About John Philpot
"Sir John Philpot, Lord Mayor of London, was born about 1330 in Kent, England. He died on 25
May 1384 in London, England. His will was composed in 1381 and enrolled 26 Jul 1389. He was
buried on 12 Sep 1384 in Grey Friars Church, London, England. This date is in the records of his
burial but it is not know just how it fits in. His name has been found spelled Philipot, Phillepot,
de Philpot, Philpot and Philpott. The place and date of his birth cannot be identified for certain,
although a Kent connection has been suggested by the probate of a Halgestowe will of 1348,
supposedly that of his father. The main weight of his life and interest however were in London,
where he was married and purchased property in 1357. He married three times in all, each time
to women of high social status and wealth.
“His first wife, Joanne de Sauneford, who died in November 1374. His second wife was Margaret
"Majery" de Croydon, who lived for not much over a year after marriage. His third wife was
Margaret Birlyngham, daughter of John de Stodeye Vintner and former Mayor. They had three
children: Edward, Margaret and Thomasina. She outlived her husband by some 40 years.
“His London activities and successes were diverse; a melange of City finance and politics, combined
with service as a royal officer and a fierce patriotism. As a member of the Grocer's Company,
he was listed as "John Philpott, at the THREE GOLDEN SUGAR LOAVES, the corner of
Durham Yard in ye Strand". He was appointed Warden of the Fraternity of St. Anthony in 1369.
In 1372 he was elected one of the two sheriffs who covered London and Middlesex, beginning
on the same day the first of several periods (1372-77, 1378-79, 1380-81) as Alderman for Cornhill
Ward. At the same time he acted as parliamentary representative for London on numerous
occasions (1369, 1371 twice, 1377, 1380, 1381, 1383). Such was his recognized standing within
royal and court circles as much as merchant ones, by 1377, that he led a deputation to both Edward
III and his young successor Richard II in protest of John of Gaunt's demand for the abolition
of office of mayor and its replacement by one of captain.
“In 1378 he led a daring raid by fitting out a small squadron of ships with his own money, and
with 1,000 men wrested from the Scottish pirate, Mercer, his cache of fifteen Spanish merchant
vessels. This did not go over very well with the noblemen of the day who complained to the
King the he was usurping his power. He was summoned by the Council to answer for acting
without the King's leave. His reply was that he had spent his money and risked his men "not to
shame the nobles or win knightly fame, but in pity for the misery of the people and country
which, from being a noble realm and dominion over other nations, has through your supiness
been exposed to the ravages of the vilest race. Since you would not lift a hand in its defense, I
exposed myself and my property for the safety and deliverance of our country". This made him
very popular with the citizens of London and let to him being elected Mayor in 1378 and 1379.
“He also used his money towards the upkeep of England's coastal defences and in 1380 he paid
Descendants of Sir John Philpot
for 1 of 2 stone towers 60 feet high, built on either side of the river below London Bridge, between
which a chain was suspended as further security against possible French naval incursions.
In addition to the regular duties of a customs official, a position he seems to have occupied by
1363 and to have retained until his death, he served on a number of royal commissions, among
them a commission of enquiry in 1380, one to enforce the statute of laborers in 1381 and one of
"oyer et terminer" in 1381. It was in recognition of his loyalty to the young King, particularly
during the Peasants' Revolt, that Richard II knighted him in June 1381.
“It has been stated that during the Peasants' Revolt, he and Henry Walworth, his successor as
mayor of London, assassinated the rebel leader Wat Tyler and thereby received their reward
from the 14-year old king Richard II. His money worked well for the Crown. His name regularly
appeared among the top half dozen donors on list of individual contributions to City loans to the
Crown. His business interests seem to have encompassed the import and export of cloth and
wool as well as the more luxury items with which the Grocers and especially the Pepperers, an
earlier and constituent part of the Company, were identified. They extended further to the amassing
of property investments in London, Kent, Middlesex and Northumbria.
“Following his death, his will revealed the extent of his enduring attachment to London. Certain
of his premises were charged with the payment of a daily alms to 13 Deserving men and women.
The reversion of lands not otherwise disposed of was left to the Mayor, Alderman and Commonalty
of their own use in the improvement of the City of London. Philpot Lane, a short street in
London, is said to be named after Sir John. Local tradition points to the two columns in the
ground floor of the offices at 15 Philpot Lane as being on the site of the old Banquetting Hall of
this celebrated Mayor. An old map of London dated about 1561 shows this area and all the street
names. Most of this area was burned in the Great Fire of 1666, destroying nearly all the buildings.”
(From Catalogue of the Tombs In the Churches of the City of London A.D. 1666 by Major
John Philpot born about 1330 in London,
England and Lord Mayor of London in 1378 is well documented in English
history. He was a wealthy man. He loaned money to the Royal family. He
paid for his own Navy to fight the pirates and protect his cargo ships.
There is a street in London called Philpot Lane which is said to be named
after him and on which he had his home. This area of London was burned many
years ago so there is no house of his left to history
Sir John Philpot, Lord Mayor of London's Timeline
Kent, United Kingdom
May 25, 1384
London, Greater London, United Kingdom