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ii. John Pyel


John Pyel was a Northamptonshire man from the village of Irthling-borough, lying on the upper bank of the River Nene four miles northeast of Wellingborough. Situated on the principal trade route from Northampton to Peterborough, and indeed to the port of King's Lynn, the village was well-placed to transport commercial produce, which in the fourteenth century consisted principally of hides for the leather industry and wool. The surrounding area was also likely to have been rich in cereals and other arable crops. John Pyel inherited a plot of land in the village from his father, John senior, in 1348, and, although by now settled in London, he began from about this date to build up an extensive estate in this part of Northamptonshire. He certainly showed special concern for Irthlingborough. It was at his prompting that Peterborough abbey was granted a licence in 1375 to establish the parish church of St Peter as a college and it was to St Peter's that he granted the remainder of his estate and in its porch that he was to be buried. He also made bequests in his will to both parish churches in the village and provided for thirteen crosses to be set up there and for repairs to the bridge and highways.

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104 P103.

105 CPR 1374–7, 72; Pyel's will, Register of John Buckingham, for. 244r-245v. See also the earlier and much shorter will enrolled in the Court of Husting, CLRO HR 110/117. The second parish in Irthlingborough was that of All Saints, considerably smaller than St Peters's, with a dwindling number of parishioners to support it. The church, which was in ruins by the middle of the sixteenth century, was situated next to the manor house of Bataille fee, one of the two fees of Irthlingborough manor held by John Pyel, which was probably his residence there (VCH Northampton iii, ed. Page, William (London, 1930), 207).

106 Register of John Buckingham fo. 245r; VCH Northampton iii, 208.

107 Carte Nativorum: A Peterborough Abbey Cartulary, ed. C.N.L. Brooke and M.M. Postan (Northants. Record Society xx, 1969), nos. 65–68, 389.

108 Ibid., xxxvi.

109 See Holt, Richard, The Mills of Medieval England (Oxford, 1988), 77–8. Pyel must either have farmed the mill from Peterborough abbey, or have been an independent mill-owner (ibid., 54–69). In the latter case, the abbey evidently regained control of the mill by 1321.

110 Register of Geoffrey of Crowland, abbot 1299–1321, ‘The White Book’, BL Cotton Ms. Vespasian E xxii, fo. 70; the Book of Walter of Whittlesey, BL Add. Ms. 39758, fos 123v-124.

111 Bolton, J.L., The Medieval English Economy 1150–1500 (London, 1980), 58, 182–3; King, Edmund, Peterborough Abbey 1086–1310: A Study in the Land Market (Cambridge, 1973), 120–1.

112 NRO Fitzwilliam Misc. 2388, 2389. These are account rolls for the years 1300–1 and 1309–10. The first shows manorial revenues for Irthlingborough at £29 19s 7d, the second at the much lower level of £13 7s 6d, but additionally shows a substantial farm of £15 4s 8d, making a total of £28 12s 2d. This suggests that as much as half the demesne or more of a decade earlier had been farmed out.

113 Edmund King observes the growth of entrepreneurship among abbey tenants at the end of the thirteenth and in the early fourteenth centuries, and cites two examples of tenants of abbey land in Irthlingborough at this time increasing their holdings and building on land probably for the purposes of leasing on the village land market. These men were likely to have been substantial freeholders or already possessed of customary land, a category of tenant the Pyels might well have belonged to (Peterborough Abbey, 119–21).

114 VCH Northampton iii, 208; PRO Feet of Fines CP25(1) 176/687 no. 169; P111, 112.

115 CPR 1313–7, 582; 1317–21, 82.

116 Northamptonshire Sessions Rolls 1314–16, 1320 (Northants. Record Society, xi, 1940), 13.

117 VCH Northampton iv, ed. Salzman, L.F. (London, 1937), 192.

118 CPP i, 253; CPL iii, 499. A list of the prebends of Southwell and their assessments for tax was given in the Pyel cartulary (fo. 116v).

119 Emden, A.B., Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 vols. (Oxford 19571959) iii, 1481; CPL iv, 72, 77.

120 Le Neve, John, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300–1541, i (Lincoln Diocese), compiled by H.P.F. King (London, 1962), 11; Register of John Buckingham, f. 179.

121 Either St Peter's, where Pyel himself was to be buried, or All Saints, adjacent to the manor house.

122 P111, 152, 62.

123 In his will Pyel left liturgical texts, mostly breviaries, missals and psalters, and a bible to both parish churches and to the college when it was completed. He left his other books of an unspecified nature to the college. Nicholas Orme believes that the merchant class was being drawn towards works of literature in leisure hours. The commonest books to survive in townsmen's wills were, however, liturgical or other devotional works and of the twenty-three books which William Walworth bequeathed in his will, most were works of theology or canon law (English Schools in the Middle Ages (London, 1973), 46).

124 Sir Thomas Wake of Blisworth. See below, 2(i).

125 CFR 1337–47, 464.

126 CLRO Letter Book F, fo. cxxi–cxxii.

127 John de Wesenham, merchant of King's Lynn, had moved the base of his operations from Norfolk, where, in 1339, he was bailiff of three hundreds, to London, probably in the early 1340s, where he became a citizen and worked closely with the royal household (CFR 1337–47, 123). He held the farm of the customs from March to October 1346, was king's butler 1346–9 and collector of the customs on cloth and wine (Fryde, E.B., Studies in Medieval Trade and Finance, X 34, PRO Butlerage Accounts, CFR 1347–56, 28, 30). He was described as the king's merchant and appointed to take delivery of wool granted to the king by the county of Suffolk in 1347 (ibid., 12). In 1351 he was warden of the king's exchanges and was appointed keeper of the temporalities of Ely in 1358 (CCR 1349–54,378;1354–60, 392). In 1364 he was arrested in Calais, where he had been mayor, had all his goods there confiscated and was taken back to England as mainpernor to Henry Brusele and John Chichester, assayers of the king's money, who had failed to carry out their duties satisfactorily. He was released in 1365 and probably died shortly afterwards (CFR 1356–68, 287; CCR 1364–8, 128).

128 CCR 1346–9, 166, 173. It seems that the losses occurred when Wesenham had control of the customs, and that he had allegedly misspent the proceeds from a tax of is a sack, which was granted to pay for the protection of shipping (Lloyd, T.H., The English Wool Trade in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, 1977), 202). In the event the Crown absolved Wesenham from liability, but the fact that Pyel was also sued shows how closely he was working with Wesenham's company.

129 For the account of Pyel's engagement with the customs farmers and his subsequent difficulties see O'Connor, , ‘Finance, Diplomacy and Polities’.

130 Above, 1 (i). Sulby abbey lay on the western boundaries of Northamptonshire, near the border with Leicestershire. In the thirteenth century it was granted the church and manor of Sulby, which comprised more than 1,500 acres of land. Sulby abbey also possessed some land in Irthlingborough and held the advowsons of several churches in the county, including Little Addington, one of the churches later patronised by John Pyel, of which the canons also acquired the manor from Peterborough abbey in 1300. At the dissolution the gross annual value of the abbey was £305 8s 5d (VCH Northampton ii, ed. Serjeantson, R.M. and Ryland, W., Adkins, D. (London, 1906), 138–9; Henry Pytchley's Book of Fees, ed., Mellows, W.T. (Northamptonshire Record Society, ii, 1927), 75).

131 Lloyd, , English Wool Trade, 289–93.

132 Power, Eileen, The Wool Trade in Medieval English History (Oxford, 1941), 43.

133 CPR 1354–8, 205.

134 P82, 116.

135 LBF, 149; P7; PRO Wardrobe Accounts E101/390/9.

136 Postan, M.M., ‘Partnership in English Medieval Commerce’ in Medieval Trade and Finance (Cambridge, 1973), 6591.

137 For John Curteys see above, n.22.

138 CPR 1370–74, 35.

139 CPR 1367–70, 363, 369.

140 CPR 1350–54, 353.

141 Letters of the Mayors of London, 1350–70, 127, CPR 1370–74, 200.

142 Childs, Wendy, Anglo-Castilian Trade in the Later Middle Ages (Manchester, 1978), 30–2.

143 O'Connor, , ‘Finance, Diplomacy and Polities’, Table 2.

144 P27; CCA 1349–54, 505.

145 The hospital continued to suffer economic depression for the duration of the century and, in 1400, the chapter granted quit-rents in return for a payment of 300 marks ‘for the relief of their house, heavily burdened with debt’ (VCH London i, 532).

146 CCR 1346–49, 615; 1349–54, 144. Henry Brusele was John Pyel's successor at the king's exchanges in May 1355.

147 Below, 2 (i).

148 CPR 1358–61, 433.

149 Beaven, , i, 389.

150 CLRO Husting Rolls HR 102/190. Adam Fraunceys acquired this property before 30 July 1369 and may have leased it to Pyel shortly afterwards (HR 97/109).

151 Register of John Buckingham, fo. 244v.

152 Saul, N. E., Scenes from Provincial Life: Knightly Families in Sussex 1280–1400 (Oxford, 1986), 63, 184 and n.

153 ‘ie maffie en lui et en son loiautee de foy devant touz autres.’

154 On Gaunt's relations with London see Nightingale, , ‘Capitalists, Crafts and Constitutional Change’, esp. 2024.

155 CLRO Rusting Rolls, HR 103/24, 97; 101/67.

156 Beaven, , i, 387; Thrupp, , Merchant Class, 367.

157 CCR 1360–64, 302, 322.

158 HR 101/67.

159 Pyel also joined John Stodeye's brother, William, in standing surety for Henry Brusele and Thomas Ferrers in January 1362 (CCA 1360–64, 301).

160 Holt was steward of John of Gaunt's manor of Higham Ferrers and an eminent lawyer. John Hadley originated from the village of Hadleigh in Suffolk, where he endowed a chantry for his parents and relatives and, like Pyel, bequeathed money for poor relations in the locality although he seems to have left no lands there (Thrupp, , 347).

161 CLRO HR 110/117.

162 These terms were fulfilled rather earlier than stipulated when Simon Symeon and John Curteys of Wemington granted to Joan 50 marks annual rental from lands which they held of Henry Pyel (CCR 1385–9, 143).

163 Henry Pyel also left her £10 in his will. There is no other reference to Margaret Joye.

164 Above 1 (i).

165 Letters of the Mayors of London 1350–70, 107.

166 Malwayn was well-known to Fraunceys, since they had made joint loans, and Fraunceys acted as surety for Malwayn when he was granted the guardianship of Nicholas Mokkynge in 1354, and to secure his release from prison in 1357 (CCR 1349–54, 504; 1354–60, 389; LBG, 52).

167 CPR 1361–64, 544. The main target for these attacks seems to have been John of Gaunt. See O'Connor, , ‘Finance, Diplomacy and Polities’, and Goodman, Anthony, John of Gaunt: the Exercise of Princely Power in Fourteenth-Century Europe, (London, 1992), 330.

168 The Campions were an old Irthlingborough family (Carte Nativorum, no. 555). John Campion was associated in the purchase of some land in and around the Addingtons, Northants., in 1351, for which Pyel alone paid (P107).

169 For fuller discussion of this point, see O'Connor, , ‘Fraunceys and Pyel: perceptions of status’.

170 CPP i, 152; CPL iii, 559.

171 Dugdale, W., Monasticon Anglicanum, ed. Caley, J., Ellis, H. and Bandinel, B., 6 vols. (London, 18151830), vi, 1384–5.

172 McHardy, A.K., The Church in Landen 1375–1392 (London Record Society, xiii, 1977), 74.

173 Lambeth Palace, Episcopal Register of Thomas Arundel ii, f. 161.

174 For a fuller description of the life of Joan Pyel, see Barron, C.M. and Sutton, Anne, eds., Widows of Medieval London c.1300–c.1500 (forthcoming).

175 CCR 1385–9, 144.

176 VCH Northampton iii, 256. Register of William Genge, abbot of Peterborough, BL Add. Ms. 25288, fo. 44d.

177 Reg. William Genge, fo. 8v.

178 Pyel Cartulary, fo. 3v. John Hadley, Thomas Rede and Roger Lychefeld were granted the farm of Cranford manor March 1405, by letter patent dated Michaelmas 1404 (CPR 1405–8, 121). Roger Lychefeld held court there in May 1405 and November 1407, although by 1409 the court at Cranford was held by William Hoddleston, first husband of Elizabeth Pyel, Nicholas's daughter (NRO Court Rolls for Cranford BQ, 13.61).

179 CIMisc., vii, 179; Reg. William Genge, fos. 10r, 44v. John Pyel was a minor in 1406, according to the register, but does not reappear after that date.

180 VCH Northants iii, 208–9, 256.

181 Ibid., 256.

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