ARNOLD, John I (d.c.1410), of Blaxhall and Ipswich, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Sept. 1388
Jan. 1397

Family and Education

m. bef. Mich. 1387, Christine, prob. da. of Thomas Terry of Ipswich.

Offices Held

Coroner, Ipswich Sept. 1390-1, 1392-6; bailiff 1391-2, 1397-9.1

Collector of customs and subsidies, Ipswich 20 Nov. 1396-1 May 1398, 21 Dec. 1398-10 Oct. 1399.

Alnager, Suff. 28 Apr. 1398-17 Oct. 1399, jt. alnager, Essex, Herts., Norf., Suff. 15 Apr. 1403-9 Mar. 1410.

Serjeant-at-arms 21 Nov. 1399-d.

Commr. of arrest, Feb., May, Nov. 1400, Apr., Aug., Oct. 1401, July 1403, Jan., Mar., Apr., May, July, Oct. 1404, Mar. 1405, Jan. 1406; inquiry, Suff. Nov. 1400 (concealments), Essex, Herts., Norf., Suff. Nov. 1403 (evasion of alnage), Glos. July 1405, Jan. 1406 (sale of land pertaining to the Crown); to impress mariners for royal service, Norf., Suff. Oct. 1402, Mar. 1405; make restitution for acts of piracy July 1403, Devon, Bristol Nov. 1403, Sept. 1404, Norf. Dec. 1404, Feb. 1405, Oct. 1406; provide horses for King’s servants travelling from Pontefract to London, July 1404.


This Member may have been the John Arnold who in 1369 brought a suit at the Suffolk assizes against John Cobbet† of Ipswich and his wife Agnes for land at Debenham, successfully refuting the Cobbets’ claim that he was a bondman on Agnes’s manor.2 Early in his career Arnold was described as being ‘of Blaxhall’, and he is not recorded as attending the borough court at Ipswich before November 1384, when, supporting the widow of Thomas Terry, a former burgess, he gave evidence identifying Terry’s executors. Arnold’s wife, Christine, may well have been Terry’s daughter, for several years later she was to make a quitclaim of all her rights in a capital messuage in St. Margaret’s parish which she and Arnold had held by Terry’s gift. Meanwhile, in 1387, Terry’s sons had acknowledged in the borough court at Colchester that they owed Arnold £5. Arnold is known to have lived in Ipswich from December 1386, when he made a conveyance of a tenement in St. Richard’s parish, and his marriage evidently brought him more property in the town, including buildings in St. Mary’s.3

Arnold soon established himself at Ipswich as a successful member of the trading community, by shipping wool and woollen cloth to the Low Countries and on occasion importing wine.4 In August 1391 the town authorities granted him, along with Henry Wall* and two other burgesses, a certain plot of land beside the river for an annual rent of 6s.8d., on the understanding that they would build two water-mills there, recoup their expenses from the profits, and then grant the mills to the town in aid of the fee farm. Royal confirmation of this arrangement was obtained in June 1392, and by April 1399 the mills, by then in the town’s possession, were realizing profits of £10 p.a. However, it was then claimed that no royal licence had been secured for certain of the transactions involved, and so the mills were seized by the Crown — an action which Arnold contested. In July 1399 the Suffolk assize judges were instructed to conduct an inquiry, but it was not until three months later, and under a new King, Henry IV, that the mills were returned to the town.5

Arnold was frequently, and closely, associated with Henry Wall, who was not only his fellow bailiff of 1391-2 (together they had made the Ipswich returns to the Parliament of 1391), but also his companion in the Parliament of 1394. On 14 Feb., while that Parliament was in session, they both stood surety under penalty of £40 that another townsman, William Master*, would appear before the King’s Council. That autumn Robert Waleys* conveyed to Arnold and Wall two tenements with granges in St. Mary’s parish; then, in January 1396, Arnold and his wife enfeoffed Wall and Robert Lucas* of lands and rents in the suburbs and at Ufford; and in the following August Wall granted a quay, shops and a crane to Arnold and John Knepping*. Both Arnold and Wall were witnesses to a transaction at Broke, near Ipswich, in March 1397, when the manor there belonging to the Howard family was transferred to Sir John Howard* by feoffees. Meanwhile, in 1394, Arnold had brought a suit in the King’s bench against a physician (‘leche’) who, however, obtained a royal pardon of outlawry for not appearing in court.6

Arnold’s companion in the Parliament of 1397 (Jan.) was John Bernard III, with whom he was associated in the collection of customs revenues at Ipswich, and at the local elections to the Parliament of 1397 (Sept.) he acted as mainpernor for Bernard’s attendance. Arnold procured a general pardon from Richard II on 16 Apr. 1398, and it was only two weeks later that he obtained the alnagership of Suffolk at farm. He lost both this and his post as collector of customs soon after Henry IV’s accession, but having, as bailiff, returned himself to the assembly which had deposed Richard and acclaimed the new King, he was well placed to secure, on 21 Nov. 1399 (two days after Parliament was dissolved), appointment as a royal serjeant-at-arms. This post, which carried a daily wage of 12d., involved Arnold in duties throughout the country. In February 1400 he was issued with royal letters of protection as going to Ireland with Sir John Stanley, lieutenant of the province, but it seems likely that they never departed, for Stanley was superseded in his office later in the year and Arnold was appointed to a number of commissions of arrest during 1400 in his capacity as serjeant. Indeed, that summer he was also kept busy assisting in the delivery of supplies for a convoy sailing to Scotland in support of Henry IV’s army of invasion. Arnold’s post brought him into contact with men of consequence in governmental circles: in April 1401 he made a conveyance of land at Thurlston and Whitton, near Ipswich, to a number of feoffees headed by Sir Thomas Brounflete, the controller of the King’s household, and John Staverton, a baron of the Exchequer.7

In August 1401 Arnold, together with John Bernard and Thomas Godstone* of Colchester, was brought before the court of the Exchequer on charges of embezzlement arising from their activities as customs officials at Ipswich in 1397. They had conspired, it was alleged, to defraud the Crown of part of the revenues due by making identical forgeries in the separate accounts, Bernard as controller and the other two as collectors, in this way obtaining £525, of which Arnold’s share was said to have been £155. And yet Arnold had informed upon his accomplices, for some undisclosed reason. Perhaps he had quarrelled with Bernard. (In March 1399 he had sold Bernard five shops in St. Mildred’s parish, Ipswich, for which he may not have been paid in full, and certainly, four years afterwards, he sued Bernard for a debt of £240.) As informer, Arnold was let off lightly: he was discharged with a nominal fine of £2 and ordered to repay the sum he had embezzled within ten weeks. Bernard having absented himself, Arnold, as serjeant, was then commissioned to arrest him and seize his customs’ memoranda.8

Arnold continued to serve the Crown as a serjeant-at-arms, and in 1403 he was appointed joint alnager of four eastern counties. He made appearances in Chancery as a surety early in 1405. His joint alnagership was renewed for a further seven years in 1409, but he was replaced on 9 Mar. 1410, by which date he was probably dead.9

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Authors: K.N. Houghton / L. S. Woodger


  • 1. N. Bacon, Annalls of Ipswiche ed. Richardson, 83-86; E368/165-72.
  • 2. JUST 1/1477 m. 15d.
  • 3. Bacon, 82; Ipswich RO, recog. rolls 5-8, 9-10, 11-14, 18-23 Ric. II; Colchester Moot Hall, ct. roll 26 m. 8.
  • 4. E122/50/30, 31, 193/33 f. 5.
  • 5. CPR, 1391-6, p. 100; 1396-9, p. 527; 1399-1401, p. 159; CCR, 1396-9, p. 507.
  • 6. C219/9/8; CCR, 1392-6, p. 254; 1405-9, p. 501; CPR, 1391-6, p. 492; Ipswich RO, recog. roll 18-23 Ric. II.
  • 7. C67/30 m. 28; C219/9/13, 10/1; CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 130, 159; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 174; CAD, ii. A3761.
  • 8. Speculum, xxx. 230-2; Ipswich RO, deed AII 25/15; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 553; 1401-5, p. 336.
  • 9. CCR, 1402-5, pp. 417, 489.