SANTON, Thomas, of York.
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Family and Education
s. of John Santon (d.1393) of York, draper, by his w. Agnes (d.1401/2). m. (1) by 1381, Beatrice (d. Mar. 1406), da. of William Burton of York, mercer, 1da.; (2) Joan (fl. 1438), at least 1s.1
Chamberlain, York 3 Feb. 1399-1400; sheriff Mich. 1402-3; member of the council of 24 by Mar. 1411; mayor 3 Feb. 1414-15; member of the council of 12 by Feb. 1415-aft. Jan. 1420.2
Commr. of inquiry, York 1415 (possessions of John Stockton).3
Santon’s career got off to an inauspicious start as a result of his involvement in the factional disputes which erupted, with considerable violence, in York during the early 1380s. At the onset of these disturbances, the mayor, John Gisburn†, was chased out of the city and his rival Simon Quixley†, seized power until the government at Westminster stepped in to restore order. Following an appeal to the second 1380 Parliament by the bones gentz who supported Gisburn, 24 of Quixley’s most notorious adherents, including Santon, were consigned to the Tower of London, where they remained for about a fortnight until the necessary arrangements had been made for taking bail. Unlike most of the rioters, who did not belong to prominent mercantile families, Santon was the son of a former mayor of York, had already entered the family business as a draper and was himself the owner of property in the parish of All Saints, Ousegate. Indeed, between them he and his brother, Richard (who lived in an adjoining house), contributed almost 10s. towards the poll tax of 1381, and thus already stood out as leading members of the community. Santon’s reasons for defecting to Quixley’s camp were, in fact, personal rather than political or economic, since his mother, Agnes, had previously been married to one Robert Quixley, by whom she had a son named John. Her second husband, John Santon, made a modest bequest of ten marks to his stepson in his will of 1393, but Agnes left him a more generous sum of £20, and it may have been she who urged Thomas to put family considerations before self-interest at this time. For a while Santon kept within the law, actually joining with his father and brother to stand surety in February 1381 on behalf of the newly elected common serjeants of York. But further upheavals occurred during the following summer: Quixley’s adherents sought to revenge themselves upon their former adversaries; wholesale rioting led to attacks on St. Leonard’s hospital and other unpopular religious institutions; and a large number of men, again including Santon, were bound over in individual sureties of £100 to keep the peace. Not surprisingly, in view of the fact that these popular disturbances coincided with the outbreak of the Peasants’ Revolt in the south (and were undoubtedly encouraged by it), the government adopted a hard line towards the ringleaders. The imposition of a corporate fine of 1,000 marks seems to have brought the citizenry to its senses, and from then onwards the two parties achieved a modus vivendi.4
For the next few years Santon lived quietly out of the public eye, and not much else is known about him until his father died in 1393, leaving him and his brother £100 each. Their mother, Agnes, who shared with them the task of executing the will, received a life interest in large quantities of valuable plate and two tenements in Coney Street, although everything was settled in reversion upon them both. Agnes lived to see Thomas Santon’s election as chamberlain of York, and it was not until 1402 that he inherited his half-share of the family property, along with a cash sum of £60. Once again, he and Richard, to whom he was obviously very close, assumed the task of executors, being involved in the foundation of a chantry at the church of St. Cross in Fossgate, where both their parents were now buried. Hardly had our Member discharged these particular responsibilities than he was obliged to perform the same posthumous service for his first wife, Beatrice, who died in March 1406. Her will refers, tantalizingly, to a daughter whose whereabouts were then unknown, and to her father, the mercer William Burton, whom she called upon to act as supervisor.5 Despite the fact that he was then also involved in arrangements concerning the endowment of the hospital of the Blessed Virgin and the Holy Trinity, Santon began to play a more active part in civic affairs. By 1411, if not before, he had joined the ‘mieultez vaux gentz’ who made up the council of 24, and in the spring of 1413 he was elected to Henry V’s first Parliament. Although he only sat twice in the House of Commons, being returned again, in 1417, after he had served as mayor of York and had risen to occupy a place on the more select council of 12, Santon attended at least six parliamentary elections. Some further idea of his standing in the community may be gained from the fact that in 1416 he not only acted as an arbitrator in a local property dispute but also pledged sureties worth £40 in Chancery on behalf of his fellow MP, William Alne.6
Santon evidently retired from civic life after his appearance, in 1423, as a pledge for a distinguished group of litigants at the York assizes, among whom were John Talbot, Lord Furnival, and Thomas, Lord Dacre of Gilsland. He died well before 1438, and was buried beside his first wife in the church of All Hallows Pavement. His second wife, Joan, and their son, John, both survived him, although they too eventually sought burial in the same church. John, who was admitted to the freedom of York in 1436 per patre, died just two years later, leaving Joan to administer his estate.7
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Borthwick Inst. York, York registry wills, i. f. 71; iii. ff. 75-75v, 246-6v, 536; Trans. E. Riding Antiq. Soc. xxx. 25; F. Drake, Ebor. 295; Surtees Soc. xcvi. 152.
- 2. Surtees Soc. xcvi. 102, 119; cxx. 74; cxxv. 52, 62, 64, 74-75, 84, 86, 89.
- 3. Ibid. cxxv. 43.
- 4. CCR, 1377-81, pp. 421, 486-7; CPR, 1381-5, p. 137; Surtees Soc. cxx. 17, 19, 23-24; Trans. E. Riding Antiq. Soc. xxx. 25.
- 5. York registry wills, i. f. 71; iii. ff. 75-75v, 246-6v.
- 6. Yorks. Arch. Soc. Rec. Ser. cxi. 191; C219/11/7, 12/3-6, 13/1; CCR, 1413-19, p. 374; Surtees Soc. cxx. 74; cxxv. 46.
- 7. Surtees Soc. xcvi. 152; clxxxvi. 101; F. Drake, Ebor. 295; York registry wills, iii. f. 536.