and elsewhere in 12th – 15th centuries

Kenneth W Jacob

This vignette, other than the first one in the series on the Ospringe family, published in 2003 in Family History Magazine, will not offer any firm pedigrees. It will illustrate the wealth of material available and research done over the years.

I have to state that much of what follows was researched thirty years ago. I regret that in the early days I did not always list page numbers or manuscript membrane numbers. I really do not have the time now to go back on all the work done.

Jacobs from the Italian States

There has long been a tradition in my family, going back a good many generations, that we are descended from financiers and merchants who came from what we now call Italy, some of whom settled in the Cinque Ports. Such traditions can be wrong or misleading.

There is no doubt that a number of individuals of the name of Jacob from Italy, merchants and money-lenders from Florence largely, plied their trade in England. In order to do so they had to reside here. Did they settle here? For sure, a great many did.

Let us first look at the name Jacob. It is from the Bible, in Hebrew Yaakov. (The Oxford Names Companion OUP Patrick Hanks, Flavia Hodges, A D Mills, Adrian Room, OUP 2002). Very little distinction was made in early records between the names James and Jacob, when these were rendered in Latin. I have found some early 13th century renderings of James as James, but it is not until the 14th century that this becomes more common.

Jacobi was one of the Italian forms of the name, Jaques, Jakes, or Jake the French. Both occur abundantly. By the end of the 13th, but certainly by the middle of the 14th century, where someone was called James, then the name was rendered as such.

There are many references in our public records in the 13th and 14th centuries of Jacobs who were members of the society of the Bardi of Florence. These appear in English, as also Scottish and Irish records. I will illustrate this with examples.

As early as 1228 Restorius Jacobi, merchant of Siena, together with other merchants, lent 300 marks to Master Alexander, Archdeacon of Shropshire and Master Walter de Cantilupo, in order to expedite the King's affairs in the court of Rome (Liberate Rolls). There was a Restorius Iacobi, miles populi, St peregrini de Senis (Il Libro di Montaperti VI 26-28, Cesare Paoli, ed G Villani, BL ac 6508).

One of the Christian names occurring the most often in the period 1260 - 1280 is that of Bartholemew Jacobi (with variant spellings of Jacob, Jake and Jakes).

In the period 1254-1261 there exists part of a bull of Pope Alexander IV allowing the abbess and convent of Barking to return out of the 10th granted by the Pope to the King for his crusade sufficient to satisfy any liabilities incurred by the abbey as security for a loan raised for the King by Peter of Aigueblanche, Bishop of Hereford, from Bonaventura Bernadini, Orlandus Bonsinior and Bartholemew Jacobi, merchants of Siena (BL, King’s collection 17B xii fol 52). Thereafter, if the same man, he is described as of Florence, a merchant and money lender. The Bardi and others lent Kings Henry III and Edward I vast sums of money to finance their affairs, usually to finance wars. Bartholemew was involved in the loan of 5000 marks on one occasion, a vast amount of money for the period (one mark = 13s 4d). In 1278 (Calendar of documents relating to Scotland) Alexander de Baliol is shown as owing him and other merchants of Florence 110 marks sterling in Northumberland.

He was active in Ireland. In 1269-70 it appears he was owed money there (Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland).

We have evidence that many of these financiers lived in England. In the Calendar of Papal Letters (6th October 1261-1262) it is stated that 'there was a firm of the name of Bonsignori, Bernadini and Jacobi, exchangers of the papal camera living in England'. A year later in December 1262 a firm of Sienese merchants A Jacobi, Mannus Ildebrandini and Bonsignore Rayneri are mentioned in Papal letters. On 5th July 1262 Rayner Jacobi of a Sienese firm is involved in a loan of 4000 marks to the church and see of Winchester. I suspect Rayner Jacobi is the Bonsignori Rayneri mentioned above.

We have Ubertin Jacobi, merchant of the Scala active in England in 1283-4 (Memoranda Rolls Queen’s Remembrance, Roll 57, m21). In 1280-1 he is called Ubertin Jake, merchant of Florence (ibid Roll 54, m22).

They were prominent in Ireland too. China Jacobi, (his name also rendered as Chinon) merchant of Florence is named (Calendar of Documents Relating to Ireland 1284). Did the family trade with China? Is that how he was given his Christian name? He had died by 23rd December 1281-3 as Eleanor, the Queen mother, wrote to Robert Bunel, Bishop of Bath and Wells, requesting for his executors to have administration of his good in Ireland (Ancient Correspondence 23/18). The Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland informs us in 1285 that one of his executors was Pasch Jacobi, almost certainly a relation - perhaps a son or brother?

There was a Maurice Jak who paid 1/2 mark to the crown in order to get a better writ in 1288-9 (Calendar of Documents Relating to Ireland).

The register of the Bishop of Carlisle tells us that a bull of Pope Boniface was granted to John Jacobi in 1313, citizen and merchant of Florence.

By the third quarter of the 14th century references to Jacobs of Florence die out. We have the odd occurrence such as John Jacobyne of Florence merchant in 1365 and Nicholas Jacob, merchant of Florence in 1368 and again a Sir Nicholas Jacobi, Knight, of Florence, in 1370 (Papal Registers relating to England).

The seal of a Peter Jacobi, said to be of Austria, is in the catalogue of seals in the department of manuscripts in the British Library. It is a lion rampant holding a sword. This is the crest of the Jacob families of Canterbury, Dover and Bockhampton. The seal is said to be of the 15th century.

Another whose name occurs frequently in records is Peter Jacobi of Florence, possible the son of one of those named above, who was apprenticed on 24th August 1311 for seven years to Bartholemew Muscardi of Florence, a spicer of London. His father may have been Bonejunctus Jacob, spicer, who entered into a bond in 1304, or Guy Jacobi, citizen and spicer of London, 1319-20, both mentioned in the Calendar of Plea Rolls in the City of London. Then again, there was a Peter Jacobi who shipped goods of his in the vessel 'Le Palmer' of Dunkirk in 1287 (National Archives: Sandwich Customs Accounts).

Peter resided in England, was based in London, and acquired much property in Middlesex, Bedfordshire and Kent (National Archives, Deeds A 11026 1338, as also Feet of Fines). Land was acquired for the most part by borrowers defaulting on the loans secured against their chattels and land. More often than not lenders sold this on to third parties to recoup their loans, and hopefully make a profit, but Peter would appear to have been able to hold on to some of such property.

He flourished, for on 16th September 1324 he was given safe conduct by the Crown, as he was acting as envoy and proctor of certain men and merchants of the realm of Majorca coming to the realm. On 1st July 1327, named as the apothecary of John Bishop of Ely the Chancellor, he was appointed a purveyor of his household and the clerks of the Chancery. In the same year he complained that on at least two occasions property of his in Middlesex had been attacked, corn taken away and his servants assaulted; perhaps this was a reaction by certain elements in the populace against the success many foreigners had in England at this time. On 9th August 1328, he was granted safe conduct as the apothecary of John Bishop of Ely to travel and buy spices.

On 3rd April 1332 Sir Elias de Ashburnham, Thomas de Ashburnham and John de Kent acknowledge that they owe him 200 marks to be levied in default of payment against their lands and chattels in the county of Northampton. On 14th July 1332 he witnessed a writ to the mayor and bailiffs of Southampton (National Archives, Close Rolls). On 26th July 1337 he acknowledged that he owed £60 to the prior of St John of Jerusalem in England. Though enrolled the bond was cancelled on payment of the same amount.

Tannus Jacobi, merchant of the society of the Friscobaldy, was a receiver of the 20th in 1328. On 28th January 1331 he was granted safe conduct ,described as of the King's household, going beyond the seas on his business.

A John Jacobi is described as King’s merchant of Florence in the Patent Roll dated 29th March 1298, when he was given safe conduct until Michaelmas of that year, being at that time already at the court of Rome on the King’s affairs and about to return. He could have been the same John who is mentioned in a letter from Pope Boniface VIII to John, Bishop of Carslisle on 14th July 1295, where it is stated that Celestine V ordered the 1000 Marks to ber raised in Scotland for the crusade to be paid to certain merchants…inter alia John Jacobi of the Friscobaldi of Florence. (Historical Papers and Registers from Northern Counties in the British Library)

An entry in the Patent Roll of 6th June 1272 grants a pardon to Henry Jacobini (amongst others), merchants of Florence, of all trespasses of which he was indicted… as to usury, and license for them during pleasure to stay in the realm and transact their lawful business so long as they do not lend money on usury within the realm. Again in the Patent Rolls it is stated that a Henry Jacobini lends 100 marks to the King. It was the Jews who were accused of usury and ejected from the Kingdom by Edward I in 1290. It was said Italian moneylenders took their place, but they were in the Kingdom long before.

But they were not solely from Italy. We have a Raymond Jak', merchant of Bordeaux, who traded with Ireland and Southampton (Close Roll 1274).

So here we have but some examples of Jacobs from the Italian States. Much more work needs to be done in manuscript sources to try and establish pedigrees and at a later stage to see how these tie in with various other family trees that exist. As to whether any settled in the Cinque Ports, it is certainly evident that Italian Christian names do occasionally occur in the Jacob family of Winchelsea and Dover, but proof evades me at present.

Some early references to Jacobs

Before addressing the Jacobs of Winchelsea and other Cinque Ports let us look at some of the earliest references to Jacobs in England generally; these do not occur in Kent. The name occurs sparingly in the 12th but more and more often from the second half of the 13th century onwards, as more records are being created, and undoubtedly does not relate solely to one family.

There are some early references to the name of Jacob that are not patronyms. I give these for curiosity's sake. Dr William Henry Jacob mentions Jacob of Wraxhall, suggesting that he may be the forerunner of his family. He may, he may not be. Similarly we have a Jacob in the Boldon Book:

In Wolsingham there are 300 acres which the vill held and render 9 marks rent etc William the priest holds 40 acres And renders 1 mark Jacob his son holds 60 acres at Greenwell and renders 1 mark.

In Oxfordshire Domesday we read that:
…of the land of Dorchester… Jacob holds 2 hides….

Moving onto Jacob as a surname we have a number of entries in the Pipe Rolls. I give a few examples:

For the county of York in 1180:
Walter Jacob was amerced at ½ mark.

For the county of York in 1214:
Walter Jacob owes 10 marks for delivering himself out of prison.

For the county of York in 1219:
Of gifts from Walter Jacob 9 marks for delivering himself. In the treasury 23/8 Walter owing £4 and 16d.

Again in 1219 for the county of York:
For an impressment of Berhamden and elsewhere in England 5s from Walter Jacob.

It is interesting to note that he owned property elsewhere in England, but we are not told where. At least one family of the name of Jacob continued in Yorkshire to my knowledge to the 17th century, and more than likely to the present day.

A Walter Jacob occurs in c 1178 as witness to a deed of Christchurch, Dublin (Reports of the Historical MSS COM for Ireland)

Walter Jacob appears several times in the Cartulary of Ramsey Abbey in the period 1231-1253, holding land in Ingilbynesgate and elsewhere in Huntingdonshire.

Richard Jacob owed 10 marks for assaulting Jews in 1192 (Pipe Roll 4 Richard I) in the county of Lincolnshire

In the Pipe Roll of 1204 the sheriff of Leicestershire renders account of 2s 4d of William Jacob.

By the end of the 13th century families of the name of Jacob are well established in virtually all English counties. Some of these did own land in more than one county, as in the example of the Walter named above or of the Jacobs who held land in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and elsewhere. I will write about these at some stage on a county by county basis.

Unfortunately for this period it is difficult to structure one’s research, as it is in much more recent periods. It is a question of trawling through hundreds of manuscripts in order to get results, as I have demonstrated time and time again, internet sources notwithstanding. Legal records are a fruitful source of information. Everyone litigated or was litigated against in the manorial courts, the hundred courts, the shire courts, the eyre courts and assizes or in the Royal courts. Records of most of the less prominent important courts no longer exist, but we are in this country most fortunate in having a substantial number of rolls of Royal courts, and their ancillary documents, extant. These, together with other records such as taxation assessments and a number of more obscure classes of records, have proved most useful in my research; but trawl through them one must, there is no alternative. Few indices exist. There is the indexed abstract of pleadings compiled by Plantagenet Harrisson, for example. I am pleased that those volumes owned by the late Philip Blake have now been added to those the Public Records Office possessed.

As far as Kent and the neighbouring counties of Sussex and Surrey are concerned, there were a number of families by 1300 centered around the following towns:

Sundridge, Maidstone, Erith, Sheppey, Milton, St Peter's and St John's in the Isle of Thanet, Sandwich, Dover, Folkestone, in various villages in Romney Marsh, Hythe, Winchelsea(Sussex), Guildford (Surrey).

Jacobs of Rye, Winchelsea and Dover

The earliest references to Jacobs in the Cinque Ports are in fact in the ports’ ancient members of Rye and Winchelsea, thereafter in Dover. I propose that they were of the same family. I will in due course suggest a very loose pedigree, most of it hypothetical, some proven. Given time a firm pedigree along the lines I propose may be confirmed, of that I have no doubt.

There is a possibility that some of these Jacobs were descended from Italian financiers. As much as it pains me because it flies in the face of a hypothesis on the matter I have harboured for a very long time. That is that they are descended from one Jacob, the son of Alard of Winchelsea who flourished towards the end of the 12th and the very early part of the 12th centuries. The other known son of Alard was William who apparently was the progenitor of the noted Alard family of Winchelsea (see Salzman). Saltzman suggests that Jacob, or James as he calls him, adopted the surname de Winchelsea. I find it curious however that the Jacobs, of whom more hereinafter, were so often to be found in their dealings associated with Alards. A vignette of the Alard family is being completed, but will not be published until well into next year (2011). It will add to the work done by Salzman and Homan. Perhaps there were two families of the name of Jacob in Winchelsea, one of local and one of Italian descent.

I am confident that the quasi-name de Winchelsea was given to Jacobs as well as to other families. The problem is that, when in Royal courts in the 12th and early part of the 13th centuries, the information given to the clerks who wrote it down initially on scraps of parchment and finally on the appropriate documents - rolls usually - was given them by people who did not know the plaintiffs or defendants. They tended to name them after the towns or vills from which they came. There is also the problem that most of the clerks in this period, were not native English speakers. The language of the court and of the courts was French.This gives rise in my opinion to many variant spellings of names, often they were rendered phonetically, but everyone had their own interpretation here (see From Memory to Written Record by M T Clancy, second edition, 1993). Therefore a great many quasi names exist, the scourge of the medieval genealogist.

In the Patent Roll of 1229 there is recorded a grant of a license to sail the seas…. to Henry Jacobi of Rye to go to parts of Gascony with his ship and buy goods there and bring them back to England. It is ordered that he be not impeded in this matter. Given until the feast of St Michael 14 Henry III (29th September 1230).

The license is repeated in the same pages under the name of Henry Jacob, not mentioning Rye this time. It is just possible that there were two of that name – father and son? Similar licenses were granted to other merchants.

In 1226 for Norfolk Stephen Bush, Henry Jacob and William Scriode of Yarmouth were sued in the Curia Regis, but they have a warrant to be in the service of the King. Now we know that these were Winchelsea or Rye people, who went to Yarmouth for the herring fisheries.

The Close Roll of 1230 states that Henry Jacob of Rye came to Portsmouth with his ship ready to transport the King wherever he wanted, but because the King had sufficient ships there, he granted him license to return with his ship to his home port. Again, similar licenses were granted to others.

An entry in the Patent Roll dated 10th April 1235 is a mandate to the Barons of the Cinque Ports on complaint of a number of foreign merchant that their ships laden with wines were passing by the port of Mulet on the coast of Britanny and were taken by Hamo de Crevequer, John his brother, a number of members of the Alard family and Henry Jacob. All their men having been violently thrown out, the ships were kept by them, notwithstanding the King’s letter of safe conduct, which some of them had and shewed, and which these men snatched out of their hands and kept etc.

Winchelsea and Rye were from early times ancient members of the Cinque Ports. Old Winchelsea, built virtually at sea level had for a number of years been subject to the deprivations of the sea. In 1236, then again in 1250, 1252 and 1254, many buildings had been swept away by the tides, culminating in a violent storm in 1287 which destroyed most of the remaining buildings, and incidentally changed much of the coast line. Its fate had not been helped by Prince Edward who in 1266 sacked the town because of the piratical tendencies of its inhabitants which, when directed against the French was acceptable, but not when against their own countrymen.

On 11th November 1280 the inhabitants had petitioned the crown for assistance in their battle against the elements. We read in the Patent Rolls of a commission to Ralph de Sandwich, the King’s steward, that had been set up to extend and buy or obtain by exchange certain lands of John de Langherst and John (le) Bon which are suitable for the new town of Wincheslea, which is to be built upon a hill called Yhamme, the old town being for the most part submerged by the sea.

In the event the new town was planned and built on Iham heights, well above sea level, as anyone who has visited the place can see. The harbour was below, but now the sea is two miles distant. On 25th July 1288 Sir John de Kirkeby then Bishop of Ely gave seizin to the commonality of Winchelsea of all lands and tenements.(History of Winchelsea, page 53)

It is not difficult to understand why even from the earlier part of the 13th century people wanted to move from Winchelsea, and the natural place to head for would be eastwards towards the other Cinque Ports in Kent, a much more prosperous county and closer to France. We know that other Winchelsea families owned land in the Kent marshes from early periods, as did members of the Alard family.

This new town was one of the first of its kind in England, designed on a grid system - our modern planners please take note.

By the end of the 14th century it was almost deserted, many plots being unoccupied. This happened not only on account of the Black Death, but equally because of the frequent raids on the town by French forces. The name of Jacob did not die out in this part of Sussex. It continued in Icklesham and other villages in the surrounding area. Those wishing to carry on their maritime trading careers settled elsewhere, largely in Kent, in Dover, Sandwich and Hythe.

John and Henry Jacob

To get back to our Winchelsea family. Between 1235 and the next reference in 1281 there is a gap, other than the two references to a Henry Jacobini of Florence in the Patent Rolls. In one dated 6th June 1275 he and other merchants are pardoned of all trespasses of which they were indicted relating to usury. They were licensed to stay in the realm and transact their lawful business…. The second, also in the Patent Rolls on 14 June 1277, mentions a loan of 100 marks he made to the King. I wonder whether he is of the same family. Winchelsea is not mentioned in the text, but perhaps this suggest Italian origin.

Whether there were two Henrys mentioned in 1229, or just the one, with the entry repeated, the next mention we have to a Henry and Maurice Jacob of Winchelsea is in 1281, a jump of one or possibly two generations.

This reference is probably the earliest we have to any Jacob will. The probate of the will of Maurice Jacob was granted in 1281, on Tuesday after the conversion of St Paul the apostle (25th January) at the court of W, an official of the Lord Bishop of Lewes (British Library, Additional Charter 20167). The document relates to a dispute between Petronilla, the widow of Maurice, and the executors of his will, Henry Jacob his brother and Henry Broun. We know from the Winchelsea rentals (more of these later) that he also had a daughter Petronilla. Both women were alive in 20 Edward I (1291-1292) when the rental of New Winchelsea was made, showing the mother holding a plot in the 34th quarter of the town, her daughter one adjacent.

Maurice is a Christian name that occurs infrequently with Jacobs. An Inquisition Post Mortem on a Maurice Jake in Ireland in 1344 shows that he held substantial land in the country. We had China Jacobi in Ireland, is there a family connection? That is all we know of Maurice, other than a reference in the Inquisitions Post Mortem for the year 1427, where Alice, widow of Maurice Jacob is named, as holding lands in Kenn, in Devonshire.

On 15th August 1289 we see in the Patent Rolls that Henry Jacob and Mathew Horn, barons of the port of Winchelsea, were granted safe conduct for 2 years, sending wine, corn and other merchandise in their ship called La Plente and other ships to diverse ports in the realm.

Then in 20 Edward I (1291-1292) in the rental of New Winchelsea Henry is shown as holding three plots of land, in 9th, 27th and 30th quarters, one being adjacent to the building used by the mayor of Winchelsea 'for the time being'. He also had a plot of land 'next the salt marshes which was dangerous at all flowings of the tide. (History of Winchelsea, page 53).

In the same rental we also have a plot held by Isabella the daughter of Morekyn Jacob (ibid, page 52), a rather Italian sounding name.

In 1295 a Henry Jacob witnessed two Winchelsea charters (British Library, Additional Charters 20168 and 20169).

In 34 Edward I (1305-1306) there exists a petition to the King and Council by Nicholas Alard, Henry Jacob and Justin Alard, owners of a ship the St Edward and a cog the Notre Dame, being on the King's service in Scotland were lost, together with their anchors and cable, and were valued at £30 by the Mayor and good people of Winchelsea. They ask for this sum to be reimbursed by a levy upon the commonality for whom the ships were sent, ie the people of Winchelsea (National Archives, SC8/30/1376). Winchelsea had been ordered to furnish five ships, properly armed and equipped for the war in Scotland, as the return issued by the Mayor and jurats of Winchelsea shows, Henry Jacob being one of the Jurats. (The History of Winchelsea, page 59)

Contemporary with Henry Jacob was a John Jacob in Dover who was sent to serve in the King's fleet as one of its five captains, for which he was paid 6d daily. I am pretty confident he was also of Winchelsea, but more of him later.

There were many Jacobs who held land in and took an active part within the community in Romney Marsh, where as stated many of the Winchelsea and Rye inhabitants held land. There is still to this day a Jaques Court. In 1384 a messuage, described by Griffin by annotation as Jacob’s Court, and 20 acres of land in Lyde and Old Romney were granted to William Jacob (Centre for Kentish Studies, Griffin, Feet of Fines abstracts, No 328). In 1561 Samuel Hales leased it for 14 years to Edward Hales (Centre for Kentish Studies U1115 T42/1).

I would think Henry and John Jacob of Winchelsea were related, but I do not know how. Both are of course mentioned in the rental of 1291, John holding but one plot in the 6th Quarter (History of Winchelsea, page 44). As John Jacobi (again, this does rather suggest an Italian origin), he is mentioned in the abutments of and as a witness to a charter of Thomas Elys of Winchelsea, being a grant of land called holewelle in the parish of Icklesham, abutting Winchelsea. It is dated April 22 Edward I (1294) (British Library, Additional CHarter 71314).

It was probably the same John who by letters patent dated 28th October 1320 at Westminster was granted safe conduct for one year for the men and ship called La Plente of Winchelsey, sent by Stephen Alard, John Alard, John Jacob, Reginald Alard and Thomas de Maidensten of Winchelsey to Gascony to buy wines and other victuals for conveyance into the realm. La Plente, the same name, if not the same ship, as that of Henry Jacob some 31 years earlier. Perhaps he inherited it as his son?

In 1320 the Parliamentary Rolls show us that John Jacob of Winchelsea entered in 3 acres of land in Winchelsea after the death of John the son of John de Rakle who was a bastard, lands and tenements to the value of £100 escheating to the King. He had no heirs of his body.

A John Jacob is mentioned in 1320 in a petition of William de Coventry to the King and Council (National Archives, SC8/3/131).

Then there is a reference to a John Jacob for V (acres) of land at Fremingham in 1340 (today’s Farningham by all accounts, not far from Swanley). He had to supply one armed footman for service owed to Battle Abbey. I have it somewhere at the back of my mind that there was another Fremingham somewhere in Romney Marsh, which would make more sense.

An Askesayn Jacob (and again a very Italian sounding name) is named in 1279 as a tenant in chief of the Archbishop of Canterbury, for land in Allowsbridge Hundred, Romney Marsh (National Archives, JUST 1 Roll 369, m27d).

Other names occur in the Winchelsea parish, a Stephen Jakes for example being assessed in the Lay Subsidy Roll of 1327 at 1/- tax. In 1332 the amount was 2/- and a farthing.

In the late 13th century there is mention of a William Jacob in Winchelsea, acting as a juror. We have a number of references to a William in this period and I suspect some, not all necessarily, relate to the same individual.

A William Jacob held land in and around Winchelsea, in the Hundred of Ham, in Shaddoxhurst, and in Swingefield, not far from Dover. He had a wife Alice, who was a widow in 1293 (National Archives, Just 1 Roll 375, m87d). She was involved in a dispute to land and called as her pledge Walter Jacob and Henry Wyd. An eyre roll also mentions a Henry, son of William Jacob.

This is almost certainly the same man who had at least two sons, John and William. William had a son Henry, who had a daughter Alice. She married William Claringboule. We know this from a suit in the court of Common Pleas in 1385-1386 between Alice Jacob and her husband William Claringbould against John Gold, concerning a messuage and 4 ½ acres of land in River, next Dover, of which John Jacob, who was kin of the said Alice, Alice being one of his heirs, died seized in his demesne. John died without issue. (National Archives, Court of Common Pleas, Michaelmas Term, 9 Richard II 1385).

John son of William was of the freedom of the Cinque Ports in 1347 (National Archives, Lay Subsidy, E179, 123/20). In 1341 the widow of William Jacob is assessed in a Lay Subsidy. She had died before 1349.

Jacobs of Dover

I have stated above that I believe that some of the Jacobs in Dover were in fact originally from Winchelsea.

The earliest reference I have found of a Jacob in Dover is that of William Jacob in the 100 rolls, who in c 1275 held land in Bewsbrough and Whitfield, next Dover.

Next we have the reference to John Jacob or Jakin. The name here is the same, there is ample evidence of that, it being rendered in both forms in a number of documents. This John was one of five captains of the fleet who in 1306 was paid 6d a day for his services. He and his ship were in the King’s service from 3rd July to 8th November, ie 128 days in the Scottish campaign, although he was instructed to remain with the fleet (National Archives, Various Accounts, E101 13/8). We know however that the only reason for his going to serve the King was that he had been arrested for felonies, but that as a freeman of the ports he could serve in lieu of imprisonment. His services to the Crown were more important (Close Roll 6th June 1306). Therefore an order dated 24th June 1306 is sent to the Sheriff of Sussex to supercede the execution of the exigents against John Jacob. Sussex? May one assume he was from Winchelsea? The Close Roll of same date has an order to the sheriff of Kent to deliver John Jakyn of the liberty of the Cinque Ports from prison in Canterbury castle to be sent to Scotland to serve in the King’s navy.

The court rolls of Ikelsham (next to Winchelsea) tell us that the heirs of John Jacob owed rent in 1308. Was our John killed in the Scots war? We know that two ships of which Henry Jacob had a share in were lost. Was he master of one of these? This is very circumstantial, but it does tie in.

A John Jakin, or Jakino (again that Italian connection) witnessed a number of charters mostly in the period 1270 - 1280 for deeds of Dover cartulary of Dover Priory (Lambeth Palace MS 241 m107, 109d, 112 and Bodleian Library, Gough Kent 18, charters of St Radegund Priory).

Towards the end of the 14th century references to Jacobs in and around Dover become more frequent. We have a Thomas Jacob of Charlton, next Dover, paying poll tax in 1378. In the early 15th century we have a number of Jacobs living in Dover and the surrounding villages, Nicholas Jacob, Florence Jacob, Thomas Jacob.

We have a John, the son of Henry Jacob, in Sheppey in 1352 (Lay Subsidy E179/123/24). The fact that this is Sheppey and some distance from Dover should not concern us. The court of Shepway was held there and it is logical for freemen of the Cinque ports to have a foothold there. Demonstrably Barons of Dover did in the 17th century, including John Jacob of Dover, serjeant to the Admiralty of the Cinque Ports, so why not in earlier periods.


There are many variants of the name of Jacob, but Jakin is in the period 13th - 15th centuries one of the most oft occurring. However, the name Jakin, with its variants, also continued, indeed it exists to this day.

In 1272 Simon Jakin was mayor of Hythe, one of the original Cinque Ports (St Radegund's Cartulary, Bodleian Library, Gough MSS,charter number 45). He had a son Stephen (ibid). The same Stephen was master of a vessel called La Champe in 1282 (National Archives, Various Accounts, E101 bundle 3/26). A John Jekyn of Hythe was anointed acolyte on 3rd April 1288 (Register of John Peckham).

An Adam Jakin also features in the area quite prominently at this time.

In 1298, described as of Hythe, he was party to a plea of the Abbot of St Augustine's (British Library, Cotton Galba E IV). In 1297, living in the Hundred of Worth (which includes Hythe), he delivered 2 quarters of wheat to sheriff of Kent for goods purveyed for Gascony (National Archives, E101/550/2). An Adam Jakyn was jurate of the Hundred of Worth in 1293-4, and surely must be the same man (National Archives, Just 1, Roll 376, and again in 1313, Just 1, Roll 383). He is also mentioned in the Pipe Rolls (National Archives, E372/165).

Another name that occurs a frequently is that of Walter Jakin. He too was a jurate for the 100 of Worth, he in 1255 (National Archives, Just 1, Roll No 361). Perhaps the same, or another of that name, paid 4d rent for 4 acres of land held of Eastbridge manor. A Walter Jakin is mentioned in Lyde next Romney in 1305-6 (National Archives, Just 1, Roll 379, m7).

A Walter Jakin and his wife Katherine were granted in fee farm, by the master and brethren of the hospital of Ospringe 4 acres of land, which formerly were held of the hospital by John Goldwyne, at a yearly rent of 12/-, lying at Tryanston. The feoffees may not sell or alienate the land and though they may build on it, they may not remove any of the buildings. The charter is dated 1321 (St John’s Collee Cambridge, CJCA, D9.227). Interestingly enough the seal could well be an eagle displayed .

There exists the wills of Robert Jekyn of Wye dated 1487 (Probate Registry of Canterbury, 16/334), Robert Gekyn of Brookland dated 1551 (ibid, 27/91) and Thomas Jeakyn of Sandwich dated 1470 (ibid, 2/116). In later periods we have a Walter Jeggyns of St Martins, yeoman, bound over to keep the peace in 1603 (Centre for Kentish Studies, Sessions Rolls at Maidstone, no 32).

Stephen Jekyn is named as an individual worthy of knighthood in the county of Kent in 1604, but who declined to accept the same. (British Library, Addional Manuscript 38139 - P Manwood, Historical Collection)

So, this is but a brief listing of some of the information I have discovered. There is much work to be done yet, but the above is certainly a sound basis for such, and perhaps it will stimulate others to continue with the work.

Kenneth W Jacob