The Lansdowne MS list of aldermen, 1285-1320

Pages 238-239

The Aldermen of the City of London Temp. Henry III - 1912. Originally published by Corporation of the City of London, London, 1908.

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In the Lansdowne MS. 558 (British Museum) there is a list of Aldermen of each Ward (except Cornhill, which is omitted), for the period between the Iter of 1285 and that of 1320. No dates are given, but the names appear to be intended to be arranged in chronological order. There are some differences between these lists and those given in the preceding pages of this work, but in almost every instance the evidence of the attendances recorded in the Letter Books and of the attestations to deeds enrolled in the Court of Hustings shows that the Lansdowne MS. is in error, and reduces its authority to a minimum in the one or two cases of discrepancy where the proof is not so overwhelming.

In the following Wards the names and order of succession in the Lansdowne MS. coincide with those I have given, viz: Aldersgate, Cheap, Cordwainer, Cripplegate, Dowgate, Tower.

The variations are as follow:—

Aldgate MS. omits Hallingberi and Pourte, making Sely follow W. de Hereford.
[Hallingberi is recorded as acting for this Ward in H.R. 27 (11), (109), (120), 28 (16) (33), and Pourte in 29 (91), 30 (8).]
Bassishaw MS. omits R. de Gloucester, Refham and Gisors and inserts John de Nottingham between Blund and Lincoln.
[R. de Gloucester is found acting for this Ward in H.R. 25 (16), 29 (8), and Refham's election is recorded in Chronicle of Edward I. and II., i, 104. My reasons for placing Gisors here are given in note A, p. 21. "John de Nottingham" is probably the "John de Norhamton son of John de Nottingham," whom I have assigned to Bishopsgate. Gloucester was certainly Alderman of Bassishaw both in 1296 and 1300, whereas Norhamton appears amongst the Aldermen only in 1298 and 1299.]
Billingsgate MS. omits Russell and Pourte, and gives us the names to fill the interval between Cros who died in 1299 and Drury whose name appears for the first time in 1308.
[There is evidence for Russell in H.R. 27 (134), 28 (40) (68), 31 (34), and for Pourte in H.R. 31 (67), 32 (23) (30) (39) (63), 34 (21) (81), 35 (74) (94).]
Bishopsgate MS. omits John de Norhamton and substitutes Stephen de Cornhulle.
[Cornhulle is not found as an Alderman anywhere, in either the Letter Books or the Husting Rolls. A person of this name was Sheriff as far back as 1294–5, but he died about 1295, his will being enrolled on March 14, 1295 [H.R. 24 (49)] whereas Bole, whom he is represented as succeeding, was present continuously at the Court of Aldermen up to 1298. My reasons for placing Norhamton here are given in Note A, p. 43.]
Bread Street MS. transposes Dureme and Betevile, which is clearly impossible, as is proved by the dates both of attendances and death in each case. It also omits le Blund who is found acting for this Ward in H.R. 23 (9) (42), 25 (22), 26 (27), 27 (99).
Bridge MS. inserts H. Pourte between Fulham and Conduit.
[Fulham is found acting for this Ward in 1306 and 1307 in H.R. 34 (2), and 35 (95), and Conduit in the latter year in H.R. 37 (16). Pourte was acting for Billingsgate as late as July 17, 1307 [H.R. 35 (34)] and died before November 13, in the same year.]
Broad Street MS. omits S. de Abyndon, who is found acting for this Ward in H.R. 46 (23), 47 (23), and gives no other name to supply the interval between Trente's death in 1316 and Nasard's election in 1318.
Candlewick MS. omits Wengrave who is found acting for this Ward in H.R. 32 (47) (48) and 35 (1), and gives no other name to supply the interval between G. de Northampton's death in 1302 or 1303, and the first attendance of Bolet in 1307.
Castle Baynard MS. inserts Robert de Basyng between Edelmeton and Aswy.
[This is possibly correct, but there is no other evidence for it. Basyng was a member of the Court of Aldermen as early as March 9, 1282, and is not definitely mentioned as serving for Candlewick till November, 1283. Edelmeton died before March 4, 1280 and Aswy does not appear before March 27, 1284. Basyng may therefore have been Alderman of Castle Baynard before going to Candlewick; on the other hand there is no mention of his predecessor in Candlewick later than October 14, 1280.]
Coleman Street MS. puts Russell before Fitz Peter and W. Hauteyn, and omits N. Hauteyn, whose tenure was so brief that he might easily be overlooked.
[Fitz Peter died in 1290; W. Hauteyn is recorded as acting for this Ward in 1290 and 1291 [H.R. 19 (76), 20 (93)] and Russell does not appear as an Alderman before 1293.]
Farringdon MS. omits R. le Fevre, whose tenure of the Aldermanry was brief.
Langbourn MS. omits A. de Rokesle, Refham (bis), and Armentiers.
[A. de Rokesle is found acting for this Ward in H.R. 23 (83), 24 (66), 28 (1); Refham in H.R. 27 (131), 28 (43), 29 (22), 34 (69), (95), 36 (12), (54), and Armentiers in H.R. 30 (4), 33 (37)]
Lime Street MS. omits W. de Rokesle and T. Sely (See Notes A and B, page 178).
Queenhithe MS. omits R. de Chigwell, whose tenure of the Aldermanry was brief.
Vintry MS. alters the order of the first three names to Wade, Gisors senior, Coventre.
[The dates given on page 205 clearly show that this is an error.]
Walbrook MS. omits Wengrave, who is recorded as acting for this Ward in H.R. 36 (67).

The MS. has been quoted as an authority by Mr. Loftie, Mr. Riley and others; I have, therefore, thought it desirable to point out the evidence on which I have felt myself justified in disregarding it. There can, I think, be little doubt, that it was compiled to a great extent from memory without first-hand official documents whereby to correct it. Indeed it is difficult to see how such a list could be made out with accuracy except by a thorough examination and comparison of the Letter Books and Husting Rolls for that special object—a somewhat lengthy and arduous task which has apparently never before been undertaken.

The earliest known lists of Aldermen with the names of their respective Wards belong to the period covered by the Lansdowne MS. list. They are found respectively in (i.) Letter Book A, fo. 116 [Dr. Sharpe's Calendar, page 209] (ii.) Letter Book C, fo. 6 (xxx.) [Calendar, page 12] and (iii.) Letter Book E, fo. 104 b [Calendar, page 124]. Dr. Sharpe has printed all of them as an appendix to vol. i. of his Calendar of Wills (Court of Husting) pp. 702–704. The date of (ii.) is June 16, 1293 (Tuesday before St. Botolph, 21 Edw. I.): that of (iii) is 1319–20; it relates to the sums levied on each Ward towards the twelfth voted by Parliament to the King in 1319 and immediately follows the entry of a writ addressed to the Assessors and dated January 28, 1320. The earlist list is undated; it probably should be assigned to the year 1285, and certainly to somewhere between October, 1284 and March, 1287, this being proved by the fact that the predecessors of T. Box and M. Box who are named in it as Aldermen of Walbrook and Cornhill respectively were acting at the former whilst J. de Northampton, who appears as Alderman of Aldgate, had been succeeded by W. de Hereford before the latter of these dates. [In his footnote to Letter Book A, p. 11, Dr. Sharpe has inadvertently given February, 1286 as the date in H.R. 17 (22); it should be March 3, 1287 (Monday after St. Matthias, 15 Edw. I).] In all the three lists the Alderman of Portsoken is given as "Prior of Holy Trinity" without his personal name. The earliest list gives all the Wards, that in Letter Book C omits the Aldermen of Billingsgate and Cheap; that in E, Broad Street. Aldgate is called "Alegate" in all, as was usual at that time; Langbourn is written "Langeford" in the first, Broad Street is "Londingberi" in the first, "Lotheberi, now called Bradestrate" in the second. Farringdon is "Lodgate" (or Ludgate) "and Neugate" in the two first, "Farndon Infra" "Farndon Extra" in the third.

Another list of Aldermen (without the names of their respective Wards) appears on a scrap of parchment preserved at the Exchequer ("Q. R. Ancient Miscellanea 188/7"); it is undated and contains 21 names, omitting the Prior of Holy Trinity and two other Aldermen. It clearly belongs to the period between January and June 1293; the names given (with some variations of spelling) are those of S. Eswy, H. le Waleys, J. de Banquell, R. de Basing, W. de Hereford, W. le Mazeliner, J. de Canterbury, M. Box, R. de Rokesle, R. le Blund, W. de Farndon, J. le Blund, W. de Betoyne, T. de Estanes, J. de Gisors, H. le Bole, E. Russell, A. de Foleham, R. Eswy, T. Box, W. de Finchingfeld. The Aldermanries of Billingsgate and Langbourn appear to have been vacant. The names correspond with those elected on June 16, 1293, as given in the list in Letter Book C, except in the absence of any Aldermen for these two Wards, and in the inclusion of T. Box and W. de Farndone who are there replaced by J. de Dunstaple and N, de Farndone.