WACE, John (d.1399), of East Rudham and 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



Jan. 1390

Family and Education

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Lynn Mich. 1381-2, 1391-2, 1393-4; mayor 1396-7.1

Commr. of array, Lynn May 1398.


Wace, who came from East Rudham, some 12 miles from Bishop’s Lynn, was admitted to the freedom of the borough on 31 Mar. 1371, after completing his apprenticeship to a local merchant. He soon became involved in the affairs of the town as an elector of its officers five times between 1383 and 1389, and of the parliamentary burgesses in 1383, 1384, 1388, 1392 and 1395. By the time he himself entered the Commons he had been chosen as one of the council of 24. Meanwhile, in October 1384, he had been appointed as a guardian of the moveables of Emma Beeston, an idiot in royal wardship, and in July 1388 had been named by William Bally of Lynn as an executor of his will.2

A member of the Holy Trinity guild of merchants, which he served as a scabin in 1386-7, Wace built up fairly considerable trading interests. In the year of his only election to Parliament he imported large quantities of dried fish, timber, pitch, tar, iron, wax and pelts, worth more than £210, from Scandinavia and the Baltic. His main exports were cloth and malt (his shipments of these commodities being valued at £145 in 1392), although in July that year he sold 300 stockfish to Henry of Bolingbroke’s clerk of the kitchen, to help with the victualling of the earl’s ‘crusade’ to Prussia. In the following year he obtained a royal licence to ship 500 quarters of malt to Norway, but did not in fact make use of it.3

In September 1392 Wace granted a messuage in West Lynn to the local parish church to be converted into a manse for the parson. He retained property in Bishop’s Lynn worth more than £5 annually, as well as three messuages and 40 acres of arable land in East Rudham.4 Wace is last heard of on 1 Mar. 1399 when he witnessed a local conveyance; and he died later that year. His will included a large legacy of £30, along with a further £20 from the residue of his estate, if any, towards repairs to St. Nicholas’s chapel, Lynn, but it would seem that the money was withheld by his executors, for in 1422 he and three others were said to be in debt to the Holy Trinity guild regarding this bequest.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Date of Death: His will, mentioned in 1887 in HMC 11th Rep. III, 234 as being in the possession of the corporation of King's Lynn, has apparently been lost.

  • 1. Red Reg. King’s Lynn ed. Ingleby, ii. ff. 117, 135, 167; Norf. Official Lists ed. Le Strange, 190.
  • 2. Red Reg. ff. 116, 119, 121, 124, 127, 129, 131, 150, 168d, 169; CPR, 1381-5, p. 471.
  • 3. King’s Lynn Town Hall, Gd. 47; E122/93/31, 94/11; N.S.B. Gras, Early Eng. Customs System, 447, 451, 529, 530, 533, 538, 542, 549; Derby’s Expeds. (Cam. Soc. n.s. lii), 155; CPR, 1391-6, p. 266; CCR, 1392-6, p. 287.
  • 4. C143/419/17; CPR, 1391-6, p. 147; CP25(1)168/180/224.
  • 5. CCR, 1402-5, p. 115; Recs. King’s Lynn ed. Harrod, 109; HMC 11th Rep. III, 229.