THORLEY, John, of Lincoln.

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



Sept. 1397

Family and Education

m. 1s.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Lincoln Sept. 1391-2; mayor 1397-8.2

Commr. of gaol delivery, Lincoln Dec. 1397.3


As a leading resident of Lincoln, Thorley was an active participant in the protracted dispute between the civic and ecclesiastical authorities over their respective jurisdictions. In many cases resistance took the form of rent strikes, and in August 1384 Thorley was distrained by officers of the dean and chapter for allowing arrears of almost £5 to accumulate over the previous eight years. This act in itself provoked a violent reaction on the part of the mayor and bailiffs, who had the dean’s agents thrown into prison. At exactly the same date Thorley became involved in another outbreak of local unrest, this time against Katherine Swynford, John of Gaunt’s unpopular mistress. A royal commission of oyer and terminer was set up to investigate complaints that he and other citizens had launched an attack on her property at Grantham, but the outcome of the affair is not known. Allegations of a similar nature were levelled against Thorley and his associates by Roger Langford of Lincoln in the following year, again with no apparently unfavourable consequences for the accused.4

As well as owning property in Lincoln, Thorley and his son, Robert, leased a small estate in Barton on Humber from a farmer named William Gascrick. The latter sued them in the spring of 1389 for causing wastes and delapidations assessed at £200 (on his own somewhat inflated estimate), although they denied his charges on the ground that they had restored everything to him undamaged long before. Thorley again found himself in trouble in the following year, when the quarrel between the citizenry and the dean and chapter came to a head after violent assaults by the former on the cathedral precincts. He was bound over in personal securities of 100 marks in March 1390 to keep the peace in future, and a few weeks later was obliged to appear before the royal commissioners who had been appointed to investigate the affair. He survived all these incidents and accusations to become bailiff of Lincoln, and as such held the elections to the Parliament of November 1391. Two years later John Seuerby, a Lincoln merchant, offered him securities of £40, and although the precise nature of their transaction is not recorded it may betoken some interest in trade on the MP’s part.5

Shortly after being returned to the second Parliament of 1397, Thorley assumed office as mayor, and also served on a local commission of gaol delivery. Nothing more is known of him after he relinquished his mayoralty in September 1398.

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variants: Thorle, Thorlegh, Torely.

  • 1. Yr. Bk. 1378-9 ed. Arnold, 200.
  • 2. C219/9/8; Egerton Ch. 467; Lincs. AO, St. Mark’s deeds FL2/6, 7.
  • 3. C66/348 m. 14v.
  • 4. CPR, 1381-5, pp. 501, 503-4; CIMisc. iv. no. 376.
  • 5. C219/9/8; CPR, 1398-92, pp. 270-1; CCR, 1388-92, pp. 164-5; 1392-6, p. 150; Yr. Bk. 1378-9, p. 200.