MYNORS, John, of Uttoxeter, Staffs.
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Family and Education
m. at least 1s.1
Feodary of Staffs. and bailiff of the New Liberty of Staffs. for the duchy of Lancaster 1 July 1413-d.2
Commr. to make an arrest, Derbys. May 1425; of inquiry, Warws. Mar. 1437 (abuses at Alcester abbey).
Distributor of a tax allowance, Staffs. May 1437.
John Mynors came of a distinguished Staffordshire family, being in all probability descended from the John Mynors who served as steward of the duchy of Lancaster lordship of Tutbury during the early 14th century. There seems little doubt that he was a kinsman, perhaps even the grandson, of Thomas Mynors, lord of Blakenhall, a local commissioner of some note, and that his other relatives included John Mynors (fl. 1392) of Uttoxeter, from whom he may have inherited certain property in the town.3
During their early years, Mynors and his two brothers, Thomas and William, were chief among the supporters of Hugh Erdeswyk* in his various feuds with Staffordshire landowners and duchy of Lancaster officials. Even allowing for the highly coloured language of contemporary legal records, their reputation as ‘notorii latrones et depredatores, insidiatores viarum et depopulatores agrorum’ seems to have been well deserved. So many and frequent were the ‘trespasses, misprisions and felonies’ in which they played a leading part, that the Commons in the Parliament of 1410 presented a petition condemning their activities and listing no less than ten violent incidents in which they had been involved. Between October 1408 and April 1409, the three brothers and their armed followers had attacked a number of tenants and employees of the duchy, among whom were Sir Nicholas Montgomery I*, Sir John Blount (constable of the duchy castle at Newcastle-under-Lyme) and the two receivers of Needwood chase, against whom they clearly harboured a political as well as a personal grudge, having been excluded from the benefits of royal patronage. John Mynors alone was accused of murdering a royal tax collector and of assaulting one of Montgomery’s tenants. He and his brother William were, moreover, said to have joined with Erdeswyk in offering armed resistance to the royal commissioners sent to arrest them in November 1408 and February 1409, and, indeed, although Thomas Griffith offered sureties of 500 marks on their behalf, there is no evidence to suggest that they ever appeared before the King’s Council to answer for their misdemeanours. As a result of the Commons’ appeal, proceedings were finally begun against them in the court of King’s bench during the Trinity term of 1410, yet they ignored repeated writs of summons to present themselves before the justices and were twice able to evade arrest by commissions set up in the following year.4 Evidently unawed by this formidable list of charges, John and William perpetrated further outrages, including an attack on the manor of Tunstall in Staffordshire and the destruction of mills around Wolverhampton—the second act of vandalism being undertaken in revenge for the murder of one of their brothers. They and their henchman, John Hardhead*, were indicted for these crimes, together with five homicides allegedly committed or abetted by them since 1406, before the Staffordshire bench, in August 1411 and January 1412; and as a result of the presentments then made, they were summoned to appear in person before Henry V himself at Burton abbey in June 1414. Proceedings were then under way for their prosecution at a special session of the King’s bench, at Lichfield, held specifically to stamp out disorder in the north Midlands, but Henry was prepared to grant them royal letters of pardon in return for an undertaking of good behaviour in the future.5 It is important to remember that by this date the two brothers had both entered the service of the Crown, William as one of the King’s yeomen, and John, ironically in view of his past history, as bailiff of the New Liberty of Staffordshire in the duchy of Lancaster. Perhaps it was felt that the only way to bring peace to the area was by winning over two of the most disruptive local influences, and the award in October 1414 of additional letters of pardon exculpating John and William from the offences initially laid against them by Parliament certainly suggests that Henry V sought to appease rather than repress them. Another pardon was addressed singly to John in January 1416, this time with regard to the illegal award of liveries which he had made after his appointment as a duchy official, and for which he had still to answer in court.6
Although he was never again responsible for outbreaks of disorder on the scale of those caused by him in his youth, Mynors occasionally came to blows with his neighbours. The most notable of these disputes took place over the ownership of the manor of Fisherwick in Staffordshire, which he reportedly seized by force in the summer of 1419 from the feoffees of Elizabeth, Lady Clinton. The latter began a lawsuit against him in Chancery, while suing him at common law for trespass: within a matter of months relations between the two parties had deteriorated so badly that the manor was taken into royal custody until a settlement could be reached. Mynors appears to have lost his case, for in May 1421 he conveyed the manor back to the feoffees, whose title he did not subsequently question.7 Comparatively little evidence has survived about Mynors’s other property transactions. His estates were centred upon Uttoxeter, where he and other members of his family acquired additional land at Easter 1420 and Michaelmas 1428. He also purchased the manor of Codsall, Staffordshire, in 1425, but it looks as if his involvement in the local land market was otherwise that of a fooffee-to-uses.8
A man of Mynors’s influence would probably have been made a shire knight on his own account, although it is possible that his return to Parliament as Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1419 and 1422 owed something to his new connexion with the duchy of Lancaster, whose officials exercised considerable influence over the choice of borough representatives. Even so, he did not entirely escape the consequences of his past transgressions, for he never assumed a major role in local government (being only twice made a royal commissioner), and understandably failed to qualify for the post of sheriff or escheator. Yet, in November 1419 he acted as a mainpernor in Chancery for Eleanor, the widow of Sir Nicholas Dagworth* and wife of the traitor, John Mortimer; and in the following year he performed a similar service at the Exchequer. He attended the Staffordshire county elections for both of the Parliaments held in 1421, and was again present in 1423, 1425, 1442 and possibly 1449 to witness the returns; he also took part in the Derbyshire elections to the Parliament of May 1421, but does not appear to have voted there after this date.9 His increasing involvement in Derbyshire society was in part, no doubt, a result of his growing friendship with Sir Richard Vernon*, with whom he and Hugh Erdeswyk acted in 1422 as trustees of land in Smerrill and Harthill. At some point over the next seven years, Vernon retained him formally at a fee of £12 13s.4d. a year, charged upon his manor of Draycott in Staffordshire, which was still being paid in 1431. It is also interesting to note that, like Erdeswyk, Mynors received a pension from William, Lord Ferrers of Chartley (the son of Erdeswyk’s erstwhile enemy, Edmund, Lord Ferrers), who clearly thought it expedient to win over the more turbulent elements in north Midlands society. Meanwhile, in 1427, Mynors found a more legitimate outlet for his aggression, when he obtained royal letters of protection pending his departure overseas in the retinue of John, duke of Bedford. As one of the leading (and potentially most disruptive) members of the Staffordshire gentry, Mynors was required in May 1434 to take the oath not to maintain persons breaking the peace which was then being imposed throughout England.10 The date of his death is hard to establish, although he was still alive in 1443, at which time his son, John, obtained joint tenure with him for life of his post as duchy bailiff. It was probably the son rather than the father who received a commission (in his official capacity) to detain certain local malefactors in June 1450, and who was pardoned seven years later for killing a man he had placed under arrest. On the other hand, a John Mynors senior appears as plaintiff in an action for debt begun in 1456, so the subject of this biography may well have lived to enjoy a ripe old age. He was certainly dead by the Easter term of 1463, when his son brought a lawsuit, which was probably collusive, for the recovery of the land, shops and messuages which he had inherited in Uttoxeter.11
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Minors, Myners, Mynour(s).
- 1. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 227. S. Shaw (Staffs. i. 117) gives a pedigree