NEWPORT, Andrew, of London and Colvilles in Fulbourn, Cambs.
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Family and Education
bro. of John Newport (d.1396) of Great and Little Chishall, Essex, and London. m. by c.1377, Margaret.1
Serjeant-at-arms, 3 Feb. 1385-aft. 11 July 1394.
Commr. of inquiry, Bristol, Hants, Som., Wilts. Feb. 1386 (thefts from Genoese merchants); to make arrests, generally Mar. 1386, London Aug. 1386, Notts. May 1389; of oyer and terminer, London July 1397 (seizure of the ransom of the count of Denia).
Warden of the Mint 9 Dec. 1392-15 Oct. 1399; keeper of the King’s gold and silver dies at the Tower and at Canterbury 4 Dec. 1395-15 Oct. 1399.
Collector of the wool custom and subsidy, London 17 Feb. 1397-5 Oct. 1399.
Alderman, Aldersgate Ward c. Jan.-Sept. 1397.2
Sheriff, Cambs. and Hunts. 3 Nov. 1397-22 Aug. 1399.
Although he briefly held office as an alderman of London and owned property there, Newport had little else in common with the other men who represented the City during our period. So far as is known, he never became involved in either trade or commerce, choosing instead to pursue a career hardly distinguishable from that of a rich and influential shire knight. His position at Court, both as an esquire of the body and intimate friend of Roger Walden, the treasurer of England and future archbishop of Canterbury, also sets him apart from most of the civic dignitaries whose attitude to Richard II was by this date ambivalent if not covertly hostile. That such a committed royal supporter should be returned to the Parliament in which Richard had three of his greatest and most powerful enemies appealed for treason suggests a rather subservient desire on the part of the civic hierarchy to curry favour with an often capricious and vindictive monarch. The events of 1392 had certainly taught them to fear Richard’s displeasure, and they were anxious to avoid any further confrontations of this kind.
Yet Newport was in certain respects a more acceptable choice to the electors of London than might at first appear, since although he is usually described as coming from Essex, he had been connected with the City for many years. He was perhaps the son or nephew of John Newport, an Essex landowner with modest estates in Wethersfield and Debden. His brother, John Newport the younger, also owned property in that county, but at some point he acquired a tenement in Golding Lane, London, where he lived for quite a while. William Newport, the affluent London fishmonger who purchased land at Arrington in Cambridgeshire and Shoreham in Kent during the 1370s, may well have been one of their kinsmen. In June 1396 a William Newport of London stood surety for Andrew in the Exchequer, so some relationship almost certainly existed between the city merchant and the country squire.3
The first reference to Newport occurs in a list of the founder members of the Trinity guild at the church of St. Botolph, Billingsgate, which was set up in 1377. He and his wife paid 4s. a year to the guild, probably for the rest of their lives, since arrangements were made in 1408 for the celebration of requiem masses on their behalf. On 1 Apr. 1379, Newport and four other Londoners acted as mainpernors in Chancery, but no more is heard of him for the next five years, during which he appears to have struck up a close and lasting friendship with Roger Walden, himself a native of Essex. Newport’s success at Court owed much to his association with this ambitious ecclesiastic, since the latter’s spectacular rise to high office brought favour and preferment for the members of his immediate circle. On becoming the farmer of land on the island of Jersey in April 1384, Walden named Newport as one of his sureties at the Exchequer: he had then held a benefice at St. Helier for 13 years, and it is not surprising to discover that when, soon afterwards, Newport became a royal serjeant-at-arms part of his fee was assigned from the property held there by his friend and patron. This appointment, which brought him an impressive annuity of £84, coincided with Walden’s promotion to a clerkship in the King’s household, and may not have been unconnected with it.4 The two men certainly remained closely involved in each other’s affairs. On 1 Aug. 1386, for instance, William Northrop of Lincolnshire bound himself by recognizances in £300 to Newport, Walden’s brother, John*, their close friend, Richard Clitheroe I*, and Thomas Haxey, the clerk who subsequently became the central figure in a famous constitutional case. Three days later Roger Walden and Newport alone took bonds in 2,000 marks from a native of Jersey, and in November 1390 they were owed a further £60 by a Worcestershire man. Shortly afterwards they were promised 100 marks by other debtors, but this proved harder to collect, and was still overdue two years later when they petitioned the mayor of the Staple of Westminster for help in recovering the money. In October 1388 Newport joined with John Walden, who was now also one of his particular confidants, in acquiring property in Calais. (Roger then numbered the treasurership of Calais among his many offices, and quite probably made use of Newport’s services there.) It has been suggested that, as a crown servant, Newport actually spent the years 1387 to 1388 in exile with other unpopular royalists at Calais, although this cannot be proved. John Newport the younger was almost certainly retained by the treasurer, since he bought a tenement in the town, and at the time of his death, in 1396, acknowledged Walden as his own ‘good lord’.5
Walden’s ‘good lordship’ was an extremely valuable asset, through which Newport acquired wealth as well as influence. In November 1391 the two men obtained a royal grant of extensive farmland in Elmdon, Essex, forfeited for treason in 1388 by the judge, Sir Robert Bealknap, and leased to them at a modest rent for ten years. On 12 June 1396 Newport assumed sole custody of the land, which he retained until the repeal of Sir Robert’s condemnation two years later.6 Walden was frequently a party to his friend’s property transactions, although it is now difficult to establish whether or not Newport owned all the premises in which they shared an interest. He had either purchased or inherited a tenement worth £5 a year in the London parish of St. Botolph without Aldersgate by February 1393, and he subsequently obtained seisin of his brother’s house in Golding Lane. He was also involved in litigation with Sir Adam Francis* over the ownership of a tenement in the parish of St. Michael, Paternoster Royal, but the outcome remains unknown and his title undocumented. In July 1394 Newport acquired a quit rent of 20s. a year from an inn called Le Helme on the Hoop in the parish of St. Peter Cornhill: this he granted to the parson of St. Botolph’s in June 1397, five months after the necessary inquisition ad quod damnum had taken place. Between September 1392 and March 1397 a third tenement and shops in the City as well as two Berkshire manors were conveyed to him and his wife with Walden as their co-feoffee. In the summer of 1397, together with one John Basset and a clerk named John Newport, who was probably Andrew’s kinsman, the three of them obtained the manor of Colvilles in Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire, and the advowson of a free chapel there, from Sir John Colville and his trustees. No doubt at all surrounds Newport’s title to this property, since it was clearly settled upon him and his heirs, and after Richard II’s deposition he entrusted it to a new, less politically suspect, group of feoffees.7
Like his patron, Newport prospered as a result of Richard II’s attempts to build up a strong court party during the 1390s. By September 1392 he had become an esquire of the body—a mark of royal favour followed soon afterwards by his promotion to the wardenship of the Mint. This was a sinecure which none the less carried with it wages and profits well in excess of £40 a year, above whatever could be earned in bribes and less legitimate perquisites. Evidence of Newport’s improved social position is to be found in a papal indult of December 1393 which permitted him and his wife to appoint their own confessor; and it was at about this time that he became friendly with Bishop Wykeham of Winchester, who entertained him as a guest in his household. Further preferment came Newport’s way on Walden’s appointment as treasurer of England in September 1395, for within three months he was made, for life, joint keeper of gold and silver dies in the Tower and at Canterbury at 6d. a day. Walden had, meanwhile, been absent in Ireland with the King, having twice nominated Newport in September 1394 to act as his attorney at home.8
An alderman of London and collector of the wool custom by the time of his election to Parliament in 1397, Newport cannot be dismissed outright as a mere placeman forced upon the City by Richard II, although his two successive years in office as sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire did, indeed, represent a calculated royal affront to local sensibilities. Less than nine months before his first appointment as sheriff, in November 1397, Newport had been a complete stranger to the bailiwick, with no close friends and no possessions there. His purchase of land in Fulbourn hardly made him a property owner of note, yet he was the only sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire to remain in office for two years running throughout the entire reign. That he did so, technically in breach of the law and in a period of extreme political crisis when Richard was desperately anxious to consolidate all available support, tends to confirm the view of him as ‘the perfect carpet-bagger’ installed to be ‘one of the smaller cogs in Richard’s new machine of despotism’.9 Self-interest as well as a more abstract sense of loyalty to the Crown made Newport zealous in the King’s service, and on 12 July 1399, shortly after Henry of Bolingbroke had landed in Yorkshire, he received a payment of almost £25 from the Exchequer for the wages of 16 archers and a force of men-at-arms summoned by him to defend the realm against attack. Bolingbroke’s triumph brought Newport’s successful career to an abrupt end. Many of Richard’s supporters managed to retain their offices, but he was immediately deprived of all the lucrative posts which had come his way over the previous decade. Unlike his great friend, Archbishop Walden, who was made bishop of London in 1405 after a token period of disgrace, Newport failed to find favour with the new King: indeed he seems to have passed into almost total obscurity after Richard’s deposition. In June 1400 he obtained permission to settle the manor of Colvilles in Fulbourn upon a new group of feoffees, which he did shortly afterwards. Nothing more is known of either him or his wife, save that both had died by 1408, when the members of the Trinity guild at St. Botolph’s church paid 20s. to have masses said for their souls.10
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Add. 37664 f. 12; Guildhall Lib. London, 9171/1 f. 370.
- 2. Beaven, Aldermen, i. 2, 403; although last active in this capacity on 13 July, Newport sat in the Parliament of September 1397 as an alderman of London (Cal. Letter Bk. London, H, 437).
- 3. CCR, 1369-74, p. 572; 1374-7, pp. 67, 97; 1381-5, p. 406; Guildhall Lib. 9171/1 ff. 370, 412; CFR, xi. 178.
- 4. Add. 37664 ff. 12, 20d; CFR, x. 41; DNB, xx. 481-2; CCR, 1392-6, p. 305.
- 5. C241/181/64; CCR, 1385-9, pp. 252, 257; 1389-92, pp. 263, 296; Guildhall Lib. 9171/1 f. 370; A. Steel, ‘Sheriffs of Cambs. and Hunts.’ Cambridge Antiq. Soc. Procs. xxvi. 27.
- 6. CFR, xi. 21, 178; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 343, 369.
- 7. C143/427/23; Corporation of London RO, hr 121/101, 134-5, 138, 123/52, 126/53, 129/42-44; hcp 118, Monday aft. feast St. Agatha, 17 Ric. II; hpl 124, Monday bef. feast St. Dunstan, 1 Hen. IV; Guildhall Lib. 9171/1 f. 370; CPR, 1396-9, pp. 96, 185; 1399-1401, p. 318; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 296-7; 1402-5, p. 72.
- 8. Steel, 28; CPR, 1391-6, p. 475; CPL, iv. 495; Winchester Coll. muns. Bp. Wykeham’s household roll.
- 9. Steel, 11, 28.
- 10. E403/562 m. 15; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 318; CP25(1)30/92/8; Add. 37664 f. 20d.