KELBY, John, of Grimsby, Lincs.

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



Jan. 1397

Family and Education

Offices Held

Chamberlain, Grimsby Mich. 1392-3; bailiff 1393-4.1


The subject of this biography may have been descended from the Robert Kelby who sat for Grimsby in the Parliament of 1330. It is, moreover, possible that he was related to the influential Kelby family of Lincoln, whose members included Walter Kelby, an MP, mayor of the Lincoln Staple and sometime escheator of Lincolnshire.2 At least two contemporaries and namesakes held administrative posts in Lindsey during the late 14th century, but the first piece of evidence which definitely relates to John Kelby of Grimsby concerns his appointment as chamberlain of the town in 1392. During his year of office (for which he received a fee of 20s.) he was obliged to attend the Lincoln assizes to deal with legal business arising from the indictment of certain local men there, although the main reason for his visit was an acrimonious dispute between the burgesses and Sir Edmund Pierrepont, which proved a considerable drain on municipal resources. The quarrel also resulted in litigation in the courts of King’s bench and common pleas; and it may well have been for this reason that Kelby, as chamberlain, and William Burton, as mayor, were returned together to the Parliament which met at Winchester in January 1393. While the Commons were still in session they made two journeys to Westminster to see how their suit was progressing, so comparatively little time can have been spent by them on parliamentary business. Immediately after relinquishing the post of chamberlain, Kelby was made bailiff of Grimsby, and thus became responsible for holding the borough elections to the next Parliament in 1394. In the following year he was employed by the widowed Joan del See to deliver seisin of an estate in Grimsby to the parson of Bradley. Her letters of attorney describe him as a goldsmith, this being the only reference to his commercial interests which has evidently survived.3

It is now impossible to establish exactly what happened at the Bartholomew fair held in Grimsby in 1398, but our Member, a kinsman of his named Richard Kelby and one Thomas Fyssher were accused by the mayor, Geoffrey Askeby*, of holding him captive in his house, preventing him from exercising his office, and even threatening to murder him. In January 1399, Richard Kelby, the alleged ringleader, was committed to prison and then released on bail, while his mainpernors, John Kelby and Fyssher, were themselves bound over to keep the peace. An inquiry took place into the affair just before the following Easter, when Askeby’s charges were found to be without substance. A writ of supersedeas was subsequently issued in favour of the three accused, who faced no further proceedings on this score. In about 1402 Kelby sat on a jury in Grimsby for the assessment of taxes. He was returned to Parliament for the fourth and last time in 1406 and is not mentioned after that date.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variant Keleby. This MP is to be distinguished from John Kelby of Wrawby who was a tax collector in Lindsey in 1380, and John Kelby of Keelby, alnager there in 1395. One of these two men took the general oath in 1388 in support of the Lords Appellant (CFR, ix. 288; xi. 165; RP, iii. 402).

  • 1. South Humberside RO, 1/600; C219/9/10.
  • 2. C267/7/7-9.
  • 3. C219/9/10; CAD, ii. C2419; South Hamberside RO, 1/600.
  • 4. CIMisc. vi. no. 424; CRR, 1396-9, pp. 369, 499.