BIDDULPH, John, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs.
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Family and Education
Bailiff, Newcastle-under-Lyme Mich. 1408-9, mayor 1418-19.2
Prob. escheator, Staffs. 9 Dec. 1408-7 Nov. 1409.
Commr. of inquiry, Staffs. Feb. 1422 (counterfeiting).
Members of the Biddulph family were living on the Staffordshire manor of Great Fenton by the late 12th century, although there can be little doubt that the subject of this biography claimed his immediate descent from a line of Newcastle burgesses. It was as John, son of Rogert Biddulph, that he was admitted to the freedom of the borough upon payment of a 20s. fine in 1402-3, perhaps at the time of his marriage to the widow of one of Newcastle’s most eminent residents, the former mayor and MP, Richard Buntable. For the next ten years, at least, Biddulph and his wife were involved in a number of lawsuits arising from the administration of the deceased’s estate, and even found themselves at odds with the executors of another influential Newcastle burgess, Thomas Thickness*. In the spring of 1411 Biddulph also began an action of account against Stephen Hale, his former receiver, but he was no more successful here than in any of his other attempts to obtain redress at law.3 Meanwhile, in about 1407, he stood surety for Geoffrey Podmore on his election to the freedom of the borough of Newcastle, and in the following year was himself made bailiff of the town. It is now impossible to tell if he or another of the same name became escheator of Staffordshire at this time: nor can we be certain of the identity of the John Biddulph who, in 1408, was chosen to act as an attorney in England for Sir John Tiptoft*. Indeed, no more is definitely known of our Member’s career until Michaelmas 1418 when he became mayor of Newcastle. His first election to Parliament took place ten months later while he was still in office (although he did not sit as mayor). In November 1420 Biddulph was made joint farmer (with Sir Roger Aston†) of the estates of the late Hugh Stafford, Lord Bourgchier, during the minority of the latter’s kinsman, the earl of Stafford. Hugh’s widow subsequently married Sir Lewis Robessart (jure uxoris Lord Bourgchier), who at some point before March 1431, chose Biddulph as a trustee of the manor of Stanford Rivers, which he himself held to the earl’s use.4
When he made his second appearance in the Commons, Biddulph was vainly attempting to recover a chest of documents from one William Chamber, a yeoman of Fauld in Staffordshire. Three years later, in 1424, he began another lawsuit against a group of Cheshire men who allegedly owed him 40s. Together with John Delves† and Hugh Erdeswyk*, he was named as a feoffee by John Bressy’s widow, Annabel, at about this time. But no more is heard of him after April 1433, when he witnessed the inspeximus of a charter conveying land in Cold Norton.5
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Bedulf(e), Bidulph(e), Budulfe, Bydulph. At least one other man of the same name is known to have lived in Staffs. during the early 15th century. A John Biddulph the elder appears in 1405-6, and it was possibly he rather than the subject of this biography who was active elsewhere in the county at this time (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xii. 258; xv. 91, 96; xvi. 48, 53; CPR, 1396-9, p. 398; CCR, 1402-5, p. 383; 1405-9, p. 221).