BELEYETER, Edmund (c.1338-1417/18), of Bishop's Lynn, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Sept. 1388

Family and Education

b. c.1338, s. of Thomas Beleyeter of Lynn.1 m. 1s.

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Lynn Mich. 1370-2, 1384-5, 1389-90; councillor 1371-6, 1377-8, 1380-2, 1385-6, 1387-9, 1391-2; coroner 8 Jan.-21 Oct. 1390; mayor Mich. 1390-1, 1394-5, 1399-1400.2

Dep. butler, Lynn 6 Nov. 1382-Dec. 1396.

J.p. Lynn 16 Feb. 1395-1400.

Mayor of the Staple, Lynn Oct. 1396-7.3

Commr. of array, Lynn Dec. 1399, Aug., Oct. 1403; to victual the royal army June 1405.

Collector, customs and subsidies, Lynn 15 Feb.-Oct. 1401, 8 Oct. 1404-5.

Controller of a tax, Lynn May 1404.

Alderman, Holy Trinity guild, Lynn by Mar. 1405-7, 1408-c. Sept 1413.4


Edmund was one of the Beleyeter family living in ‘Stokfyshrow’ in Bishop’s Lynn in the 1340s. He entered the freedom of the borough on 13 Mar. 1364, having just finished his apprenticeship to a merchant, John Brunham†.5 His independent commercial activities date from October that year when, described as a vintner, he obtained a royal licence both to export cloth worth £20 and to take out of the country £50 sterling to purchase wine in Gascony. His interests in the wine trade led to his retention as deputy butler in the port of Lynn for 14 years from 1382, during which period he was twice returned to Parliament. Beleyeter also imported, from the Baltic, timber (in one year as many as 6,600 wainscots), iron, pitch, bitumen, wax and herring. In 1390 his recorded shipments were valued at over £225. Perhaps his most profitable trade was in dried fish: in August 1405, in partnership with Robert Botkesham*, he purchased one such cargo worth £181, in October following another worth £102, and in 1407 a third worth £130. His exports to Denmark, Wismar and Danzig consisted mainly of cloth. As one who traded regularly with Prussia, he was naturally expected to contribute to the cost of a royal embassy sent there in 1388 to settle disputes between English and Prussian merchants. In 1405 he was commissioned to help victual the royal army in northern England with flour, wine, fish and oats. Five years later, in July 1410, he was among the nine Lynn merchants who loaned 200 marks to the royal council towards providing for the safeguard of the sea. A member of the powerful Holy Trinity guild of merchants at Lynn, Beleyeter had been elected by his fellows as a scabin as early as 1373, and later, in 1396, their leaders made him mayor of the Staple. His last public office was the aldermanship of the guild.6

Beleyeter’s long involvement in town government included his nomination as one of the 12 electors of the municipal officers in August 1376, 1382 and 1383, and of the parliamentary representatives in 1376 and 1383. In 1395 and 1406 he stood surety for the appearance in Parliament of John Brandon and Thomas atte Brigge, respectively; and his name also appears on the election indenture of 1407.7 He acted as feoffee for Robert Cook of Tilney in 1387, and three years later as executor of the will of Adam Clerk†. In 1397 he witnessed a deed in London relating to the Norfolk manor of Sparham and property in Lynn, Norwich and the City, on behalf of Thomas Churchman.8

Apparently while suffering from ill health, Beleyeter took out letters patent of exemption from holding royal office in November 1383, March 1384 and June 1406, the last describing him as 68 years old and ‘greatly broken by old age’.9 This did not, however, prevent him from taking an active part in the factious quarrels over Lynn’s constitution five years later. As one of the potentiores he was bound in £100 in December 1411 and again in July 1412 to keep the peace towards the mayor, Roger Galion, a mediocris. Beleyeter’s claim for expenses of £36 12s.8d. incurred during his third and last mayoralty (1399-1400) was disallowed by the arbitrating committee of nine in May 1412; and on 24 Nov. following, he and two fellow potentiores, Thomas Waterden* and John Wentworth*, were obliged to make a general release in Chancery of all legal actions against Galion.10

Beleyeter’s properties in Lynn included three shops and buildings in ‘Fuller Row’, ‘Grass Market’, and Briggate (now High Street) which later passed to his son, Thomas, although certain of his holdings had been donated in 1384 for the foundation of the guild of St. Giles and St. Julian in St. James’s church. In 1406 he sued a man from Gaywood in the court of common pleas for burglary of goods worth £40. In addition, by then Beleyeter had become part-owner of two knights’ fees in Roydon, Grimston and Congham, and had acquired land in Clench Warton and Tilney as well as ‘Feltham’s’ manor in Great Massingham.11 By his will, drawn up on 9 July 1417, he left the last, together with the advowson of All Saints’ church in Massingham, to be sold by his executors and the money to be spent on masses for his soul and for the poor. The will was proved at Norwich consistory court on 12 May 1418. Beleyeter’s feoffees, who included Philip Frank*, Thomas Waterden, Robert Brunham and Thomas Hunt I*, sold ‘Feltham’s’ to John Wodehouse*, the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster.12

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Belleyetere, Bellezetter.

  • 1. Red Reg. King’s Lynn ed. Ingleby, f. 143d.
  • 2. Norf. Official Lists ed. Le Strange, 190; King’s Lynn Town Hall, Ea 28, 29, 38; Red Reg. ff. 118d, 121, 124, 127, 129d, 131-5, 150-6, 160, 166-7.
  • 3. C267/7/14.
  • 4. CCR, 1409-13, p. 293; Lynn Town Hall, Be 330.
  • 5. Red Reg. ff. 101, 143d.
  • 6. CPR, 1364-7, p. 17; 1385-9, p. 566; E122/93/31, 95/27; N.S.B. Gras, Early Eng. Customs System, 446, 451, 528, 530, 543, 545, 555, 558-9; Harl. roll H23; PPC, i. 347; CCR, 1409-13, p. 47; Lynn Town Hall, Gd 49.
  • 7. Red Reg. ff. 115d, 157d, 158, 168-9; C219/9/11, 10/3, 4.
  • 8. CP25(1)168/179/170; CCR, 1396-9, p. 224; Lynn Town Hall, A 2.
  • 9. CPR, 1381-5, pp. 364, 389, 452; 1405-8, p. 198.
  • 10. HMC 11th Rep. III, 192-4; Lynn Town Hall, Ae 17; CCR, 1409-13, p. 404.
  • 11. CP25(1)167/174/1507; W. Richards, Lynn, i. 428-9; C88/84/1; CPR, 1408-13, p. 6; Lynn Town Hall, Bc 3, Be 237; Feudal Aids, iii. 614.
  • 12. Norf. and Norwich RO, Reg. Hyrnyng, ff. 47-48; CCR, 1441-7, p. 502.