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GATE, Roger atte, of Winchelsea, Suss.
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Family and Education
prob. s. of William atte Gate. m. bef. 1415, Isabel.1
Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1403, ?1431.2
Mayor, Winchelsea Easter 1409-11, 1415-16, 1418-19, 1430-1; dep. mayor June 1434;3 jurat 1431-43.4
Commr. of inquiry, Winchelsea Dec. 1414 (proposals for new walls); to take musters of forces going to France July 1432.
In the 137os atte Gate’s putative father had held land at Pett and Fairlight on which, as a Portsman, he claimed exemption from taxation. He himself made similar claims for holdings in the same places in the early 15th century, as well as on land at five other villages in the locality. In 1408 a chest containing his silver and other valuables, worth £5 in all, was stolen from a friend’s house at Guestling. Atte Gate’s property in Winchelsea included land, held in right of his wife Isabel, which the jurors providing information to a royal commission in January 1415 stated would be affected by the proposals to build new walls within the original perimeter of the town. (He himself was serving on this same commission, whose task included a careful survey of the terrain.) In addition, he and his wife acquired in 1418 from Thomas Rokeslee* of New Romney a moiety of a messuage and about 88 acres of arable land and 42 of saltmarsh at Icklesham and Guestling.5
In the course of his career atte Gate was occasionally asked to act as a feoffee. His links with Robert Onewyn* of Rye were particularly close: the two men joined in acquiring land at Winchelsea in 1409, and more elsewhere (from William Worth†) in 1411; and in 1428, after Onewyn’s death, atte Gate was party to settlements of his various properties. He himself enjoyed a reversionary interest in certain of these, subject to the death without issue of his friend’s son, Robert†. Besides this, he acted as a trustee of Alan Kynton’s property in and near Winchelsea, from 1419, and of that belonging to William Skele II*, from 1421. By virtue of his mayoralty of 1431, he headed the group of townsmen who took possession of the land bequeathed in reversion by John Salerne II* to the use of the community.6
Atte Gate was otherwise active in the affairs of Winchelsea and, indeed, of the Cinque Ports generally, for more than 40 years. After representing the town for the first time in the Parliament of 1399 (which he attended for five weeks), he went on in 1400 to be its delegate at a Guestling held at Hastings in February, and at a Brodhull at New Romney in March. While mayor in 1410, he was ordered by the prince of Wales, then warden of the Cinque Ports, to arrest Guy Busshe, owner of a barge responsible for the capture of a Prussian ship off the Isle of Wight. He did so, but 120 of Busshe’s accomplices, led by the barge-master, assailed and wounded his fellow townsmen with swords and arrow-shots, and forcibly rescued Busshe from his custody. In 1418 he himself was accused of abetting piracy. The King’s Council was informed that in March 1416, contrary to the truce with Flanders, a Lübeck ship, chartered by two merchants of Bruges to carry grain from Brittany to Flanders, had been captured off Winchelsea by two English balingers, one of which belonged to the King himself, the other being jointly owned by atte Gate and John Tamworth*. As a result of a royal inquiry, in May the Council ordered that both Winchelsea men be summoned before it, under penalty of £100. The outcome is not known. A few months later, when again mayor, atte Gate was made responsible for the disposal of four Breton ships which, with their cargoes of wine and bacon, had recently been taken in the Channel. There was some doubt whether the capture had broken any truce, so the vessels and their contents were taken over by the Crown, presumably with the intention of compensating the owners later, if this was found necessary. Atte Gate sold some of the wine to buy a boat in which the crews might return home, and transferred the remainder to the royal butler, the bacon to the victualler of Calais for his stores, and the empty hulls to the clerk of the King’s ships. Atte Gate was one of a group of Winchelsea shipowners who, in 1436, asked Ralph, Lord Cromwell, the treasurer of the Exchequer, for leave to put to sea against the King’s enemies to help safeguard the Channel for friendly vessels over a period of four months (as from April).7
He is not recorded after 1443.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: A. P.M. Wright
- 1. CIMisc. vii. 503.
- 2. Arch. Cant. lxxxvii. 5; Suss. Arch. Colls. viii. 234.
- 3. Add. Chs. 2286, 20203; Cat. Rye Recs. ed. Dell 136/164; Sale Cat. Battle Abbey Chs. (1835), 100; E368/192; Cotton Julius BIV, ff. 42, 50.
- 4. Winchelsea Corporation ms, 62, ff. 12, 13.
- 5. E179/225/3, 5, 31, 33, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42; CPR, 1408-13, p. 71; CIMisc. vii. 503; CP25(1)240/84/2.
- 6. Cat. Rye Recs. 122/8, 10, 13, 136/61, 165, 185; Cotton Julius BIV, ff. 39, 42; Add. Ch. 20209.
- 7. Add. Ch. 16432; E101/51/20, 67/18, no. 6; E163/6/33; C81/1542/10, 30; CPR, 1416-22, p. 135; 1429-36, p. 609; E159/197 Trin. rot. 12; E28/57, 26 June 14 Hen. VI.