Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sharp, Jack

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609178Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 51 — Sharp, Jack1897James Tait

SHARP, JACK (d. 1431), lollard rebel, was a weaver of Abingdon. His real name is given in the official documents as William Perkins (Ordinances of Privy Council, iv. 100, 107), but some of the chronicles call him Mandeville (Leland, Collectanea, i. 491; Fabyan, p. 602; ‘ganeo trino nomine nominatus’—Amundesham, i. 63). In the spring of 1431, when he was bailiff of Abingdon, Perkins placed himself at the head of a movement among the lollards of the southern midlands against the stern repression to which they had for many years been subjected. Under the assumed name of ‘Jack Sharp of Wigmoresland’ he began to circulate handbills reviving the scheme of 1410 for the diversion of church endowments to useful purposes (ib. i. 453). The proposal took the form of a petition to the sitting parliament, but the reference to Wigmore, the centre of the Duke of York's influence in the Welsh march, contained a veiled menace to the Lancastrian government. Rumour perhaps exaggerated their designs. Sharp was afterwards reported to have confessed ‘that he would have made priests' heads as cheap as sheeps' heads, so that he would have sold three for a penny’ (Fabyan).

The council empowered the Duke of Gloucester, who was acting as regent during the king's absence in France, to suppress the movement, and a reward of twenty pounds was offered to any who should bring to justice Sharp and the ‘bill casters and keepers’ (Ordinances, iv. 88, 99, 107). On Thursday, 17 May, William Warberton (or Warbleton), who claimed to have denounced Perkins before the proclamation, was informed that he had taken refuge in Oxford, and secured his arrest (ib.; Issues, p. 415). The mayor of Salisbury also obtained a reward for assisting in establishing the identity of Sharp by arresting bill-distributors from Abingdon (Ordinances, iv. 99). Sharp was tried and condemned at Oxford before the Duke of Gloucester, and five days after his capture executed at Oxford or Abingdon (Chron. ed. Davies; Fabyan, p. 602; Leland, i. 491). His head was set up on London Bridge, and his quarters distributed between Oxford, Abingdon, and other towns (Gregory, p. 172).

[Ordinances of the Privy Council, ed. Nicolas; Devon's Issues of the Exchequer; Leland's Collectanea, ed. Hearne; Amundesham's Annals in Rolls Ser.; Chron. ed. Davies, and Gregory's Chron. ed. Camden Soc.; Fabyan and Hall, ed. Ellis; Chron. ed. Giles, p. 18; Chron. of London, p. 119; Ellis's Original Letters, 2nd ser. i. 103; Ramsay's Lancaster and York.]

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