HELLIGAN, John, of Treblethick and Tresarret in St. Mabyn and Tencreek in Menheniot, Cornw.

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



Feb. 1388

Family and Education

s. of Adam Helligan of Helligan by his 2nd w. Isabel, da. of John Carminowe. m. by 1377, Isabel, da. and coh. of Thomas Carthuther, 1s.1

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The manor of Helligan in St. Mabyn, about three miles north of Bodmin, had been held by John’s family since the early 13th century. Along with the other family lands, by the mid 14th century it had descended to Adam Helligan, but he married twice and, although there was some question as to whether the son of his first marriage had been born in wedlock, a few years after his death (which occurred in about 1365), the estate was divided more or less equally between a grandson by that first marriage and the son of his second marriage, both of whom were called John. By this division the grandson acquired the manor of Helligan and lands in ‘Porthkulyack’ and Trequites, while the elder John (the future MP) held the manors of Tresarret and Tregrilla, along with various other properties including the glebe of the church at Menheniot. In 1379 at the time of the marriage of his Son Nicholas to Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Meyndy, Helligan settled on the young couple part of his share of the family estates (lands from which Nicholas was later able to derive an income of £20 a year); but the settlement did not leave him badly off, for his marriage to Isabel Cartuther had by then given him an interest in substantial landed holdings in the parish of Menheniot and elsewhere in Cornwall. One of his wife’s sisters had married Sir John Paulet† of Pawlett, Somerset, and after the latter’s death in 1391 the Helligans acquired part of the manor of Cartuther. Their home was at Tencreek, only a short distance from the borough of Liskeard which Helligan represented in Parliament, and it was there that they were permitted to have an oratory under licences granted by successive bishops of Exeter in 1385, 1387, 1396 and 1411.2

Although Helligan was a lawyer by profession, he also had an interest in tin mining, and in 1392 and 1397 large consignments of tin were coined in his name in the coinage hall at Lostwithiel. In 1383 Roger Treffrey of Bodmin had entered into recognizances with him for £32 in the court of the statute merchant at Lostwithiel, but he failed to pay up and two years later Helligan instituted an action against him in the court of common pleas. In another lawsuit which lasted for several years and, similarly, ended in the central courts, Helligan was associated with Sir William Fitzwalter and Thomas Peverell, all three evidently acting as feoffees of substantial properties in the parishes of St. Day and Gwenap on behalf of John Burgh I* of Barlandew.3 Peverell, a landowner of considerable substance, was a kinsman of Helligan’s, and when one of his daughters married Otto Trenewith Helligan was asked to take on the trusteeship of the estates settled on the couple by Otto’s grandfather, Otto Bodrugan. Helligan’s connexion with the Bodrugans lasted for several years, ending only in 1401 after he had appeared as an arbitrator in a dispute between William Bodrugan I*, Otto’s illegitimate son, and the heirs of Sir Richard Cergeaux*. He also continued to be of service to Peverell: in 1394 he took an oath in Chancery on his behalf to the effect that a commission of the peace had never come into his hands; and at various times he acted as his kinsman’s attorney at the Lanceston assizes.4 Helligan is also recorded in the capacity of executor of the will of John Colyn, formerly sheriff of Cornwall and the steward of the earl of Warwick’s estates in the shire, as a witness, a mainpernor and an arbitrator in local disputes. On one occasion he was associated with Edward, Lord Courtenay, heir apparent to the earldom of Devon, in legal proceedings in the King’s bench. Helligan witnessed the shire electoral indentures for Cornwall in 1414 and again in February 1416, but is not recorded there-after.5 He died before 1421. In 1425 his widow transferred to one of her sisters, Anastasia Beket, some of her property at Cartuther in return for an annual rent of 8s. Within a few years of Helligan’s death his estates had passed to John Trelawny III* by virtue of the latter’s marriage to his only surviving grandchild, Joan.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. J. Maclean, Trigg Minor, ii. 518-19.
  • 2. Ibid. 484-7, 489, 512-14, 557; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 12, 388; Reg. Brantingham ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 570, 644; Reg. Stafford, 276; Cornw. Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1950), 706; CCR, 1392-6, p. 9; E210/4975.
  • 3. E101/263/21, 264/1; C241/171/83; Maclean, ii. 244; iii. 416; SC8/169/8420; JUST 1/1502 m. 189; KB27/535 m. 58.
  • 4. Cornw. Feet of Fines, 760; C146/9343; 10469; 10579; CCR, 1392-6, p. 372; JUST 1/1502 m. 212d, 215d, 219d; CAD, iv. A9918.
  • 5. CPR, 1396-9, p. 135; CCR, 1402-5, p. 324; CFR, xiii. 109; CAD, iv. A10358; C219/11/4, 8; KB27/610 m. 9d.
  • 6. Reg. Lacy ed. Hingeston-Randolph, i. 18; E210/5987; Feudal Aids, i. 230-1.