GREVILLE, John (d.1444), of Sezincote, Glos.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
yr. s. of William Greville (d.1401) of Chipping Campden, Glos. by his 1st w. Mary (d.1386). m. (1) bef. Nov. 1406, Sibyl (c.1387-27 Aug. 1425), da. and h. of Sir Robert Corbet* of Hadley, Salop, prob. by his 2nd w., s.p.; (2) bef. 1427, Joyce (c.1405-19 July 1473), da. of Sir Walter Cokesay of Great Cooksey, Worcs. and sis. and event. h. of Sir Hugh Cokesay†, 1s.
Commr. of array, Glos. Sept., Oct. 1403, May 1415, May 1418, Mar. 1419; inquiry Feb. 1406 (estates late of the earl of Huntingdon), Glos., Bristol Jan. 1414 (lollards); sewers, Glos. Mar. 1410; to raise royal loans Nov. 1419, Glos., Warws., Worcs. July 1426, May 1428, Glos. Mar. 1430, Mar. 1431, Feb. 1436, Mar. 1439, Nov. 1440, Mar., Aug. 1442; assess contributions to a tax on income from land Apr. 1431, Jan. 1436.
Sheriff, Glos. 13 Feb.-22 Nov 1405, 1 Dec 1415-10 Nov. 1417, 15 Jan.-12 Dec. 1426.
J.p. Glos. 20 Feb.-July 1406, 26 Nov. 1416-39, 6 Mar. 1444-d.
Escheator, Glos. 9 Nov. 1406-30 Nov. 1407, 9 Dec. 1408-7 Nov. 1499, 10 Nov. 1413-10 Feb. 1415, 4 Nov. 1418-23 Nov. 1419.
Receiver-general of the estates of John, duke of Bedford, prob. by Aug. 1419-bef. Dec. 1426.
Steward of the estates of Anne, dowager countess of Stafford, in Glos., Hants and Wilts. by Mich. 1433-5.1
The Grevilles, of Norman or Flemish extraction, had settled in Chipping Campden by 1276. John was one of six sons of William Greville, perhaps the richest and most influential of the Cotswolds wool merchants of his day, whose large brass in the church which his substantial contributions helped to rebuild, affirms him to have been ‘quondam civis Londonie et flos mercatorum lanarum totius Anglie’. John started his career in his father’s calling: in October 1395 both men took out royal letters of pardon for trespasses against the statute regulating the purchase of wool; and it was perhaps the father’s confidence in John’s sound business sense which prompted him to name him among his executors. William Greville had invested his profits of trade in property: before his death in 1401 he had finished building the fine town-house which remains nearly opposite the Woolstaplers’ Hall in Campden, and purchased over 14 messuages in the town, as well as the manors of Lasborough and Meon nearby; while over the Warwickshire border, near Stratford-upon-Avon, he had bought the manor of Milcote. Certain of these holdings, including Milcote, were long to remain in the possession of John’s stepmother Joan ( Sir Philip Thornbury’s* sister), who married Sir Edward Benstede* and lived on until 1449 (after John’s own death); while the rest were distributed among William Greville’s sons, for the most part falling to the eldest, Lewis (who made his home at Drayton in Oxfordshire). John’s share was Lasborough, which had been settled on him in 1385 at the time of its purchase. The rise of the merchant family to gentry status is marked not only by William Greville’s second marriage, but also by that of his daughter Alice to Edmund Ludlow (d.1409), who owned ‘Ludlowes’ manor in Campden. John Greville was to be a trustee of this property on behalf of his niece, Margaret, who subsequently married Sir Baldwin Strange.2)
Greville evidently abandoned the calling of merchant not long after his father’s death. Since 1396 he had himself dabbled in the property market in a small way, having purchased and then sold the Bedfordshire manor of Edworth, but it was his marriage to the wealthy Sir Robert Corbet’s only daughter which was to make him a landowner of substance. In 1412 Greville’s lands in Gloucestershire were estimated to provide an annual income of £20, and some time in the same year he took on a lease for £24 p.a. of the manor of Charfield, as a tenant of Anne, dowager countess of Stafford. The deaths of his father-in-law in 1417 and of the latter’s widow in 1420 brought him jure uxoris the manors of Kings Bromley (Staffordshire), Hadley (Shropshire), Ebrington and Farmcote (Gloucestershire), Denchworth and Tubney (Berkshire), Stanlake (Oxfordshire) and Assington (Suffolk), estates of an estimated worth of over £74 a year.3
Greville’s involvement in local administration, predominantly in Gloucestershire, had begun in 1403 and was to continue until his death 40 years later, during which period he served three terms as sheriff, four as escheator and for about 24 years as a j.p. In February 1406, during his first shrievalty, he was granted 20 marks from the issues of the county in consideration of his large expenses ‘in labouring in person with a greater number of people than he could maintain according to his estate and in arraying at diverse times the fencibles of the shire to go at his cost into Wales’. Early in 1410 Bishop Peverel of Worcester appointed him to act as one of his proxies in the forthcoming Parliament, so it is possible that Greville was the man of unknown identity who then accompanied Sir John Drayton to the Commons as a representative for Gloucestershire. Greville attended the local elections to the Parliaments of 1411 and 1413 (May), and at those for the second Parliament of 1414 he stood surety for Sir Thomas Fitznichol.4
It was probably an ability in financial matters, born of his training as a merchant, which brought Greville into close contact with several members of the titled nobility. In June 1417, Thomas, Lord Berkeley, named him among a group of feoffees of his extensive estates, whom he was entrusting to carry out the wishes expressed in his will, and it was probably in connexion with this duty that in 1420 he entered into a bond for 500 marks with Berkeley’s son-in-law Richard, earl of Warwick. The bond was possibly to ensure Greville’s pacific intentions in the dispute, then in its first stages, between the earl and Berkeley’s nephew and heir-male, James; and the latter also courted Greville’s favour, for at a much later stage in the dispute (in 1440) he was to give him, as one of his esquires, an annual fee of retainer of £4 6s.8d. from the manor of Alkington together with the right to farm two pastures there worth a similar sum. Greville’s connexion with the countess of Stafford, begun when he had become a tenant of some of her property in Gloucestershire, was long to continue: some time before 1417 he made a loan of 40 marks to her husband, Sir William Bourgchier*, and by 1433 he was acting as steward of certain of her dower lands, receiving as such in 1434-5 a fee of £5 as well as £1 13s.4d. for service as steward of the court of her honour of Hereford in Gloucestershire. But without doubt the most important nobleman to make use of Greville’s services was Henry V’s brother, John, duke of Bedford. He may have first come to Bedford’s attention in 1418 when his great-niece, Elizabeth Strange, was made the duke’s ward; certainly, within a year he was acting as a member of Bedford’s council and, most likely, also as receiver-general of his estates. This much is clear from the correspondence between the duke and the prior of Llanthony by Gloucester, which began on 10 Aug. 1419 when Bedford wrote to the prior giving credence to his chancellor, Master Richard Legot, and his councillor, Greville, to discuss the terms of a loan. Greville was, therefore, in the duke’s service at the time of his election to Parliament later that year, an assembly which was to be opened by Bedford acting as the King’s lieutenant; and he most likely remained Bedford’s retainer for at least six years longer, in the course of which he sat in four more Parliaments. There is no evidence to suggest that Bedford directly interfered with the Gloucestershire elections in order to secure Greville’s return; indeed, his own prolonged absence in France where, after 1422, he was Regent, makes this even more unlikely. However, Greville’s position as Bedford’s councillor must have enhanced his standing in the locality and made him an obvious candidate for election. The precise term of his employment as receiver-general of the estates of the dukedom has not been ascertained, but in December 1426, when correspondence over the prior of Llanthony’s loan was resumed, he was referred to as ‘lately’ holding that post.5
As sheriff for the third time Greville held the Gloucestershire elections to the Parliament of 1426, and he later appeared on the lists of electors to those of 1429, 1432, 1433 and 1442. Meanwhile, in 1434 when the gentry had been required by Parliament to take oaths not to maintain those who broke the peace, he and his brother Richard had done so in Gloucestershire while two other brothers, Lewis and William, did so in Oxfordshire and Staffordshire, respectively. Over the years Greville sat on several commissions to raise loans for Henry VI’s government, and in 1436 he himself was asked to advance £40 to help finance the duke of York’s expedition to France.6
Greville’s first wife, Sibyl Corbet, had died childless in 1425, but before her death settlements had been made ensuring that he might retain the bulk of her estates for the rest of his life. During Sibyl’s lifetime he had been troubled in his possession of certain properties in Leicestershire and Hertfordshire, which now, apparently, passed to her half-sister Agnes, the wife of a London goldsmith named John Halle. More serious litigation followed in 1432 over the Corbet manor of Kings Bromley in Staffordshire, Greville’s opponent there being the able local lawyer, John Harper*, but the matter was eventually settled in his favour.7Meanwhile, he had married again, his second wife being Joyce Cokesay, the daughter of a Worcestershire landowner. Some time before 1442 Greville’s brother Richard died without male issue, with the result that John now inherited two family manors on the Avon in Warwickshire, and that of Meon in Gloucestershire. At the same time he was expanding his estates by other means: in 1439 he had become mortgagee to Sir Henry Hussey† of Harting, Sussex, in the Gloucestershire manors of Great Rissington and Sapperton, for a loan of £320. The mortgage was not redeemed and the properties were conveyed outright to Greville shortly before his death. Greville’s feoffees in these transactions included John, Lord Beauchamp of Powick, his own brother-in-law, Sir Hugh Cokesay, William Tracy* and Thomas Pauncefoot†.8
Greville died on 30 Sept. 1444. His first wife’s estates (with the exception of Ebrington, which his widow held as jointure) now passed to the Corbet heir (a descendant of Sir Robert Corbet’s half-brother). Greville’s own heir was his son John, aged 17, who following the demise of his grandfather’s widow in 1449 was also to inherit other family properties, including Milcote, in Warwickshire. Greville’s widow, who outlived him by nearly 30 years, married Walter Beauchamp, an obscure member of that important family, and then, before 1446, Leonard Stapleton (previously the husband of her sister-in-law, Mary Greville). On the death of her brother in 1445 and of the latter’s widow in 1460, she inherited all the Cokesay estates.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Authors: J. S. Roskell / L. S. Woodger
- 1. C. Rawcliffe, Staffords, 210.
- 2. CPR, 1391-6, p. 627; 1401-5, pp. 2, 157; 1405-8, pp. 97, 282; 1408-13, p. 159; P.C. Rushen, Campden, 9, 20-21, 118-19, 124-5, 156-7; C137/32/33; Lambeth Pal. Lib. Reg. Arundel, f. 183; Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. ix. 176-7; xxiv. 51, 55; CFR, xii. 185; VCH Warws. v. 199-200; VCH Oxon. ix. 103, 105-6; CP25(1)78/80/65; VCH Glos. xi. 287.
- 3. VCH Beds. ii. 224; CCR, 1413-19, pp. 401-4, 417, 428, 438; CPR, 1416-22, p. 298; CFR, xiv. 210; C138/26/34, 38/41; VCH Berks. iv. 380; C115/K2/6682, ff. 37v-39; Staffs. RO, D641/1/2/161.
- 4. CPR, 1405-8, p. 124; SC10/44/2162; C219/10/6, 11/1, 3.
- 5. Cat. Muns. Berkeley Castle ed. Jeayes, no. 581; Staffs. RO, D641/1/2/161, 162 mm. 2, 7; CCR, 1419-22, p. 122; C115/K2/