PRIDEAUX, Sir John (c.1347-1403), of Orcheton in Modbury, Devon.
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Family and Education
b.c.1347, yr. s. of Roger Prideaux of Orcheton by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir John Clifford of Combe-in-Teignhead, Devon, or by his 2nd w. Joan, da. of Sir William Bigbury. m. Elizabeth, 1da. Kntd. by May 1369.1
Commr. of array, Devon Feb. 1379, Apr. 1385, Mar. 1392; oyer and terminer Feb. 1380, Cornw. Sept. 1393; inquiry, Devon Nov. 1387 (repair of a road); arrest Feb. 1392.
Before 1361 Prideaux, while still a minor, succeeded to the property of his elder brother Peter, through the death of Peter’s heir, William. His inheritance and the bestowal of marriage were initially placed in the hands of Sir John Dynham, but in 1363 were purchased from the Black Prince for 200 marks by John, Lord Montagu. No inquisition post mortem has survived for the Prideaux estates in our period, but in 1346 John’s grandfather, Sir Roger†, had been holding property in Biscovey (Cornwall) and Combe-in-Teignhead, Rocombe, Allington, Orcheton, Edmerston and North Ludbrook (Devon), and most of these possessions passed to John. There is evidence that he held the manors of Orcheton, where he received an episcopal licence for an oratory in 1370, Combe (along with the advowson of the church), Columbjohn, and Godford. He also owned property in Ermington where he built a weir, which in 1389 was found to be unjustly undermining the profitability of a local fishery.2
Prideaux’s place in county affairs was not particularly significant. He was one of 13 landowners required in May 1383 to stay on their estates near the coast to repel possible invasion, but this may only have been because he had lands in the parish of Modbury close to the sea. Another factor may have been his connexion with the Courtenays which was already well established. He had served under Sir Philip Courtenay*, admiral of the western fleet, from July to October 1372, and his appointment on a royal commission to inquire into Edward, earl of Devon’s complaint of a trespass in February 1380, together with two other Courtenay followers, suggests that he was by then already in the earl’s employment. Certainly by 1384-5, only a year after his first election to Parliament, he was actually wearing the earl’s livery. In May 1385 Prideaux granted a conditional rent charge of £20 to John Prescott*, one of Earl Edward’s legal counsel, and John Hawley I* of Dartmouth, another Courtenay retainer. He was among those who enlisted for further naval service in March 1387 in the force which the earl put at the disposal of the admiral, Richard, earl of Arundel. While up at Westminster for the Merciless Parliament, in March 1388 with other members of the earl of Devon’s entourage he witnessed a grant of land, and he was still connected with the earl in 1396 when, apparently as a feoffee, he was party to a transaction regarding premises at Norton near Dartmouth. Prideaux also occasionally appeared as witness or surety for others, and in 1393 he served on a jury at Exeter.3
Prideaux died at an unknown date between 5 June and 7 Aug. 1403. On the former day, ‘finding himself in imminent danger of death’, he made his will, directing that he should be buried at Modbury, where effigies of himself and his wife may still be seen in the ‘Orcheton’ or ‘Prideaux’ aisle. He left £5 to works in Modbury church, on the condition that the parishioners bought a complete set of vestments; otherwise the money was to be spent on the tabula recently acquired for the high altar. To his wife he left a horse called ‘Bayerd’, and to his daughter, his pearls. The residue of his moveables was assigned to his executors to be sold for the good of his soul. By Leland’s time there was a tradition that Prideaux, having risen in rebellion against Henry IV, slew one of his own relations at a place called ‘The Five Crosses’ near Modbury, and in order to secure a pardon was obliged to part with two of his manors, namely Columbjohn and Combe-in-Teignhead. However, there is no contemporary evidence for this, and, indeed, Prideaux’s widow held the manor and advowson of Combe until her title was challenged by Richard Hankford the younger, who succeeded in acquiring at least the advowson. Orcheton passed to Sir John’s brother, Richard, who died in 1408, when he left it to his son, John.4