BERNARD, Richard, of New Shoreham, Suss.
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Family and Education
?s. of John Bernard† of New Shoreham. m. by 1370, Denise, 1s.
Searcher, New Shoreham 18 May 1373-c.1377.
Commr. to search Suss. ports for illegal shipments of bullion, Nov. 1398.
Richard may have been the son of John Bernard (fl. 1360s), one of his recent predecessors in the post of searcher of the port of New Shoreham, and like himself frequently elected to represent the borough in Parliament. The full extent of his property in the town is not known, but in 1370 he acquired a messuage there, and on later occasions he witnessed local deeds.1
In February 1363 Bernard and other mariners of Shoreham raided a Flemish ship at the Sussex port of ‘Pende’, stealing goods worth £10, and shortly afterwards, in Lent, they attacked a ship of Dunkirk in Shoreham harbour, beat the captain and robbed him of movables worth 25 marks. But they were soon obliged to make restitution, and could plead their victim’s release of all actions when requesting royal pardon of their indictment for piracy, which was issued on 13 May following. Bernard again needed to seek pardon in July 1369, this time for the even more serious offence of causing the death of one William atte Wode at Shoreham. As master of the Margaret of Shoreham he made frequent sailings from Chichester harbour in the years 1377 to 1379 with cargoes of wool.2 In later times, however, he was tempted to increase the profits to be made from legal participation in the wool trade by joining a Sussex gang of smugglers. In November 1392, for instance, he acted as broker for a merchant of Rouen, who came to Goring to contract for wool, which was to be smuggled out in John Paynot’s ship in the following spring; and in June 1393 he and his son John helped to sell to another alien four sacks of wool, again for shipment across the Channel by their accomplice, Paynot. The gang seems to have split up shortly afterwards: on 30 Sept. following, when Bernard and Thomas Kytte were transporting another consignment of wool to the coast by night, other members of the gang lay in wait for them at Worthing, there detaining them until they made a payment of eight marks and a promise of secrecy. Bernard incurred forfeiture for these crimes in 1395, shortly after sitting in Parliament for the last time, but on 30 Jan. 1397, at the supplication of Edmund, duke of York, to whom the King had granted this forfeiture, he was pardoned all offences relating to the sale of wool within the realm and exported uncustomed since 1385-6. Bernard is last recorded in October 1403, while serving as a juror at Bramber at the inquisition post mortem on Sir Robert Goushill, late husband of the dowager duchess of Norfolk.3