GASCOIGNE, William (d.1423), of Bridgwater, Som.
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Collector of customs and subsidies, Bridgwater and district 25 Nov. 1408-12.
Steward of the guild, Bridgwater by June 1411-d.2
Commr. of inquiry, Som. Aug. 1416 (lands of Lord Zouche), Feb. 1422 (counterfeiters).
A frequent attestor of local deeds from 1404 until his death, Gascoigne was, as his offices and parliamentary service suggest, a prominent burgess of Bridgwater. He was a member of the delegations sent to the shire court to witness the borough’s parliamentary returns in 1410, 1414 (Apr.) and 1421 (May). His property in and around the town was substantial and at his death amounted to over 360 acres, more than 200 of these being at Exton. Much of this had been acquired piecemeal as opportunity offered, the largest purchase (costing £300) being made in 1416. On that occasion, in association with Master Richard Bruton, the chancellor of Wells cathedral, he bought the reversion of the hundred of Exton, one third of the manors of Exton and Newton Plecy and the advowsons of Hawkridge and the chapel at Newton Plecy, of which Richard Mayne II* held a lease for life from John Garton, esquire. In 1417 Bruton instructed in his will that part of his share of these properties should be sold and the proceeds distributed among the poor, but Gascoigne evidently retained his own interest in the remainder. Within Bridgwater itself he also acquired properties for the chantry of the Holy Trinity, of which he was a trustee.3
The fact that Gascoigne purchased rather than inherited his estates indicates some other lucrative source of income. A leading burgess of a port, he himself was engaged in trade, but there is also a strong likelihood that, like his nephew and namesake after him, he also made a living as a lawyer. He certainly acted as an attorney in 1408 on behalf of a London mercer engaged in a transaction in the court of common pleas regarding lands in Somerset; and several times he was a surety in the Exchequer, notably for the lessees of the alien priory of Kerswell, Devon, and for the abbot of Cleeve, Somerset. This is also suggested by evidence from the accounts of the communar of the dean and chapter of Wells for 1421-2: a ‘William Gaskyn’ was paid £1 as his fee for the year, while ‘William Gaskyn, junior’, attorney, received 6s.8d. It was in this year that Gascoigne, at the request of the chapter, went to Wells where he was entertained to breakfast by the steward, and received from the chapter an extra fee for attending a court of the prior of Sheen at Chewton Mendip. Gascoigne represented the bailiffs of Bridgwater in the Upper Exchequer at Michaelmas 1422, when up for his 12th and last Parliament.4
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Bridgwater Bor. Archs. (Som. Rec. Soc. lviii), 609.
- 2. Ibid. 561, 583, 608.
- 3. Ibid. 525, 534, 566, 569, 571, 573-4, 585, 596, 604-5, 632; CFR, xv. 40-42; CPR, 1416-22, p. 32; 1422-9, p. 135; HMC Wells, ii. 660, 663-6; Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xxii), 19, 52, 56; Som. Med. Wills (ibid. xvi), 94; Add. Ch. 13976; C139/7/56; C219/10/5, 11/3, 12/5.
- 4. E122/25/5; CFR, xiv. 57, 128, 161; CCR, 1409-13, p. 434; Som. Feet of Fines, 31; HMC Wells, ii. 60-61; E368/195.
- 5. C139/7/56; Bridgwater Bor. Archs. 609.