YOUNG, John (fl.1578-1613), of Chichester, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

m. 1s. sig. Jno Yonge.

Offices Held

Customer, Rye, Suss. by 1578-at least 1585,1 Chichester by 1586-?1594;2 ?dep. v.-adm. Suss. 1585-91;3 water-bailiff (jt.), Rye 1587-1610;4 commr. sewers, Suss. 1604.5

Searcher (jt.), illegal ordnance exports 1604-at least 1613.6


This Member’s identity is established by testimony given in the Court of Requests in February 1606 by Joan and Anthony Thomas, who complained that they had been unable to sue John Young of Chichester because he ‘was a burgess of the Parliament House for the time being’.7 His Rye constituents had described him at his election in 1604 as a resident,8 probably in order to satisfy the requirements of a recent royal Proclamation, although he had certainly once lived in Rye and still had business interests there.

Nothing is known of Young before January 1578, when his son Charles was baptized at Rye, at which time he was described as a customs official.9 In September 1581 he was accused of abusing his office as customer of Rye, but the charges evidently failed to stick, and by 1586 he had been promoted to customer of Chichester, the town that served as the local head port.10 He evidently prospered, and in the mid-1580s lent £100 to the water-bailiff of Rye, who was also named John Young (the son of another John Young (d.1566), whose election to Parliament for Rye in 1555 had been quashed by the lord warden of the Cinque Ports). The water-bailiff agreed to allow the debt to be recovered out of the profits of his office, and therefore temporarily relinquished custody of his patent, but after the money had been repaid Young refused to return the patent, claiming that the water-bailiff had made him an absolute grant of his office. The dispute was finally settled in January 1587 when, following the mediation of the mayor and jurats, the water-bailiff agreed to surrender his office to Young and his son Charles in return for an annuity of £40 for life. Young subsequently leased it out to Andrew Proctor and Richard Wowan for £200 p.a.11 It is not clear whether it was Young or the former water-bailiff who was appointed deputy vice admiral of Sussex by Sir William More† in November 1585. This man, whoever he was, behaved so discourteously towards More that in April 1588 his immediate dismissal was only prevented by the intervention of lord admiral Nottingham (Charles Howard†) and the judge of the Admiralty, Sir Julius Caesar*, both of whom were probably anxious not to throw the Admiralty administration in Sussex into disarray on the eve of the Armada campaign.12

Customs officials were barred from trading as private merchants, but Young was an unscrupulous figure who had already been accused of irregularity. Before the outbreak of war with Spain in 1585, and perhaps also afterwards, he and Thomas Fenner of Albourne, in Sussex, exported corn and ordnance to Spain, France and Flanders. Moreover, he seems to have owned at least three small ships, one of which was equipped for naval service during the Armada campaign, and was the part-owner of two more.13 By November 1593 he had quarrelled with Fenner, who accused him publicly of trading as a private merchant, of falsifying his accounts and of exporting goods without payment of duty.14 A court case ensued, and in February 1594 the exchequer official Thomas Fanshawe† urged that Young, who owed the queen more than £1,000 and was now languishing in the Gatehouse prison, should be discharged.15 Soon thereafter lord treasurer Burghley (William Cecil†), who had already ordered legal action to be taken against Young’s sureties, acted upon this recommendation.16

Young may have been the man of this name returned for New Shoreham in 1586, 1589 and 1597, for as customer of Chichester he maintained a deputy there.17 The circumstances which led him to seek election at Rye in 1604 are unknown, but he was probably the nominee of the new lord warden of the Cinque Ports, the earl of Northampton, whom he later seems to have regarded as his patron.18 The corporation evidently declined to pay him wages or contribute to his expenses.19 In the opening session Young was named to two committees, one of which was established to consider a measure to remedy abuses in the manufacture of starch (16 June). The other dealt with a bill to prevent abuses among the customs officers (5 May), a subject in which Young was unquestionably expert.20 On the instructions of the corporation, Young and his fellow Rye burgess, Thomas Hamon, also drafted a petition to the king, apparently in an attempt to secure help in repairing Rye’s decayed harbour.21 This petition evidently bore fruit, for in June a special sewer commission for preserving Rye’s haven was issued, to which both Young and Hamon were appointed. In 1605 Young was joined at Westminster by Richard Young, from whom he is not distinguished in the Commons Journal.

Shortly after the first session ended, Young and his son Charles were granted the right to collect the fines on the illegal export of ordnance by Joan Thomas, whose late husband Samuel had previously obtained letters patent authorizing him to prevent this trade. However, Young subsequently fell out with Joan and her son Anthony, and in February 1606, without the sanction of Parliament, he prosecuted them over the lease of a house in Greenwich.22 At around the same time, he appealed to lord treasurer Dorset (Thomas Sackville†) after it was claimed that he still owed the Crown £800 in unpaid customs duties. He produced warrants to show that in fact he owed nothing at all, as the cargoes concerned had been exported duty-free on the instructions of lord treasurer Burghley. However, Thomas Fanshawe, who had investigated Young’s earlier misconduct, was unable to establish the truth of this.23

It is not known whether the John Young who was granted a reversion to the portership of the great wardrobe in January 1608 was this Member.24 However, the man who wrote to Sir Julius Caesar nine months later regarding the engrossing and illegal export of corn certainly was, as Caesar’s endorsement makes clear.25 In May 1610 Young and his son Charles surrendered their office of water-bailiff of Rye. Six months later Young was among those to whom the Rye corporation wrote for assistance in procuring a bill for the improvement of their harbour.26

In 1613 an application from Lord Morley and his son Lord Mounteagle for a new patent to collect fines owed to the Crown seems to have threatened Young’s office as searcher for illegal ordnance exports, and he moved them ‘for the satisfaction of my debts’. They promised vaguely that he would be ‘well dealt withal, upon the passing of their grant’, but Young thought it necessary to write to Northampton on 20 July for ‘your lordship’s good favour therein’.27 In the following year a gentleman named John Young obtained a pass to travel overseas. 28 Nothing further is known of either Young or his family.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. E190/742/24; and see below.
  • 2. APC, 1586-7, p. 76; Lansd. 75, f. 206.
  • 3. Surr. Hist. Cent. LM1631/1, 2.
  • 4. REQ 2/134/57, no. 3; C66/1271/25.
  • 5. R.F. Dell, Recs. of Rye Corp. 89.
  • 6. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 164; 1611-18, p. 19; Cott. Vespasian C.XIV, f. 191.
  • 7. REQ 2/393/152.
  • 8. E. Suss. RO, RYE 1/7, f. 508.
  • 9. E. Suss. RO, Rye par. reg.
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 27; APC, 1586-7, p. 76.
  • 11. E. Suss. RO, RYE 1/5, f. 104v; REQ 2/134/57, no. 3; E134/36Eliz./Hil.20.
  • 12. HMC 7th Rep. 644.
  • 13. APC, 1590, p. 12; E134/36Eliz/Hil.20, depositions of Thomas Huntley and John Page.
  • 14. Lansd. 49, f. 38; E134/36Eliz/Hil.20. See also E133/10/1629, 1630.
  • 15. Lansd. 75, f. 206.
  • 16. HMC Hatfield, ix. 371; SP46/38, f. 370.
  • 17. E134/36Eliz/Hil.20, deposition of Thomas Huntley.
  • 18. For his relationship with Northampton, see Cott. Vespasian C.XIV, f. 191.
  • 19. E. Suss. RO, RYE 1/7, ff. 507v-8.
  • 20. CJ, i. 199a, 243b.
  • 21. E. Suss. RO, RYE 1/7, f. 509v.
  • 22. REQ 2/393/152; SP14/62/46.
  • 23. SP46/164, f. 26.
  • 24. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 396.
  • 25. Lansd. 168, ff. 48, 49v.
  • 26. HMC 13th Rep. IV, 146.
  • 27. Cott. Vespasian C.XIV, f. 191.
  • 28. APC, 1613-14, p. 526.