GARE, Robert, of York.

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



Family and Education

s. and h. of Robert Gare (d. by Dec. 1399) of York by his w. Emma (d. by Dec. 1399). m. by Mar. 1405, Alice.1

Offices Held

Commr. to confiscate goods for the Crown, Yorks. July 1402.

Sheriff, York Mich. 1409-10.


The Gare family exercised considerable influence in late medieval York, and Robert was almost certainly a close relative of Thomas Gare*, one of the wealthiest merchants in the north. Even though he himself never sat in Parliament, Robert’s own father and namesake was also a fairly prominent figure in the city, where, in 1380, he served as a parish constable. He was also appointed to at least four royal commissions, although one, regarding the debts of Alexander Neville, archbishop of York (d.1392), never actually came into his hands.2 Robert Gare the younger began his own promising career as a lawyer in February 1392, when he went surety at the Exchequer for the farmer of certain property in Cornwall which had temporarily escheated to the Crown. In the following year he again acted as a mainpernor, this time for a York merchant then being sued for debt in the court of Chancery. His personal connexions with Appleby, which he represented in at least two Parliaments (on the first occasion as Robert Gare ‘the younger’) are not immediately apparent, but he had so many powerful clients among the northern clergy and was so often at Westminster on legal business that it is easy to see why the borough chose him as a representative. Robert frequently went bail on behalf of litigants with business in the court of Chancery, being named in this capacity at least eight times between 1395 and 1401, and again on a further four occasions towards the end of his life. Sometimes the bonds which he offered were comparatively high, as in April and June 1421, when he pledged joint securities totalling £540 for John Bosham, the parson of Middleton in Yorkshire, but we know from other evidence that he was accustomed to take recognizances in advance from his clients as an earnest of their good faith.3

Judging from the inventory of debts made in May 1400 after the death of Thomas Dalby, archdeacon of Richmond, Robert was frequently employed by this influential cleric on a wide range of legal business. One case alone, brought by Dalby against John Preston, earned him a retainder of 40s., and he was also owed a number of smaller sums for suing out writs, pleading and giving professional advice. Another of his clients was the abbot of St. Mary’s, York, who engaged him as an attorney in 1407, notwithstanding the fact that they had earlier fought a lawsuit against each other in Chancery over their respective rights to certain land in Lincoln, which Gare was farming, along with William Luddington, as a tenant of the Crown. In the event, the abbot proved a superior title, and Robert, who valued his patronage, chose not to pursue the matter. Even more useful was his friendship with Walter Skirlaw, bishop of Durham (d.1406), whose will contained a bequest of silver plate to Robert and his wife, Alice, probably in return for past services rendered. Later, in 1416, the dean of York, John Prophet, sometime clerk of the council to Richard II, secretary to Henry IV from 1402 to 1406, and then keeper of the privy seal until 1415, appointed Robert as one of the executors of his will, which suggests that he must have come to occupy a leading position in the local legal hierarchy. Since 1400, when he gave evidence on behalf of the civic authorities in Chancery, Robert had also maintained strong connexions with the rulers of York; and he was chosen, in 1409, to serve a term as sheriff there.4

Perhaps because so much of his time was given over to the affairs of his clients, little is known about Robert’s more personal dealings. At some point before December 1399, he inherited property worth six marks p.a. in Monkgate, York, from his mother, Emma, and was allowed to remain in possession by Henry IV, even though his title later proved defective. Robert evidently stood well with the King (perhaps through the good graces of John Prophet), because in 1402 he and William Sandford obtained the farm, at £23 p.a., of the Yorkshire estates of the late Sir Thomas Ughtred during the minority of his next heir. By 1405 he had married his wife, Alice, with whom he shared other holdings in York. These had previously belonged to the merchant, John Moreby, who may, perhaps, have been her father. Despite his widespread connexions, Robert was not always able to withstand the attacks of his enemies; and in 1411 he claimed that repeated attempts had been made to ambush and murder him at Great Ouseburn in Yorkshire. He also accused one William Forster of Coverdale of extorting £100 from him with menaces, but although a royal commission of oyer and terminer was set up to investigate his allegations, nothing further seems to have been done. Robert either died or retired in 1421, after which date he disappears from the records.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 156; CCR, 1402-5, p. 499.
  • 2. Test. Ebor. iii. 20; Surtees Soc. cxx. 153; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 360, 518, 586; 1396-9, p. 311; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 318.
  • 3. CPR, 1391-6, p. 30; CCR, 1392-6, pp. 229, 489; 1396-9, pp. 61, 73, 130, 305, 398, 405; 1399-1402, p. 402; 1402-5, p. 272; 1405-9, pp. 211, 397; 1409-13, p. 379; 1419-22, pp. 201, 207.
  • 4. Test. Ebor. i. 310; iii. 17-20, 55; CFR, xii. 307; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 123; 1405-9, p. 162; CPR, 1405-8, p. 316.
  • 5. CPR, 1399-1401, p. 156; 1408-13, p. 375-6; CCR, 1402-5, p. 499; CFR, xii. 171.