SISTERN, Bartholomew (d.1429), of Bishop's Lynn, Norf.

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



May 1421

Family and Education

m. 1s.

Offices Held

Searcher, Lynn 5 Apr. 1401-May 1405.

Coroner, Lynn July 1417, Apr. 1421, Aug. 1429.1


Since the mid 14th century members of the Sistern family had been burgesses of Lynn, where they held property in ‘Briggate’ (High Street).2 After relinquishing his office as searcher of ships in the port and along the coast between Blakeney and Wisbech, Bartholomew appears as an exporter of cloth, wool and fish. (A shipment of fabric he made in September 1405 was valued at £145, and another of fish in March 1406 at £150.) He served as a scabin of the Holy Trinity guild of merchants in 1403-4 and 1405-6. Meanwhile, in 1403, along with other townsmen he had been appointed as a feoffee of estates in the locality, around Runcton and Middleton,3 and in 1406 he joined with a fellow merchant, John Brandon*, in founding in St. Margaret’s church, Lynn, the guild of St. George the Martyr. The brethren and sisters of the guild were permitted to acquire in mortmain lands valued at ten marks a year to maintain two chaplains, whose function was to celebrate masses not only for members of the fraternity but also for Henry IV, his queen, and the souls of his parents.4

Although himself one of the potentiores of Lynn, Sistern was returned to his first Parliament when their opponents were in power. But he was possibly of moderate persuasion, for not only was he chosen as one of the 18 arbitrators in the conflict over the constitution of the town, but was also an elector of two inferiores to the first Parliament of Henry V’s reign (May 1413). Nothing more is recorded about him until, at a general meeting of the burgesses on 22 Mar. 1419, he sought to be released from his post as churchwarden in the parish of St. Margaret, having received no assistance for urgently needed repairs to the belfry and refusing to be personally liable for the cost. It was when borough coroner that Sistern was elected to Parliament for a second time (May 1421), on which occasion he himself attested the indenture of return. He was then a member of the council of 24.5 Quite likely as a reward for his services, at Michaelmas following the mayor and commonalty leased to him 22 cottages in ‘Spynner Lane’ otherwise known as ‘Ratten Row’, for a term of 1,001 years and at the annual rent of 53s.4d. On 3 Jan. 1426 he requested that his son, John, might enter the freedom of the borough, he himself and another John Sistern (probably his brother) providing the required pledges. Bartholomew was again (or still) serving as coroner at the time of his death. Precisely when this occurred is not known, but it was on 12 Aug. 1429 that the vacant office, and also his empty place on the council, was filled.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Cistern, Systern.

  • 1. C219/12/5; Lynn Town Hall, assembly bk. I, f. 259; Norf. RO, KLC/10/2 f. 75d.
  • 2. Cal. Freemen Lynn, 14, 15, 31; Add. Ch. 692.
  • 3. CP25(1)168/182/40; E122/95/27; Harl. Roll H23.
  • 4. CPR, 1405-8, p. 269; W. Richards, Lynn, i. 419.
  • 5. HMC 11th Rep. III, 192; Lynn Town Hall, Ae17, Ca3, 5; Recs. King’s Lynn ed. Harrod, 96, 107-8.
  • 6. Lynn Town Hall, assembly bk. I, ff. 141, 259; Be 555.