Master again stood unsuccessfully for election. Nothing is known about the part he had played in the Commons.5

At the time of his last election as mayor Master was described as ‘very aged and of many years’. He made his will on 24 Aug. 1558, asking to be buried in the chapel of St. Mary in the church of Sandwich where he was accustomed to sit. After providing for his wife and children, including an unborn child, he left his best horse to Simon Linch, 13s.4d. to his goddaughter Agnes, daughter of Nicholas Peake and widow of Thomas Menys, and a gown to his brother-in-law Richard Martin of Wye. As executors he appointed his wife and Thomas Colwell, and as overseers his ‘brother’ William Payne of Canterbury and his son Thomas Master. At the same time he set up a property trust at Ash, Sandwich, Worth and elsewhere in Kent to the use of himself during his life and then to the use of his youngest son John, who was given no land by the will. Master died on 1 Sept. 1558, when his son and heir Thomas was aged 47 and more, Peter his second son 32, James eight and John six.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. Sandwich old red bk. f. 177v. His surname is now illegible but W. Boys, Sandwich (1792), 409 read it as ‘Master’.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxiv), 43; (lxxv), 83; PCC 27 Chaynay.
  • 3. Sandwich white bk., old red bk. passim; B. Winchester, Tudor Fam. Portrait, 222-3; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 209; LP Hen. VIII, xx; CPR, 1553-4, p. 36.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xviii; E122/130/12; Sandwich old red bk. ff. 45v, 56v, 81, 155, 156v, 158, 159; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 171-256 passim.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xix; Sandwich old red bk. ff. 141v, 177v; little black bk. ff. 45v, 74.
  • 6. Sandwich little black bk. ff. 117v, 129v; PCC 27 Chaynay; C142/123/97.