BENHAM, Walter, of Oxford.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. bef. 1380, Emma.1
Bailiff, Oxford Mich. 1393-4.2
Tax collector, Oxford Dec. 1414, Nov. 1415.
Probably a relation, possibly a son, of John Benham† (bailiff in 1360 and MP in 1368), Walter Benham paid the normal sum of 1s. towards the poll tax of 1380. That same year he sold two messuages in the town, but retained other property there, and in 1387 he leased from the local authorities a turret and part of the town wall near the south gate. A fishmonger by trade, he was once amerced for depositing rubbish on a nearby riverbank called ‘Shelvyngstole’.3
In 1384 Benham was one of those who, with John Hickes*, were required to enter into a bond in Chancery to keep the peace towards the warden and scholars of Merton college. In 1387 he stood surety for Simon Callynge, a chaplain, undertaking that the latter would not prosecute lawsuits abroad (presumably in the Roman Curia). During his only term as bailiff, Benham was ordered to proclaim the royal decree of 1394 that all those born in Ireland should return there. In January 1397, when he first served in Parliament, he became involved in the dispute between Oxford and London over tolls: while at Westminster, he and his fellow MP, Adam de la River, were instructed by Richard Garston*, the mayor, to purchase a royal writ addressed to the mayor and aldermen of London, confirming the right of Oxford merchants to be quit of all tolls in the City.4
In 1406 Benham served as a juror in a case involving local property and three years later he was a member of the common council of Oxford. He probably died soon after 1415, the date of his last appearance in the records.5