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Prentice Family History: Bury St. Edmunds & Sudbury

Newsletter Editor
Prentice Family History: Bury St. Edmunds & Sudbury
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Esq., J. D., Newsletter Editor
Spring 2017 and Revised 6 Feb 2017

Important: If you have any information about the folks mentioned in this article, please do the following: (1) Send your information to us at the Prentice Newsletter. Be sure to give the full title and date of this article in the Subject line of the email, and also (2) Add your comment to "Comments" in the section, below, immediately following this article.


Caution: We received the information in this article from Ian Prentice's email of 1 Feb 2017. It is entirely his own investigation. Some descendant information is not entirely documented and in those instances we have used words for such descendants such as "perhaps", "probably", or other qualifying information. All relatonships in the article should be treated only as investigative leads requiring independent confirmation.

Prentices were quite well spread throughout East Anglia from the time of the earliest surviving records; how many of them were related though is impossible to say with any certainty. Given that the name means either ‘someone who has completed an apprenticeship’ or ‘someone who has apprentices working for him’ the name would have been used to describe completely unrelated people in different centres of trade throughout the country from the thirteenth century onwards. However, a very successful family business operating in say London, Bury St. Edmunds and Norwich would result in a scattered family group with the same surname.

Especially in earlier centuries, however, it was very common for families to move freely within a radius of some thirty miles making such links all-the more probable.

The earliest reference to a Prentice is Adam Prentyz: he and his wife Margery and daughter Alexander (Alexandra) of Hurlton (Slarisbrick with Hurlton near Wigan, Lancashire) were granted 2 acres of Arable land on Wkedoune in the field of Bruton (near Shepton Mallett , Somerset) by Jocelyn Power of Bryuton or Bruton. In 1320, Roger Hurltun granted Stephen, son of Adam Prentuc and his heirs for homage and service a portion of his territory in Hurlton, viz the Weterinis in Lancashire. In 1260 Brother Nicholas gave land adjoining the land which Roger, son of Adam Prentnut had of Walter Scharesbree and Roger of Hulton under Eykeschou in Lancashire. Roger quitclaimed this land later that year. The documents relating to these individuals are held in the National Archives, Kew, London.

Lancashire is curiously the earliest recorded location of a Prentice although none were recorded there in the fourteenth century and the most common location for the surname was East Anglia.

One of the most wealthy and powerful group of early Prentices lived in Wiggenhall St. Mary Magdalene, Norfolk and is described in Appendix One. The earliest recorded Prentice here was Henry who was accused of theft in 1342 and it seems very probably that he is descended from his namesakes who were Burghers (or merchants and respectable citizens) in Boston, Lincolnshire: the earliest member of this family I have traced is John who was alive in 1298 and had two sons, John who was Bailiff there and had died by 1368 (leaving a son John who was also Bailiff in 1384) and younger son William who was alive in 1348.

Kings Lynn was one of the principal ports in the country in medieval times, especially for wool exports and there was an established commercial route from Bury St. Edmunds so it is quite possible that there were business or even family relationships with families in Suffolk. One of the earliest recorded Prentices in London, Thomas, was a well-to-do Wool Merchant in 1292, Chamberlain of the Guildhall in 1319, Alderman and member of Parliament in 1321 and he may also be related.

The earliest surviving Subsidy Return for 1327 lists four Prentices in Suffolk: John, a Weaver of Sudbury taxed 5 shillings who was probably the eldest son of Henry whose details are given later in this section; John of Great Livermere taxed 4 shillings; John of Nayland 2 shillings; and William of Assington near Sudbury, not far from Lavenham, 18 pence. In the 1381 Poll Tax Return there are listed: John of Combs, near Stowmarket, 12 pence, Amicia of Langham, near Walsham Le Willows, (widow of John the Younger below) 2 shillings with her servant Agnes; and John a Sutor (shoemaker or hosier) of Hadleigh whose dues are not recorded.

Incidentally, a Yeoman was a member of the social class below that of a Knight, a tenant farmer who could be more wealthy than a Gentleman. The title 'Gentleman' described a man eligible to bear arms by right, being of good breeding, and included barons and knights.

A pightel, which is variously spelt in the manorial records and wills, is a small enclosure of land which might include a tenement, or house, or simply a number of parcels of land.

A mark was worth 13s. 4d. and a groat 4d. £1 in 1300 would have been worth over £550 nowadays. To become a Merchant you had to be a Guildsman which meant handing over a gold noble, which at today’s value would be equivalent to almost £700. The Guild took the money and the Merchant got his ticket to trade. In Medieval times, the largest and most important port was London, followed by Boston with Bristol not very far behind.


Table of Contents

  1. John Prentyz, b. c. 1275-1280, Bury St. Edmunds, Children:
    1. Robert Prentyz
    2. John Prentyz the younger. Sons:
      1. John Prentout/Prentost, b. c. 1345,
        1. Walter Prentice, b. c. 1370
        2. Agnes Prentice . She m. Mr. Somersoul who d. before 1423 too. They had a son:
          1. \William Somersoul to whom John left money in his will.
        3. (Missing. John Prentice?)
        4. Alice Prentice. She m. Thomas Ridell,
        5. Simon Prentice. He m. Joan.
  2. Gilbert Prentice. Children:
    1. Perhaps John Prentice of Sutton Valence in Kent.
    2. Perhaps son or grandson, Gilbert Prentice of nearby Shadingfield
  3. Henry Prentice, b. c. 1270, lived in Sudbury with his wife Alice. Children:
    1. John Prentice He m. Sarah. Perhaps children:
      1. Henry Prentice
      2. Thomas Prentice
        1. Thomas Prentice. He m. Catherine who died a widow of Sudbury in 1443. Children:
          1. Alexander Prentice
          2. Agnes Prentice
      3. John
        1. Probably Adam. He m. Margery who died in 1475. There were two daughters but no living male heirs.
        2. Perhaps George Prentice in Sudbury, a Shopkeeper who married Cicily; George died in 1494 and his widow died in 1495. They left wills but the only named children were:
          1. Agnes Prentice.
          2. Margaret Prentice, so this Prentice seems to have line died out.
          3. No known male children.
    2. (perhaps) Thomas Prentice

  4. (perhaps) Walter Prentice. Died 1344.
    1. Robert Prentice
    2. Walter Prentice
    3. (perhaps) Richard Prentice
    4. Gilbert Prentice
    5. (perhaps) John Prentice

The ancestors of the Palgrave Prentices came from Bury St. Edmunds and Sudbury and the earliest known ancestor were:

  1. John Prentyz aka John the Elder, b. c. 1275-1280, Bury St. Edmunds, a Merchant, who was living in a tenement or property on Baxsteris (Baxter) Street prior to the Rental being carried out there in 1295. Fortunately there is a record in the Bury St. Edmunds Charters and Deeds of a gift made by him and his brother Gilbert of 6 marks to the Abbot of Bury St. Edmunds dated 5th. August, 1295, a little later than the rental. Gilbert, whose name appears first, perhaps implies that he was the elder brother; he was of Mersea in Essex and John of Sudbury which would have been his previous home. By 1319 he was styled John Merchant and Burgher of Bury St. Edmunds and included in an entry in the Patent Rolls for 25th. October, 1319 of a complaint by Robert de Foxton, the King’s Clerk, that when engaged on the King’s service he was approaching the town of Bury St. Edmunds and wished to tarry in a house there, Richard, Abbot of St. Edmunds and others including John Prentiz, ‘mercer’, or Merchant, called the attackers together by ringing the bells of the town and plotted the death of the said Richard de Foxton. He escaped with difficulty. The complaint was heard in the Court of Chancery. It appears that the actual events occurred in 1316.

    John would have been born in about 1275 to 1280 and may well have lived out his life in Bury St. Edmunds although he probably spent time in London where his son John married Amicia Walsshe. He was certainly living in Bury St. Edmunds in 1328 when his son was tried for treason and ultimately pardoned and again in 1341 when his son was called John the Younger in a grant of land.

    It seems likely that John and his brothers Gilbert and Henry were born in Sudbury but their parents must have either moved away or have died before the first surviving manorial record of 1312.

    His sons were:

    1. Robert Prentice who held 35 acres in Palgrave in 1328 and was valued at 2s. 4d. in a rental some time before 1342. His details and the family tree descending from him follow in the section on Prentices of Palgrave;
    2. John Prentice the Younger, his son, would have been born in about 1305 to 1310 and in 1327 he might have been living in Great Livermere to the north of Bury St. Edmunds though this was possible another John who was assessed at 4s. in the Subsidy Roll. In the same year John Prentiz the Younger, son of the John mentioned above, with others, besieged the Abbey and carried away gold and other property: the complaint by the Bishop of Bury St. Edmunds was again recorded in the Patent Rolls. Curiously, a small carved ivory ornament found its way to America reputedly from the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds from where it was stolen about this time and is now in a museum in New York. The most likely 'carrier' was one of the Golding Prentice family who emigrated in the 1600s, which suggests that they too may be related to John of Bury St. Edmunds, thus distantly related to the family line in Palgrave. A contemporary document describes the riot as follows in summarised form:

      'In the twentieth year of the reign of Edward II, the first day of March in the feast of Epiphany John Fraunceys, Walter Hugin, Johannes Prentyz and others conspired to destroy the Abbey. About 3,000 people broke in to the convent and began to demolish it. The uprising was not finally quelled until October and was composed of what were described as villeins and disorderly persons egged on by some of the rioters from London. The rioters were imprisoned and some were executed but there is no mention of what happened to John Prentys.'

      In about 1328 he stole a horse and unspecified goods from the Abbot of St. Edmunds in consequence of which he was outlawed (Parliamentary Petition SC 8/86 no. 3351 and 3352 at the National Archives in Kew). This document is written in a mixture of abbreviated Medieval Latin and French and is incredibly difficult to read. It is a petition by John Prentiz to Richard de Bury for him to show it to the King to pass judgement on his request for a pardon for his outlawry and promising to stand to right in court for these felonies and is dated 24th. October, 1327. My best effort at translation is:

      'To the Lord the King etc. ... Johan Prentys the Younger who is appearing before his Lord for his crimes and treason … the hearing of which is in Chancery in words of witnesses. John Prentys Junior says and appears for himself that he himself at the same time with other malefactors gathered themselves as men of arms and other men so … who … made against the incumbent Abbot of St. Edmunds … held to the same places of the Abbey at the place of the said Abbot and lords of the said Abbot in the place aforesaid Bury St. Edmunds, Pakenham, Rougham, Eldhawe, Horningsheath, Newton, Whepstead, Weteley, Risby, Ingham, Fornham, Redwell and Aberdon (Essex) burnt timber and stole horses and sheep cows pigs… and other goods and chattels of the said Abbot and Abbey lying in the aforesaid lands … felonies took and abducted and carried away and other wrongs and deeds and … the same … in contempt of the Lord King and against his peace … to God … in his … felonies …. In the King's court and Great Council advice … to the King does not aforesaid … and no other Lord … each … of the grace of the King … in despite of the law …. or other '

      The Great Council’s advice in November, 1327 would thus seem to be against any sort of pardon but there does not seem to be a record of whether the King acted on this advice or not. However punishment for at least most of the rioters was meted out in a large fine so it may well be that the punishment of outlawry was revoked when the fine was imposed. However, John certainly did continue his life to a good old age. In 1341 a grant was made by Nicholas Kemesynge to John Aleyn, Robert Roper and John Prentiz the Younger of all his lands etc. which belonged formerly to William de Suttone. (mentioned in Copinger’s Suffolk Records and Manuscripts). However, there is no mention of where these lands were.

      There was a complaint in court on 23rd. August, 1342 by Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford that men including John Prentiz carried away his goods at Lavenham and assaulted his servants and it seems possibile that this was John the Younger. A reference for 1346 states that John and Sarah, his wife, inherited 2 acres of land in Bulmer and Middleton, just outside Sudbury, although this probably refers to Henry’s son John of Sudbury. He also held freehold land in Walsham le Willows: according to a record held in Bury St. Edmunds Record Office (FL646/n/2) he was gifted 2 acres there in 1351. From the records of Walsham, it is clear that he never lived there although his wife Amicia was recorded as living in nearby Langham in 1381.

      It is quite possible that he moved away from Bury St. Edmunds in the aftermath of his threatened banishment and might have lived temporarily in Great Livermere in 1327 when the Subsidy Return was taken, being assessed at 4s. or he might have moved to Sudbury. However, he had moved away to Kingston on Thames by 1332 where he was assessed at 5s. and probably used his house there as a base for his work in London; as is clear from the wills of his sons John and Simon, they had various properties in Surrey quite close to Kingston. He is recorded as having land in Kingston on Thames in 1356 and 1361 when he was one of the witnesses to two gifts of deed copies of which are held by Kingston Museum and Heritage service. This suggests that most of his property was now to the south of London but presumably he must have worked as a Merchant in London itself.

      In the Bishop’s Register 1313 – 1548 for the Diocese of London there is reference to John Prentyz making a quitclaim by John de Hardyman and John Prentyz supervisor and executor of the will of Richard Lacer of the city of London (his father was Sheriff of London from 1329) and Alice wife of William Byuyn, Knight, and Katherine wife of John ate Pole of Shoreditch, daughters of William (no. 16, 848 with the seal of John intact). It is very unlikely that this was John the Younger.

      He must have spent some time in London, presumably in his role as a Merchant since he married Amicia, the daughter of John and Margaret Walsshe who died in 1384 leaving a will. He was a Goldsmith of St. Swithins, London and his will reads:

      “To be buried in the church of S. Swithun de Candelwykestrete near Margaret his late wife. Bequests to the church of S. Swithun, the light of the beam, its ministers, &c., the work of the belfry of the church of S. John Zacary and ministers of the same church, and to the mendicant friars in London for saying Placebo and Dirige on the eve of his burial, and for a trental of masses by each order on the day following. To Sir William Salesbury, chaplain, he leaves his leasehold interest in a shop in Westchepe in the parish of S. Matthew in Fridaystrete. To Agnes his wife a tenement in the parish of S. Swithun aforesaid for life; remainder to John, son of John Prentice and of Amicia, wife of the same, daughter of the aforesaid Margaret, in tail; remainder to the Fraternity of H. Trinity in the church of S. Mary de Abbecherche for the good of his soul, and the souls of Margaret his late wife and others. Also to John Prentice, Draper, houses and a shop in the parish of S. Swithun, charged with the maintenance of a chantry priest in the said parish church for the space of ten years next after his decease. Also to Agnes his wife he leaves a tenement called "le belle on the hop" in the parish of S. Botolph without Bisshoppesgate for life; remainder to John Woleward and Johanna, wife of the same, daughter of Thomas Poyntel, late Goldsmith; also rents issuing from the manor of Lachele, co. Essex, all goods appertaining to his (sic) chamber, and one half of all his other goods. Dated London, Saturday, 20 August, A.D. 1384.”

      John the Younger is the most probable candidate for the John Prentys who in 1375 formed an indenture tripartite with Sir Walter Fitz Walter, Lord of Wodenham and Edward Lawrence over a statute merchant for 1,000 marks. He must have died soon after but before the Poll was taken in 1381 when Amicia was living with Agnes her maid in Langham, near Walsham and valued at 2s. each.

      His death must have occurred before 8th. January, 1381 when the Sheriff of London heard a writ of supersedes, by mainprise of William de Benyngton, John Prentys, Alan del Pole and David Clerk, all of London, in favour of Hugh Draper and Agnes his wife, executrix of John Prentys the Elder, at the suit of Elizabeth who was wife and is executrix of Robert Barle, citizen of London for rendering 60s. It seems probable that it was John’s sister Agnes, who married Hugh Draper and John’s will has unfortunately been lost. [2]

      John the Younger had at least two sons:

      1. John Prentout/Prentost, whose surname was spelt Prentout in his PCC will in 1423 and ‘Prentost’ in other documents. Born in about 1345, he was a Draper and is recorded in the Rolls of the Drapers’ Company of London in 1376 and in 1384. He rented a tenement in St. Mary le Bow which abutted the churchyard there and still held it in 1418 from the Churchwardens of St. Matthew Friday Street when the wardens took two pieces of cloth worth £12-13-4d. for arrears of the quit-rent of £1 for candles and lamps. In 1423 John paid the Drapers’ fraternity £4 rent for a shop in the parish of St. Mary le Bow and he left his term in the tenement in which he lived to Robert Ergum, Draper, his chief servant and grandson in his will. There are many references to his appearance in court during his lifetime varying from not having paid rent on one of his properties to suing others for debt.

        In 1404 he took on an apprentice called John Evote, the illegitimate son of William Evote, Draper. On 3rd. September that year £20 was delivered to him in trust for the son; and on 6th. February, 1410 John, John Selman and Richard Osbarn, executors of the will of William Evote, delivered £170-6-8d to John Evote to be held for William’s sons Thomas and William. John was bequeathed houses and a shop in the parish church of St. Mary Abbecherche with a legal commitment to provide for the chantry priest in the parish church there for ten years after John Walshe’s decease.

        He also had property in Chertsey, Surrey, where Nicholas Wyke owed John £26 and John was awarded the money in a court case held before the Mayor of the Staple of London, one Richard Whittington, popularly known to posterity as ‘Dick Whittington’. The money was first found owing to John on 24th. January, 1408 and a date for the return of the money was set for 13th. October, 1423. He had a messuage and lands in Walton, Surrey, East and West Molesey (Mulseye) which he enfeoffed to his brother Simon in his will and which Simon’s executors, John Davey and John Walker took John Skelton Esq., Nicholas Waldern and Robert Erghum to court to reclaim in 1432-43. To enfeoff means to give land in exchange for a pledge of service, which in John’s case was to sell the lands to pay for his funeral expenses and the bequests in his will. On 12th. October, 1393 a mandamus was drawn up by thef King to Thomas Welford, Robert Dane and Thomas Weyland to admit John Prentys as a fellow collector in the City of the half-tenth and half-fifteenth granted in the last Parliament at Winchester in place of Drew Barentyn. He was relieved of this very unpopular duty a year later.

        His first wife, Margaret, was left a cloak by Joanne, daughter of William la Everard, Goldsmith of St. Dunstans in her will of 11th. June, 1361. Thus John and Margaret had married before then, placing their births at about 1345. She died before 1384 when his second wife Agnes Boxford was bequeathed a tenement called ‘le Belle on the Hop’ in the parish of St. Botolph without Bishopsgate by her brother Robert Boxford, Draper of St. Pauls in his will of 25th. January, 1392. John asked to be buried beside his first wife in his will. At the time of his death John had 108s. owing to him from Richard Norman Esq. of Newark, Staffordshire. His surviving children were:

        1. Walter Prentice, who would have been born in about 1370 and was Canon of Chertsey by 1423. His father left him a silver ornament and asked his son to say prayers for the safety of his soul. Since his uncle Simon made no mention of him in his will, it is probable that he had died before 1433;ii.Alice.
        2. Agnes Prentice, John’s sister, who had died by 1423; she married a man with the surname of Somersoul and who would have died before 1423 too. They had a son William to whom John left money in his will.
        3. Missing. John Prentice?.
        4. Alice Prentice, who married Thomas Ridell, a Draper of London; only Thomas was alive in 1423. John provided for his sister’s daughters Alice who married Robert Ergum, also a Draper of London, and Joan who married Henry Talbot. Joan and Henry had two surviving children: John, who became apprentice to Simon in 1433 shortly before his death, and Isabella to both of whom John Prentout left several bequests.
        5. Simon, whose surname was spelt Prentost in his PCC will of 1433, was John’s younger brother, probably by his father’s second wife, and Executor of his will. He was a Wax Chandler of St. Paul, St. Michael ad Bladum and Walton and East and West Mulse/Molesey in Surrey. He is famous for being awarded the contract to provide a number of hearses for the funeral of King Henry V in 1422, to convey his body from Dover to St. Pauls Westminster via Canterbury, Hospryne (Ospringe) and Rochester and for making 100 torches at £300-12s – 6d, or about £15,000 in today’s money. At Easter 1406 Simon moved in to ‘one great messuage’ and 30 shops on Paternoster Row where he worked as a Wax Chandler and for which he paid £10, 10 marks.

          His wife Joan died some time before him and Simon asked in his will to be buried beside her in the churchyard of St. Pauls. In his will he mentioned farms he owned in Walton, Surrey and Westminster which were to be sold to pay his legacies. There is a record in the National Archives (Ref. C 1/9/122) of a court case between John Davey and John Walker, Simon’s executors and John Skelton Esq., Nicholas Waldern and Robert Erghum in a dispute over a messuage and lands in Walton, East Molesey (Mulseye) and West Molesey in Surrey, which had been enfeoffed by John Prentout in his will. Oddly, in his will Simon made only a passing mention and small bequest to each of his unnamed daughters living in London. Unless John’s son Walter married and had children, which is improbable, it looks as though this line of the family died out with Simon.

          A John Prentiz of London was involved in the Peasants’ Revolt but he does not seem to have been a relation. He is mentioned in the Close Rolls held in the National Archives at Kew, with many other people, as having to pay a levy on 11th. August, 1384.

          There is reputed to be a will of John Prentice, an extremely wealthy Wool Merchant of Lavenham who died in 1440, leaving money for the Guildhouse in Lavenham. The building is still standing today along with John Prentice’s house on Prentice Street. However, as far as I can see this story is mistaken and the ‘prentice’ referred to was the collected apprentices who gathered regularly in what has come to be known as Prentice Street.

  2. Gilbert Prentice, brother of John Prentice the Elder, was living in Mersea in 1295 when he and his brother John made a gift to the Abbey of St. Edmunds in order to become a Merchant there. There is a record of a Gilbert of Tonbridge where he is recorded as Mainpernor, or guarantor that John de Valoiges and John de Bourn, both of Kent, would appear to answer charges in court (this is recorded in the Close Rolls of 30th. June, 1324). A man of that name is also recorded in Bristol: he appeared in court in 1339 and was fined £10 for debt by the Mayor of London (a colossal sum of money in those days) but this was the son of Walter of Bristol. There is no trace of John’s brother Gilbert after this date. It is impossible to say whether all these references to Gilbert relate to a single man but the name is uncommon and the only other Gilbert Prentice was the son of Walter of Bristol.

    1. (Perhaps) John Prentice of Sutton Valence in Kent.
    2. (Perhaps) son or grandson, Gilbert Prentice of nearby Shadingfield

    This Gilbert might have had a son, John of Sutton Valence in Kent about whom there exists an Inquisition Mortem, an escheat which deals with the owner of a manor, in which case he was of very high social standing as well as being very wealthy, his death is noted as being 20th. August, 1369 and his birth in 1308.

    However, Gilbert’s most likely heir (either a son or grandson) was Gilbert of nearby Shadingfield who was witness to the transfer of land by John Franceys there in 1370 and 1376 (National Archives document). He would have had a son John who held land there with his wife Johanna in 1404, as a deed of the time states (Suffolk Record Office reference HD 1538/341/16).

  3. Henry Prentice, brother of John and Gilbert’s brother who would have been born in about 1270. He lived in Sudbury with his wife Alice but held land in a variety of other places and clearly only lived in Sudbury intermittently.

    A Fleet of Fines case of 1317 concerns Henry Prentiz and his wife Alice of Sudbury against Robert Galun when Henry would have purchased the manor of La Geronere in Little Leighes, Essex from Robert Galun. A subsequent record of ownership of this manor took place in 1332 between John Gernoun, Knight, and Margaret his wife and John the parson of St. Gregory in London and Henry Prentiz over the manor of la Geronere (near Little Tey in Essex) and £4-15s rent in Wyremundford (location unknown), Great Horkesley (near Colchester), Great Fordham (near Colchester), Little Briche (location unknown), Teye ate Elmes (near Glemsford in Suffolk) and Steplebomstede (Steeple Bumstead near Saffron Waldon). The purpose of this legal action was to enable Henry to sell his lands to John Gernoun. Since Henry is not recorded in the 1327 Subsidy Return, he might have been away on business or simply not recorded then. Henry might have sold the manor and other holdings to raise the money to help pay for John the Younger’s fine resulting from his misdemeanours in Bury St. Edmunds. Unfortunately, the surviving manorial rolls for Sudbury are few and patchy making it virtually impossible to prove whether Henry was the father or elder brother and extremely difficult to piece together a family tree with any certainty but what follows is my best educated guess.

    Henry and Alice’s children are presumably:

    1. John Prentice who is recorded in the manorial rolls which survive for the first time in 1328 and must be the John who was recorded in the Subsidy Roll for 1328 as being a Weaver, taxed at 5s. This would most probably put his birth at about 1310 or a bit earlier. He was living in Sudbury on 31st. December, 1325 when Robert de Reveshalle and others including John Prentiz were tried in Haughley, Suffolk, as owing 1,000 marks to Hugh le Despenser, Lord of Glamorgan and Morgannu to be levied in default of payment of their land and chattels in the county of Suffolk. The case was cancelled by Parliament in Westminster because it was judged that the recognisance was made under duress by the said Hugh (as recorded in the Close Rolls). This, however, could have been John the Younger of Bury St. Edmunds.

      In 1341 a grant of land somewhere in Suffolk (the location is not mentioned in the source) was made to John Prentys, either Henry’s son or John the Younger. In 1342 a complaint was made in the King’s court by Edward de Vere against John Prentys, but there is no way of telling which one it was. Then in 1346 John Prentys and Sarah inherited 2 acres of land in Bulmer and Middleton but again it unclear which John this was.

      John and Sarah’s sons were, again, presumably:

      1. Henry Prentice who is recorded in 1363 in the manorial rolls as being assessed at 3s. and in 1344 at 4s. The last mention of him in the few remaining manorial documents was in 1368;
      2. Thomas Prentice, who was valued at £10-8s in 1360 in a court assessment. He is recorded in the ls from 1373 to 1389 when he was valued at 20s. 10d. He had a son, Thomas a.ii.i.);
      3. John Prentice, who was recorded in the court rolls from 1363 to 1369 and was assessed at 3s. 1363;

    2. (perhaps)Thomas Prentice who is recorded in Saffron Walden 1327 in the Subsidy Return. Thomas’ children were:

      1. Thomas Prentice, about whom nothing surviving is known, but he had a son:

        1. Thomas Prentice, who became a Juror in the court in 1410 and is then recorded in a court case in 1417, was elected Constable in 1418 and fined in 1421. He lived in the parish of St. Gregory.

          He is recorded in a legal case against Thomas Skynner of Chelmsford over 2 parts of a messuage in Chelmsford. The case lasted from 1406 to 1424 and the papers are held at the National Archives in Kew, reference 1/4/195.

          On 6th. January, 1410 Robert Orbell of Assington granted to John Shuger Senior and Thomas Prentys of Sudbury a messuage and piece of land in Sudbury.

          A further court case which lasted from 1426 to 1432, again recorded in the National Archives, names a Thomas Prentys (presumably him) as a defendant with Richard Gosselyn and others against John Ruddock. By this time, Thomas might have been living in Chelmsford.

          Thomas married Catherine who died a widow of Sudbury in 1444 and left a will which named her children as:

          1. Alexander Prentice.
          2. Agnes Prentice.

        2. John Prentice, brother of Thomas Prentice, who was recorded in court in 1389, 1391 and 1420. He is the most probable father of:Adam Prentice, who appeared in Sudbury Manorial court in 1419 when John Lavyder put himself forward on a plea of debt towards Adam. He was referred to as a Clothier in a document of 1475 although he died in Bury St. Edmunds in 1474 leaving a will as did his wife Margery who died in 1475. There were two daughters but no living male heirs. The only other Prentice in Sudbury at this time was George, a Shopkeeper who married Cicily; George died in 1494 and his widow died in 1495. They left wills but the only named children were Agnes and Margaret, so this Prentice seems to have line died out.

  4. (perhaps) Walter Prentice, perhaps brother of John, Gilbert and Henry. I seems likely given the coincidence of uncommon forenames (but impossible to prove) that there was a fourth brother: A.Walter Prerntice, who became a very wealthy Merchant in Bristol. He is recorded in 1313 as having been wrongfully imprisoned in Bristol Castle by the Mayor of Bristol; he is recorded again in 1328 in court proceedings as being a Wine Merchant and Burgess (a freeman or inhabitant of a borough) of Bristol. In 1331, recorded in a Fleet of Fines, (77/58 no. 60) he was in court in Westminster over a messuage with its appurtenances in the suburb of Bristol and the hearing found in Walter’s favour.

    In 1334 he was granted a Licence to trade with the Duchy of Aquitaine and in 1336 he was in court on the charge of being a debtor to a merchant of Amiens for wood when his residence was given as being Brompton Regis, Somerset (south of Minehead and west of Taunton). There is another record relating to him as being a Shopkeeper and Merchant owning 24 shops and 2 curtilages (enclosed land surrounding a house) with a tenement in Baldwin Street, Boadstreet St. Mary Redcliff between 1313 and 1344 when the implication is that he died. This is confirmed by an entry in the Close Rolls for 7th. July, 1344 concerning four of the shops which belonged to Walter, these were situated opposite the church of St. Mary Redcliff and worth 24 shillings a year. It therefore seems that Walter died in 1344.

    Walter had sons:

    1. Robert Prenticewho summoned to appear in court in 1330 and 1350 over disputes in land ownership. On 20th. August, 1330 Robert and others broke the pillory and tumbrel in the town of Bristol and assaulted the Mayor’s Bailiffs. In 1331 he was Bailiff of Bristol. He is recorded in the Cloth Custom of 1347 as follows in Latin: ‘Navis vocata La Petit Michel exivit de ibidem eodem die Robert Prentys indigena xi pannos inde cust. Xiis. Xd.’ (A ship called the Little Michel sailed from the same place on the same day Robert Prentys a resident of the place with 11 measures of cloth thereof a customary payment of 12s. 10d.).

      On 25th. January, 1349 he was Bailiff and involved in the sale of some of his land to the Prior and Austin Friars of Bristol who had to pay half a mark to the King for the alienation in mortmain by Robert Prentiz of Bristol to them for a plot of land in the suburbs of the town, 120 feet by 80 feet broad for the enlargement of their dwelling place there. On 31st. July, 1360 Robert, a Cloth Exporter, was elected constable of Staple in Bristol with Richard Inhyne by common consent of the merchants native and alien of Bristol for two years. In 1361 he was witness to a charter made by John de la Leygrave and his wife Joan. He was appointed Constable of Bristol in 1362 and was described as a Fisherman of Bristol in 1364, presumably meaning that he was a Fish Merchant, a further business diversification. In the Calendar of Patent Rolls he is again referred to as a ‘fisher’ in 1364. There is a record of him in the Big Red Book of Bristol Merchants from 31st. July, 1360 to 1372 as a Cloth Exporter of Bristol. It is also clear that his wife was called Joanna from a court hearing in Westminster in 1353 over a messuage with its appurtenances in the suburb of Bristol and they were awarded 10 marks of silver.

    2. Walter Prentice, who was appointed Collector of Quayage and Murye (charges for use of a quay and the repairing of walls in the dock area) in Bristol in 1399. He might have been the Walter who in 1384 was part of a venture with the King’s sanction to Ghent in sixteen vessels from London.

    3. (perhaps) Richard Prentice who held the Manor of Chiryton in Somerset in 1383 and may have lived in Dynere in 1358 (this could be Dinder, near Shepton Mallet) when he was in a dispute over a messuage in Wells and a witness to the conveyance of the Manor of Stony Stratton, Everchreech near Shepton Mallett in 1365. Richard could, however, have been a Cleric and unrelated to the family. A John Prentys is recorded as resigning as Master of St. Bartholamew in Bristol in 1414 who might be another descendant; apparently his merchant seal is still preserved in the National Archives.

    4. Gilbert Prentice, a Merchant, who was tried before the Sheriff of Gloucester on 28th March, 1339 for debt of £8 to Eborard le Franceys of Bristol, having been sent for trial on 14th. July, 1338 by Eborard who was the mayor of Bristol. He was fined £10 for debt by the Mayor of London (a huge sum of money in those days).

    5. (perhaps) John Prentice who settled in Worcester. On 6th. January, 1347 he and Walter ate Halle, another merchant of Worcester, were granted protection till Midsummer for their victuals and other wares and servants on going to parts beyond the sea for the relief of the King’s arms there. On 19th. December, 1348 a complaint at law was made by John Prior of the Church of St. Mary, Worcester that men including John Prentys broke the gates of the Priory and assaulted his men. He had a son John who became a Burgess of Gloucester and appeared in court on 26th. November, 1381 when Robert Caldebrok Burgess of Leominster was pardoned for not appearing to answer John Prentice, Burgess of Gloucester touching a debt of £42. On 27th. October, 1382 protection was issued for one year from 24th. October to John Prentys of Gloucester on going on the King’s service to Jersey and Guernsey in the company of Hugh de Calvyley.

Who is the father of John, Gilbert and Henry?

Since the forename of a father was commonly given to the sons’ children, it would make sense to think that the most frequently chosen name over the next few generations was the name of that common ancestor. In this case it’s ‘John’, suggesting that John, Gilbert and Henry’s father’s name was John, another well-to-do Merchant. Since he called his middle son by the forename of the Lord of the Manor, Gilbert de Clare, it is likely that the family lived in Sudbury though he may well have worked elsewhere.

    Note: He is not saying that "John" is a descendant of Gilbert de Clare.

Since there were no Prentices named in the earliest surviving manorial documents of 1313 up until the 1340s he may well have died before 1313 unless he was the John referred to in the 1327 Subsidy Return for Great Livermere..

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