TRACY, John, of Bridport, Dorset.
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Family and Education
s. of William Tracy of Bridport (d.1369) by his w. Florence.1
Cofferer, Bridport Mich. 1390-1; steward by spring 1398-c.1401.2
Tax collector, Dorset Jan. 1392, Mar. 1395, Mar. 1401.
Coroner, Dorset 13 Oct. 1395-Feb. 1399.3
The Tracys were an important family in Bridport in the 14th century: Henry Tracy† had represented the borough in the Parliaments of 1312 and 1314, and William, John’s father, served it as bailiff at least three times during Edward III’s reign. William held many properties in the town, one of which, a messuage in South Street, was settled on John by his mother in 1370, a year after his father’s death. In addition to his own inheritance, Tracy held reversionary interests in the lands at Walditch and Shipton belonging to his sister, Hillary, and, from 1382, property elsewhere in Dorset.4
In 1373 John Tracy ‘the younger’ was attached by the sheriff of Dorset to appear before the King’s bench to answer for a breach of the peace, and it may have been he who subsequently entered into recognizances for £100 with William Wyther†, since the bonds were made leviable in the same county. After completing his training as a lawyer, Tracy made several appearances at the borough court of Bridport where, probably by royal appointment, he was to serve towards the end of his career as steward. At Symondsbury in 1390 he witnessed the conveyance by Sir Robert Assheton’s heir of the manor of Eype, and he also became involved in transactions relating to property in Bridport and Dorchester on behalf of William Hamond† and John Hayward, the latter being his fellow MP on at least six occasions. Tracy acted as an attorney in pleas of novel disseisin heard at the Dorchester assizes in 1398 and 1401,5 but his practice as a lawyer was not limited to the local courts, for when, early in 1399, the sheriff of Dorset was instructed to elect a new county coroner to take his place, it was because he was ‘so much occupied with diverse business of the King and commons in the King’s court that he might not have leisure to exercise the office’ On 10 Nov. that same year, when up at Westminster for the first Parliament of Henry IV’s reign, Tracy, along with a fellow Member of the Commons, Sir Thomas Fitznichol of Gloucestershire, provided securities at the Exchequer on behalf of the prior of Appuldercombe on the Isle of Wight, and in 1403 he offered similar guarantees for the prior of Loders, a Benedictine house near Bridport.6 Nothing more is heard of him.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
It is difficult to separate his career from that of a namesake, a rope merchant who made his will at Bridport in Feb. 1384, especially as there is no record of probate (Dorset RO, B3/D2 ff. 106v-107). It was probably this older John who was bailiff in 1359-63, 1365-6, 1367-8, 1369-70, 1372-3, 1376-7 and 1380-1 (D2 ff. 38, 41, 42, 64, 68, 86; CAD, i. C415; ii. C2265, 2736), and MP in 1363, 1372, 1377 (Oct.), 1378, and 1380 (Jan.), but the Member for 1383 (Feb.), and, indeed, on earlier occasions, may quite feasibly have been the younger John.
- 1. Dorset RO, B3/D2 ff. 45, 110v.
- 2. Dorset RO, B3/M11 ff. 7, 34.
- 3. CCR, 1396-9, p. 376; C242/7.
- 4. Dorset RO, B3/D2 ff. 45, 82v, 83v, 86, 110v; S185, 186, 276; Dorset Feet of Fines 194; CAD, ii. C2481.
- 5. HMC 6th Rep. 485; C146/1588, 5189; CCR, 1369-74, p. 596; 1374-7, p. 251; 1389-92, p. 104; CAD, ii. C2414; Dorset Feet of Fines, 225; JUST 1/1502 m. 219d, 1513 m. 59.
- 6. CFR, xii. 15, 194.