COLCLOUGH, John (d.1420/1), of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Hanley, Staffs.
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Family and Education
Bailiff, Newcastle-under-Lyme Mich. 1377-8, 1379-81; mayor 1384-5, 1386-7, 1388-90, 1394-5, 1400-1, 1402-5, 1406-7, 1408-9, 1410-11.2
From the mid 14th century, if not before, the Colclough family enjoyed considerable influence in Newcastle and its environs. John’s father represented the borough in the Parliament of 1360, and subsequently held office as both bailiff and mayor. Over the years he established himself as a local landowner of some consequence, for besides acquiring land in Newcastle and the neighbouring village of Wolstanton, he was able to purchase the Staffordshire manor of Hanley from Sir Richard Peshale†. The ownership of this property, which John inherited together with his father’s other possessions in about 1385, proved a mixed blessing, since both father and son were involved in litigation with Peshale’s widow over the assignment of her dower.3
By this date John had already gained recognition as a leading member of the local community. He served his first term as bailiff of Newcastle in 1377, and on at least four occasions over the next ten years he went surety for his successors in office. At some point before October 1379 he took on the lease of additional holdings in Wolstanton, where he appears to have been farming his father’s property as well. In 1380 (while he was again acting as bailiff) he witnessed a deed for the prior of Trentham, who had strong connexions with the borough, and may, indeed, have been his feudal overlord. According to a lawsuit heard many years later, Colclough paid £15 to one of Thomas Lichfield’s† receivers at about this time, although we do not know why he did so.4 No other burgess could rival his record of 12 terms as mayor, which were served over a period of 27 years. His two returns to Parliament were both made when he was in office; and on each occasion he sat with his younger brother, William, whom he engaged in 1393 to be his attorney in his lawsuit with Joan Peshale, and who eventually made him his executor. Even when he was not acting in an official capacity, Colclough played a prominent part in municipal life. In 1396, for example, he ranked as second among the prima duodena (or senior members) of the merchant guild, and in 1410 he attested the minutes of that body.5
Much of Colclough’s time after 1385 was taken up with the administration of his late father’s estate, and, together with his fellow executor, John Keen*, he was obliged to bring a number of lawsuits for the recovery of debts owed to the deceased by such persons as the Newcastle burgess, William Thickness*, and Joan, widow of Sir John Swynnerton†.6 In 1397 Colclough joined with Roger Longridge* and the influential landowner, Nicholas Bradshaw, in purchasing property in the Staffordshire villages of Walton near Stone and Great Chatwell. Five years later he and Bradshaw obtained a royal licence to settle most of this land on Stone priory. Other endowments were to be made by Bradshaw’s brother, Roger*, so it would appear that Colclough was acting as a feoffee-to-uses rather than a direct benefactor of the priory.7 During the Easter term of 1408 the MP and his wife either sold or conveyed land in Chorlton, Staffordshire, to a local man. That Colclough earned at least part of his income as a farmer is borne out by a case heard at the Stafford assizes in March 1414 involving the theft of two of his oxen. The death of his younger brother at about this time involved him in yet more litigation, notably as defendant in an action for debt brought in the following year by Sir William Newport*.8 Following a long-established family tradition, Colclough’s son, John, was already active in municipal affairs by then, and it was probably he, rather than his father, who became mayor of Newcastle in 1418, and stood surety for John Mynors* at the parliamentary elections held there in the following year. Both men were being sued for a debt of £20 by Margaret Delves during the Hilary term of 1420, although since John Colclough the younger was alone ordered to appear in court during the summer of 1421, we may reasonably assume that the subject of this biography had died in the interim.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 217; xiii. 192.
- 2. T. Pape, Med. Newcastle-under-Lyme, 57, 150-1, 153, 156, 158-9, 161-2, 167-70, 172-3, 175.
- 3. Ibid. 87; VCH Staffs. viii. 151, Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 179; xiii. 87, 91, 99, 111; xv. 54-55, 90.
- 4. Pape, 151, 154, 157, 159, 197; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 328; xv. 23.
- 5. Wm. Salt. Arch. Soc. xv. 55; xvii. 54; Pape, 51, 161, 164.
- 6. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii. 192, 204; CCR, 1389-92, p. 167.
- 7. Wm. Salt. Arch. Soc. xi. 203; CPR, 1401-5, p. 47; C143/433/5.
- 8. B.H. Putnam, Procs. J.P.s, 302, 337; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 217; xvii. 54.
- 9. CCR, 1419-22, p. 42; C219/12/3; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvii. 71, 80. John Colclough the younger was dead by 1431, when the wardship of his son, Thomas, gave rise to litigation between his widow and the prior of Trentham (ibid. 131).