GRAVESEND, John alias CATOUR, of Long Ditton, Surr.

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

m. by Feb. 1399, Isabel.1

Offices Held

Porter of the castle and manor of More End, Bucks. for Queen Anne, bef. Jan. 1394.

Buyer for the royal household 13 Feb. 1397-1 Nov. 1399; serjeant of the catery 13 Apr. 1397-c. Oct. 1399.2

Ranger of the forest of Worth and warrener of the manor of Cuckfield, Suss. (confiscated from the earl of Arundel) 26 Sept. 1397-c. Oct. 1400.

Collector of an aid on the marriage of Princess Blanche, Surr. Dec. 1401; of a tax Nov. 1404.

Escheator, Surr. and Suss. 1 Dec. 1405-9 Nov. 1406.

Collector of the wool subsidy, Chichester 25 Feb. 1410-21 Mar. 1413.


The early career and family background of this MP remain obscure. A John Gravesend, esquire, was imprisoned in Newgate for debt during the summer of 1372 and thus prevented from campaigning in Gascony with the Black Prince. He subsequently entered the household of Richard II, and, as a groom of the larder, was awarded a deodand in March 1383 by the King. We may assume that these references concern either the subject of this biography as a fairly young man, or else a kinsman through whose influence he himself obtained a position at Court. It was almost certainly the future shire knight who, at some point before January 1394, granted the office of porter of the castle and manor of More End (which had been awarded to him by Richard II’s first queen, Anne of Bohemia) to another royal servant named William Duggeley. Shortly after his appointment as buyer for the King’s household in February 1397, Gravesend was promoted to the post of serjeant of the catery at an annual fee of £10. He was also rewarded with a grant of offices on the Sussex estates forfeited for treason by Richard, earl of Arundel, although his career as a courtier ended abruptly on Richard’s deposition, when he lost his annuity and returned to his home in Surrey.3

It was in February 1399 that Gravesend and his wife acquired the manor of Long Ditton together with farmland in the surrounding area. He also held the manor of ‘Berewe’ as a tenant of the Windsor family, and by September 1409 he was in possession of property in Norton for which he performed homage to the bishop of Chichester. Gravesend’s interest in land in Windlesham may well have been that of a feoffee-to-uses. He released his title to Thomas Haseley* in 1412, at which date his own estates were said to be worth £20 a year.4 Meanwhile, in January 1400, Gravesend was summoned before a royal commission of inquiry and obliged to surrender whatever goods of the late earl of Arundel had remained in his hands. These were, however, restored to him once his friend, Nicholas Carew*, had offered securities of £1,000 on his behalf. Indeed, his fortunes suffered only the briefest reversal because of the Lancastrian usurpation, for by December 1401 he had been chosen to collect a royal aid in Surrey; and other, more demanding appointments, such as the escheatorship of Surrey and Sussex, were to follow. Comparatively little is known about Gravesend’s personal affairs at this time. In December 1402 and November 1408 he acted as a mainpernor in Chancery, on the second occasion for the influential landowner Thomas, Lord Camoys. So far as is known, he sat in only one Parliament, and only once, in 1407, did he witness the return of shire knights made for Surrey.5

Gravesend is last mentioned on 23 Nov. 1412, when he rendered his final account as a customs officer at Chichester. He was replaced in this post four months later, and appears to have died within the next five years. By about 1418 his manor of Long Ditton had passed to Henry and Margaret Haweles, who were perhaps his next heirs.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variant: Grausend(e). The MP is not to be confused with his namesake, a citizen and draper of London, who married, as his second wife, Idonea, the widow of Robert Salisbury, and who died in 1416 (Cal. P. and M. London, 1364-81, p. 229; Cal. Wills ct. Husting London ed. Sharpe ii (2), 274; CCR, 1377-81, p. 91; 1402-5, p. 504; 1409-13, p. 95; Guildhall Lib. London, 9171/2, f. 350v).

  • 1. CP25(1)231/65/94.
  • 2. E403/556, 559, 562.
  • 3. CPR, 1370-4, p. 203; 1381-5, p. 231; 1391-6, p. 420; 1396-9, pp. 117, 125, 194, 295, 389; E403/556, 559, 562.
  • 4. CP25(1)231/65/94; VCH Surr. iii. 519; Suss. Rec. Soc. xlvi. 250; Feudal Aids, vii. 517; CCR, 1409-13, pp. 345-6; CIPM (Rec. Comm.), iii. 253.
  • 5. CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 106-7; 1402-5, p. 119; CFR, xiii. 129; C219/10/4.
  • 6. CFR, xiii. 163, xiv. 4; E401/657; VCH Surr. iii. 519.