BURLEY, John I (d.1415/16), of Broncroft in Corvedale, Salop.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Jan. 1404
Oct. 1404

Family and Education

nephew and coh. of John Burnell of Westbury, Salop. m. by 1397, Juliana, 3s. inc. William*, 1da.1

Offices Held

Commr. of inquiry, Salop Feb. 1389 (robberies), Oct. 1398 (murder), Nov. 1400 (Strange estates), Sept. 1401 (treasons and insurrections), Hereford Jan. 1403 (murder), Salop Mar. 1404 (whereabouts of a royal ward), May 1406 (breach of statutes regarding tanning), Salop, Staffs. June 1406 (concealments), Salop Apr. 1408 (murder), Sept. 1408 (assaults), Feb. 1410 (alienation of property), Mar. 1410, Jan., Feb. 1412 (rights in Morfe forest), Aug. 1412 (murder); arrest, Salop, Staffs. Dec. 1400, Salop May 1407 (heretics), Salop, Staffs. Aug. 1411; to make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well, Salop May 1402; of oyer and terminer Feb. 1403, Mar. 1404, Feb. 1410; to hold assizes of novel disseisin, Staffs. Mar. 1404; raise royal loans, Salop Sept. 1405, Salop, Staffs. June 1406; audit the accounts of the borough of Shrewsbury July 1407, Nov. 1409.

J.p. Salop 15 July 1389-June 1390, 6 Dec 1391-July 1397, 16 Sept. 1398-Mar. 1413.

Collector of an aid, Salop Dec. 1401.

Jt. controller of the musters of the royal armies, Salop and North Wales Nov. 1404-Jan. 1406.

Sheriff, Salop 10 Dec. 1408-4 Nov. 1409.


Burley’s origins are obscure,2 but it seems likely that he was the John, son of John Burley of Wistanstow, Shropshire, who in 1376 had an interest in the manors of Norton Cheyney and Upper Hayton and in property at Ludlow and Stanton Lacy. That John Burley acted as a feoffee for a neighbouring landowner, Sir Richard Ludlow*, from 1383 until Ludlow’s death in 1391, and as such presented to Wistanstow church. It was as coheir with William Spenser of the lands of their uncle, John Burnell, that Burley held a portion of the manors of Whitton and Newton in Westbury; and over the years, in association with his wife, he was engaged in transactions regarding many other properties in Shropshire, for the most part situated in the valleys of rivers and streams flowing south to Ludlow. Burley’s holdings included land at Ashfield by Ruthall, the manors of Strefford, Brockton and Munslow and, most important, property at Broncroft, on the river Corve, where either he or his son built the house of red sandstone which Leland knew later as ‘a very goodly place, like a castle’. Burley became a landowner of some substance, but whether the majority of his holdings were acquired through marriage or by purchase remains unclear.3

In the course of his career Burley, a lawyer of considerable ability, served in the capacity of feoffee, steward or councillor for several members of the nobility who owned estates in Shropshire. Among these was Gilbert, 3rd Lord Talbot, and his successor, Lord Richard, for whom Burley acted as trustee of lands in the region and as steward of Blackmere (a lordship acquired by Lord Richard through his marriage to Ankaret, Lady Strange). Burley was party to the settlement of the lordship of Corfham on Lady Ankaret and her younger son, John, Lord Furnival (afterwards Lord Talbot and 1st earl of Shrewsbury), and before 1408 he received as a gift from her a small estate in ‘Hulton’ by Marshton.4 He held property in ‘Abbeton’ as a tenant of Hugh, Lord Burnell, and is known to have assisted the latter in transactions in Cambridgeshire. (That the connexion was a close one is also suggested by Burnell’s presentation of Burley’s son, Edward, to a substantial living at Holgate, and it may be the case that they were distantly related.) In addition, at some unknown date before July 1397, Burley entered the service of Edmund, earl of Stafford, for whom he acted not only as steward of his lordship of Caus (receiving accordingly an annual fee of £6 13s.4d.), but also as a member of his council. Burley’s advice in legal matters was also sought by the burgesses of Shrewsbury, by whom he was employed as steward from 1400, if not before, until his death, in return for a fee of £2 (or sometimes £3) a year, occasional gifts of wine and fur-trimmed robes, and payment of his expenses when dealing with local disputes (such as that between Nicholas Gerard* and Urian St. Pierre*) or advising the coroner about the conduct of an inquest.5

Whether it was the burgesses themselves or the earls of Arundel who appointed the steward of Shrewsbury is unclear, but Burley was undoubtedly closely connected with the Fitzalans, too, and not just as their tenant at Broughton. Early in 1387, as a member of Lord Talbot’s contingent, he had joined the army which put to sea under Richard, earl of Arundel, the admiral, and met with some success against the French and their allies in the Channel. By 1393 he was acting for the earl as steward of the lordship of Oswestry, and two years later he was made a feoffee of the valuable Fitzalan lordships of Chirk and Chirkland. Nor did the association end with Earl Richard’s execution in 1397, for Burley soon attached himself to his disinherited son, Thomas Fitzalan, who returned from exile in the company of Henry of Bolingbroke in June 1399 to be restored by him, as Henry IV, to his title and estates. Burley was a Member of the first Lancastrian Parliament, in which the acts of the Parliament of 1397-8, including the attainder of Earl Richard, were annulled. The early years of Henry IV’s reign saw him frequently associated with the young earl on important royal commissions of a judicial nature, and it seems likely that he often advised him on legal matters. Burley was the first to witness the earl’s charter granted to the borough of Oswestry in January 1407, and six months later he was made a feoffee of his castle and lordship of Shrawardine, Shropshire, and property in Wiltshire, for the purposes of effecting an entail. Furthermore, that spring he had been party to a settlement of estates on the earl’s sister, Joan, and her husband, William Beauchamp, Lord Abergavenny, which involved him in dealings not only with Earl Thomas but also with his uncle, the archbishop of Canterbury. (In other spheres Burley’s relations with Lord Abergavenny were less than friendly: in the same year the dean of Wenlock reported to Bishop Mascall of Hereford that a jury summoned to inquire into the vacancy of Munslow church, of which Abergavenny was the supposed patron, had been terrorized by Burley, the lord of the manor. The dispute was finally settled in 1410 when Abergavenny permitted his adversary to make the presentation, and the latter prudently selected the bishop’s registrar.) In 1411 Earl Thomas named Burley as one of his attorneys to look after his affairs during his absence abroad. The ties between them were strengthened further when two of Burley’s sons, John, junior, and William Burley (the future Speaker) also entered the earl’s service.6

Although the temporary eclipse of the Fitzalans between 1397 and 1399 had no obvious effect on Burley’s continued appointments to royal commissions (he was even re-appointed as a j.p. in September 1398), it is clear that under Henry IV he was given a more prominent role in local administration. It was only then, too, that he was elected to the Commons. On 14 Oct. 1399, during his first Parliament, Thomas Percy, earl of Worcester, granted him the marriage of his ward, Robert Corbet* of Moreton Corbet, and he subsequently sold Burley the wardship of Corbet’s estates as well. After that Burley became a member of the quorum of the Shropshire bench, and he and Thomas Young I*, another councillor of the earl of Arundel, served more regularly than any of the other j.p.s of the period. In October 1400 Burley, sitting at sessions with the earl, Lord Burnell and Young, heard the first indictments to be brought against Owen Glendower and his supporters, who had recently raided the earl’s lordship of Oswestry, as an outcome of which the Welshman was formally proclaimed traitor. Burley was to play an important part in the suppression of the rebellion: in 1404 during his fourth Parliament, at Coventry, he and Sir John Cornwall* were assigned the task of supervising the musters of the royal armies as they assembled in the marches of North Wales. They were required to certify the King at frequent intervals regarding the strength of his forces, and were bound by oaths, sworn before the abbot of Lilleshall, to remain loyal to the Crown. In the course of the following year Burley received special commissions to supervise the musters of the men serving under the prince of Wales and the earl of Arundel, and it was no doubt because of his experience of the battle front that he was summoned to attend a great council. Burley was present at the elections held at Shrewsbury castle in 1407, when his colleague-in-arms (Cornwall) and David Holbache, a fellow lawyer and retainer of the earl of Arundel, were returned for the shire.7

Burley had long been a member of the Palmers’ guild of Ludlow, and also came into contact with the monks of Shrewsbury abbey, where, after obtaining a licence in December 1414 to alienate property at Alveley in mortmain, he founded a chantry. Although no longer a young man he enlisted in the retinue of the earl of Arundel for Henry V’s first expedition to France, which mustered on 1 July 1415, but he returned to England on 4 Oct. only shortly after the earl himself had been invalided home suffering from dysentery contracted at the siege of Harfleur. It may be surmised that Burley, too, had caught this disease: he made his will that same month and died at an unknown date before 18 Feb. 1416. He had appointed as his executors (Sir) Richard Lacon* and Roger Corbet* (brother of his former ward), fellow retainers of Earl Thomas, who had shared with him the experience of the Normandy campaign.8

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Boerley, Borley.

  • 1. According to H. Owen and J.B. Blakeway (Hist. Shrewsbury, ii. 139), Burley’s wife was a da. of Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin, but no evidence has been found to support this statement.
  • 2. It is unlikely that he was the John, 4th or 5th s. of Sir John Burley KG, of Burley, Herefs., bro. of Sir Richard Burley KG (d.1387), and nephew of the famous Sir Simon Burley KG, who was executed by the Lords Appellant in 1388 (CIPM, xvi. 514, 654; CCR, 1389-92, p. 136; Reg. Gilbert Canterbury and York Soc. xviii), 34-36, 109-12), if only because of his marked attachment to one of those Lords, Richard, earl of Arundel. Nor should he be confused with Sir Simon's great-nephew and heir, who, while still a minor, petitioned the parliament of 1401 for the annulment of the judgment of 1388 and for the recovery of the forfeited Burley estates. That John Burley came of age in 1404 and died in 1428, leaving a young son, William, as heir to Birley: RP, iii. 464, 537-8; CPR, 1401-5, pp. 87, 122; CFR, xv. 235; CCR, 1422-9, pp. 430-1; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 235.
  • 3. CP25(1)195/17/64, 66, 19/24-26, 20/5, 8; CIPM, xvi. 1010; CPR, 1381-5, p. 220; CCR, 1389-92, p. 238; R.W. Eyton, Antiqs. Salop, xi. 364; VCH Salop, viii. 313, 316; JUST 1/750 m. 2; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 4), vi. 227-9; J. Leland, Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, v. 15.
  • 4. JUST 1/1504 m. 73; CPR, 1385-9, p. 327; 1405-8, p. 409; CCR, 1413-19, p. 24; A.J. Pollard, ‘The Talbots’ (Bristol Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1968), 229-30.
  • 5. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 4), vi. 230; Shrewsbury Guildhall, bailiffs’ accts. box VIII, 353, 355, 356; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 144; 1402-5, p. 71; SC6/1117/14; Reg. Mascall (Canterbury and York Soc. xxi), 176; Add. 30319 f. 20d.
  • 6. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 1), ii. 204; vii. 258; CPR, 1391-6, p. 548; 1405-8, pp. 320, 342-3; CIMisc. vi. 236; Foedera ed. Rymer (orig. edn.), viii. 699; E101/41/5; Reg. Mascall, 38-39, 47, 175.
  • 7. C137/50/39; Salop Peace Roll ed. Kimball, 22, 30; Sel. Cases King’s Bench (Selden Soc. lxxxviii), 114-16; RP, iv. 377; PPC, ii. 99; CPR, 1401-5, p. 507; 1405-8, pp. 6, 147, 156; CCR, 1402-5, p. 479; C219/10/4.
  • 8. VCH Salop, ii. 136; CPR, 1413-16, p. 258; PCC 31 Marche; E101/47/1.