GYLES, John (d.c.1406), of Dover, Kent.
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Family and Education
Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1377, 1381.2
In or before 1366 Gyles became the owner of a tavern at Dover. Two years later he was fined 10s. in the town court for stabbing a man with a dagger. He is recorded between 1373 and 1402 as holding land in the east Kent hundreds of Bewsborough, Cornilo and Folkestone, for which, as a Portsman, he claimed tax exemption. In 1378 he was named as a feoffee by Roger Beere of land near Dover, in this transaction being associated with John Monyn*, with whom he was to be closely connected on several subsequent occasions.5
By 1376 Gyles was established among the leading townsmen of Dover. In that year he lent two marks to help pay Monyn’s wages as a Member of the Good Parliament, and in the following year he attended Richard II’s coronation as one of the canopy-bearers sent from the Cinque Ports. Between then and 1383 he frequently represented Dover at Brodhulls. When mayor in 1384, he attended the court of Shepway which admitted Sir Simon Burley as warden, and in July that year he was responsible for organizing the passage of the duke of Lancaster across the Channel to Calais for peace negotiations with France.6 During his third term as mayor, an old dispute between the town and priory of Dover, over their respective rights and duties in St. Martin’s church, finally reached settlement; and in January 1390 he and Monyn appeared as the town’s delegates before Archbishop Courtenay at Lambeth to give the commonalty’s assent to an agreement whereby the townsmen would make offerings in the church four times a year, as had been customary, which the prior was to spend on maintaining a secular archpriest to serve the church.7
From October 1397 Gyles acted as deputy for the absentee bailiff of Dover, Edward Fauconer, and in July following he was accepted as general attorney to perform his whole office. As mayor and MP on 22 Oct. 1399 he procured for his home town an exemplification from the new King, Henry IV, of the ordinance of 1335 which forbade pilgrims to cross the Channel anywhere save at Dover. Six days later his son, Thomas, who had earned Henry of Bolingbroke’s favour and was already a ‘King’s esquire’, secured a life tenancy of the bailiwick of Rye, and it was quite likely through his influence that on 8 Nov. both John and another son of his, Peter Gyles, clerk, were granted annuities of £10 each at the Exchequer. Nevertheless, John did not receive any payment under this award until February 1401, after he had made special application through the King’s chamberlain, the earl of Somerset. Although he is not mentioned in the local court books after his last mayoralty in 1402, his royal annuity continued to be paid until Easter 1406.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: A. P.M. Wright
- 1. H. Swinden, Hist. Yarmouth, 188-91.
- 2. Add. 29615, f. 54; Reg. Daniel Rough (Kent Rec. Ser. xvi), 199; Egerton 2091, f. 6.
- 3. Add. 29615, ff. 43, 65, 75, 82; Egerton 2088, ff. 19, 23, 42, 108, 115, 116, 128.
- 4. Egerton 2088, ff. 98-106.
- 5. Add. 29615, ff. 7, 13, 17; E179/225/4, 7, 14, 21, 22; CP25(1)108/208/16.
- 6. Add. 29615, ff. 44, 50, 54; Egerton 2091, ff. 8, 28, 84, 85.
- 7. Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Courtenay, f. 289 (wrongly dated in C.R. Haines, Dover Priory, 278-9).
- 8. CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 46, 64; E404/16/356, 21/148-9.