CHRISTIAN, John (d.1396/7), of Colchester, Essex.
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Family and Education
m. bef. Sept. 1380, Christine, sis. of John atte Ford of Colchester, 1da.
Alderman, Colchester Sept. 1381-2, 1387-8, 1395-6; bailiff 1382-3, 1384-5, 1386-7, 1390-1, 1392-3, 1396-d.1
Commr. of gaol delivery, Colchester castle Nov. 1388.
Collector of customs and subsidies, Ipswich 12 Oct. 1389-Dec. 1391, 18 Oct. 1395-Feb. 1397.
Dep. butler, Ipswich 7 Oct. 1395-1 Jan. 1397.
Christian became a freeman of Colchester on 9 July 1380, possibly at the time of his marriage to Christine atte Ford. Two months later he and his wife granted Thomas Francis* and John Seaburgh* an annual rent of £5 from their property in the town. In 1383 Christian’s wife was an executor of the will of her brother John atte Ford (perhaps he who had been five times MP for Colchester between 1350 and 1374), which contained a bequest to Christian’s daughter Alice and another of 44 acres ‘should Isabel, sometime handmaid of John Christian be with child of my body’, to the same child. In the following year, however, half of this land was conveyed by the Christians and Seaburgh, in their capacity as atte Ford’s executors, to Sir John Gildesburgh*.2 Christian held premises at New Hythe and near St. Helen’s chapel, and, from 1393, he also had a messuage in Colchester market-place. At the same time he was co-feoffee of part of the nearby manor of West Newland, along with Alexander Cogger†, but they lost possession after an action in the King’s courts before July 1389. Earlier Christian had been Cogger’s feoffee of property in Suffolk.3
Christian was involved in municipal government from 1381 until his death 15 years later. A merchant, he had an interest in the local cloth trade, and his concerns led to his appointment as customer in Ipswich. In February 1391 he was granted the farm of the customs on all goods except wool and hides passing through the ports of Great Yarmouth and other ports between Blakeney (Norfolk) and Tilbury for a term of nine years, at £208 13s.4d. a year, but this would appear to have been superseded by a similar grant made to another man a month later.4 He held the offices of collector of customs and deputy butler concurrently from October 1395, but died in office not long after his sixth election as bailiff of Colchester in September 1396.5
His widow may have married Thomas Godstone* before April 1398.