CHESEMAN, John (d.1592), of New Romney, Kent.
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Chamberlain, New Romney 1542-3, jurat from 1547, bailiff 1549-50, 1554-5, 1558-9, 1562-3, mayor 1563-4, 1573-4, 1579-80, 1584-5, 1591-2; bailiff to Yarmouth 1551, 1559, 1574; speaker of the brodhull of the Cinque Ports 1579.2
References to John Cheseman of Romney occur regularly in the records of the Cinque Ports between 1542 and 1591. It is not clear whether the same man is meant throughout, but a public career lasting 50 years, though unusual, was not unknown in the sixteenth century.
Cheseman gave 2s.4d. towards the furnishings of St. Martin’s church, Romney, when it was moved during Edward VI’s reign. His wages for the 1554 Parliament are mentioned in the New Romney chamberlains’ accounts, but the only reference to him in the town records for 1559 is an aquittance, dated 6 Sept., by which he released the jurats and commoners of Romney from their obligation to him in the sum of £1,000; no details are given. He was licensed to be absent from the 1559 Parliament on 4 Mar. He was the first mayor under Romney’s new charter of August 1563, and he represented the town at numerous brodhull meetings of the Cinque Ports.3
In 1557 he was a ‘solicitor’ in defence of the Ports against a writ of quo warranto, but after a time he became unpopular with the brodhull owing to his independent attitude. In July 1560 they fined him £6 for leaving Yarmouth, where he had been sent as the ports’ bailiff: £4, however, was remitted, as he ‘lacked but two days’ of the agreed period. He incurred another fine in 1563 for ‘not gathering 3d. for every share due to Hythe’—possibly a reference to the tax on fishermen going to Yarmouth. He seems to have defaulted, as in the following year he was sentenced to three weeks’ imprisonment for contempt; if he still refused to pay he was to ‘remain in ward, and the mayor of Romney to enforce the decree’. The matter seems to have been satisfactorily settled, but during the dispute a resolution was passed that owing to ‘the wilful obstinateness of Mr. Cheseman of Romney’ the assemblies should in future be held at different ports instead of, as hitherto, almost always at Romney. In practice, however, the old custom seems to have continued.4
Apart from the date of his later mayoralties, and the incidental information that he was licensed to keep ‘a great bald branded mastiff’, there are very few references to Cheseman after 1567. In 1590 the Privy Council, not for the first time, intervened in the affairs of the town in order to uphold the authority of the lord warden, ordering that certain disfranchised jurats should be restored, other new ones appointed, and that John Cheseman should be elected mayor. This may, of course, have been a younger relative of the earlier mayor, but it is likely that the old man served once more. The will of ‘John Cheseman, mayor of New Romney’, made in 1591, was proved on 29 Sept. 1592.5
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
- 2. Cinque Ports white bk. ff. 232, 241, 250; black bk. ff. 4, 27, 49, 58; Arch. Cant. xxvii. 51; CPR, 1560-3, p. 499.
- 3. LP Hen. VIII, xxi(2), p. 235; Arch. Cant. xx. 157; CJ, i 56; New Romney chamberlains’ accts. 1528-80, f. 81; assessment bk. 1516, f. 60.
- 4. Cinque Ports white bk. ff. 232-58 passim; black bk. ff. 1-59 passim; Indexes of the Great White Bk. and of the Black Bk. of the Cinque Ports, 30, 70, 72-5 et passim; K. M. E. Murray, Constit. Hist of the Cinque Ports, 162.
- 5. Arch. Cant. xli. 165; APC, xix. 6-7; IHR, abstracts Kent Wills 1450- 1602, p. 227.