Evidence in the letters, documents, and literary books connected with the military captain and landowner Sir John Fastolf (d.1459) shows that a man with the unusual name Luket Nantron was working as a clerk within his circle. We know from a title that was given to a chronicle in Nantron’s scribal hand that he was a French native: ‘et Christoforum Hanson de patria almayn quondam cum Thoma Beaufort duce Excestrie ac luket Nantron natus de Parys vnus de clericis Johannis ffastolf’ (Basset’s Chronicle in London, College of Arms, Ms. M.9). The writer of this title was keen to specify Nantron’s role as clerk for Fastolf as well as his nationality. It is quite possible that his involvement with Fastolf began in the period of time that Fastolf spent in France in the later years of the Hundred Years War. Nantron’s sustained connection with the German man Christopher Hansson, with whom Fastolf served in the wars in France, might suggest that Nantron was part of close-knit group with whom Fastolf forged strong connections in Normandy.
Upon Fastolf’s return to England, he concerned himself with the management and legal protection of his English properties. Nantron, as a clerk, had an important practical part to play in this. He wrote letters to Fastolf concerning the conduct of his servants at one of his East Anglian properties. Then, in around 1455-56 he drafted a petition for Sir John Fastolf, which was then amended by another scribe. The survival of Nantron’s corrected hand in this document is rare evidence of the guidance and correction of one scribe by another within the context of gentry administration. This clerk’s errors were those of a novice scribe rather than a French clerk struggling with drafting in the English language. Nantron made some basic drafting mistakes, such as omitting the regnal year in the formula ‘yere of the Regne of kyng herry the sext with ought any thyng yeldyng’. In this case, the correcting scribe inserted ‘xxxi’ superscript to indicate the missing year.
Nantron also worked as a scribe for men who were part of the wider circle of Sir John Fastolf. In around 1458, Henry Windsor, apparently a Chancery clerk, wrote to John Paston I, excusing himself for using ‘Luket’ to copy documents because he ‘had no leiser’ to do so himself. Nantron’s admittance into the chancery to copy letters is significant in itself, being evidence that a foreign man, who was not a government clerk, was allowed to copy chancery documents. After Fastolf’s death, Nantron carried out tasks for members of the well-known corresponding family, the Pastons of Norfolk. In his work of the 1460s, Nantron maintained his links with German-born Christopher Hansson in another administrative context: the collection and movement of money for the Paston family. The evidence for this is Clement Paston’s letter of August 1461, in which he promised to send John Paston five marks and wrote: ‘þe remnawnte I trow I xall gett vp-on Cristofire Hanswn and Lwket’. A fellow scribe of Sir John Fastolf’s circle, William Worcester, recorded in his Itineraries that Luket Nantron died in October 1471, although the palaeographical evidence of a document that was possibly drafted by him in 1472 may suggest a slightly later date.
London, College of Arms, Ms. M.9: Basset’s Chronicle.
Oxford, Oxford University, Magdalen College, Fastolf Papers 48 and 84.
Beadle, Richard, and Richmond, Colin, eds., Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century. Part 3. EETS ss 22. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Davis, Norman, ed., Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century. Parts 1 and 2. EETS ss 20, 21. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005 (letters 116, 569, 574)
Worcester, William. Itineraries. Edited by John H. Harvey. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979.
Rowe, Benedicta J. H. ‘A Contemporary Account of the Hundred Years War from 1415 to 1429.’ English Historical Review 41 (1926): 504-513.
Thorpe, Deborah. ‘Documents and Books: A Case Study of Luket Nantron and Geoffrey Spirleng as Fifteenth-Century Administrators and Textwriters.’ Journal of the Early Book Society 14 (2011): 195-216.
Citation: Deborah Thorpe, ‘Luket Nantron: Clerk, Literary Writer, and Administrative Assistant’, England’s Immigrants 1330-1550 website, July 2012 [https://www.englandsimmigrants.com/page/individual-studies/luket-nantron/]