HARFORD, John (by 1501-59/60), of Coventry, Warws.
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Family and Education
b. by 1501, ?s. of William Harford of Coventry. m. at least 1s. 1da.1
Sheriff Coventry 1538-9, mayor 1546-7.2
John Harford, a tanner and leatherseller, may have been a son of William Harford, the Coventry weaver who at the beginning of the century was in Chancery cover lands at Coleshill, Warwickshire, as well as a descendant of the John ‘Hefford’ resident at Coventry in 1469. He is to be distinguished from a namesake of Bosbury, Herefordshire, who is more likely to have been the yeoman of the crown to Henry VIII. Harford first appears at Coventry in the certificate of musters taken in 1522 when he was a tenant of William Poltney or Pulteney in Bishop Street ward and said to be worth 40 marks in goods; three years later he was assessed for the subsidy on goods valued at £20. Despite these modest valuations he soon became one of the chief parishioners of Trinity church, and in 1538 was elected sheriff without previously serving a term as chamberlain. His shrievalty coincided with the suppression of the greater monasteries, and he took it upon himself to inform Dr. John London that the abbot of Coombe had £500 hidden in a mattress. Since only £25 was found, Harford received none of the thanks for assistance accorded to his fellow citizen Henry Over alias Waver.3
Harford’s career thereafter followed the usual pattern of appointment to the electoral jury, a year as mayor and subsequent co-option to the mayor’s council. His civic standing secured him several leases and occasional loans from the corporation and earned him election to Mary’s third Parliament as the colleague of the recorder John Throckmorton I: his son-in-law Edward Davenport had sat in the previous one. Harford was prosecuted in the King’s bench for quitting the Parliament without leave before its dissolution, but after he had incurred a distraint of 25. for non-appearance in Easter term 1558 the suit was dropped in the following Trinity term on his plea that he had received a licence to depart. His last recorded attendance at the mayor’s council was in January 1559, and his will, once at Lichfield but now no longer extant, was admitted to probate before the end of March 1560.4
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: S. M. Thorpe
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. C1/318/43; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 373; Whitley, Parlty. Rep. Coventry, 50.
- 2. Coventry Leet Bk. (EETS cxxxiv), ii. 737, 780.
- 3. Ibid. i. 352; Vis. Herefs. ed. Weaver, 38-39; Arch. Camb. (ser. 6), ix. 283-301; LP Hen. VIII, x, xiv, xix; Coventry accts. var. 18, f. 72v; E179/192/130; Coventry Trinity Deeds, T/S ed. Harris, nos. 71, 73, 76, 77.
- 4. Coventry Leet Bk. ii. 740-821 passim; Coventry mayors’ accts. 1542-61, pp. 404, 502, 504; C1/1199/42; KB27/1186-87; 29/188, rot. 48; Lichfield Wills (Brit. Rec. Soc. vii), 58.