WYGGE, William (d.1413), of Winchester, Hants.
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Family and Education
Commons’ bailiff, Winchester Mich. 1379-80; bailiff of the 24, 1386-7; mayor 1390-1, 1394-5, 1399-1400, 1406-7, 1413-d.2
William’s father, Richard Wygge, a leading clothier of Winchester, occupied a number of local offices from 1357 onwards and was three times mayor (1363-4, 1371-2 and 1380-1) and four times a parliamentary burgess. In 1379 his wife, a woman of independent spirit, publicly declared that she would sell her ale as she liked and had no intention of being brought into court at the summons of mayor or bailiffs.3 William entered the guild merchant in 1376-7, paying, as his father’s apprentice, only half a mark as entrance fee; and he soon became involved in the civic administration as one of the ‘bagmen’ of 1378-9. Immediately afterwards he took office as bailiff of the commons and it was as such that he notified the sheriff of Hampshire of his father’s last election to Parliament.4 However, in 1381 he played a prominent part in the violent rising in the city (one of the numerous urban incidents of the Peasants’ Revolt), in which the local textile workers sought to improve their lot. As a rebel leader he was not without internal influence, for his father was mayor of Winchester during the outbreak, and there may, therefore, have been personal as well as political reasons for his participation. Although Wygge received a royal pardon on 20 Dec. that year his name was subsequently, on 13 Feb. following, excluded from the amnesty granted in Parliament after John, Lord Montagu, the steward of the Household, and the two knights of the shire for Hampshire, Sir John Sandys* and Sir Thomas Worting*, had specifically protested against his inclusion. He was, in fact, brought to trial before the King’s bench on 7 Feb. 1383, but released on bail while the court awaited evidence of the indictments presented to Lord Montagu and other justices in the localities and, after a later appearance in the same court in 1387 (while he was bailiff of the 24), he was formally acquitted. Wygge was fortunate, for at least seven Winchester men were executed for their part in the uprising.5
By the 1380s Wygge had set up in business independently as a draper. His goods and equipment when confiscated in 1381 had been valued at only £4 14s.10d., but he had in stock at the time fabric worth over £81, and as time went on he grew prosperous. As a consequence of his involvement in the processes of Julling, weaving and dyeing, his output evidently became quite considerable: in 1394-5 he sold as many as 116 lengths of cloth. He was also important enough to be among those responsible for the civic ordinance of 1402 which restricted the distribution of fulling and weaving work to the confines of the liberty of Winchester, and later he shared the administration of the fulling mill at Priors Barton.6 For those who escaped execution, participation in the revolt of 1381 proved to be no permanent bar to advancement; certainly Wygge’s own rise to power in the city was not impeded, for after his only known return to Parliament he was to be elected mayor as many as five times. During his first mayoralty he became interested in the foundation of Fromond’s chantry in Winchester college, and in the course of his second (in 1394-5) he received £6 10s. for his expenses in carrying out business on the community’s behalf. He was often asked to serve as feoffee of property in the city, for instance by Gilbert Forster*, and from 1405 to 1413 he was a trustee for the administration of the chantry founded under the will of Lucy, widow of Richard Frye*. Meanwhile, although never again an elected Member of the Commons, Wygge had been nominated to act in the Parliament of October 1404, at Coventry, as a proxy for the abbot of Hyde.7
Wygge’s property interests in Winchester were extensive. His father (who died before 1385) had owned tenements in High Street (including ‘La Cheker’ and ‘La Wolselde’) and a messuage on Silver hill, which had been sold to him complete with dyeing equipment. The latter establishment, settled on William by his parents in 1377, probably served as his home. Two tenements nearby, in Tanner Street, were conveyed to his wife before 1387, and in 1390 they together acquired other holdings.8 Wygge’s parents had stipulated that if he should die childless, his executors were to sell the Silver hill messuage to provide masses for the good of their souls at St. George’s parish church. Consequently, in July 1407, perhaps following the death of an only son,9 he procured a royal licence to grant this property to the parson of St. George’s, conditional on the celebration of ten masses for the obits of his parents and friends every year on the Thursday before midsummer; and the house subsequently became the rectory. At that time Wygge held other premises in the city worth at least £5 a year.10
Wygge died in late November or early December 1413, shortly after the beginning of his fifth mayoralty.11
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. Winchester RO, 34/BX/TC9, enrolments m. 25.
- 2. Stowe 846, ff. 76v, 84, 91, 99v, 110, 111, 115v, 132, 134, 134v, 145v.
- 3. C267/8/67, 74-76; Stowe 846, ff. 55v, 70v, 77v; J.S. Furley, Town Life in 14th Cent. 71, 141, 153.
- 4. Winchester RO, mayor’s acct. 50 Edw. III-1 Ric.II; bagmen acct. 3 Ric. II; C219/8/4.
- 5. RP, iii. 113; CCR, 1381-5, p. 253; C67/29 m. 34; Sel. Cases King’s Bench (Selden Soc. lxxxviii), 28-30; A. Réville, Soulèvement des Travailleurs, p. cviii.
- 6. E136/195/1; E101/344/10; Réville, 278; Black Bk. Winchester ed. Bird, 6, 10.
- 7. Winchester Coll. mun. 842; Winchester RO, chamberlains’ acct. 18-19 Ric. II; Stowe 846, ff. 114, 114v, 123v; SC10/43/2064.
- 8. D.J. Keene, Surv. Winchester (Winchester Studies 2), ii. nos. 106, 141, 404-5, 408, 418, 422-3, 490, 497; Stowe 846, ff. 57v, 60, 63v, 74, 82, 83, 93v, 99v, 102.
- 9. Robert Wygge of
Winchester, a scholar at Winchester coll. who went up to New Coll. Oxf. in 1395, died in 1398: Winchester Scholars ed. Kirby, 20.
- 10. CPR, 1405-8, p. 343; C143/437/29.
- 11. CPR, 1413-16, p. 146; CIMisc. vii. 468.