CLIPSHAM, John (d.c.1429), of Imbhams and Guildford, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1414
May 1421
Dec. 1421

Family and Education

m. by June 1409, Alice (d. by 1433), 1da.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Surr. and Suss. 30 Nov. 1407-15 Nov. 1408, 1 Dec. 1415-30 Nov. 1416, 23 Nov. 1419-16 Nov. 1420, 6 Nov. 1424-15 Jan. 1426.

Parker of Asshurst, Surr. 29 June 1408- d. ; steward of the royal manors of Kennington and Byfleet, Surr. 20 July 1418-d.

Escheator, Surr. and Suss. 29 Nov. 1410-10 Dec. 1411.

Commr. to make arrests, Surr. June 1413, July 1416, Oct. 1420; of inquiry Feb. 1415 (concealment of royal revenues);2 to take musters, Portsdown July 1417;3 of array, Surr. July 1419; to raise royal loans Nov. 1419, May 1428.

J.p. Surr. 8 Dec. 1413-d.

Collector of the wool subsidy, Chichester 24 Feb. 1418-17 Oct. 1421.

Dep. butler of Chichester and the adjacent coastal ports (for Thomas Chaucer*) by 22 Nov. 1418-d.

Tax collector, Surr. Jan. 1420.


Little is known of Clipsham before June 1406, when he and John Clifton, clerk, obtained a bond worth £100 from one John Wyche of Buckinghamshire. His appointment as sheriff of Surrey and Sussex in the following year suggests that he was already a figure of some consequence in the area; and although he is not described as an esquire of the Crown until June 1408 his connexion with Henry IV was probably well established by then.4 From 1407 until his death about 23 years later, Clipsham pursued a full and active career in local government, serving four terms as sheriff and one as escheator of Surrey and Sussex, spending a considerable period on the local bench, and discharging the duties of a customs officer and deputy butler at the port of Chichester. Yet despite the value clearly placed upon his administrative ability, comparatively little is known about his private affairs.

During the summer of 1409, Clipsham and his wife, Alice, settled their estate in Imbhams, Guildford, Shalford and the surrounding area upon John Catterick (the future bishop of Exeter) and other feoffees, perhaps on the occasion of their marriage. The MP’s property in Surrey was said to be worth £20 a year in 1412; and he seems to have derived a further £4 p.a. from unspecified holdings in London, acquired before this date. His interests in the rest of the conveyances which bear his name was that of a feoffee-to-uses, most notably with Robert Skerne* for land in Surrey and Hampshire. Thanks, however, to the various marks of royal favour which came his way, Clipsham was able to supplement his annual income with rents, fees and the perquisites of office. The parkership of Asshurst, in Surrey, for example, brought him nine marks a year, to which was added in 1418 his wage as steward of Kennington and Byfleet. In May 1421 he and Richard Hore obtained a 20-year lease of the lands of the alien priory of New Abbey by Alberbury in Shropshire at a rent of 40 marks p.a., payable at the Exchequer.5 Enough evidence has survived to reinforce this impression of Clipsham’s growing influence. In December 1409 he was one of the recipients of securities worth 130 marks offered by a group of eminent Londoners. Shortly after his first return to Parliament in the spring of 1414 he obtained a papal indult permitting him and his wife to choose their own confessor; and on two subsequent occasions (in 1420 and at some unspecified date) he was called upon to act as an arbitrator in local disputes. Over the years Clipsham built up a wide and noteworthy circle of acquaintances, including the treasurer of England, William Kinwolmarsh, who made him his executor in March 1421, and William, Lord Clinton and Say, for whom he witnessed deeds four years later. Clipsham cannot but have benefited from his position as deputy to Thomas Chaucer, the chief butler of England, a post which followed on his appointment as constable of Farnham for Chaucer’s cousin, Bishop Beaufort of Winchester. It is now impossible to tell how much of his success he owed to these two powerful men, although we can be certain that he gave them his active support in the Commons. While serving as a customs officer at Chichester, Clipsham made a number of useful mercantile connexions, too, one being with the wool merchant, Robert White of Farnham, for whom, in April 1421, he offered joint securities of 1,000 marks.6

Clipsham represented Surrey in Parliament for the seventh and last time in 1427. His office as steward of Kennington and Byfleet, which had been awarded to him for life, was granted to Thomas Haseley* in January 1430, so his death probably occurred towards the end of the previous year. His widow, Alice, to whom he left plate, jewels and household effects worth as much as £500, outlived him by less than four years. On her death a bitter dispute ensued between Clipsham’s daughter and heir, Agnes, and Hugh Ashbury†, who, as the husband of Alice’s daughter by an earlier marriage, refused to relinquish the valuable effects which had come into his hands. Agnes died in 1434, but her father’s executors continued to pursue the quarrel against Ashbury, whom they accused of forging the late MP’s will ‘be sotell ymagynacion’.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variant: Clypsham. The MP is not to be confused with John Clipsham, his contemporary, who had interests in Leicestershire and possessed a title to the manor of Cottesmore in Rutland (CPR, 1396-9, p. 328; CCR, 1405-9, p. 129; 1409-13, p. 73; 1429-35, p. 238; 1435-41, p. 244; 1441-7, p. 287).

  • 1. CP25(1)231/67/71; CCR, 1429-35, pp. 299, 302; 1435-41, p. 37; C1/9/67.
  • 2. CIMisc. vii. no. 507.
  • 3. Gesta Hen. V. ed. Williams, 271.
  • 4. CCR, 1405-9, p. 129; CPR, 1405-8, p. 454.
  • 5. CP25(1)231/67/71; Feudal Aids, vi. 518; Arch. Jnl. xliv. 72; CCR, 1447-54, p. 231; CP25(1)232/70/3; CPR, 1413-16, p. 48; 1416-22, p. 172; CFR, xiv. 385.
  • 6. CCR, 1409-13, p. 73; 1419-22, p. 141; 1422-9, pp. 319, 322; CPL, vi. 498; HMC 9th Rep. i. 17; Add. Ch. 27759; G.L. Harriss, Cardinal Beaufort, 67; Reg. Chichele, ii. 236-7.
  • 7. CPR, 1429-36, p. 80; CCR, 1429-35, pp. 299, 302; 1435-41, p. 37; C1/9/67. Agnes Clipsham m., first, William Weston, by whom she had a s. and h., Robert, and, second, John Founteyns, who sat for Surrey in the Parliament of 1437 (C139/68/13).