GOSLYN, Richard (d.1428), of London.

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



May 1421

Family and Education

m. (1) Rose, prob. 1s.; (2) by Mar. 1414, Beatrice, da. of Thomas Knolles*, 5s. 2da.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, London and Mdx. Mich. 1421-2.

Alderman, Castle Baynard ward 21 Apr. 1423-aft. 13 Oct. 1428.2


Goslyn’s early background remains obscure, although it appears from his will that he had relatives in Alconbury Weston, Huntingdonshire, a village towards which he clearly felt a strong sense of personal attachment. He also had less obvious connexions with Bromley in Middlesex and Writtle in Essex. He first appears as one of the executors appointed by John Weston, a London merchant, in July 1407, having evidently established himself in the City by then. Goslyn shipped two modest consignments of cloth into the port of London three years later, but did not otherwise show much interest in this branch of commerce. The few surviving references to his business affairs show that he dealt chiefly in iron, and on at least one occasion he supplied the wardens of London Bridge with a quantity of it for their building works. He also trained a number of apprentices, two of whom were learning their trade as ironmongers with him when he died.3 Goslyn’s marriage to Beatrice, a daughter of the wealthy and influential grocer, Thomas Knolles, took place before March 1414, when the couple obtained a papal indult permitting them to use a portable altar. Over the years they built up quite extensive holdings in both London and the country, acquiring three tenements and a plot of land in the parish of St. Mary at Hill as well as the reversion of other property in St. Vedast’s Lane. In, or before, September 1422, land and rents in Havering atte Bower, Romford and Hornchurch, Essex, were settled upon Goslyn, who also owned a water-mill and a garden near Stratford in the same county.4 From time to time he acted as a feoffee-to-uses, and it was in this capacity that John Ruddock of Writtle began litigation against him during the early years of Henry VI’s reign. Ruddock claimed that Goslyn and the other trustees appointed by his late father had attempted to deprive him of his rightful inheritance: the outcome of the case is not recorded, but none of the defendants seem to have been brought to book.5 Perhaps because he feared problems of this kind, our Member was generally unwilling to involve himself in the affairs of his friends and associates. Only once, in September 1417, did he offer sureties for a fellow Londoner in a court of law; and although he was subsequently party to certain recognizances in 500 marks by which Thomas Knolles, his brother-in-law, bound himself to the executors of Richard Clitheroe I*, this second transaction was little more than a formality. One of Goslyn’s closest friends was the above-mentioned merchant John Weston, who acted as a trustee of his London property.6

Although he did not play as full a part in civic life as some of his contemporaries, Goslyn rose to the rank of alderman, and twice, in 1419 and 1423, he attended the parliamentary elections held at the Guildhall. In June 1423 he was called upon to arbitrate in a mercantile dispute being heard before the mayor and aldermen of London. Two years later he helped to assess a tax imposed by the authorities upon brewers, poulterers and hucksters trading in the City. Goslyn begged to be excused from his aldermanry in October 1426, but his petition was dismissed as unreasonable, and he continued to shoulder the responsibilities of office until shortly before his death. Meanwhile, in April 1428, he was appointed by the common council to act as one of the receivers of the £2,000 being lent by the people of London to Henry VI.7

Goslyn died between 13 Oct. 1428 and 3 Jan. 1429, leaving instructions for his burial in the church of St. Mary at Hill ‘without pomp or vainglory’. To the six children of his second marriage, all of whom were under age, he bequeathed a cash sum of £480, which was raised to £500 by his executors on the birth of Robert, his posthumous son. Over £104 was set aside for friends and kinsmen as well as for the many charitable and pious works by which Goslyn hoped to be remembered. His widow, who acquired a life interest in most of his property, remarried in June 1431. In the following year her second husband, the fishmonger John Bedham, obtained custody of his seven stepchildren, together with £400 of their inheritance.8

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. Corporation of London RO, hr 161/57; Cal. P. and M. London, 1413-37, pp. 230-1. Goslyn made provision for four sons and two daughters in his will, but he had at least two more sons, one of whom was born after his death. The other, known as John Goslyn the elder, appears to have been the child of his first marriage and is not mentioned in either of his two wills. He had himself married by Sept. 1422, when he became heir to most of his father’s property in Essex, but he died before April 1455, evidently without issue. It was then that John Goslyn the younger, the MP’s eldest son by his second wife, Beatrice Knolles, conveyed the reversion of the land to his own feoffees (CCR, 1441-7, p. 299; 1447-54, p. 139; Cal. Letter Bk. London, K, 129-30; Guildhall Lib. London, 9171/3, ff. 205-11).
  • 2. Beaven, Aldermen, i. 89.
  • 3. Guildhall Lib. 9171/3, ff. 207d-8d; Corporation of London RO, hr 155/52; jnl. 2, f. 27; Bridge Masters’ acct. xvii m. 3; E122/76/32 m. 7; Cal. P. and M. London, 1413-37, pp. 230-1.
  • 4. CPL, vi. 406; Corporation of London RO, hr 161/57; Guildhall Lib. 9171/3, ff. 205-11; CCR, 1441-7, p. 299; 1447-54, p. 139; Cal. P. and M. London, 1413-37, p. 150.
  • 5. C1/7/29; Corporation of London RO, hr 143/39, 153/5-6; Essex Feet of Fines, iii. 271; CPR, 1416-22, p. 10; 1435-41, p. 328.
  • 6. Corporation of London RO, jnl. 1, f. 33; hr 152/80, 83; Cal. P. and M. London, 1413-37, pp. 161, 169, 180.
  • 7. C219/12/3, 13/2; Corporation of London RO, jnl. 2, ff. 6d, 44d, 86, 110d.
  • 8. Guildhall Lib. 9171/3, ff. 205-11; Cal. Letter Bk. London, K, 129-30, 166; J. Stow, Surv. London ed. Kingsford, i. 209.