GYLES, Thomas, of Dover, Kent.

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

s. of John Gyles*. m. bef. Feb. 1413, Martha.1

Offices Held

Jurat, Dover Sept. 1384-6, 1388-90, 1393-4, 1408-9; mayor 1406-8, 1413-14.2

Cinque Ports’ bailiff at Yarmouth Sept.-Nov. 1393.3

Bailiff, Rye 28 Oct. 1399-25 Nov. 1411.


Gyles is occasionally recorded in the court books of Dover between 1385 and 1412. At the earlier date he was holding land in the hundred of Folkestone, for which, as a Portsman, he claimed tax exemption. But his income was derived mainly from his interests as a shipowner, and vessels of his were frequently mentioned in the customs accounts as carrying cargoes to and from Dover in the years 1384 to 1398.4

It was in his capacity as shipowner that Gyles earned the favour of Henry of Bolingbroke, for he took one of his ships to Boulogne to assist Henry when he was about to return to England from exile in the summer of 1399. His reward was prompt elevation to the ranks of the ‘King’s esquires’ following Henry’s accession to the throne, together with appointment for life as bailiff of Rye. Like his predecessors, he occupied the office by deputy, preferring to remain in Dover, where he continued to be active in local government. However, in June 1409, the Exchequer, taking advantage of an ambiguity in his patent, called him to account for the sum of £5 19s. due from Rye for forfeitures made in the course of his term of office (besides £4 6s.8d. owed by his late father as mayor of Dover). Gyles, denying that he had ever received the money at Rye, succeeded in procuring a pardon and a supersedeas; but the incident had roused the Exchequer to search its records, and it found that no accounts had been rendered for the bailiwick of Rye since 1391. The lieutenant of Dover was therefore ordered to sequester the office (which he did in September) and have Gyles appear to account. The latter, on the point of being sent to the Fleet, appealed to the King’s gratitude for services rendered in 1399 and, on 10 Nov. that same year, obtained a pardon of all his arrears, together with a letter under the privy seal informing the Exchequer that the King intended that he should keep all the scanty profits of the bailiwick, and ordering his discharge. Nevertheless, two years later, Gyles resigned the troublesome office in favour of William Catton* and in August 1415, in order to escape further harassment from the Exchequer, he registered there a general pardon covering his final year as bailiff.5 In the meantime, on 26 May 1411, Gyles had been one of a group of Dover men bound in £200 to abide by the award of Prince Henry, then warden of the Cinque Ports, ending certain disputes in the town. And in 1413 he and his wife had conveyed to John Sherte some land at Buckland, Charlton and elsewhere near Dover, which she had inherited.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: A. P.M. Wright


  • 1. CP25(1)113/279/4.
  • 2. Egerton 2088, ff. 15, 19, 116, 136, 175; 2091, ff. 18, 43, 65.
  • 3. Romney assmt. bk. 2, f. 34.
  • 4. Egerton 2088, f. 163; 2091, f. 53; E179/225/21; E122/126/7, 12, 26, 45.
  • 5. C81/646/6334; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 35; 1405-8, p. 484; 1408-13, pp. 140-1, 353; E368/181, Trin. rot. 4, 182 Mich. rot. 22, 188, Mich. rot. 43.
  • 6. E159/190, Trin. rot. 7; CP25(1)113/279/4.