York, John (DNB00)

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YORK, Sir JOHN (d. 1569?), master of the mint, was, according to the earliest pedigree of the family in Flower's ‘Visitation of Yorkshire’ in 1563–4, third son of John Yorke, by his wife Katherine Patterdale or Patterdall. The pedigree in the ‘Visitation of Yorkshire’ by Robert Glover in 1584–5 (ed. Foster, 1875) confirms these statements, but in the ‘Visitation of London’ in 1568 he is designated the son of Sir Richard Yorke. His grandfather, according to all the pedigrees, was Sir Richard York of York, and his grandmother was, according to the visitation of 1563–4, Joan Maliverer, Sir Richard's first wife. While accepting the testimony of the Yorkshire visitations as to the name of York's father, it is probable that the London visitation is correct in distinguishing two persons, father and son, named Sir Richard York, who have been confused by Robert Davies (1793–1875) [q. v.] and other historians.

The elder Sir Richard York (d. 1498), founder of the family, and great-grandfather of Sir John York, was admitted to the freedom of the city of York by purchase in 1456. In 1459 he was chamberlain; in 1466 sheriff and mayor of the staple of Calais at York; and in 1469 and 1482 he was mayor of York. On 14 Sept. 1472 he was returned to parliament for the city of York, and he is said to have served the city in six parliaments (Davies, Extracts from the Municipal Records of York, p. 122). He was knighted at York by Henry VII on 31 July 1487, besides receiving a pension of 20l. in 1486 which was doubled in 1488 (Pat. Rolls, 5 Hen. VII, m. 19). It is probable that, in accordance with the statement in Glover's ‘Visitation,’ he died in 1498, and that his son Sir Richard York died in 1508. The younger Sir Richard was buried in the church of St. John, Micklegate, his portrait appearing in the east window.

The earliest mention of Sir John York occurs on 3 Sept. 1535 when he arrived at Calais from Antwerp with intelligence of a sermon preached against the king by a ‘lewd friar’ in the pulpit at Antwerp (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, ix. 263). In 1544 he was appointed assay master to the mint (R. Ruding, Annals of the Coinage, 3rd edit., 1840, pp. 34, 40). In 1547 he was promoted to be master of the mint at Southwark, established in the former mansion of Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. In 1549 he was sheriff of London. In October of this year the quarrel had broken out between the Protector Somerset and John Dudley, earl of Warwick. Somerset, fearing the confederate lords, had retired with Edward VI to Hampton Court, and desired the city to furnish him with a thousand men for the royal protection. Warwick, in order to counteract him, repaired to the city and took up his abode at York's house in Walbrook on 6 Oct. 1549. The city, influenced by his persuasions, resolved to join his party. On 8 Oct. the lords dined together at York's house, and on the following day the common council responded to their summons of aid by promising a contingent of soldiers to support them. As a reward for his services Edward VI visited York at his official residence in Southwark on 17 Oct., and, after dining there, knighted him. Somerset, having been confined in the Tower, was brought to York's house at Walbrook on 6 Feb. following, and there released on his recognisances (Acts of Privy Council, ii. 384). Here the privy council again sat two days after, probably feeling more secure within the city against surprise by adherents of Somerset (ib. p. 388).

York appears to have enjoyed at this time the office of master of the king's woods (ib. p. 400). Bonner, bishop of London, having been deprived on 1 Oct. 1549, the temporalities of the see passed to the crown. York thereupon began felling the bishop's woods. The privy council on 24 Feb. 1550 issued an injunction against him, further prohibiting him from removing the woods already felled, which suggests suspicions of peculation. He apparently disobeyed, for a fresh prohibition was issued on 17 March. On the following 14 June the council again wrote to him, this time forbidding him to continue felling the king's woods near Deptford, the timber to be preserved for naval purposes. Meanwhile, as the acts of privy council disclose, York was busily engaged in his duties at the mint, which must have been particularly arduous at a time when changes in the coinage followed each other in rapid succession. During some time in the summer of 1550 he was employed in secret missions abroad. His first business was to smuggle over munitions of war from the Netherlands. To prevent information of this from reaching the Netherlands government, the privy council forbade the customers and searchers of Calais and Dover to search ‘such provisions of the kinges as Sir John Yorke shall from tyme to tyme bringe thider’ (ib. 19 July 1550). In the following February (1551) he was commissioned to repay to the Fuggers the sum of 127,000 florins borrowed by the king in the previous June (1550). In the summer of 1551 he repaid for the king another sum of 23,279l. borrowed from the Fuggers (ib. 3 July 1551). By way of gratification he received the valuable license to export eight hundred fodders of lead (ib. 14 Dec. 1550). He was also made under-treasurer of the Mint in the Tower in 1550, and promoted to be master in 1551 (Ruding, i. 34). He had contrived to render himself acceptable to the two rival parties in the privy council, headed by Somerset and Warwick respectively. To Somerset he had advanced no less a sum than 2,500l., which shows him to have been a man of great wealth for that day. When after Somerset's execution the duke's note of hand, which York had produced for the council's inspection, had disappeared, the Duke of Northumberland, who had lately been promoted from the earldom of Warwick, interested himself on York's behalf in procuring an order for his repayment (Acts of the Privy Council, 10 May 1552).

York was enriching himself during this period not only by his official income, but in the course of foreign trading. He had acquired land in Yorkshire, and also at Woolwich (Hasted, Hist. of Kent, ed. H. H. Drake, 1886, p. 168). In May 1553 he formed one of the Russia company or ‘merchant adventurers to Moscovy,’ incorporated under a charter of Edward VI [see Cabot, Sebastian]. He evidently retained Northumberland's friendship, and he was prominent as a supporter of the claims of Lady Jane Grey. On 23 July 1553, after the collapse of that conspiracy and two days later than the duke, York was put under arrest in his own house by the lord mayor (Wriothesley, Chronicle, ii. 92). On 30 July the privy council issued a warrant for his committal to the Tower. An inventory of his goods was ordered, and they were seized to the queen's use. Sixty cloths which were being exported by him were stopped at Dover (Acts of the Privy Council, 9 Aug. 1553). On 31 July he was sent to the Tower, being confined in the Bell Tower. At first his imprisonment was rigorous, for it was not till 14 Sept. that he was allowed ‘the liberty of the leades’ (Chronicle of Queen Jane, p. 27). On 18 Oct. he was released (ib. p. 32). The inhabitants of Whitby, tenants of the lands of the abbey which he had bought from the Duke of Northumberland, took occasion of his imprisonment to bring an action against him in the court of requests for excessive raising of their rents. These they alleged to have been increased by sums amounting to a rate of 122 per cent., besides exactions in the way of fines upon change of lord. On 24 Oct. the court gave judgment against him. About the same time another action was brought against him in the same court by Avere or Alvered Uvedale, mineral lessee of the recently dissolved abbey of Byland, complaining that York having purchased the manor of Netherdale, Yorkshire, part of the land of the abbey in June 1553, had refused to allow the plaintiff to cut down timber for his mines, and had seized a large quantity of lead ore belonging to him. The issue of this case has not been preserved, but the two plaints throw some light upon York's character.

York's early care on release from prison was to conform to the new order of things, for on 5 Nov. following he attended at St. Stephen's, Walbrook, the sermon of John Feckenham [q. v.], Queen Mary's private chaplain and confessor (Machyn, Diary, p. 48). He was at this time an alderman of the city; but his place at the mint had been filled up, and he does not reappear in public life till after the accession of Elizabeth. On 5 Oct. 1560, when a project of recoinage was under consideration, York wrote to Cecil a letter of advice, winding up with a request for Cecil's interest in his favour (State Papers, Dom. Eliz. xiv. 10). Among his recommendations was one for the employment of foreign refiners, as being of superior skill. It would appear from a letter from a Flemish company to Sir Thomas Gresham, written from Antwerp in this year, that York actually went to Flanders on this business. But he was never reinstated in office at the mint. He died some time before the end of 1569, for on 15 Dec. of that year Sir Ralph Sadler, writing to the council from Northallerton, mentions ‘Peter Yorke, son and heir of Sir John Yorke deceased’ (State Papers, Dom. Eliz. xv. 99).

York married Anne or Anna, daughter of Robert Smyth of London. According to the ‘Visitation of Yorkshire’ of 1563–4, and Glover's ‘Visitation of Yorkshire’ in 1584–5, Lady York afterwards married Robert Paget of London; but according to the ‘Visitation of London’ in 1560 she was the widow of one Pagett when she married York. Sir John York left ten sons, two of whom were knights, Sir Edmund and Sir Edward, a vice-admiral in the navy. Rowland York [q. v.] is said to have been another. He also left three daughters. The spelling of the name, both in the signature of his letter to Cecil and in the plea put in by him in his defence against the tenants of Whitby in the court of requests, is York.

[Acts of the Privy Council 1542–56; State Papers, Dom. Hen. VIII, Edw. VI, xv. 36, ib. Eliz. xiv. 10; The Visitation of Yorkshire, 1564, sub Yorke of Gowthwaite, Harl. Soc. 1881, xvi. 357; The Visitation of London, 1568, Harl. Soc. 1869, i. 81; The Visitation of Yorkshire, 1584–5, J. Foster, 1875; F. Drake's Eboracum, 1736; R. Davies's Extracts from the Municipal Records of the City of York, 1843; Strype's Ecclesiastical Memorials, Oxford, 1822, pts. ii. iii.; Burke's History of the Commoners, 1838, vol. iv.; Burgon's Life of Sir Thomas Gresham, 1839, vol. i.; R. Ruding's Annals of the Coinage, 1840, vol. i.; H. Machyn's Diary; Chronicle of Queen Jane; Wriothesley's Chronicle (Camden Soc.); Official Return of Members of Parliament; R. R. Sharpe's London and the Kingdom, 1894, vol. i.; Select Cases from the Court of Requests, ed. I. S. Leadam, Selden Soc. 1898.]

I. S. L.