Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Philipot, John (d.1384)
PHILIPOT, PHELIPOT, or PHILPOT, Sir JOHN (d. 1384), mayor of London, was no doubt a native of Kent, but the statement of Heath (Grocers' Company, p. 182) that he was born at Upton Court in the parish of Sibertswold or Shebbertswell, near Dover, cannot be correct, though the estate was held by his descendants (Hasted, ix. 377). He bore the same arms—sable, a bend ermine—as the Philipots of Philpotts, near Tunbridge (ib. v. 224; Stow, Survey of London, bk. v. p. 114). His first wife brought him the manor of the Grench (or Grange) at Gillingham, near Chatham.
Philipot became a member of the Grocers' Company of London (founded in 1345 by the amalgamation of the pepperers and spicerers), one of whose earliest members was a Phelypot Farnham, and he soon accumulated considerable wealth (Heath, pp. 47, 56). Edward III gave him the wardship of the heir of Sir Robert de Ogle [q. v.] in 1362, appointed him in the following year a receiver of forfeitures on merchandise at Calais, and in 1364 licensed him to export thither wheat and other victuals (Dugdale, Baronage, ii. 262; Fœdera, iii. 693, 741, Rec. ed.). Philipot lent the king money and acted as his paymaster (Brantingham's Issue Roll, p. 145; Devon, Issues, p. 195). He sat for London in the parliament of February 1371, in which the clerical ministers were removed, and in the great council summoned in June to remedy the miscalculations of their successors (Returns of Members, i. 185–6). In the crisis after the Good parliament, Philipot, with Nicholas Brembre [q. v.], a fellow-grocer, and also connected with Kent, and William Walworth [q. v.], headed the opposition of the ruling party in London to John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, who found support among the lesser traders then engaged, under the leadership of John de Northampton [q. v.], in attacking the monopoly of municipal power enjoyed by the great companies.
On the collapse of the Good parliament the Duke of Lancaster proposed in the parliament which he packed in January 1377 to replace the mayor by a captain, and give the marshal of England power of arrest within the city (19 Feb.) Philipot is said to have risen and declared that the city would never submit to such an infraction of its liberties; but this must be a mistake, as he did not sit in this parliament (Chronicon Angliæ, p. 120; Returns of Members, i. 196). The proposal, coupled with the insult inflicted on the bishop of London (William Courtenay) by Lancaster and the marshal (Henry Percy, first earl of Northumberland [q. v.]) at the trial of Wiclif a few hours later, provoked the riot of the following day, when Lancaster and Percy had to fly for their lives. Lancaster failed to prevent the deputation of the citizens, headed by Philipot, from obtaining an interview with the old king, who heard their explanations and gave them a gracious answer. But the duke was implacable, and the city officers sought to appease him by a somewhat humiliating reparation. The citizens as a body, however, would have nothing to do with it, and though the king, at Lancaster's instigation, turned out the mayor (Staple), they at once (21 March) chose Brembre in his stead (Collections of a London Citizen, p. 254; Chron. Angl. pp. 127, 133; Fœdera, iii. 1076).
As soon as the king's death, on 21 June 1377, became known in the city, an influential deputation was sent to the young prince Richard II and his mother, and Philipot, acting as spokesman, assured him of the loyalty of the city, and begged him to reconcile them with the Duke of Lancaster (Chron. Angl. p. 147). The triumph of the principles of the Good parliament in the first parliament of the new reign (October 1377) was marked by the appointment of Philipot and Walworth, at the request of the commons, to be treasurers of the moneys granted for the war with France (Rot. Parl. iii. 7, 34). They and other London merchants lent the king 10,000l. on the security of three crowns and other royal jewels (Fœdera, iv. 31–2). The capture of the Isle of Wight and burning of Hastings by the French, and the seizure by a Scot, the son of one John Mercer, with a squadron of Scottish, French, and Spanish ships, of a number of English merchant vessels at Scarborough, meanwhile threw the country into a state of great alarm, which was aggravated by vehement suspicions of the loyalty of John of Gaunt to his young nephew. Philipot rapidly fitted out a small squadron and a thousand armed men, at his own expense, pursued Mercer, and wrested from him his prizes, and fifteen Spanish vessels as well (Chron. Angl. p. 199). His patriotism and success roused those who resented the national humiliation to great enthusiasm, and were boldly contrasted with the inactivity, if not treachery, of the duke and the magnates. He thereby incurred the ill-will of the nobles, who sneered at Richard as ‘king of London,’ and declared that Philipot had no right to act as he had done on his own responsibility. But he roundly told the Earl of Stafford, who complained to him of his action, that if the nobles had not left the country exposed to invasion he would never have interfered (ib. p. 200). At the height of his popularity he was chosen mayor for 1378–9, and filled the office with his usual activity and generosity. He had the city ditch cleaned out, levying a rate of fivepence per household for the purpose, and enforced order and justice so admirably that his measures were taken as a precedent nearly forty years later (Stow, Survey of London, bk. i. p. 12; Liber Albus, i. 522). Lord Beauchamp of Bletsho in December 1379 appointed Philipot one of his executors, bequeathing him ‘my great cup gilt which the King of Navarre gave me’ (Testamenta Vetusta, p. 104). In the year after his mayoralty he earned the effusive gratitude of the city by defraying the cost of one of two stone towers, sixty feet high, built below London Bridge, between which a chain was suspended across the river to assure the safety of the city and shipping against possible French attacks (Riley, Memorials, p. 444). He was a member of the commission appointed in March of that year, at the request of the commons, to inquire how far the heavy taxation could be lightened by greater economy in administration (Rot. Parl. iii. 373). He may have sat in this parliament, but the London writs are wanting. In the summer he provided ships for the Earl of Buckingham's expedition to Brittany; and when the delay in starting forced many to pledge their armour, Philipot, as the St. Albans chronicler heard from his own lips, redeemed no fewer than a thousand jacks (Chron. Angl. p. 266). It was to him that the intercepted correspondence of Sir Ralph Ferrers with the French was brought, and Ferrers being with John of Gaunt in the north, Philipot journeyed thither and saw him safely interned in Durham Castle (ib. p. 278).
At the crisis of the peasants' revolt, in June 1381, Philipot came with the mayor to the young king's assistance, and Walworth having slain Tyler in Smithfield, he and four other aldermen were knighted with Walworth on the spot (Riley, p. 451; Fabyan, p. 531). He was granted an augmentation of his coat-armour; and it may have been now that Richard gave him an estate of 40l. a year (Heath, p. 184; Hasted, iv. 237). In November he again represented London in parliament (Returns of Members, i. 208). Filling the same position in the May parliament of the next year, Philipot was put on a committee of merchants to consider the proposed loan for the king's expedition to France, and was appointed a ‘receiver and guardian’ of the tonnage and poundage appropriated to the keeping of the sea (Rot. Parl. iii. 123–4). But John of Northampton, who was now mayor and busy depressing the influence of the greater companies, had him deposed from his office of alderman (Walsingham, ii. 71). In the spring and summer of 1383 Philipot carried out the transport arrangements for Bishop Spencer and his crusaders, and sat for London in the October parliament (ib. pp. 88, 95; Devon, p. 222; Returns of Members, i. 218).
He died in the summer of 1384, ‘not leaving his like behind in zeal for the king and the realm,’ and was buried with his second (?) wife before the entrance into the choir of the Greyfriars Church (now Christ Church), London (Chron. Angl. p. 359; Hasted, iv. 239). He left his manor at Gillingham to his second son, whose son John exchanged it, in 1433, for Twyford, Middlesex, with Richard, son of Adam Bamme, mayor of London in 1391 and 1397 (ib.) A chapel which Philipot built there was used as a barn in Hasted's time, and is figured in the ‘Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica’ (No. vi. pt. i.). His house in London was in Langbourne Ward, on the site of the present Philpot Lane, which was named after him (Heath, p. 184). He bequeathed lands to the city of London for the relief of thirteen poor people for ever (Stow, bk. i. p. 261).
Philipot was at least twice married—to Marjery Croydon, daughter of Richard Croydon, alderman of London, who brought him the manor at Gillingham; and to Jane Stamford (Hasted, iv. 236, 239). Hasted mentions two sons. A daughter, Margaret Philpot, married, first, T. Santlor, and, secondly, John Neyland, and dying after 1399, was buried in the church of the Greyfriars (Stow, Survey, bk. iii. p. 133; Liber Albus, i. 682). Descendants of his dwelt at Upton Court, Sibertswold, near Dover, until the reign of Henry VII.[Rotuli Parliamentorum; Rymer's Fœdera, Record ed.; Returns of Members of Parliament, 1878 (Blue Book); Kalendars and Inventories of the Exchequer, Issue Roll of Brantingham, and Devon's Issues published by the Record Commission; Chronicon Angliæ, 1328–88; Walsingham's Historia Anglicana and the Liber Albus in Rolls Ser.; Collections of a London Citizen (Camden Soc.); Stow's Survey of London, ed. Strype, 1720; Heath's Grocers' Company, 1829; Herbert's Livery Companies; Riley's Memorials of London; Hasted's History of Kent, 8th ed. 1797; Sir Harris Nicolas's Testamenta Vetusta.]