The Mayor of the Mob: The Life Records of John Northampton

The Mayor of the Mob: The Life Records of John Northampton

By Brad Kirkland

Master’s Thesis, University of York, 2010

Abstract: This study provides context for the political conflicts of the last quarter of the fourteenth century in London through the life of its most controversial mayor, John Northampton.

Through a thorough examination of the historical records, numerous discoveries about his life and impact upon London politics are made.Some of these new discoveries include:


1: the identity of Northampton’s father;

2: Northampton’s occupations prior to becoming a draper;

3: that his business included wool-trading;

4: that his constitutional reform requiring the Common Council to be elected by the misteries was intended to apply to the mayor, sheriffs and aldermen;

5: that he conspired with the king to arrange for an unconstitutional second term as mayor;

6: that the size of Northampton’s mob after his election loss was larger than recorded and probably armed;


7: that Northampton sailed for Spain with John of Gaunt once released from prison to avoid assassination by his London rivals;

8: that Northampton may have stayed abroad after Gaunt returned until he could be pardoned.

This study also utilizes the original text of Northampton’s will (most scholars have used a translated summary) and records from his manors to provide a picture of Northampton’s properties at death.

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