BEANE, John (by 1503-80), of York.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1503, s. of Thomas Beane of York by Margaret da. of Robert Scauceby of York. m. Jenett, at least 2da.1

Offices Held

Member, Corpus Christi guild, York 1525, bridgemaster, Ouse bridge 1533-4, junior chamberlain 1535-6, master, guild of SS. Christopher and George 1536-8, sheriff 1538-9, member of the Twenty-Four 1539, alderman 1540-d., mayor 1545-6, 1565-6.2


John Beane was the son and grandson of York cappers, but he himself took up the freedom of the city in 1523-4 as an innholder. He was probably the ‘John Been’ who was in 1524 assessed to the subsidy on 20s. in wages in the poor parish of St. Mary Bishophill Senior, the parish in which he was living in 1539. These were humble beginnings but he speedily rose above them: from his election to the junior civic office of bridgemaster it took him less than eight years to reach the bench of aldermen, on which he remained until his death 40 years later, longer than any other Tudor alderman of the city. He was the first innholder to be elected alderman—York having previously barred innholders from the bench—but he seems to have been in fact a general merchant: in 1535 he was one of the city’s corn-buyers and in 1548 he was trading in roof-tiles.3

Already by 1536 Beane was important enough to be named one of the city deputation to the rebels’ conference with the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, although his name was later withdrawn. In 1545, when first mayor, he showed great care for food supplies, going every day to the fish market to fix reasonable prices. On 8 Mar. 1554 he was elected with Richard White to Mary’s second Parliament. Like all the other York aldermen elected in her reign, both Members were Catholic: ten years later the archbishop was to list Beane among the aldermen who were ‘no favourers of religion’. While at Westminster he and White were instrumental in getting a city charter renewed and in securing action against those taking unlawful tolls from citizens. Both Members were entertained by the Vintners’ Company in the hope of gaining their support for the repeal of the Act of 1553 (7 Edw. VI, c.5) controlling the sale of wine. When, 11 years later, Beane was again elected mayor, the city was facing an emergency: the only bridge over the Ouse had collapsed and he spent much of his year of office in having it rebuilt. Thereafter he was less active in civic affairs, although in 1569, when a siege by the northern earls was expected, he assumed responsibility for one of the city ferries.4

At some date after 1539 Beane moved to the wealthier parish of St. Martin, Micklegate, where he took up residence on the south side of Micklegate: in 1546 he was assessed there for subsidy on £40 in goods. He had begun acquiring property in the city, and when in 1547 an Act authorized the suppression of its poorer churches (1 Edw. VI, c.9) he was poised to benefit. In 1548 his own church of St. Martin was condemned, only to be reprieved after he had apparently secured its lead. He was again disappointed when, later that year, the city first agreed to sell to him and his ‘partners’ the church and parsonage of St. Mildred for £30 but within a month promised them instead to his colleague Richard Goldthorp. He was, however, compensated by the purchase, for a mere 20s., of the church and yard of St. Gregory, which was united to his own church of St. Martin. To his urban properties he had added by 1567 the nearby manor of Middlethorpe, but he continued to be assessed for subsidy on goods, his figure of £20 in 1572 and 1576 being among the highest in the city.5

By his will of 6 Apr. 1579 Beane left his soul to God, trusting to be saved through Christ’s passion, and his body for burial in St. Martin’s, near his wife. He left 100 marks to provide three bells for the church; this was done and one of them still survives. He made other charitable bequests, including more than £220 to the poor. Various properties in York passed to his daughter Mary and her family, including the residence in Micklegate, two other tenements in the parish and one outside Micklegate Bar. Mary and her youngest son, Gabriel Wharton, were named executors and residuary legatees, and the supervisors were Alderman Thomas Harrison and four present or future members of the Twenty-Four. Beane survived the making of the will by nearly two years, being buried in his parish church on 31 Dec. 1580. The will was proved on the following 21 Jan.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. M. Palliser


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman, Reg. Corpus Christi Guild, York (Surtees Soc. lvii), 66n, 206n; Par. Regs. St. Martin-cum-Gregory, York, ed. Bulmer, 2, 10, 22; Test. Ebor. iii. (Surtees Soc. xlv), 359 implies that his mother was Margaret Marshall.
  • 2. Reg. Corpus Christi Guild, 206; York archs. B11-27 passim; York Civic Recs. iv. (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cviii), 23 where his name is transcribed ‘Deyn’.
  • 3. York pub. lib. R. H. Skaife ms, civic officials, i. 58-60; Reg. Freemen, York, i. (Surtees Soc. xcvi), 245; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. iv. 188; LP Hen. VIII, xiv; York archs. B11-27 passim, esp. B13, f. 31; D. M. Palliser, ‘York in the 16th cent.’ (Oxf. Univ. D. Phil. thesis, 1968), 212-14; York merchant adventurers’ archs. box 31.
  • 4. York Civic Recs. iv. 16, 129; v. (ibid. cx), 102-6; vi. (ibid. cxii), 95-109, 168; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 72; Cath. Rec. Soc. monograph ser. ii. 332; Guildhall Studies in London Hist. i. 48-49.
  • 5. R. Davies, Walks through the City of York, 181-2; E179/217/110, 218/133; York Civic Recs. iv. 179-80; v. 4; vi. 125; York archs. B19, f. 43v; 1576 lay subsidy (T/S, PRO).
  • 6. Par. Regs. St. Martin-cum-Gregory, 25; York wills 21, f. 414.