IREBY, Sir John (d.1397), of High Ireby and Embleton, Cumb.

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



Nov. 1384
Feb. 1388
Jan. 1397

Family and Education

s. and h. of William Ireby (fl. 1348) of High Ireby and Embleton. m. by Aug. 1396, Katherine, poss. wid. of William Leigh of Isel and Blindcrake and mother of Sir William Leigh*, 1da. Kntd. by Nov. 1384.1

Offices Held

Commr. of inquiry, Cumb. Nov. 1383 (intimidation of collectors of the clerical subsidy), Cumb., Westmld. May 1389 (devastation by Scots), Cumb. Feb. 1397 (evasion of customs); to take oaths in support of the Lords Appellant Mar. 1388; of array June, Aug. 1388, Mar. 1392; gaol delivery, Carlisle Jan. 1390;2 oyer and terminer, Cumb. Nov. 1392 (evasion of customs).

Collector of taxes, Cumb. Dec. 1384.

J.p. Cumb. 1 Dec. 1385-June 1398.

Sheriff, Cumb. 1 Dec. 1388-15 Nov. 1389, 21 Oct. 1391-18 Oct. 1392, 9 Nov. 1395-1 Dec. 1396.

Collector of customs, Cumb. 10 Nov. 1392-d.


The Ireby family occupied the two manors of High Ireby (whence they probably derived their name) and Embleton from the reign of Edward II onwards, if not before. John Ireby, who inherited them from his father, William, is first mentioned in August 1375, when he and others were arraigned on an assize of novel disseisin at Carlisle and obliged to pay the vicar of Corbrigg 24s. for arrears of rent. His administrative career began in 1383, with his appointment to a royal commission of inquiry into disorder at Penrith arising from resistance by the local clergy to the payment of taxes. At some point in the following year he was knighted, and it was as Sir John Ireby that he took his seat in the November Parliament of 1384. Soon afterwards he himself became a tax collector in Cumberland, and before long he assumed office as a j.p. there as well. That he was a supporter of the Lords Appellant in their attempt to curb the power of Richard II’s unpopular favourites is evident not only from his Membership of the Merciless Parliament of February 1388 (which saw the removal of the King’s most powerful advisors), but also from his appointment on 20 Mar., the last day of the first session, to a commission in Cumberland for the taking of oaths in support of the Appellants’cause. Moreover, Sir John had personal connexions with Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, the leader of the Appellants, to whom he and Sir Richard Redmayne*, his neighbour, offered securities of £80 just a few weeks later.3 He was almost certainly then acting on Redmayne’s behalf, but there can be little doubt that his own relations with the Appellants remained cordial, since he was made sheriff of Cumberland in the following December while they still exercised considerable control over the direction of government. His political sympathies did not, however, lead to his removal from the county bench or prevent him holding other local offices once Richard II regained his lost authority. On the contrary, he served two more terms as sheriff, and from 1392 to 1397 he occupied the lucrative post of collector of customs in Cumberland.

Sir John sat in Parliament for the last time in January 1397, by which date his wife, Katherine, had been confirmed in a life interest in the two Cumbrian manors of Isel and Blindcrake. These were to revert on her death to Sir William Leigh, who was almost certainly a close kinsman by marriage, and may well have been her son or stepson. A month earlier, in December 1396, Sir John and Katherine had obtained a papal indult permitting them to make use of a portable altar, but Sir John did not enjoy this privilege for long. He died either on, or near, 24 May 1397, when his widow and his son-in-law, Geoffrey Tilliol*, who were his executors, began accounting for the customs of Cumberland at the Exchequer. They were nominally joined by his only daughter and heir, Alice, to whom all his estates, including land in Bolton in Allerdale, then passed. Tilliol himself died soon, for by February 1401 Alice had married the influential landowner, John Skelton*. The latter then gave evidence exonerating Sir John Ireby’s executors from the charge that he had failed to execute a royal commission of inquiry regarding the evasion of customs.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


Variant: Irby.

  • 1. Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 372; CCR, 1396-9, p. 79; 1399-1402, p. 307.
  • 2. C66/329 m. 17v.
  • 3. CCR, 1385-9, pp. 406, 486; JUST 1/1485 rot. 25.
  • 4. E122/39/7; CCR, 1396-9, p. 79; 1399-1402, p. 307; CPL, v. 54; CIPM (Rec. Comm.), iii. 244; Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. tract ser. no. 2, pp. 175-6; Peds. Plea Rolls, 372.