OVERHAVEN, John (d.c.1444), of Hythe, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Dec. 1421

Family and Education

m. (1) bef. Feb. 1408, Agnes, 1s. 1da.;1 (2) Alice, wid. of —.

Offices Held

Jurat, Hythe Feb. 1413-15, 1416-17, 1418-22, 1423-4, 1430-1, 1438-44.2

Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1434, 1438, 1444.3


The maltolts Overhaven paid in Henry V’s reign show that he was then mainly engaged in fishing, especially for herring; and so he no doubt took a personal interest in the discussions taking place at the Brodhull held at New Romney in March 1417 (which he attended on Hythe’s behalf) about a fresh dispute with Yarmouth over the Cinque Ports’ rights at the annual herring fair. Three months later he visited Sandwich to persuade its mayor that Hythe should not be charged with a higher contribution to the Ports’ common expenses than was customary. In July 1419 he was present at a session of the admiralty court at Dover, for a suit involving a fellow townsman, and in October that year was there again, this time for a meeting of the barons of the Ports to arrange for transporting the duchess of Clarence and her entourage to France.4

After being returned to his fifth Parliament, in September 1429, Overhaven was one of the barons of the Ports who exercised their privilege of bearing the royal canopy at Henry VI’s coronation, held on 6 Nov. during the first parliamentary session. It was the turn of Hythe and Sandwich to share the canopy itself, which fell to the Ports as a perquisite of this traditional office; and Overhaven arranged for it to be brought down from London, and, accompanied by Richard Rykedon*, went to Canterbury on 21 Dec. to have the cloth appraised, before proceeding to Sandwich to discuss its ultimate destination. Between July 1434 and April 1444 he frequently represented Hythe at Brodhulls.5

Over the years Overhaven enlarged his commercial interests, for although he still traded in fish, his maltolts for 1441-3 show that he was also dealing in corn, cattle, beer, wood and salt. After attending the Parliament of 1442 for over 60 days, he claimed more than £6 in wages, as well as 20d. as the customary gift to the usher and 2s.2d., which was Hythe’s share of a payment towards the expenses of a common suit on the Ports’ behalf. For these and other services the town owed him £10 12s.3d. altogether.6

Overhaven’s will, made on 1 Feb. 1443, shows that he was quite wealthy, for, in addition to a bequest to his son, John, of a half-share in two ships (albeit small ones), he was able to distribute substantial amounts of silver plate and ornaments among his family and friends. He gave the usual pious legacies, and ordered his executors to arrange for masses to be said for his soul for three years. To St. Leonard’s church, Hythe, where he wished to be buried, he left, among other bequests, a lead furnace. His dwelling-house and its garden were to be retained by his widow for her lifetime. Overhaven lived on for at least 17 months longer, and is last recorded in July 1444 when named once more as one of the Cinque Ports’ delegates to the Yarmouth herring fair; but whether he actually visited the fair in the autumn is not known. His will bears no record of probate.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: A. P.M. Wright


  • 1. Hythe Reg. 1, f. 23.
  • 2. Hythe jurats’ bks. C, f. 46, D, f. 39, E, ff. 1, 18; Reg. 1, ff. 28, 29, 31, 32; 2, ff. 1, 3; box 89 no. 7; HMC 6th Rep. 517.
  • 3. White and Black Bks. of Cinque Ports (Kent Rec. Ser. xix), 4, 11, 18.
  • 4. Jurats’ bks. C, f. 51, D, ff. 45, 46; accts. box 27, f. 47.
  • 5. HMC 4th Rep. 438; White and Black Bks. 4, 5, 7, 8, 11-15, 17.
  • 6. Jurats’ bk. E, ff. 6, 20.
  • 7. Canterbury Cathedral, City and Diocesan RO, consist. ct. reg. 1, f. 54 (printed in part in Arch. Cant. li. 28). His son John did not long survive him: jurats’ bk. F, f. 73d.