MAYHEW, John I (b.c.1387), of Smallhill in Otterham, 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



Family and Education

b.c.1387. ?1s. William.

Offices Held

Under sheriff, Cornw. 1411-12, 1424-5.1

Dep. feodary of the duchy of Cornw. c.1414-1430.2

Commr. of inquiry, Cornw. Nov. 1418 (treasons and felonies), Devon, Cornw. (estates of John Carminowe), Feb. 1423 (estates of Thomas Franklyn), Cornw. May 1440 (alienations in mortmain and escapes of felons), Sept. 1443, June 1445 (piracy).

Tax collector, Cornw. Apr. 1428, Dec. 1429, Sept. 1432.

Mayor, Dunheved 1440.3


At the assizes held at Launceston in 1405 Mayhew successfully sued members of the family of Smallhill for property in Smallhill in the parish of Otterham, and he was henceforth usually described as ‘of Smallhill’ even though he acquired several other holdings elsewhere in east Cornwall. He was evidently related to the Mayhews of ‘Lopthorne’ in Morwenstowe, with whom he was engaged in various transactions, and he may also perhaps be identified as the John Mayhew who sometimes resided at ‘Wadfast’ in Whitstone.4

From early on in his career Mayhew was closely associated with John Hawley II* of Dartmouth: it was as the latter’s deputy that, in 1411-12, he served as under sheriff of Cornwall and, later on, in the office of feodary of the duchy of Cornwall. It is quite possible that he was already acting as deputy feodary at the time of his election to Henry V’s first Parliament, which Hawley himself attended as MP for Dartmouth. Together with him, Mayhew was placed on royal commissions specifically set up to investigate the terms on which certain tenants-in-chief had held their estates, thus being given additional powers for the more efficient execution of their normal duties. He appeared on Hawley’s behalf as an attorney at the assizes held at Launceston in 1417, and several years later, in 1430, he also stood surety for him in Chancery when he was required to undertake not to molest a Dartmouth man. Over the years Mayhew came into contact, too, with other landowners of note in Cornwall: for example, he occasionally acted as an attorney at the assizes for Sir John Arundell of Trerice, and his association with him was such that in 1425, when he was under sheriff of Cornwall for the second time, he was alleged to have arrayed a panel of jurors to settle a plea of novel disseisin in favour of Sir John as one of the defendants. Then, in 1427, Mayhew shared with John Cork* of Paderda an Exchequer lease of the manor of Bodannan and of the office of bailiff of the Cornish hundred of Trigg. In the 1430s he was active as an executor of the will of John Beville*, and he was associated with Robert Treage* as a co-defendant in a suit of debt for £25 brought by a London skinner. Mayhew was present at the shire elections for Cornwall held prior to the Parliaments of 1426, 1427, 1432, 1442 and 1449 (Nov.).5

In the meantime Mayhew had retained an interest in the affairs of the borough he had represented in Parliament. In 1435 he had been made responsible for the payment of the fee farm of Dunheved to the receiver of the duchy of Cornwall, and also in that year the mayor and aldermen granted him and his heirs a plot of land next to his house in the High Street for a trifling rent. As well as this property Mayhew owned two tenements, two gardens and a close in Dunheved, to which, some time before 1443, he added another garden known as ‘Brodhaye’. In November 1450 he obtained from Bishop Lacy of Exeter a licence to have an oratory in any suitable place in the diocese. He was still living a year later when his name was included on the list of Cornish landowners considered liable to contribute to the tax levied on those with a landed income of more than £2 p.a. However, he died before 1462 when his feoffees settled his property in Dunheved on the widow of William Mayhew (probably his son), who had represented the borough in the Parliament of 1455.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Variants: Mayo, Mayou, Mayowe. He was perhaps related to two men of the same name who held office as sub-bailiff of the hundred of Stratton, Cornw., from 1362 to 1380, and from 1383 to 1386, respectively (SC6/812/10, 14, 15, 18, 20, 21, 813/5, 7, 8, 818/1, 4-8).

  • 1. Duchy of Cornw. RO, receiver’s acct. 41; JUST 1/1540 m. 76.
  • 2. Duchy of Cornw. RO, receiver’s acct. 52.
  • 3. R. and O.B. Peter, Hist. Launceston, 126.
  • 4. JUST 1/1502 m. 207d, 1518 m. 16d, 1536 m. 28d; Feudal Aids, i. 221, 234, 238-41; Cornw. Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1950), 969, 1036.
  • 5. JUST 1/1531 mm. 46d, 48d, 1540 mm. 76d, 115; CCR, 1429-35, p. 104; C219/13/4, 5, 14/3, 15/2, 7; CPR, 1436-41, pp. 103, 112.
  • 6. SC6/821/4, 815/8; Peter, 125-8, 130, 145, 152; Reg. Lacy (Canterbury and York Soc. lxii), 89; E179/87/92d.