PAYN, John II (d.1402), of Wymondham, Norf.

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. Sibyl, da. and coh. of William Hethersett of Hethersett, Norf.

Offices Held

Butler of the household of Henry, earl of Derby, by May 1390-Aug. 1399.

Chief butler of England 21 Aug. 1399-d.

Constable of Norwich castle 14 Sept. 1399-d.

J.p. Norf. and Suff. 26 May 1401-d.

Commr. to make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well, Norf. May 1402.


The details of Payn’s background and early career are obscure, although it seems likely that he was of Norfolk origin. At the end of his life he was in possession of a quarter of a knight’s fee at Wymondham as a tenant of the Mowbrays, but no record has been found either of how he acquired this property or of any other lands in his ownership. His wife, Sibyl Hethersett, did not inherit a share in her father’s estates until after Payn’s death.1

It may have been this John Payn who in 1384 stood surety in Chancery for the prior of Walsingham, and five years later, described as residing in Norfolk, acted similarly at the Exchequer on behalf of the prior of Swavesey, Cambridgeshire.2 But nothing is known of him for certain before the spring of 1390, by which date he had risen in the household of Henry of Bolingbroke, earl of Derby, to the position of butler. As such, he was largely responsible for the purchase of provisions for Derby’s retinue on his military expedition to Prussia, and he himself accompanied the earl overseas, returning home with him in April 1391. During his absence, in December 1390, he was named as a trustee of the manor of Hunstanton, Norfolk, on behalf of the Lancastrian retainer, Sir John Strange*. When Earl Henry embarked on a second ‘crusade’ in July 1392, Payn went with him again, performing the same duties as before — those of butler of his household. He remained in Henry’s entourage on the later pilgrimage which took them through Bohemia and Austria to Venice and thence by sea via Rhodes and Cyprus to Jerusalem, eventually returning to England after a year’s absence.3 Payn was still serving as the earl of Derby’s butler in September 1398 when his lord was banished, and it may be presumed that he not only went with him into exile, but was also present when he landed at Ravenspur in July 1399. His promotion followed rapidly upon Henry’s seizure of power: on 21 Aug. at Nantwich, Cheshire, he was appointed, ostensibly by the captive Richard II, as chief butler of England; two days later, at Stafford, he was awarded custody of estates in Leicestershire lately held by Sir Robert Harrington*, together with the marriage of the heir, all completely free of charge; and then, on 14 Sept., described as a ‘King’s esquire’, he was made constable of Norwich castle, specifically ‘by the advice of the duke of Lancaster’. These grants and appointments were all confirmed by Henry immediately after his accession to the throne. Furthermore, on 10 Feb. 1400, Payn’s constableship at Norwich was granted to him for life, along with an annuity of £20 over and above the normal fee pertaining to the post. For the past five years he had also enjoyed an annuity of ten marks from the revenues of the duchy of Lancaster in Norfolk, by gift of John of Gaunt, and in November he received a grant of the wardship and marriage of the heir of William Leche.4

Clearly, when Payn was elected to the Parliament summoned for January 1401 he owed everything to the recent change of monarch. His fellow shire knight, John Wynter, who had married his wife’s sister, and with whom he had been on amicable terms since 1395, was similarly committed to the new regime. Payn evidently had immediate access to the King, and he could well have been one of those about whom the Commons made complaint early in the session, when it was suspected that Members of the House ‘pur faire plaisance au Roy, et pur avauncer soy mesmes’ were reporting their deliberations to Henry. But Payn did not long enjoy his position of influence, for he died, intestate, shortly before 8 Nov. 1402. In March 1404, after making a payment of £140 to the treasurer of the Household, his widow Sibyl, Sir Thomas Brownflete (controller of the Household) and others, including John Wynter, were pardoned all debts, accounts and demands made on Payn’s estate, in particular for those arising out of his custody of the Leche heir. By 1407 the administration of his effects had been granted to Thomas Walsingham*, the London vintner and victualler of the royal household.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


He is probably not to be identified with John, son of Nicholas Payn of Helhoughton, Norf., esquire, who in 1391 inherited a manor in Helhoughton and made a quitclaim of another in Oxwick along with lands once belonging to Nicholas Siger. He married, bef. Mar. 1398, Maud. Like his namesake the butler, Payn of Helhoughton received an annuity from the Nofr. estates of the duchy of Lancaster, his being for £16 13s.4d. and granted in or bef. 1400. In 1413 an annuity of £20 from duchy estates in Norf., Suff. and Cambs. was confirmed to a John Payn whose place of residence was not stated. F. Blomefield, Norf. vii. 103-4; CCR, 1389-92, p. 334; CPL, v. 123; DL29/738/12098; DL42/17, f. 26d.

  • 1. Feudal Aids, iii. 629; W. Rye, Norf. Fams. 333.
  • 2. CCR, 1381-5, p. 433; CFR, x. 303.
  • 3. Derby’s Expeds. (Cam. Soc. n.s. lii), p. xcii and passim; CCR, 1389-92, p. 331.
  • 4. CPR, 1396-9, pp. 590, 591, 595; 1399-1401, pp. 15, 23, 199; DL29/738/12098; CFR, xii. 86; S.K. Walker, ‘John of Gaunt and his retainers, 1361-99’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1986), 281.
  • 5. Norf. RO, Norwich enrolments 15 m. 20; RP, iii. 456; CPR, 1401-5, pp. 172, 384, 387; 1405-8, p. 328. Payn’s widow may have survived him by some 40 years: a Sibyl wid. of John Payn made her will on 24 Nov. 1439 and died before 2 July 1445. She left sons named Robert Payn and John Pagrave and asked to be buried near her parents (unnamed) in the Dominician friary at Norwich: Norf. RO, Reg. Wylbey, f. 24.