EMPINGHAM, Henry, of Northampton and London.
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Family and Education
Bailiff, Northampton Mich. 1399-1400.1
Empingham initially set up in business as a skinner in Northampton, although the expansion of his commercial interests led him to move to London, where he evidently spent the latter part of his life. He is first mentioned in August 1388, by which date he had begun litigation against one John Fremonde of Northampton, whose kinsman, Richard, had left his employment before the appointed time. Having failed to gain redress in this quarter, he subsequently took the young man himself to court, albeit with no greater success than before. But Empingham was clearly active before then, because in May 1398 he secured a royal pardon specifically on account of the support which he had given to Richard II’s enemies, the Lords Appellant, some ten or 12 years earlier. Meanwhile, in 1392, Richard Fremonde obtained a royal pardon for the outlawry which he had incurred as a result of his refusal to defend his case, and Empingham was obliged to abandon his suit. No more is heard of him until his appointment as bailiff of Northampton at the very end of the 14th century. His term of office was marked by the setting up of a royal commission of inquiry at the petition of one William Braunspath, esquire, who claimed to have been wrongly arrested by the borough authorities. Empingham and his colleagues were, however, able to justify their action, charging the prisoner with both theft and ‘malevolent speech towards the King’s person’.2 He continued to play an important part in the affairs of Northampton for at least ten more years, being sent to Parliament by the local electors in 1406, and witnessing the indenture of return drawn up at the county court in 1410. His connexions with London must have been growing steadily throughout this perod, and at some point before September 1421 he was himself admitted to the freedom of the City, apparently as a member of the Skinners’ Company. It was then that the mayor and aldermen formally discharged him from such civic obligations as jury service on the ground of his increasing old age. At about this time he became involved in another lawsuit for the recovery of a debt of £6 13s.8d. from a Northampton barber, although once again his efforts proved useless in view of the defendant's non-appearance in court. The last reference to ‘Henry Empingham, late of Northampton, skinner, alias citizen and skinner of London’ occurs in July 1422, when royal letters of pardon were issued to the barber, who had been temporarily outlawed in the course of the dispute.3
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Empyngham, Impyngham.