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HOUTON, JOHN de (d. 1246), justice, was appointed archdeacon of Bedford in 1216 (Ann. Dunst. p. 53). From this time forward he was frequently employed in a judicial capacity, and seems to have been high in the royal favour. As archdeacon of Bedford he decided several cases in which the priory of Dunstable was concerned, especially two between the monks and burgesses of Dunstable in 1221 and 1228 (ib. p. 87). In the same year he was sent to Rome by the king to resist the demands of Ranulph, earl of Chester (ib. p. 89; Rot. Claus. 8 Hen. III), and in 1225 he was twice employed by the prelates as their spokesman to answer the papal demands for revenues in England (Matt. Paris, iii. 103). In 1228 he was sent on a second mission to Rome, as the representative of the king and bishops, to oppose Walter of Eynsham, whom the monks of Canterbury had elected archbishop, and procured the cassation of this election, and the appointment of Richard Grant [q. v.] (ib. iii. 169–72; Ann. Dunst. pp. 109, 113). In 1231 he became archdeacon of Northampton (ib. p. 128), which post he held till his death in 1246 (Matt. Paris, iv. 552). Matthew Paris says that he died intestate, leaving great wealth, which excited the cupidity of the pope, who claimed the estates of clerks who left no will. But the ‘Dunstable Annals’ (pp. 264–5) record in 1274 the discharge of a debt due from the priory to Houton, by paying it, in accordance with his legacy, to the dean and chapter of Lincoln. Houton's name is also given as Octon, Hocton, Hotoft, and Hotosp.

[Matt. Paris, and Dunstable Annals (in Annales Monastici, vol. iii.) in Rolls Ser.; Foss's Judges of England, ii. 368.]

C. L. K.