NUTBEAM, William, of Ash-next-Sandwich, 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

m. prob. bef. 1398, Constance, da. and coh. of Thomas Ellis of Sandwich, wid. of John Septvance (d.1396), of Ash,1 1s.

Offices Held

Victualler, Dover castle Jan. 1400.

Tax collector, Kent Mar. 1404.

J.p. Kent 14 Feb. 1407-16.

Collector of customs and subsidies, Sandwich 20 Feb. 1407-28 July 1408.

Commr. of array, Kent June 1407, Mar. 1410, May 1415, Mar. 1419; sewers June 1407; to raise royal loans Jan. 1420.

Escheator, Kent and Mdx. 19 Jan.-29 Nov. 1410.

Sheriff, Kent 10 Dec. 1411-3 Nov. 1412.


Nutbeam was probably a member of the Kentish family possessed of land at Thanington and Ackholt on the outskirts of Canterbury. He may well have been the son of a namesake, William Nutbeam of Thanington who, from 1358, held for life the manor of West Dean in Sussex, which belonged to the de Vere earls of Oxford. Still living in 1392, the older William apparently died before 1413.2

It was most likely the younger man who, as ‘of the diocese of Canterbury’, in October 1398 received, together with his unnamed wife, a papal indult to have his own portable altar. There can be little doubt that this wife was Constance Septvance, widowed two years earlier, for by March 1402 Nutbeam’s brother, John, was so well acquainted with the Septvance family as to name Sir William Septvance in his will as residuary legatee and co-executor with William himself. In 1404 William and Constance started proceedings at the Kent assizes to establish her right to five marks annual rent coming from property in Warehorne, which she and her nephew, John Chicche, claimed as part of their inheritance from Constance’s father, Thomas Ellis, the wealthy merchant of Sandwich chiefly remembered for his foundation of St. Thomas’s hospital. Whether they were successful or not in this suit, Constance’s paternal inheritance and widow’s portion, comprised mainly of landed holdings between Canterbury and Sandwich, were of sufficient value to provide her husband with an annual income estimated at £50 13s.4d. by the assessors of the subsidy of 1412. Such was their social standing that the Nutbeams were admitted to the fraternity of Christ Church cathedral priory, Canterbury, in the following year.3

Nutbeam’s career had seemingly begun in the closing years of Richard II’s reign, for in July 1397 he received a third share in a royal grant of certain confiscated goods worth as much as £100. However, it was not until after Henry IV’s accession that he found employment in local administration, being commissioned in January 1400 to purchase wheat, malt and other victuals for the garrison at Dover castle. His performance of the task did not meet with entire satisfaction; three years afterwards, in June 1403, he was pardoned with regard to ten tuns of red wine delivered to him for consumption at the castle, which had turned sour through over-keeping. In 1405 he was again in trouble. The refusal of an inhabitant of Wingham to pay a tax led to the impounding of one of his horses by the local sub-collector, Stephen Tropham, whereupon Nutbeam and several confederates, allegedly using armed force, retaliated by making off with four of Tropham’s own beasts. The incident was followed by his appearance in court at the suit of a county tax collector, but he was able to secure a stay of process by mainprise of his neighbour, Richard Clitheroe I*, at that time deputy treasurer of Calais.4 Service as a j.p., collector of customs at Sandwich and escheator of Kent, all fitted into the years between 1407 and 1410, was followed by Nutbeam’s appointment to the shrievalty of the county, an office awarded him nine days before the dissolution of the Parliament of 1411—the only one to which he is known to have been elected. Nutbeam acted as an arbitrator in an attempt to resolve a dispute at Sandwich in 1413; and he attended the parliamentary elections held at Rochester in 1419. His name appears among the dozen on the list sent to the King’s Council in the following January by the local j.p.s as considered best qualified in Kent to do military service in defence of the realm. Even so, he had served on his last commission of array in the previous year, and never, so far as is known, fought in France. Nutbeam is last recorded in May 1421 when Reynold Pympe (his parliamentary colleague of ten years earlier) was pardoned his outlawry for failing to appear in court when sued by him for a debt of £10, as well as for his fine for having repudiated his creditor’s deed of obligation. Pympe had surrendered to the Fleet prison and contented Nutbeam of the debt and damages.5

Nutbeam died before 1431, in which year his widow, Constance, was recorded as sole seized of lands in the parish of All Saints on the Isle of Thanet.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Notbene, Notebeem, Notebem.

  • 1. JUST 1/1512 m. 41. The account of the Septvance family given in Arch. Cant. xl. 112, 118, contains a number of errors, most notable among them being that Constance Ellis married Gilbert Septvance and John Nutbeam (a mistake also made in Vis. Kent (Harl. xlii), 28). For the will of her first husband, John Septvance, see Arch. Cant. xxxvii. 44.
  • 2. CP51/1; Suss. Feet of Fines (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii), nos. 2203, 2406; Suss. Arch. Colls. xxxvii. 40; CPR, 1391-6, p. 98; CCR, 1413-19, p. 19; CP25(1)106/191/1835.
  • 3. CPL, v. 144; JUST 1/1512 m. 41; CP25(1)112/271/427; Feudal Aids, vi. 465; BL, Arundel 68, f. 57d; Canterbury consist. ct. Reg. 1, f. 12.
  • 4. CPR, 1396-9, p. 163; 1399-1401, p. 195 (called Thomas Nutbeam); 1401-5, p. 228; CCR, 1405-9, p. 83.
  • 5. CCR, 1409-13, p. 416; C219/12/3; E28/97 m. 15; CPR, 1416-22, pp. 339-40.
  • 6. Feudal Aids, iii. 65. The first name of the ‘Notebem of Esshe, gentleman’, then possessed of certain lands held in gavelkind tenure in the hundred of Wingham, is missing: ibid. 76. William’s heir was his son, John, who later held land in Stratfield Saye, Hants, and at Selmeston, Suss.: C1/11/496; Suss. Feet of Fines, no. 3010.