FAIRE, Mark le (d.1417/18), of Winchester and Freefolk, Hants.

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



Feb. 1388
Jan. 1390
Feb. 1413
May 1413
Nov. 1414
Mar. 1416

Family and Education

m. (1) by 1390, Joan (d.1410), 1da.; (2) by Aug. 1411, Agnes Langestoke.1

Offices Held

Bailiff of the 24, Winchester Mich. 1378-9; mayor 1398-9, 1402-3, 1408-9, 1411-12, 5 Dec 1413-Mich. 1414.2

Constable of the Staple, Winchester 12 Dec. 1390-1.3

Alnager, Hants Mich. 1408-Aug. 1415.

Commr. to seize Flemish ships and goods, Hants Aug. 1415.


Le Faire was admitted to the freedom of Winchester, on payment of a 10s. fine, in 1367, and soon became the leading merchant of the city. By 1383 he was involved in the international trade of Southampton, exporting a large amount of woven cloth, usually in shipments of between 20 and 40 cloths at a time, to Spain and France. In 1404 as many as 106 lengths of fabric were carried in his name. These had been produced mostly at Winchester: in 1394-5 le Faire had sold 41 cloths in the city, and four years later he was assessed for alnage on 16 more. For the process of finishing the material he imported woad (including, in 1403, a shipment worth £114), the trade in this commodity being otherwise dominated by foreign merchants. Le Faire dealt in large quantities of Gascon wines (for instance, importing 173 casks in the autumn of 1397), much of which were generally re-shipped to London to supply the royal household. As Richard II’s chief butler had owed him £106 17s.2d. for wine, in 1400 he was allowed exemption from customs duties amounting to £48; and on 29 Oct. that year he was permitted, additionally, to ship goods worth £53 6s.2d. free of charge. Le Faire continued to supply the royal household under Henry IV, but after the latter’s death, in the second Parliament of 1414 (the 12th Parliament he himself attended), he presented a petition in which he claimed that he had been unable to cash tallies received in exchange for victuals for the Household and worth nearly £448, on the ground that his name had been omitted from the list of creditors whom the late King’s executors had undertaken to pay. This was not his only set-back, for in 1403 the Seinte Marie of Portugal, loaded at Southampton by le Faire with 42 tons of wine, had been captured off Dover by four English ships and taken to Harwich. On occasion le Faire traded in raw wool, as when, in March 1402, he shipped 35 sackfuls from Chichester to the Staple at Calais; and he also dealt in oil, dates, wax, salt and iron (in 1404, a shipment worth £108). Grain figured sometimes, too, among his exports, and in 1406 he obtained a royal licence to export 800 quarters of wheat to Bordeaux.4 Le Faire established many trading connexions in England, not only with London, but with towns in Wiltshire, Berkshire, Essex and Hertfordshire. Indeed, his debtors and customers included the Suffolk esquire, Ralph Ramsey*, the archdeacon of Middlesex and the Carthusians of London. It may well have been in connexion with le Faire’s commercial interests that in 1407 John, Lord Harington, together with three knights of the shire sitting in the Parliament then in session, namely Sir Hugh Luttrell, Sir Alan Pennington and Sir Henry Houghton, entered into recognizances for 500 marks payable to him.5

Despite his business commitments, le Faire found ample time for civic affairs. He served as mayor for as many as five terms and well exceeded the record of parliamentary service achieved by all other local contemporaries. In 1377 he secured at Westminster a writ of inquiry ‘ad remouendum Justiciarium domini Regis apud Wyntoniam’ and in that year was also paid 20s. for his attempts to obtain exemption for the citizens from having to build a barge for general naval defence. In the following year he spent 11 days in London on the city’s affairs, and in 1395, when attending Parliament, he took steps regarding a lawsuit between the city authorities and the cathedral priory of St. Swithin’s. From 1406 his inn in Winchester was regularly used as a meeting place for the discussion of local matters and the entertainment of visiting dignitaries: a dispute between Nicholas Tanner* and Richard Bolt* was settled in le Faire’s ‘shoppe’; royal heralds were given hospitality there; and the mayor and leading men of the county met there at the time of the sessions of the peace. During his third term as mayor, in 1408, le Faire rode to London to protest to the mayor and aldermen against the imposition of scavage, in contravention of an agreement regarding this tax made between the two cities long before, in 1304. Three years later he assumed responsibility for organizing repairs to the city’s fulling mill at Priors Barton and to La Starre Inn, undertaking that if the 40 marks allocated by the community were insufficient he would loan any sum that was still needed to complete the works. Le Faire joined in all local festivities, including a banquet held in 1416 for the steward of the marshalsea.6

Le Faire was outstanding for the number of his properties in Winchester, holdings which he steadily increased from 1390 until the last decade of his life. They included tenements in Shulworth Street, Minister Street, High Street, Parchment Street (where he was living in 1398), Tanner Street, Fetter Street, Fleshmonger Street, in ‘la graterie’ and just outside the city in Winnall.7 To facilitate his business in Southampton, he acquired a vault and a house built of stone in English Street, near the port. At the end of the 14th century few Winchester merchants were sufficiently wealthy to purchase country estates, but le Faire, exceptional in this as in other respects, bought the manor of Freefolk, situated on the river Test to the east of Whitchurch. In 1412 his lands and property in Winchester, Southampton, Romsey, Freefolk and outside the county, in Wiltshire, were estimated as worth £46 a year.8

Before his death, which occurred some time in the winter of 1417-18, le Faire arranged that his only daughter, Katherine, should inherit his estate. As early as 1396 he had obtained a royal licence for Bishop Wykeham to settle on the two of them a toft in Gar Street, Winchester. And no doubt the arrangements he made for Katherine’s marriage were satisfactory, too. By 1398 she had married a Salisbury merchant, John Newman, and after his death, before November 1402, she took as her second husband Henry Somer* who, then the clerk of the Receipt, was later to serve as under treasurer and then chancellor of the Exchequer.9 Le Faire stood surety for his son-in-law in the Exchequer both when he was appointed alnager of Hampshire in 1404 and when, four years later, he took out a lease on a tenement in Winchester; and together with him and his wife he took possession in December 1404 of a messuage in ‘Water Lane’ in Tower Ward, London. By 25 Mar. 1417 le Faire had made over his properties to Somer, but he lived perhaps a year longer, being still alive in November and, presumably, during the Parliament that sat until 17 Dec., but dying before May 1418. Somer’s interests lay elsewhere, and he so neglected the le Faire estate that it rapidly declined in value. It was purchased by the corporation of Winchester between 1438 and 1442; and by 1446 the customary annual charge of 3s.8d. for le Faire’s obit, kept in the hospital of St. John, of which he had been a benefactor, was having to be met by the city.10

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Fayre, Vayre; Stowe 846, f. 139.

  • 1. Ibid. ff. 90, 131; Southampton RO, SC4/2/256.
  • 2. Stowe 846, ff. 76, 104v, 112, 114v, 121, 126; CPR, 1413-16, p. 146; CIMisc. vi. 407; C219/8/2; Winchester RO, chamberlain’s acct. 21-22 Ric. II.
  • 3. C267/23.
  • 4. Winchester RO, chamberlain’s acct, 41 Ed. III; E122/34/1, 138/10, 16, 20, 24, 25, 139/3/4, 6, 8; E101/344/10, 12; CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 280, 419; 1401-5, p. 281; SC8/23/1137, 335/15825; RP, iv. 40; CCR, 1405-9, p. 42.
  • 5. CCR, 1396-9, p. 434; 1402-5, p. 506; 1405-9, pp. 295, 346; CPR, 1405-8, p. 251; 1413-16, pp. 80, 314; 1416-22, pp. 166, 294, 434.
  • 6. Winchester RO, mayors’ accts. 50 Ed. III-1 Ric. II, 1-2 Ric. II; chamberlains’ accts. 18-19 Ric. II, 8-9 Hen. IV, 4 Hen. V; Black Bk. Winchester ed. Bird, 29-30.
  • 7. D.J. Keene, Surv. Winchester (Winchester Studies ii), i. 224; ii. 1228; Stowe 846, ff. 90-91, 93, 106v, 112, 116-18, 126, 130-1; Winchester RO, 34/BX/TC9, enrolments mm. 3, 9, 22d, 31d; D3.
  • 8. Queen’s Coll. Oxf. God’s House D365, 371; VCH Hants, iv. 282; CP25(1)207/30/71; HMC 11th Rep. III, 78; Feudal Aids, vi. 454, 537.
  • 9. CPR, 1396-9, p. 33; Stowe 846, ff. 106v, 139; CCR, 1402-5, p. 178.
  • 10. CFR, xii. 232; xiii. 202; Corporation of London RO, hr 133/101; Stowe 846, f. 139; Procs. Hants Field Club, xviii. 325-31; Winchester RO, 38/BX/RN2; chamberlain’s acct. 25-26 Hen. VI.