NORTHAMPTON, James (d.1409), of London and Shoreditch, Mdx.

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

yr. s. and h. of John of Northampton (d.1397), alderman and draper of London by his w. Joan. m. Anne, 1da. d.v.p.1

Offices Held

Commr. of array, Mdx. Nov. 1403.

Tax collector, Mdx. Mar. 1404.


Northampton’s chief claim to fame lies in his being the son of one of London’s most controversial mayors, the reformer, John of Northampton, whose attempts to limit the power of the major victualling guilds in the early 1380s led to a prolonged period of violence and upheaval in the City. His fall from power in 1384 was followed by a particularly bitter reaction among the rulers of London, although they failed to bring about either his death or permanent exile.2 Indeed, despite his earlier disgrace, John died a comparatively rich man in December 1397, leaving £60 in cash, as well as quantities of plate, household goods and agricultural produce to his one surviving son. The latter also inherited property in the London parishes of St. Nicholas Shambles and All Hallows the Greater, together with farmland and tenements in Shoreditch, the manor of Daubeney’s in Tottenham, Middlesex (worth an estimated £20 a year in 1412), and other unspecified holdings in his father’s native county of Northamptonshire.3

Very little is known about James Northampton’s career, which had neither the significance nor the turbulence of his father’s. In February 1405 the prioress of the house of Mary Magdalen, Ankerwick-on-Thames, brought a plea of intrusion before the court of the mayor of London against Northampton, his uncle, Robert, and the future chancellor of the Exchequer, Henry Somer*, regarding certain property in the City.4 The action may have been collusive, as no more is heard of it after this date. Northampton and Somer remained on close terms: when he was returned to the Parliament of 1406 as a shire knight for Middlesex, Somer chose his friend to stand surety for him. Northampton was also present at the county elections of 1407, but no more is heard of him until his death two years later—by which time he had made an unsuccessful attempt to enclose common land in the manor of Tottenham, and had become either the owner or feoffee-to-uses of a modest estate in Hendon.5

Since Northampton’s only child, a daughter named Edith, had predeceased him, the bulk of his estates descended to his nephew, William. The latter was then a minor in the custody of the Crown, and on 20 May 1409, just a few days after Northampton’s death, his marriage and inheritance were farmed out at a rent of 200 marks due at the Exchequer. Anne Northampton survived her husband, and by the following February had married Thomas Rolf without royal licence. Dower was, however, assigned to her in April 1410 upon payment of a fine of £10, and she subsequently made a long-term lease of her property in the country to the London grocer, Thomas Burton.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Comberton, Norhampton.

  • 1. Guildhall Lib. London, 9171/1, ff. 406-7d, 2, f. 151. John of Northampton had another son, named John, who joined with him in acquiring part of the manor of Tottenham in 1383 (London and Mdx. Feet of Fines, 158). He was probably older than James, whom he evidently predeceased.
  • 2. For an account of the events of this period see R. Bird, Turbulent London Ric. II, passim.
  • 3. Guildhall Lib. 9171/1, ff. 406-7d; VCH Mdx. v. 325; Add. Chs. 40550-3; CCR, 1405-9, p. 459; 1409-13, p. 98; Corporation of London RO, hr 137/86.
  • 4. Cal. P. and M. London, 1381-1412, p. 273; Cart. St. Bartholomew’s Hosp. ed. Kerling, 1153-4.
  • 5. VCH Mdx. v. 334; C219/10/3-4.
  • 6. Guildhall Lib. 9171/2, f. 151; Corporation of London RO, hr 137/86; CFR, xiii. 123-4, 149; CPR, 1408-13, p. 169; CCR, 1405-9, pp. 451-2; 1409-13, pp. 89, 98.