BIRD (BERDE), John (by 1481-1542 or later), of Bath, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
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Family and Education

b. by 1481, ?s. of Henry Bird (d.1528) of Kilmersdon, Som.1

Offices Held

Commr. subsidy, Bath 1514, 1523, 1524; alderman bef. 1534; j.p. 1534.2


John Bird may have been a relative of William Bird, the alchemist who rebuilt Bath abbey church during his term as prior (1499-1525), and also the residuary legatee, executor and son of a local gentleman. Like most of the richer townsmen, he was probably a clothier: the John Bryde who repaired several houses for the churchwardens of St. Michael’s in 1516-17 was almost certainly a namesake, the mason retained by several monastic houses. In 1523 and 1524, when Bird was living in St. Mary’s parish, he was assessed for subsidy at £20 in goods, a not inconsiderable sum but well below the assessments of the three great Bath clothiers, Thomas Chapman, John Kent and Thomas Style. His election to Parliament in 1529 was probably a normal extension of his civic career, although he could not have foreseen how long-drawn-out the experience would prove. In 1534 he testified in a Star Chamber suit between William Crowche and William Holloway alias Gibbes who had succeeded William Bird as prior. He was clearly on bad terms with Crowche whom he accused of violent behaviour which had driven at least two prosperous clothiers from Bath and thus brought unemployment and decay to the city: Holloway he praised as a good and holy man, whereas another witness favourable to Crowche alleged that Bird was a knave.3

Bird was still an alderman in May 1542 when his name appears in the lease of some property. A John Bird is listed with an annuity of £5 in the Bath subsidy roll of 1546, but the value of the annuity suggests that it was a pension for a displaced monk and that its recipient was therefore another man.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Aged 53 ‘and more’ in 1534, Som. St. Ch. Procs. Hen. VII and VIII (Som. Rec. Soc. xxvii), 145; Som. Med. Wills (Som. Rec. Soc. xix), 275.
  • 2. Statutes, iii. 115; LP Hen. VIII , iii, iv; Som. St. Ch. Procs. Hen. VII and VIII, 145.
  • 3. Collinson, Som. i. 56; Som. Med. Wills, 275; Churchwardens’ Accts., St. Michael’s Bath, ed. Pearson, 104, 107; LP Hen. VIII, iii-iv; E179/142/2; Som. St. Ch. Procs. Hen. VII and VIII, 145-8; J. Harvey, Eng. Med. Architects, 36.
  • 4. Anct. Deeds, Bath, ed. Shickle, 106; E179/170/218.