STARLING, Geoffrey, of Ipswich, Suff.

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. 1377
May 1382
Oct. 1382
? Feb. 1383
Oct. 1383
Feb. 1388
Jan. 1390

Family and Education

s. of Geoffrey Starling of Ipswich. m. bef. June 1384, Margaret, ?1s. John*.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Ipswich Sept. 1376-7, 1380-6, 1387-91 1392-3, 1395-6; coroner 1399-1400, 1401-2.1

Commr. of array, Ipswich June 1380.

Controller of customs and subsidies, Ipswich 12 Feb. 1382-24 Dec. 1383, tunnage and poundage 28 Nov. 1386-10 June 1387; collector of customs 9 June 1386-18 Mar. 1393

Dep. butler, Ipswich, Colchester and Harwich 3 June 1389-7 May 1395.


Starling came from a prominent Ipswich family: his grandfather, Henry, was bailiff seven times between 1358 and 1374, and his father and namesake held the same office in 1371-2 and 1377-9. It is unclear whether the father or the son represented the borough in the Parliaments of 1377 (Jan.) and 1383 (Feb.), but as the younger man was serving as bailiff at the time of both elections, and it was quite common in this period for Ipswich to return one of its officials, the latter seems more likely. (Indeed, Starling junior is known to have made returns recording his own election to seven other Parliaments.)2 Starling senior was a shipowner, whose vessel La Magdaleyne had been used in 1372 for royal service in the war with France, and in less troubled times he regularly exported wool and cloth to the Low Countries. Appointed collector of customs and subsidies at Ipswich from September 1375 to May 1386, he probably died at about the time that his collectorship lapsed. The new customer, appointed in June, was most likely the son; the separate designations of ‘senior’ and ‘junior’ disappear from this date.3

In its early years the career of Geoffrey Starling junior had been closely bound up with that of his father. Both were commisioned in June 1380 to array the men of Ipswich in readiness to resist foreign invasion, and in 1382, as controller of customs, the younger man worked in association with his father and Robert Waleys*, the collectors. Starling was to be continually employed by the Crown as customer and deputy butler from 1386 to 1395, during which period, far from neglecting his own trading interests, he himself shipped substantial quantities of wool and pells to the Low Countries. In May 1390 he stood surety in Chancery for the owners of three ships arrested at Woodbridge (Suffolk), providing guarantees that their cargoes of wheat would be delivered to London and not elsewhere. It was only to be expected that his business dealings would on occasion lead to lawsuits, and in 1394, for instance, William Venour of London sued him for debt. It was a more serious charge, however, which brought him into Chancery in the 1390s, for this alleged that he and a gang of armed men had forcibly entered the house of William Snowe of Ipswich seeking revenge for an action for debt begun by Snowe against him, and that, finding their victim’s wife there alone, they had assaulted her and her child.4

Starling held property in St. Mildred’s parish, Ipswich, from 1380 onwards, and from 1384 he and his wife received an annual rent of 6s.8d. for tenements near the market-place as well as 7s. for others in St. Nicholas’s parish. In 1390 he acquired a shop in St. Mary’s and a house in St. Lawrence’s, while other transactions completed in the course of the next ten years clearly indicate that he was a property owner of some substance. A few miles to the north of Ipswich he and his wife held lands at Gosbeck and Helmingham, which they conveyed to feoffees in 1390. He then sought to extend his territorial interests by laying claim to John Preston’s holdings, situated at Barking, Bramford, Needham and elsewhere, only to abandon this ambition in October 1397 when he agreed to cease all actions at law for possession of Preston’s inheritance and bound himself in £100 to keep his word.5

On occasion Starling moved in local gentry circles in Suffolk. In 1387 he had witnessed a conveyance of manors at Rushmere to Sir George Felbrigg and others, and in 1397 he was present when Sir John Howard’s* feoffees made a settlement of a manor at Broke. He is last recorded in September 1407 when a witness at Darsham to an enfeoffment to which the Cuddons* of Dunwich were party.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: K.N. Houghton


Variant: Sterlyng.

  • 1. Ipswich RO, recog. roll 46-51 Edw. III; E368/154-69; N. Bacon, Annalls of Ipswiche ed. Richardson, 86-87. Bacon (p. 84) gave Starling as bailiff 1391-2 and 1393-4 but not 1392-3.
  • 2. Recog. rolls 44-45 Edw. III, 5-8 Ric. II; E368/151-2; C219/8/5-7, 9, 9/1, 4, 7.
  • 3. E101/32/28; E122/50/21, 30. Starling senior held property in St. Margaret’s parish, Ipswich, from 1377, and land at Great Glenham of which he had lost possession before Feb. 1387: recog. roll 46-51 Edw. III; HMC Var. iv. 190.
  • 4. CCR, 1389-92, p. 140; 1392-6, p. 263; C1/7/237; E122/50/31, 37.
  • 5. Recog. rolls 1-3, 5-8, 11-14, 16-18 Ric. II; CP25(1)223/106/34; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 217, 223.
  • 6. CCR, 1385-9, p. 439; 1405-9, p. 501; 1405-9, p. 366.