CLENHAND, John (d.1390), of London.
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Family and Education
m. (1) Cecily, s.p.; (2) Idonea Lovey (d. 12 Sept. 1409), 3s.1
Constable of the Staple of Westminster 15 July 1383-8.2
Common councillor, Broad Street Ward by July 1384-aft. Aug. 1388; auditor of London 21 Sept. 1387-8.3
Ambassador to treat for a truce with Flanders 20 May 1388.4
Clenhand appears originally to have come from the village of Great Munden in Hertfordshire, where his aunt, ‘a certain aged pauper called Katherine Morant’, and his kinsman, Robert Antoyne, were still living at the time of his death. Antoyne was evidently a man of some consequence, being involved in the affairs of John, Lord Cobham, but Clenhand’s early years remain obscure, and it is likely that his origins were quite humble.5 He had settled in London by June 1379, when Thomas and Alice Cressingham made him their feoffee for property in Tower Ward. During the next three years his interest in the wool trade developed considerably: between January and May 1381, for example, he obtained ten separate licences for the export of wool from the port of London alone, paying almost £100 to the collectors of the subsidy there.6 His appointment as constable of the Staple of Westminster — a post which he held for five years — clearly gave him a great advantage over his commercial rivals, and evidence of his growing prosperity as both a draper and a woolman is not hard to find.
Like many London merchants, Clenhand invested his profits in land. In January 1382 he acquired a tenement, shops and dwellings in the parish of St. Anthony; and two years later he purchased land in Sudbury, Suffolk, from a local couple. It is interesting to note that one Thomas Prentyz of Sudbury was at this time bound over to keep the peace towards Clenhand — an indication, perhaps, of some local antagonism towards the wealthy Londoner.7 In September 1386 Henry Bosville, a skinner, settled all his late wife’s property in the parish of St. Michael Cornhill upon Clenhand, who made various small additions to his holdings in this part of the City over the years. His accessions here, and in the parish of St. Christopher by the Stocks, involved him in two legal actions, brought against him in October 1389 by a chantry priest named Bartholomew Dyne. The latter claimed that Clenhand had obtained entry to property which was rightly his, but abandoned his suit before it even reached a jury.8
Despite his wealth and influence as a landowner, Clenhand rarely occupied himself with the affairs of others, probably because he was often out of London on business. He acted as a trustee for his friend, William Hyde*, whom he later chose to supervise the execution of his will, and together with Hyde he was a feoffee for the London merchant John Halle; but there are few occasions on which he is known to have performed such a service. Nor was his interest in civic affairs as great as many of his more active contemporaries. Although he attended a number of meetings of the common council of London in his capacity as representative of Broad Street Ward, and was present at the election of Sir Nicholas Brembre† as mayor in October 1384, he never sat on any of the various commissions of inquiry set up by the council and played only a modest part in the government of the City during the 1380s.9 His appointment as an ambassador to negotiate for peace with Flanders in May 1388 — for which he subsequently received expenses of £20 — is none the less indicative of his stature in mercantile circles, and the influence which he commanded among his fellow Londoners was undoubtedly great.
Clenhand died between 14 June and 5 Nov. 1390 and was buried in the church of the Carmelite friars, London. He made generous bequests to other London churches and to the burial place of his mother at Great Munden. Kinsmen and friends, including William Hyde and William Parker I*, were also remembered in his will, as was Idonea, his second wife, who received a lump sum of £200, plate and other goods to the value of 500 marks, as well as custody of tenements in the parishes of St. Michael Cornhill and All Hallows Barking during the minority of their three sons. A rental of this property drawn up in May 1393 assessed the share of the two elder boys at £87, in addition to a separate bequest of £300 in cash, which was set aside for all three sons until their coming of age.10 By November 1395 Idonea had married her second husband, Edmund Brokesbourne*, the Essex landowner and shire knight, whose death within two years (or less) left her even wealthier than before. Because of her two husbands’ generosity she was further able to improve her position by a third marriage, in or before November 1397, to Bartholomew, heir to John, 2nd Lord Bourgchier. First Brokesbourne and then Bourgchier became involved in protracted litigation as a result of rival claims to Clenhand’s London property, but both managed to defend the title of Idonea and her sons to this lucrative inheritance.11 By March 1427, however, Clenhand’s three heirs had all died without issue, and their estate was offered up for sale. In accordance with the terms of his will, in which he had left certain sums to be spent at the discretion of the city fathers, part of the proceeds were used for work on the new Guildhall and the repair of tenements belonging to the Guildhall college, while the remainder was set aside for other building projects in the City.12
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Corporation of London RO, hr 121/211; P. Morant, Essex (Colchester), i. 464.
- 2. C67/23; C267/8/17, 19.
- 3. Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 237-40, 313, 332-3.
- 4. Rot. Gasc. et. Franc. ed. Carte, ii. 157; E403/519 m. 9.
- 5. Corporation of London RO, hr 121/211; CCR, 1389-92, p. 335.
- 6. Corporation of London RO, hr 107/174, 108/1, 111/167; E122/71/4 mm. 5-9.
- 7. Corporation of London RO, hr 110/88, 97; CP25(1)223/104/6; Cal. P. and M. London, 1381-1412, p. 52.
- 8. Corporation of London RO, hr 115/48, 96, 118/41; hcp 114 m. 4; hpl 112 m. 3.
- 9. Corporation of London RO, hr 114/13, 15; CP25(1)109/230/570; Cal. P. and M. London, 1381-1412, pp. 88, 122-4, 132-3.
- 10. Corporation of London RO, hr 121/211; Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 394.
- 11. London Rec. Soc. i. no. 207; CPR, 1396-9, p. 139. Lord Bourgchier d. in May 1409, and Idonea, who had been left in possession of all his estates, four months later (C137/74/52, 75/61, 78/32. CP, ii. 247 erroneously gives her death date as September 1410). They had a da., Elizabeth, who m. Sir Hugh Stafford and inherited Lord Bourgchier’s estates. Her half-sis., Eleanor, who was probably Brokesbourne’s rather than Clenhand’s child, m. William Raynford, esquire (CCR, 1419-22, pp. 181-3; 1429-35, p. 265).
- 12. Corporation of London RO, hr 155/47, 59; C.M. Barron, Med. Guildhall London, 32 n. 113.