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Not surprisingly, his will consists largely of bequests of sizeable quantities of lead to neighbouring religious houses and churches.Yet in common with most medieval merchants, Thornton still sought to diversify his investments by trading in a wide range of commodities such as woad, madder and wine.

Although he later restored Acklam to a former tenant, Thornton retained Kirklevington until his death, 25 years later.

At all events, the Thorntons had established themselves in Newcastle by the 1370s and soon began to prosper there.

The origins of this remarkable burgess still remain obscure, for whereas one tradition has it that he came to Newcastle from the west, possibly growing up in the parish of Hartburn in Northumberland, another portrays him as the descendant of an ancient Yorkshire family which lived at Thornton near Bradford in the West Riding.

The ship was attacked by pirates from Wismer and Rostock, who not only seized the merchandise but also imprisoned some of Thornton’s associates.

Despite their strenuous protests, it was not until 1405 that Henry IV sent an embassy to obtain satisfaction, and even then compensation remained elusive.7Being a man of many talents, Thornton proved himself invaluable as a conscientious royal servant and municipal official.

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