PORTMAN, William (d.c.1413), of Taunton, Som.

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



Jan. 1380
Nov. 1384
Feb. 1388

Family and Education

?s. of Richard Portman of Taunton by his w. Christine. m. bef. 1391, Alice ?da. of William and Agnes Crosse of Taunton, 1s. Walter Portman*.

Offices Held

Tax collector, Som. Dec. 1384, Dec. 1385, Dec. 1402, Dec. 1406.


William belonged to an old Taunton family, a member of which had sat in Parliament for the borough in Edward I’s reign. His putative parents held at least 12 messuages in the town, and he himself increased the family holdings by acquiring from William and Agnes Crosse (perhaps his wife’s parents) four acres of arable land and two of meadow together with a reversionary interest in another messuage in the locality. From 1368 he leased six acres of land from a fellow burgess, and at least from the beginning of Richard II’s reign until his death he farmed some pasture on the embankment between the east and north gates of Taunton from the bishop of Winchester, and also paid rent to the bishop for vacant plots situated opposite his premises in Fore Street and Cornhill.1

As a merchant Portman came to be involved in 1393-4 in an Exchequer test case arising out of a dispute over royal rights of prisage on wines, which was to be the subject of a Commons’ petition in 1401. No doubt his trading concerns had been at risk when, in 1382, the abbot of Glastonbury had blocked the river Tone, to the great inconvenience of the inhabitants of Taunton; certainly, he had served on the jury which testified to the offence. Portman witnessed several deeds concerning property in and around Taunton, frequently doing so in the company of William Marchaunt, his companion in the Commons on at least six occasions. He again acted as a juror in 1400, this time at a sheriff’s inquest.2

In June 1406, when up at Westminster for his 11th Parliament, Portman procured a royal licence to join three others in a grant in mortmain of nine acres of meadow to Taunton priory, and in addition he alone was permitted to give the priory the reversion of a messuage in the town. He attested the Somerset shire election to the Parliament of 1407, and in 1410 at Ilchester he was one of the four witnesses to the return for Taunton. He died in about 1413, when his son, Walter, took over his leases of property. He was buried in Taunton priory.3

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xii), 172; ibid. (xvii), 146, 174; Hants RO, bp. of Winchester’s pipe rolls 159385-415.
  • 2. RP, iii. 477; Add. 30289, ff. 86, 186-90; CPR, 1381-5, pp. 511-12; C145/278/29; Carts. Muchelney and Athelney Abbeys (Som. Rec. Soc. xiv), 138; Bridgwater Bor. Archs. (ibid. liii), 461; ibid. (xlviii), 261.
  • 3. CPR, 1405-8, p. 196; C219/10/4, 5.