MASTER, William, of Ipswich, Suff.

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. 1380

Family and Education

m. bef. July 1370, Alice, 1s.

Offices Held

Collector of tunnage and poundage, Ipswich 29 Oct. 1371-2, customs and subsidies 12 Oct.-22 Nov. 1389; controller of customs 24 Dec. 1383-12 Oct. 1389, tunnage and poundage 22 Nov. 1389-8 Dec. 1391, 18 May 1393-18 Oct. 1395.

Bailiff, Ipswich Sept. 1372-3, 1379-80; coroner 1397-9.1

Commr. to conscript carpenters to build barges at Ipswich, Colchester and Hadleigh Nov. 1372.

Tax collector, Ipswich Mar. 1377, May 1379.

Jt. attorney for the Crown, Ipswich Sept. 1379-80.

Dep. butler, Ipswich 7 May-7 Oct. 1395.


In July 1364 Master was granted a royal licence to ship wool from Ipswich to Spain and Gascony and to bring back wine and other merchandise in return. In later years he is recorded as trading in cloth as well.2 At the beginning of his first term as bailiff of Ipswich in 1372 he was commissioned to organize the construction of barges to be used against the French; and when the work ceased owing to lack of funds he and his fellow bailiff apparently paid part of the required sum from their own resources, so much so that in November 1373 the King granted them the right to levy from the town all arrears due to them. In 1379 Master and Robert Waleys* were appointed as attorneys to represent the King’s interests in suits to be heard in the borough courts, yet in March 1380, during their term of office, they both stood surety in Chancery for a Suffolk man accused of conspiracies by the Crown. In the meantime, Master had been responsible as bailiff for making the returns to the first Parliament of 1380, thus recording his own first election. During the 1380s he was mainly preoccupied with his duties as a customs officer at Ipswich, which included control of the receipts from the tunnage and poundage subsidies granted by Parliament. In May 1390 he provided securities in Chancery, undertaking that the owners of three ships arrested at Woodbridge, Suffolk, would send their cargoes of wheat to London and not overseas.3

Master’s property at Ipswich was not confined to any one parish. With his wife, Alice, he acquired various holdings in the town in 1370, and five years later they received other properties from William’s kinsman, John, son of Thomas Master (the Ipswich MP of 1357). In 1378 Master obtained more premises in St. Mary’s and St. Mildred’s parishes.4 The heir to all these was his son, John, but early in 1394 John was discovered to have been ‘adulterously running to and fro’ with the wife of the deputy master of the royal mint during the latter’s absence at Calais, and also to have taken his jewels and other valuables. These chattels were distrained by orders sent to the bailiffs of Ipswich and Maldon, and commissions were set up for the arrest not only of the miscreant but of his father, too, it being intended that they both should be brought before the King’s Council. John Arnold I* and Henry Wall* stood surety for William Master, promising that he would appear to answer charges. However, the outcome of the affair is not known. A less serious case was filed against Master in the courts at Westminster four years later when a London draper sued him for a debt of £6 10s., but, after failing to defend himself, he was able to procure a royal pardon of outlawry on 24 Nov. 1398.5

At the Ipswich elections to the Parliament of 1399 Master acted as mainpernor for John Lewe, a fellow townsman. He may have been the ‘mercer of Suffolk’ who stood bail in February and August 1401 for Thomas Master, a clerk arrested for rape and abduction. He died before April 1406 when his son, John, conveyed to Robert Andrew I* and William Debenham II* his tenements in St. Mary’s parish.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: K.N. Houghton


Variants: Maistre, Mayster.

  • 1. N. Bacon, Annalls of Ipswiche ed. Richardson, 77, 80, 86.
  • 2. CPR, 1361-4, p. 497; E122/50/33.
  • 3. CPR, 1370-4, pp. 219, 355; CCR, 1377-81, p. 371; 1389-92, p. 140; Bacon, 81; C219/8/4.
  • 4. Ipswich RO, recog. rolls 44-45, 46-51 Edw. III, 1-3 Ric. II.
  • 5. CPR, 1391-6, p. 360; 1396-9, p. 394; CCR, 1392-6, pp. 187, 189, 254.
  • 6. C219/10/1; CCR, 1399-1402, pp. 309, 414; Ipswich, RO, recog. roll 6-14 Hen. IV. He is not to be confused with William Master of Ufford near Ipswich, whose will was proved at Norwich in 1396 (Norf. RO, Reg. Harsyk, f. 246).