COPE, John (d.1414), of Adstock, Bucks. and Denshanger, Northants.

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

Family and Education

m. (1) prob. by Mar. 1388, Joan Hanstede; (2) by 1410, Joan (d. 20 Sept. 1434), 2s.2

Offices Held

Clerk and serjeant-marshal of the marshalsea of the royal household 11 Nov. 1399-d.

Escheator, Northants. and Rutland 26 Nov. 1399-24 Nov. 1400, 22 Oct. 1404-1 Dec. 1405.

Commr. to supervise repairs to the bridge at Stony Stratford, Bucks. May 1400; make arrests, Northants. July 1401; muster men to resist the northern rebels May 1405.

Sheriff, Northants. 24 Nov. 1400-8 Nov. 1401.

Tax collector, Northants. Sept. 1405.

Porter of the castle and manor of Moor End, Northants. 28 Jan. 1409-d.


This MP is first mentioned in September 1379, when he was granted royal letters of protection pending his departure for Ireland in the service of the King’s justiciar. He must then have been a very young man, and we hear no more of him for almost ten years. He appears to have married by March 1388, since he was then in possession of the two manors of Adstock and Denshanger which came to him through his first wife, Joan Hanstede. According to an inquisition then held to determine the value of certain goods and stock forfeited by Sir Robert Tresillian† as a result of his condemnation in the Merciless Parliament, Cope had somehow acquired 480 of the chief justice’s sheep, which he was keeping on these estates. Although he initially held Denshanger and Adstock in the right of his wife, our Member decided to purchase the title for himself and his heirs; and in July 1397 he offered 100 marks to the Crown for the reversion of the first of the manors together with extensive farmland in the surrounding area. One third of this property was then held by Anne Hanstede, who may have been his mother-in-law, but she died three years later, thus enabling him to make good his title. A similar transaction appears to have been effected at about this time with regard to the manor of Adstock, since he eventually acquired it outright as well.3

John Cope owed much of his success to his long association with Henry of Bolingbroke, the future Henry IV, whom he served loyally from 1390 onwards, if not before. He is recorded as one of the esquires retained by Bolingbroke to accompany him on the expedition to Prussia which left England in July of that year and returned in the following spring. His attachment to Bolingbroke, who was one of the Lords Appellant of 1388, no doubt explains why he thought it expedient to sue out a royal pardon in June 1398, by which date Richard II had already taken revenge against many of those whom he considered his enemies.4 Bolingbroke’s seizure of the throne in September 1399 brought an immediate and permanent improvement in Cope’s fortunes: his past services were duly rewarded with a lucrative office in the royal household, and he was also made escheator and then sheriff of Northamptonshire. His financial position was greatly helped by Henry IV’s decision, taken within a few days of his coronation, to excuse him the £40 which he still owed as part of the purchase price of the reversion of Denshanger. Recognizing his influence at Court, the county electors chose Cope to represent them in four of the seven Parliaments held between 1