RIPON, John, of York.

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



Sept. 1388

Family and Education

s. of Arnold Ripon. m. by 1381, Agnes (fl. 1398).1

Offices Held

Collector of taxes, York Mar. 1377, Dec. 1380.

Member of the council of 24, York by Feb. 1378-aft. Sept. 1392; constable of Bootham Gate 1380.2

Commr. of inquiry, York May 1381 (state of Holy Trinity priory); to take securities for good behaviour Mar.1382.

J.p. York 4 Dec. 1385-July 1390.


Despite the striking difference in their ages, the subject of this biography has often been confused with the John Ripon who entered the freedom of York in 1334 and occupied a variety of civic offices between then and 1363. But the latter clearly died well before the late 1370s, when his widow, Alice (who had by then outlived another husband), was found to be in possession of certain tenements in Coney Street; and it is evident that earlier references to ‘John son of Arnold Ripon’ were intended to distinguish our Member from his older and then more prominent namesake. Alice Ripon lived on until December 1390, when she left half of her Coney Street and North Street properties to her husband’s next heir, but there is now no means of telling who this was.3 Problems of identification notwithstanding, we can be reasonably sure that John ‘son of Arnold’ had established himself as a York mercer by 1369, when he had already assumed the rather thankless task of executing the will of a fellow merchant named William Grantham. He and his colleague, Robert Gare, were then busy suing two local men for a debt of £200 due to the deceased, and in the following year they appeared before an inquisition ad quod damnum to obtain permission for the endowment of a chantry at St. Helen’s church, Stonegate, with revenues from his estate. The necessary royal licence was issued to them (at a cost of £20) in February 1371, thus marking the completion of their executorial duties. Ripon himself was a parishioner of St. Helen’s, being taxed there, together with his wife and three servants, at a high rate of 7s. at the time of the 1381 poll tax. He also owned land in Holtby, just to the north-east of York, as well as renting a foss at Fishergate and a pasture outside Bootham Bar from the civic authorities. Some of his wealth came from the export of wool, and although the loss of so many customs accounts for the port of Kingston-upon-Hull makes it impossible to assess the scale of his operations they may well have been quite impressive. Between January and Michaelmas 1379, for example, he shipped at least 35 sarplers out of the country; and his involvement in the affairs of some of the leading members of the mercantile community suggests that he exercised a good deal of influence in this quarter.4

By the time of his one return to Parliament, in September 1388, Ripon had not only gained considerable experience as a local tax collector, j.p. and crown commissioner, but had also become embroiled in the bitter factional disputes which divided the city towards the close of the century. He did not himself take part in any of the armed attacks launched on St. Leonard’s hospital, in 1376, but agreed to join with four other wealthy citizens in pledging the remarkably high sureties of 5,000 marks as a guarantee that no further assaults would be made by the commonalty either upon the hospital or its unpopular master, the King’s clerk, Richard Ravenser. Probably as a result of his membership of the council of 24, Ripon was summoned to Westminster, in May 1381, to give evidence during an inquiry into the unrest caused by Simon Quixley’s struggle to wrest control of the government of York from John Gisburn. His own sympathies probably lay with Gisburn, the leader of the ‘bones gentz’, and he may once again have been required to offer financial guarantees on behalf of others. Although he remained aloof from the violent events of the following summer, which saw an escalation of the internecine feuding, Ripon was quite prepared to take up arms when the occasion warranted. Sharing the antagonism felt by many of his fellow citizens towards the high-handed archbishop of York, Alexander Neville, he and other ‘evil doers’ mounted a raid on the latter’s palace at York early in 1386, going on to ransack his residences at Cawood and Bishopthorpe as well. Although they reputedly caused extensive damage and removed goods to the value of £1,000, the malefactors not only escaped punishment, but probably won for themselves the approval of the Lords Appellant, who had the archbishop condemned to exile by the Merciless Parliament of 1388 as an undesirable influence upon the young King. Ripon’s election to the next Parliament, while the Appellants still remained in power, may not have been entirely unconnected with this incident, which clearly reflects where his political sympathies lay.5

The date of Ripon’s death is not recorded, although both he and his wife, Agnes, were still alive in the summer of 1398, when they acquired a tenement in York from two chaplains, who were probably their trustees. Perhaps this was the property in Stonegate recently recovered by Ripon and an associate at the local assizes, since their title had only just been confirmed at law and they may have wished to strengthen it further by suing out a fine in the court of common pleas.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. Trans. E. Riding Antiq. Soc. xxx. 44; C143/372/18; CP25(1)279/148/42.
  • 2. Surtees Soc. cxx. 30, 153; cxxv. 17, 28, 30.
  • 3. Ibid. xcvi. 28; cxx. 25; York City Archs. List of Civic Officials ed. Skaife, f. 363; Borthwick Inst. York, York registry wills, i. f. 16v.
  • 4. Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. xvii. 244; C143/372/18; E122/59/2; CPR, 1370-4, pp. 41-42; Surtees Soc. cxx. 3; CIMisc. iii. no. 824; Trans. E. Riding Antiq. Soc. xxx. 44.
  • 5. CPR, 1374-7, p. 433; 1377-81, pp. 524-5; CPR, 1385-9, p. 172.
  • 6. CP25(1)279/148/42; Surtees Soc. cxxv. 85.