TATE, Sir John (by 1444-1515), of London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1444, 2nd s. of Thomas Tate of Coventry, Warws. by one Poers; bro. of Robert. m. Magdalen (Maud), da. of one Harpenden of Wales, 3s. Kntd. 17 June 1497.3

Offices Held

Warden, Mercers’ Co. 1480-1, master 1486-7, 1492-3, 1500-1, 1508-9; alderman, London 1485-d., sheriff 1485-6, auditor 1491-3, mayor 1496-7, June-Oct 1514; mayor, staple of Calais 1505, 1509; justiciary for Hanse merchants in London 1511; commr. subsidy, London 1504, 1512, 1514.4


John Tate was the son of a Coventry mercer, himself a near relative of the John Tate, mercer and alderman of London, to whom his young namesake was apprenticed. Tate was admitted to the freedom of the company in 1465 and seven years later sued out the general pardon offered to merchants of the staple of Calais. In 1475 he and his elder brother Robert Tate, both living in Tower ward, were among the London merchants said to be worth £10 a year in lands or £100 in goods: at this time the two were trading jointly into the Netherlands. John Tate became an important stapler, exporting wool and wool fells in nine different ships bound for Calais in March 1502 in preparation for the Easter mart. In 1497 he bought a tenement in St. Nicholas parish, Calais, and the moiety of a hospice in Maisondieu Street; he acquired further property when his factor at Calais, his wife’s half-brother, fell into debt and appealed to him for assistance, offering in return lands and tenements in Calais and four small houses in Faringdon, Berkshire. In London he lived first in the parish of All Hallows by the Tower and later in the parish of St. Dionis Backchurch.5

As a warden of the Mercers Tate was chosen on 24 Apr. 1483 to ride to meet Edward V on his entry into London, and two days later was elected by the common council of the City to assist the chief butler at the coronation, which in the event became the coronation of Richard III. An alderman of London from March 1485, he was among those charged with defence precautions in July 1485; two years later, after Henry VII had overcome the first rebellion of the reign, Tate was sent on a deputation to the King at Kenilworth. The Cornish rising of 1497 touched London more nearly, and when Henry VII rode into the City after Blackheath he knighted Tate, then mayor, for his services in the ‘well guiding’ of the City and the victualling of the royal army. Thereafter Tate was frequently employed on city business. Thus in March 1503 he reported to the King the widespread opposition to the new charter granted to the Merchant Taylors and in May was one of those appointed to negotiate with the monarch for the confirmation of London’s charter, which the City hoped to see accompanied by the withdrawal of the Merchant Taylors’; in the same year he was empowered to discuss with the corporation of Exeter a dispute over scavage, and in December he was directed to take evidence on the subject.6

Both these issues were to come up in the next Parliament, to which Tate was elected on 30 Dec. 1503, after the death of Sir John Shaa. The first was by implication decided in favour of the Merchant Taylors by an Act (19 Hen. VII, c.7) removing from the mayor and aldermen control over all companies’ ordinances; the second was dealt with by an Act (19 Hen. VII, c.8) restricting scavage to goods sold by foreigners, but with the proviso that the City might levy the duty on denizens’ goods with the assent of the King and Council. In 1510, when Tate was again a Member, his company made a determined attempt to limit the new Act (I Hen. VIII, c.20) of tonnage and poundage made necessary by the accession of Henry VIII; although this passed without the desired amendments it did contain a special proviso for merchants of the staple. Tate was not re-elected in 1512, but he presided over the court of aldermen which approved the sending of a deputation, in which all the companies except the Merchant Taylors had agreed to take part, in support of a bill then before Parliament, ‘that all crafts shall hereafter be under the rule of the mayor and aldermen’; during the second session he was assigned to speak to the 3rd Duke of Buckingham and the lord privy seal in favour of this bill, which nevertheless failed.7

After his second mayoralty in 1514, when he replaced William Brown who had died in office, Tate asked the court of aldermen what his ‘ancienty or preeminence’ should be as the oldest alderman and the youngest to have been mayor twice. He did not long enjoy the distinction. In a long will, dated 3 Jan. 1515 and proved 18 days later, he asked to be buried in the collegiate church of St. Antholin, which he had rebuilt at his own cost, directed that 1,000 requiem masses should be said for him within two months of his death, and made charitable bequests totalling £1763 to religious houses in Coventry and London and to prisoners, the sick and the poor. He left to his wife, his executrix, the residue of his goods and all his lands in Berkshire, Calais, Essex and London, with remainder to his younger surviving son Bartholomew Tate. The exclusion of the elder son, to whom he left ‘little or nothing’, gave rise to contention and was criticized by the widow in her own will. Bartholomew Tate was the father of the Elizabethan Member of that name.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Helen Miller


  • 1. City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 1, f. 150.
  • 2. City of London RO, jnl. 11, f. 90.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from admission to freedom of Mercers’ Co. Harl. 1504, f. 116; 1546, f. 64 (the first marriage ascribed to Tate in HP, ed. Wedgwood 1439-1509 (Biogs.), 841, was his nephew’s); Gt. Chron. of London, ed. Thomas and Thornley, 277.
  • 4. Acts Ct. of Mercers’ Co. ed. Lyell and Watney, 138, 229, 244, 294, 316, 344; City of London RO, jnl. 9, f. 71; 10, f. 79; 11, f. 190; letter bk. L, 225, 281, 289; CPR, 1494-1509, p. 447; LP Hen. VIII, i; Statutes, iii. 83, 118.
  • 5. Coventry Leet Bk. (EETS cxxxiv), i. 246; PCC 4 Holder; List of mercers (T/S Mercers’ Hall); CPR, 1467-77, p. 315; Acts Ct. of Mercers’ Co., 79; Bronnen tot de Geschiedenis van den Handel met Engeland, Schotland en Ierland, ed. Smit, ii. 1847; E122/79/9; CCR, 1485-1500, no. 992; C1/272/12-14.
  • 6. Acts Ct. of Mercers’ Co., 138, 147; City of London RO, jnl. 9, ff. 21v, 71, 82, 150v; 10, ff. 281, 285v; rep. 1, ff. 129, 147v; Gt. Chron. of London, 277.
  • 7. Acts Ct. of Mercers’ Co. 346 seq.; City of London RO, rep. 2, ff. 146, 148.
  • 8. City of London RO, rep. 1, f. 136v; 2, ff. 178v, 197v; PCC 4, 35 Holder; W. K. Jordan, Charities of London, 1480-1660, p. 352.