ECHARD, John (by 1522-76 or later), of Great Yarmouth, Norf.

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 1522, s. of Thomas Echard (d.1547/48) of Great Yarmouth by 1st w. Margaret. educ. ?L. Inn, adm. 22 Mar. 1544. m. by 1543, Catherine, at least 5s. 1da.1

Offices Held

?Water bailiff, Great Yarmouth 1537-8, member of the Twenty-Four by 1549, collector half doles 1549-50, haven doles in 1551, churchwarden 1551-2, bailiff 1552-3, 1565-6, 1574-5, j.p. 1553-4, 1555-6, 1566-7, 1573-4, 1576-7, auditor 1559-60, 1561-2, coroner 1561-2, 1563-4, 1567-8, 1570-1, ?1578-9, keeper, lazar hospita 1563-76 or 1579.2


When John Echard was elected for Yarmouth to the second Marian Parliament he had behind him several years of municipal service. Whether he had begun this as the town’s water bailiff in 1537, or had entered upon it after a spell at Lincoln’s Inn from 1544, it is difficult to say, but the first alternative may be thought to accord better with his profession of merchant than the second. A similar doubt attaches to the close of his municipal career, for his son and namesake, who entered Lincoln’s Inn in 1561, could have succeeded him in some of his offices, although the probability that the younger man did not live at Yarmouth tells against this. On balance, it is reasonable to conclude that Echard served his native town for upwards of 40 years and that he had reached middle age when he was one of its representatives in Parliament. He had originally been elected with Sir William Woodhouse, by the agreement of ‘the whole assembly’, in February 1553, but that election was rescinded and an indirect manner of voting adopted by which Woodhouse and Nicholas Firmage were chosen. Whether this was a device to exclude Echard on political or religious grounds does not appear, but it was he who as bailiff was sent to Kenninghall on the following 9 July to learn ‘my Lady Marys ... grace’s pleasure’ with regard to a letter which she had sent to the town. Nothing is known of the part which he played in the proceedings of the Commons.3

Echard had not begun as a wealthy man, his contribution to the harbour fund of £3 6s.8d. in 1549 being less than those of many others of the Twenty-Four, and in the autumn of 1562 he suffered such ‘great losses by the sea’ that the town allowed him ten last of herrings ‘of the town part, coming out of his oasts [kilns]’. By then the corporation had evidently forgiven an episode in October 1557, when for his ‘contempt and evil demeanour’ in calling one of the bailiffs and others ‘thieves and false knaves, saying that they had stolen from him a crown of gold’, he had been committed to ward during the accused bailiff’s pleasure. No will or inquisition post mortem has been found, and the date of Echard’s death is unknown. The Cambridge scholar John Eachard and the historian Laurence Echard were among his descendants.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from marriage. E. Anglian Peds. (Harl Soc. xci), 61-63; Vis. Suff. (Harl. Soc. lxi), 62; PCC 2 Populwell, 35 Bakon, 37 Carew, 4 Drury.
  • 2. Gt. Yarmouth ass. bk. A, ff. 6, 7, 59v; B, ff. 37v, 88; rolls 1537-8, 1552-3; H. Manship, Gt. Yarmouth, 433; information from P. Rutledge.
  • 3. Black Bk. L. Inn, i. 372, 415, 458; PCC 4 Drury; Gt. Yarmouth ass. bk. A, ff. 67v, 68, 82, 108, 164, 171, 177, 191v; B, ff. 29v, 31; C. J. Palmer, Gt. Yarmouth, 197-8.
  • 4. H. Swinden, Gt. Yarmouth, 398n; Gt. Yarmouth ass. bk. A, f. 188; B, ff. 21, 38; DNB (Eachard, John; Echard, Laurence).