BROWNING, Henry (d.c.1411), of Hythe, Kent.
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Family and Education
s. of Henry Browning (d. bef. 1358) of Hythe. m. Christine. 1da.1
Browning witnessed deeds at Hythe between 1366 and 1397. In the 1380s he owned land in the Kentish hundreds of Hayne and Street (in the neighbourhood of Hythe), on which as a Portsman he claimed exemption from taxation. His property in Hythe itself included that which he exchanged with William Yoklete* in 1409-10.4
Besides his parliamentary service for Hythe, Browning also made other journeys on the town’s behalf, notably in connexion with the common barge, as in 1371 when he went up to London, in 1377 when he visited Dover after being summoned by the warden ‘pro factura bargie’, and in 1382-3 when New Romney entertained him with regard to the purchase of a new vessel. Meanwhile, in July 1377, he had attended Richard II’s coronation as one of the canopy-bearers supplied by the Cinque Ports. Early in 1389 he was a member of the jury which certified the amount of tax exemption allowed to Portsmen in Kent. Under Henry IV, however, it was alleged that in 1393 Browning and other barons of Hythe, ‘rashly usurping royal power’, had drawn a hamlet known as ‘Damyet’ from the geldable of the shire into the liberty of their town, thus depriving the Crown of revenue.5
Browning was one of the intended victims of Hythe’s troublesome common clerk, John Smalwode, who, it was afterwards claimed, plotted his death in 1397 and called large assemblies of townsmen to lend authenticity to his other machinations against the jurats. When, in 1407, this was brought to light, Smalwode was expelled from his office and disqualified from ever holding any other post in the town. Browning died before 1412-13, when his widow paid maltolts on certain of his holdings, including rents of 52s. and chattels worth £6. His daughter, Margery, married before February 1414 the same John Smalwode who had earlier plotted her father’s death, perhaps as a move to end factionalism in the borough.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: A. P.M. Wright
- 1. Hythe Reg. 1, ff. 1, 28.
- 2. Ibid. ff. 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19-21.
- 3. Ibid. ff. 8-10; HMC 6th Rep. 520.
- 4. HMC 6th Rep. 515-16; E179/225/11, 22.
- 5. Hythe accts. box 27, ff. 31, 58, 74; Romney assmt. bk. 1, f. 16; E179/225/22; CIMisc. vii. 202.
- 6. Hythe Reg. 1, ff. 22, 28; Hythe jurats’ bk. C, f. 7. Smalwode was appointed bailiff of Hythe by Archbishop Chichele on 1 Aug. 1414, only to be replaced five months later, probably because of his unpopularity in the town: Reg. Chichele, iv. 97, 111.