FISHER, John (fl.1613-1642).
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Family and Education
?unm. sig. John Fysher.
Gent. pens. by 1625-at least 1637.5
Described by the self-confessed puritan Thomas Scott* as a ‘renowned tobacconist, swearer, scoffer, cheater and lecher’ of no fixed abode,6 Fisher was nevertheless commended by the Privy Council in February 1613 for his dutiful service as muster-master of the Northamptonshire militia. He may have held this position until the death in February 1623 of the county’s lord lieutenant, Thomas Cecil†, 1st earl of Exeter. That same year William Frowde*, a servant of the earl of Montgomery (Sir Philip Herbert*) living in north Kent, bequeathed him £50 in his will.7 It may have been through Frowde that Fisher was introduced to Montgomery, the lord lieutenant for Kent, who in 1624 made him muster-master for Canterbury at an annual salary of £6. Canterbury’s corporation was then anxious to cultivate good relations with Montgomery in the hope of recovering its control of the city’s militia, which it had recently lost. Consequently, Fisher was warmly received: the mayor provided hospitality at his house costing 59s., while the corporation gave him a gratuity of £4.8
At the 1625 election, Canterbury’s corporation supported Fisher, now a gentleman pensioner, admitting him to the city’s freedom. Thomas Scott and Sir George Newman* allegedly received the most votes but were denied the poll and Fisher was returned for the first seat.9 Though he made no recorded impression on the Parliament, Fisher may have stood again in 1626.10 Certainly he was the aldermen’s first choice in February 1628, for although he did not succeed in recovering control of the militia for them he had, nevertheless, proved invaluable. One local preacher claimed that Fisher had ‘delivered us from the quo warranto, the commission of charitable uses, Sir John Wilde his being our captain, and the like dangers’, while Thomas Scott acknowledged that the city was ‘monstrously beholden unto him’.11 The corporation consequently laboured ‘tooth and nail’ on his behalf, ‘so as many, for very fear, promise for him, though they mutter at it’. Several puritan voters nevertheless told Fisher to his face that he was ‘a great blasphemer of the name of God’, and gave the mayor a piece of their mind ‘in plain English’.12 Despite rumours to the contrary, the aldermen’s support of Fisher did not waver even when Montgomery nominated James Palmer* rather than ‘his Fisherman’, but their efforts were to no avail.13
Fisher was still muster-master in July 1630, when he sought an advance of salary, but had been replaced by 1632.14 He was undoubtedly the same Capt. John Fisher who obtained a royal grant of the newly created office of muster-master of London in September 1635 and protested in January 1639 after the City refused to pay him a stipend comparable to the salary received by his Kent counterpart.15 Despite royal intervention, Fisher was still attempting to obtain a salary increase in 1641/2. Nothing else is certainly known about Fisher. The John Fisher who married Jane Long in St. Paul’s, Canterbury in 1643 was probably a namesake.16 Fisher should certainly not be confused with the royalist Colonel of the same name who owned estates in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.17
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Andrew Thrush
- 1. HMC Buccleuch, iii. 155-6, 217.
- 2. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, ff. 204, 339v; CC/AC/4, f. 6v.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1635, p. 378; 1641-3, pp. 152, 222.
- 4. Roll of Freemen of City of Canterbury comp. J.M. Cowper, 317.
- 5. LC2/6, f. 47v; Procs. 1628, vi. 129; CSP Dom. 1637-8, p. 29.
- 6. Procs. 1628, vi. 135; Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, f. 51.
- 7. PROB 11/142, f. 383v.
- 8. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/FA/23, f. 204.
- 9. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, U66, f. 4v.
- 10. Ibid. f. 33.
- 11. Procs. 1628, vi. 135.
- 12. Ibid. 129; Cent. Kent. Stud. U951/Z17/2.
- 13. Procs. 1628, vi. 132-3.
- 14. Canterbury Cathedral Archives, CC/AC/4, f. 6v.
- 15. CSP Dom. 1636-7, p. 276; PC2/50, pp. 13, 41, 302.
- 16. Regs. of St. Paul’s, Canterbury comp. J.M. Cowper, 153; Regs. of St. Dunstan’s, Canterbury comp. J.M. Cowper, 19.
- 17. For this officer, see P.R. Newman, Roy. Officers in Eng. and Wales, 131.