SYDENHAM, John, of Bridgwater and Sydenham, Som.
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Family and Education
Tax collector, Som. Nov. 1382, Jan. 1392, Mar. 1401.
Commr. of sewers, Som. Dec. 1382.
Verderer, Petherton forest, Som. until Dec. 1384.1
Steward of the guild, Bridgwater by Sept. 1392-aft. May 1394.2
There were possibly three men of this name living in or near Bridgwater at the end of the 14th century, and it cannot be definitely stated that the same one sat in Parliament on all six occasions. The prominence of John Sydenham ‘of Bridgwater’ as steward of the guild merchant, however, suggests that he may have been the Member on every occasion. It was probably he who acquired a tenement in Friarn Street before 1371 and was still holding it, though then described as John Sydenham ‘of Sydenham’, 30 years later.3
Sydenham was clearly unpopular with certain sections of the community at Bridgwater. On 19 June 1381, during the Peasants’ Revolt, his houses at Sydenham and Bridgwater were ransacked, goods to the value of £100 were stolen, and the deeds and court rolls belonging to James, Lord Audley and John Cole III* of Bridgwater, which he had in his keeping, were taken away and burnt. There were even threats to his life, although it was not until a year later that Nicholas Someryng, the master of a local ship, was actually charged with attempting to kill him. Sydenham’s possession of documents belonging to Audley and Cole suggests that he was serving as local steward for these two landowners, which might account for some of the ill-feeling against him. Later, in 1395, he acted as auditor of the accounts of Thomas Beaupyne* of Bristol, for his estate at North Petherton, and it is quite possible that he was the John Sydenham who practised as an attorney at the assizes at Ilchester.4 At home, in 1392, during his stewardship of the guild of Bridgwater, he had obtained a royal licence for the commonalty to alienate certain properties in the town for the maintenance of St. Mary’s chantry, and three years later he became a trustee for the completion of the new bridge. He is last recorded in April 1403 when he sold premises in the cattle market to William Thomer*.5 His daughter Joan married, perhaps as her third husband, Robert Boson*.
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. CCR, 1381-5, p. 493.
- 2. CPR, 1391-6, p. 176; Bridgwater Bor. Archs. (Som. Rec. Soc. liii), 458, 462, 470.
- 3. Bridgwater Bor. Archs. (ibid. xlviii), 262; ibid. (lviii), 509.
- 4. CPR, 1381-5, p. 270; Bridgwater Bor. Archs. (liii), 374; Procs. Som. Arch. Soc. lxxiii. 6-66; Sel. Cases in Chancery (Selden Soc. x), 16; JUST 1/1502 m. 210.
- 5. Bridgwater Bor. Archs. (liii), 477-8; (lviii), 520.