SYMME, John, of Canterbury, Kent.

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



Apr. 1384

Family and Education

m. bef. 1381, Christine.

Offices Held

Jurat, Canterbury Mich. 1386-7, 1389-92; bailiff 1392-3.1


Symme became a freeman of Canterbury before 1380, when he acquired a messuage and three shops in the city, and early in 1381 he was assessed for the poll tax as living there with his wife, Christine, and one domestic servant. He was related to Thomas Symme (like him employed in the craft of weaving), whose wife Cecily left a croft in St. Paul’s parish in her will, made a few years afterwards. John is recorded purchasing more property in the vicinity in 1387 and 1389, and in 1390 he enfeoffed Thomas Symme and others, including the draper, Robert Benet, of a house in the suburb of Westgate.2

Symme was one of six leading Canterbury citizens who in February 1386 negotiated with the Crown on behalf of the community for a grant of £200 to be spent on repairs to the delapidated city walls. He represented his fellows in Parliament for the second time later that year. On 6 Jan. 1393 he was exempted for life from being appointed to any royal office against his will, as then being ‘60 years old and very weak’. However, it does not appear that age or infirmities caused him to resign from the bailiffship of Canterbury which he was then holding.3

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Canterbury Cathedral, City and Diocesan RO, burghmote reg. O/A1, ff. 9d, 13, 14; List of Canterbury Officials comp. Urry and Bunce, 48.
  • 2. CP25(1)108/213/143, 109/230/552, 110/235/683, 694; E179/123/5; Canterbury O/A1, f. 8.
  • 3. CCR, 1385-9, pp. 120-1; CPR, 1391-6, p. 208. In 1411 a man of the same name received licence, with others, to grant land in mortmain to St. Margaret’s church, Canterbury, for the enlargement of its graveyard. But the interval of time since his last appearance and Symme’s age in 1411—even if exaggerated in 1393—would suggest that this was not the former MP: CPR, 1408-13, p. 322.