DELVES, John (d.1394), of Doddington, Cheshire and Apedale, Staffs.
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Family and Education
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Staffs. July 1388, Dec. 1392; inquiry, Salop Nov. 1389, Dec. 1391, Staffs., Salop July 1393; to take sureties in a dispute over tolls, Staffs Mar. 1392; make an arrest, Cheshire Oct. 1393.3
Sheriff, Staffs. 7 Nov. 1390-21 Oct. 1391.
Escheator, Salop, Staffs. and the Welsh march 18 Nov. 1391-24 Oct. 1392.
J.p. Staffs. 6 Dec. 1391-d.
Delves was the nephew and heir presumptive of the eminent soldier and landowner, Sir John Delves, who died without issue shortly after November 1370, leaving his extensive estates in Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Warwickshire to his younger brother, Henry, with a remainder to the latter’s son, the subject of this biography.4 Although he did not live to enjoy the additional wealth and influence which this inheritance would have brought him, Delves was none the less a man of considerable standing in the Staffordshire area, as can be seen from the various royal commissions and appointments which came his way from 1388 onwards.
Save for a reference to him in his uncle’s will of 1369, Delves is not otherwise mentioned until February 1377, when he acted as a mainpernor at the Exchequer for Fulk Corbet and Philip Fitzwaryn. Three years later, in May 1380, he obtained royal letters of protection pending his departure for France in the retinue of his kinsman by marriage, Sir Hugh Calveley (one of the great captains of Edward III’s reign), and he was present at Clary sur Somme during the following summer.5 A substantial part of the Delves family estates were then held by Sir John’s widow, Isabel, who, in about 1381, leased her manor of Cold Norton, Staffordshire, to her nephew for life at an annual rent of £5 5s.11d. Delves was at this time called upon to stand as surety for William Praers as farmer of the manor of Marbury in Cheshire, a county where his uncle had built up an impressive estate, and where he himself had interests as a feoffee-to-uses. He was also made an attorney by Sir John Bagot*, who left England in 1386 to support John of Gaunt in his attempt upon the throne of Castile. Hardly anything is known about Delves’s own affairs during this period, although in 1389 he began a lawsuit against the abbot of Croxden in Staffordshire for the illegal detention of certain deeds, and in the following year he acted as a mainpernor in Chancery for his neighbour, Ralph Stafford*.6
In February 1389 and June 1390, Delves bound himself in sums of 80 marks and 12 marks respectively to the keeper of the hanaper of Chancery — an undertaking which was probably connected with an exchange of property made between Henry Cotton, his uncle’s last surviving feoffee, and the Crown. Together with his father, Delves offered sureties totalling £300 to Cotton during this period, and by November 1392 he was in possession of the manor and advowson of Walton-upon-Trent in Derbyshire, newly acquired from the King.7 Meanwhile, in February 1390, he and Sir John Bagot’s kinsman, the courtier, Sir William Bagot (who was then sitting with him in Parliament), obtained custody of the manor of Thornton and land in Helsby, Cheshire, during the minority of Sir Peter Thornton’s heir. While he was up at Westminster, Delves also agreed to stand bail once again for Ralph Stafford, who had recently been committed to the Tower. In the following year, while he was sheriff of Staffordshire, Delves received a second and much more lucrative royal grant, being made joint farmer with William Walsall* of the castle and lordship of Redcastle in Shropshire and several Staffordshire manors formerly owned by the late Lord Audley.8
Delves died in 1394 while involved in litigation with Roger Swynnerton over an alleged debt of £20. His son, John, who served as escheator and sheriff of Staffordshire and represented the county in Parliament, had not long to wait for possession of the family estates, since his grandparents, Henry and Isabel Delves, died within a few months of each other one year later, and their property came immediately into his hands.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
- 1. Although William Walsall was returned to this Parliament, Delves’s name appears on the writ de expensis (CCR, 1392-6 p. 115).
- 2. C136/87/20, 21. In his Palatine and City of Chester ed. Helsby, iii (pt. 1), 522, G. Ormerod gives a pedigree of the Delves family compiled from their archive by Sir William Dugdale, and modified in A. Collins, Baronetage, ii. 294. According to Dugdale, Delves was the child of his father’s first marriage to Katherine, the da. and h. of Sir John Ardern, and widow of both William Chetilton and Ralph Wetenal. Collins, on the other hand, believed that Katherine died childless, and that Henry Delves’s second wife, Margaret Brereton, was the MP’s mother, but this cannot now be proved. The number of Delves’s children must also remain a matter for conjecture, especially as Dugdale and Collins disagree on this point.
- 3. DKR, xxxvi. 330.
- 4. Ormerod, iii (pt. 1), 518-19; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. xii. 46-48. Sir John Delves was still alive in Nov. 1370, when he presented to the living at Malpas (Cheshire RO, Cholmondeley of Cholmondeley ms DCH C/420).
- 5. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. n.s. xii. 47, xiv. 227, 231; CFR, ix. 69.
- 6. DKR, xxxvi. 390, 424; Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd ms 396; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiv. 20, 245; CCR, 1389-92, pp. 124, 146-7.
- 7. CCR, 1385-9, p. 640; 1389-92, pp. 188-9, 279; CPR, 1388-92, pp. 262-3, 277; 1391-6, p. 242; SC8/107/5309.
- 8. CFR, x. 313, xi. 10-11, 40; CCR, 1389-92, pp. 124-5, 146-7; CPR, 1388-92, p. 520.
- 9. C136/87/20, 21; DKR, xxxvi. 143; CCR, 1392-6, p. 467; CFR, xi. 160; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xv. 59; Staffs. Parl. Hist. i (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), 206-7.