RUSHDEN, William, of Northampton.
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Family and Education
m. at least 1s. William Rushden†.
Bailiff, Northampton Mich. 1412-13; mayor 1430-1.1
Jt. alnager, Northants. and Rutland 13 Oct. 1426-4 Feb. 1428.
The subject of this biography was probably related to the fishmonger, John Rushden, who became bailiff of Northampton in 1402, although nothing definite is known about him before he sat in Parliament. Shortly afterwards he himself was made bailiff, and it was in his official capacity that he then brought a legal action against two men from Abingdon in Berkshire. He was also required to assist in the holding of parliamentary elections, and this explains the presence of his name on the return of April 1413. That Rushden, a draper and hosier, was a man of some consequence is evident not only from his election as mayor of Northampton in 1430, but also from his somewhat earlier appointment, jointly with Thomas Lodyngton, as alnager of Northamptonshire and Rutland. In the event, his title to this important post was challenged by the previous occupants, John Coldon* and Thomas Russell, who claimed successfully that they had been removed before the date specified in their own royal letters patent. Given the strength of the petitioners’ case, the MP and his colleague made no attempt to defend themselves in court, and in February 1428, less than two years after they had first been appointed, they were themselves replaced. In due course, however, Rushden’s son and namesake became alnager of the two counties in November 1434, naming his father as one of his personal guarantors. The latter also stood surety for Sir James Fiennes† when he succeeded to the post ten years later.2
Meanwhile, at some point before 1425, Rushden acquired a tenement in ‘Le Neulond’in Northampton. We do not know what other holdings he occupied in the town, but much later, in September 1439, he and his son joined together to farm some of the wasteland lying just outside its south gate. Throughout his life he played an active part in local affairs: in May 1428, for example, he sat on the jury at an inquisition concerning the taxation of Northampton’s parish churches; and during his term as mayor he was responsible for the introduction of an ordinance designed to promote ‘the progress as well as ... the convenience of the regular carpenters within the town of Northampton’. He later sat on the town council, where, from July 1442 onwards, if not before, he was joined by William Rushden the younger. Both men were then involved in the introduction of a regulation for the punishment of councillors who disclosed what was said at meetings of the borough authorities.3
It is not always easy to distinguish Rushden from his son, who, like him, represented Northampton in Parliament before going on to serve successively as bailiff and mayor. One of them, possibly the father, was among the group of local merchants who, in July 1443, were bound over to keep the peace (in this case under pain of £20) as a result of some unspecified proceedings in the court of Chancery. Rushden was still alive in 1446, when his son, who then began his second mayoralty, was still being described as ‘the younger’.4
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Russheden, Rysshden.
- 1. Northampton Recs. ed. Markham and Cox, ii. 550, 557.
- 2. Ibid. 557; CCR, 1413-19, p. 81; CPR, 1422-9, pp. 459-60; CFR, xvii. 306-7.
- 3. Add. Ch. 6057; Northants. RO, bor. recs. private ch. 48; Feudal Aids, iv. 50; Northampton Recs. i. 237-41, 276-8.
- 4. OR, i. app. xiii; Northampton Recs. ii. 550, 557; CCR, 1441-7, p. 102.