FISHLAKE, Robert, of Dover, Kent and Winchelsea, Suss.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Bailiff, Winchelsea 30 Oct. 1399-21 July 1410.
Commr. to recover timber for the fortification of Guines, Suss. Nov. 1408.1
Robert Fishlake was perhaps the son of a namesake who in 1371 had been master of the Mariebote of Sandwich. He evidently came from Dover, whence he exported hides and cloth in 1399; and a tax exemption certificate of 1402, mentioning his landed holdings in the hundred of Eastry, Kent, refers to him as ‘of Dover’. Although he had traded in wool through ports of Sussex in the 1390s,2 his close connexion with Winchelsea began only in 1399, when he was granted the bailiffship there for life. It is open to speculation that like Thomas Gyles* of Dover, simultaneously appointed bailiff of Rye, he had helped Henry of Bolingbroke and his supporters cross over from France to end their exile, and that this was his reward. He then settled at Winchelsea and witnessed deeds there until he lost his post. He occasionally went to sea: in 1403 he was party to the capture of five Frenchmen, who then procured safe conducts to enable them to fetch their ransoms.3
Fishlake’s office as bailiff was not without its difficulties. In June 1409 he was compelled to obtain a writ exonerating him from payment of certain amercements at the Exchequer. Nevertheless, at Michaelmas that year he was summoned to account as one of the bailiffs of the Cinque Ports who, so Sir Thomas Erpingham alleged, had refused to hand over the profits from fines and the chattels forfeited by felons, due to Erpingham during his time as warden. To assure their immunity, he and Thomas Gyles both took out, on 10 Nov., a general pardon of all debts and accounts to the King in connexion with their respective bailiffships, and ten days later a writ of privy seal cleared them from further prosecution at the Exchequer. However, these difficulties may have obliged Fishlake to resign his office, which he did in the following summer, in favour of one of the King’s esquires.4 Apparently he then returned to Dover, for he served on a ship subsequently provided there for Henry V’s service.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: A. P.M. Wright
- 1. Called John Fishlake in error; CPR, 1408-13, p. 65.
- 2. E122/33/25, 125/12, 126/25; E179/225/27.
- 3. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 42; 1408-13, p. 141; Add. Chs. 16432, 20202-4; Sales Cat. Battle Abbey Chs. (1835), 95; Cat. Rye Recs. ed. Dell, 136/158; E101/43/10.
- 4. E364/37 m. D; E368/181 Trin. rot. 3, 182 Mich. rot. 22; CPR, 1408-13, pp. 141, 215.
- 5. E101/51/1. Robert Fishlake, sometime avener to Queen Katherine, who in 1440 obtained exemption from public service, may well have been a kinsman of his; CPR, 1436-41, p. 441.