FRENCH, John III, of Winchester, Hants.
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Family and Education
m. (1) by June 1399, Joan; ?(2) Margaret.1
Commons’ bailiff, Winchester Mich. 1403-4; bailiff of the 24, 1407-8.2
Perhaps a descendant of John le French, bailiff of Winchester in 1311-13, John may have been the son of Henry French, whose house in Colebrook Street came into his possession.3 He was involved in civic affairs by 1397-8, if only, however, as ‘bagman’. Then residing in Parchment Street, he later held a tenement next to Le Tabard, and a shop jutting out into the High Street and adjacent to St. Laurence’s church; and by 1417 he owned 11 crofts outside the west gate as well as being landlord of four buildings in Tanner Street.4French served as feoffee of other Winchester properties, including ‘Faukenerescorner’ and ‘Paradys’. He also established a connexion with the Sutton family: having in 1402 stood surety in a sum of £20 for the appearance of Thomas Sutton before the mayor, he was five years later associated with John Sutton of Kingsclere as a co-feoffee of lands in Steeple and Botley. At the parliamentary elections of November 1414 he guaranteed the attendance in the Commons of the wealthy Winchester merchant, Mark le Faire.5 Little is known about French’s own trading activities, save that throughout the 1420s and again as late as 1433 he exported cloth and imported wine through the port of Southampton. In the same period he was twice outlawed following suits for debt, the first time for £2 owed to a hatter, the second for as much as £52 owed to a mercer, both these creditors being citizens of London. In 1410 and 1428 he obtained royal pardons for his failure to present himself in the court of common pleas to answer these charges. Although then described as a mercer, it was as a yeoman that, on 23 May 1421, six days after the dissolution of his first Parliament, French took out royal letters of protection because he was going overseas in the retinue of Reynold, Lord West. Perhaps he was to act as a victualler of West’s company. The following Whitsun he and other citizens of Winchester consumed three pottles of wine when carrying out an inspection of the streams of the city.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Stowe 846 f. 132v; D.J. Keene, Surv. Winchester (Winchester Studies ii), ii. 1235.
- 2. Black Bk. Winchester ed. Bird. 195; Stowe 846, ff. 112, 122v.
- 3. Stowe 846, ff. 55, 113.
- 4. Keene, ii. no. 534, p. 1235; Winchester RO, D3; chamberlains’ accts. 21-22 Ric. II; Stowe 846, ff. 118, 132v.
- 5. Stowe 846, f. 111; Black Bk. 41; CP25(1)207/30/35; C219/11/5.
- 6. E122/141/4, 19, 21, 22, 184/3 file 1, f. 35; CPR, 1416-22, p. 287; 1422-9, p. 433; Winchester RO, chamberlains’ accts. 9 Hen. V-1 Hen. VI; DKR, xliv. 625.