FALK, John (d.1426), of Hereford.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Mayor, Hereford Oct. 1400-4, 1412-13, 1421-3.2
Supervisor of a royal grant of murage, Hereford 18 May 1426-d.
The Falks were an eminent Hereford family whose main industrial concern was the manufacture of cloth. There were two other John Falks living in the city in the first half of the 15th century: John ‘junior’, who was a bailiff in 1399-1400, 1403-4, 1405-7, 1408-9 and 1410-12, and a coroner of Herefordshire up to his death in the autumn of 1413, and another, sometimes described as ‘junior’, but more often as ‘draper’. Certainly it was the MP, generally described as ‘the elder’, whose father Richard had been three times a bailiff of the city and was mayor in 1389-90.3 By March 1395 he had inherited from his father considerable property in Hereford, situated in Widemarsh Street, ‘Hungrey Strete’ and ‘Oldescolestrete’, and in addition to this, land worth more than £2 annually in Bromyard some ten miles away. That spring he applied for a royal licence to amortize seven messuages and half an acre of meadow in Bromyard to a chantry in the parish church there, to provide for services for the souls of his ancestors.4
Falk regularly witnessed local deeds from 1398 and attended no fewer than 11 parliamentary elections held in the guildhall between 1397 and 1426, on the first occasion and in November 1414 standing surety for the appearance in Parliament of Hugh Wigan and Henry Chippenham, respectively. During this same period he held office as mayor for no less than six annual terms. He appears to have been a man of some means, for in August 1404 he joined three other Hereford citizens in forwarding a loan of £100 towards financing the government’s military activities over the Welsh border. In the following year he granted three houses in the city to the chantry of St. John in St. Peter’s church, to provide masses for the souls of John Fromward and his own relatives, and it may well have been the effigy of this John Falk which was depicted in glass in the church at about this time. In the spring of 1421, not long after his only return to Parliament, Falk was among the 12 citizens who lent £40 to the treasury during Henry V’s visit from Normandy.5
Probably long before the end of the reign Falk made a profitable marriage to the sister of Philip Bockleton, esquire, who died in September 1420, leaving to her not only lands in Herefordshire but also in Shropshire, within the liberty of Shrewsbury, and in addition the manor of Bockleton, Worcestershire, and parts of those of Henhurst, Kent, West Tilbury, Essex, and ‘Pountfret’, Middlesex, which together had an estimated worth of more than £25 a year. It may well have been in order to establish his title to this inheritance that Falk sought election to the Parliament due to assemble at Westminster the following month. In November 1422 he and his wife conveyed some of these estates to feoffees, who included the future Speaker (Sir) John Tyrell* and two retainers of Anne, countess of Stafford, and of her son, Humphrey, later duke of Buckingham, namely Robert Whitgreve* and John Harper*, although they were not to be formally granted livery of the remainder until May 1424.6 In May 1426 Falk was one of the three Hereford citizens appointed to oversee the application of a royal grant of murage. However, he died before nine months of the three-year term were up, for it was as his widow that, shortly after Christmas, Katherine, together with John’s son and heir, Nicholas, sold to George Breinton* their garden in ‘Oldescolestrete’. In 1428 Katherine was still in possession of part of her inheritance, but she died before 1437, when Nicholas conveyed the property in Kent, Essex and Middlesex, and also that in Shropshire which he had inherited partly from his mother and partly from his kinsman Thomas Skinner* of Shrewsbury, to John Harper and to Skinner’s principal heir William Mytton†, esquire, son of Sir Richard Mytton.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
CAD, vi. C6538.
- 1. Ibid. C6518; CCR, 1422-9, p. 108.
- 2. J. Duncumb, Hist. Herefs. i. 364-5; CPR, 1401-5, p. 383; Cal. Hereford Cathedral Muns. (NLW 1955), nos. 87, 3166; HMC 13th Rep. IV, 299; C219/12/6, 13/1, 2; Hereford City Lib. MT/V/5.
- 3. E326/4120; E101/339/14, 15; CAD, i. C471, 1756; Hereford City Lib. MT/VI/4; CCR, 1405-9, p. 504; 1413-19, p. 34; Hereford Cathedral Muns. nos. 51, 762, 2033, 3166.
- 4. Hereford City Lib. MT/III/3; CAD, vi. C4657, 6518; C143/424/7; CPR, 1391-6, p. 582; Hereford Cathedral Muns. no. 131.
- 5. Hereford Cathedral Muns. nos. 396, 1162; C219/9/12, 10/4, 11/4, 12/2-6, 13/1-4; CPR, 1401-5, p. 417; 1405-8, p. 161; C143/437/23; Trans. Woolhope Club, 1938, p. 197; PPC, ii. 281.
- 6. CCR, 1422-9, p. 108; CP25(1)292/65/8; C138/47/48.
- 7. CAD, vi. C4329, 6538; CCR, 1435-41, pp. 120, 123, 130; T. Habington, Surv. Worcs. (Worcs. Hist. Soc. 1893-5), i. 76-78; Lay Subsidy Rolls (ibid. 1902), 27, 49.