DAUNTSEY, Sir John (d.1391), of Dauntsey, Wilts.
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Family and Education
s. of Richard Dauntsey of Wilsford by Katherine, da. of John Gernon of Steeple Lavington, Wilts.1 m.bef. Nov. 1373, Joan, da. and event. h. of Sir Roger Bavent of Norton Bavent, Wilts. by his w. Hawise, 3s. Kntd. by May 1361.
Commr. of inquiry, Wilts. Feb. 1366 (possessions of an outlaw), Jan. 1391 (goods of prior of Clatford); to collect the parochial subsidy June 1371; of array May 1375, Mar. 1380, Hants, Wilts. July 1381; to put down rebellion, Wilts. July, Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of arrest, Hants Aug. 1382; to administer the general oath of allegiance to the Lords Appellant, Wilts. Mar. 1388; of gaol delivery, Old Sarum Aug. 1389.
Sheriff, Wilts. 7 Nov. 1373-12 Dec. 1374.
Tax assessor, Wilts. Aug. 1379.
J.p. Wilts. 20 Dec. 1382-July 1389.
The Dauntseys were an old Wiltshire family, which derived its name from the parish in the hundred of Malmesbury. In 1344, John’s grandfather, Sir Richard Dauntsey, settled on him in remainder the manor of Wilsford Dauntsey and two other manors in the county.2 Through marriage, John sought to acquire other properties: in 1373 he and his wife went to law with the prioress of Dartford over possession of the manors of Fifield and Norton Bavent, which they claimed as his wife’s inheritance from her father. The prioress maintained that she owed her tenancy to a grant of the Crown, and indeed this seems to have been the case, for Dauntsey’s father-in-law had apparently relinquished his rights to the manors in order that they might be donated to the priory. An agreement was eventually reached, whereby in return for giving up their claim the Dauntseys received from the Crown the manor of Marden (Wiltshire) in tail, for the rent of one red rose every Midsummer Day. In addition, Dauntsey acquired, under the terms of a settlement made in 1382, a reversionary interest in the manors of Oakhanger and Newton Valence in Hampshire, which was to fall in after the death of Sir Thomas West (father of the first Lord West) and his heirs. The Wests leased eight manors in Wiltshire from Dauntsey, for an annual rent of £40, and it seems likely that he was related to them; certainly he was named on the commission sent into Hampshire in August 1382 to arrest those who had assaulted Sir Thomas West’s wife and children in the New Forest. At the time of his death Dauntsey’s property in Wiltshire was estimated to be worth no more than £36 13s.4d. a year.3
Dauntsey’s career had begun by May 1361 when, already a knight, he took out royal letters of protection to serve overseas. Within a few years he entered the service of Edward, Lord Despenser, a knight of great renown, and probably fought with him in his campaigns abroad. It seems likely, however, that he did not travel with his lord to Italy in 1368, for in the following year he was acting at home as a feoffee of two manors in Cambridgeshire which belonged to Despenser’s father-in-law, Bartholomew, Lord Burghersh. Dauntsey was at sea in Despenser’s retinue from August until October 1372, however, and in the following April he was the first to witness an important charter granted by him at Cardiff castle. In the course of the next two years Lord Edward not only named Dauntsey as a feoffee of his estates in Glamorgan, for the purposes of a settlement on his wife, but also appointed him as an executor of his will. In the latter capacity, Dauntsey was long engaged in putting his lord’s affairs in order after Despenser’s death in November 1375: as late as 20 Jan. 1377 he received from the Exchequer part payment of the £425 owing to the deceased as wages of war for his last military expedition (to Brittany).4
Despenser’s heir, Lord Thomas, was a minor and was long to remain so. Accordingly, Dauntsey now attached himself elsewhere: to Richard Fitzalan, earl of Arundel. In 1381 the earl named him as one of his feoffees of the marcher lordships of Chirk and Chirksland, and on 20 Jan. 1386 obtained a royal licence to grant Dauntsey a yearly rent of £20 from his manor of Keevil in Wiltshire, for term of his life. In March 1387 Dauntsey enlisted in the force which put to sea under the earl as admiral, and fought some successful naval engagements against the French and their allies. Whether Arundel had anything to do with Dauntsey’s six elections to Parliament for Wiltshire between 1378 and 1388 may not now be ascertained, but there can be little doubt that he would have welcomed his retainer’s support in the last of these, the Merciless Parliament of February 1388, in which the earl played so prominent a part as one of the Lords Appellant. That the latter had confidence in Dauntsey is clear from his appointment, at the dissolution of the Parliament, to administer in Wiltshire oaths of allegiance to them and their new government.5
In his will Dauntsey requested burial at Dauntsey church ‘with the puryest, wythoute any other coste or solempnitee ... and I wille and byde that I be layde in the erthe naked as I cam into the yerthe’. Such a provision for a simple funeral was common among supporters of the lollard heresy, but there has survived no further evidence to suggest that Dauntsey held unorthodox views. He died on 31 Oct. 1391, and was succeeded by his son, Sir John Dauntsey junior, aged 34.6 The latter had been knighted some seven years previously, and in 1387 he had married Elizabeth, daughter and coheir of John Beverley, thereby acquiring property in Hertfordshire and London.7