PENRITH, John (d.?1437), of York.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
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Family and Education

Offices Held

Member of the council of 24, York by June 1419, of the council of 12 by Jan. 1420.1


It is impossible to be absolutely certain about the identity of this MP, in view of the fact that three men of the same name were active in York during the period under review. The first, a draper, was admitted to the freedom in, or just before, 1383, served as chamberlain six years later and went on to be made bailiff in 1391. He and his wife, Ellen, were founder members of the prestigious guild of Corpus Christi in York in 1408, and he was still active as a member of the council of 12 as late as February 1410. This John Penrith survived one of his sons, Thomas, whose death is recorded in the mortuary roll of the guild some two years later; and his own name appears on a similar list for the year 1421-2.2 Although he need not necessarily have been much more than 62 or so when he died, the draper had clearly retired from public life long before, and is most unlikely to have represented York so recently in Parliament. Yet it looks very much as if he was a close relative of his two namesakes, both of whom were cordwainers and were admitted to the freedom within a few years of each other in, respectively, 1409-10 and 1413-14. The problem of distinguishing between them is clearly far harder, not least because they were evidently close in age. One of them secured a place on the council of 24 in June 1419 and became an alderman (or member of the 12) a few months later, so we may reasonably assume that it was he who entered the House of Commons within a short time of his promotion. He also witnessed the return of Members for York to the Parliament of May 1421, but then disappears from view. One of the two men, more probably the MP, died in January 1437, leaving money to pay for work on the porch of St. Helen’s church in Stonegate.3

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. Surtees Soc. cxxv. 79, 84, 86, 89.
  • 2. Ibid. lvii. 11, 239, 242, 250; xcvi. 79, 86; cxxv. 91; clxxxvi. 40, 73. The pedigree given here of John Penrith the draper (lvii. 11n) is rather misleading, as it confuses him with one of his two namesakes, and describes him as MP for York.
  • 3. Ibid. xcvi. 113, 118; cxxv. 79, 84, 86, 89; C219/12/15; A. Raine, Med. York, 125.