RODNEY, Sir John (d.1400), of Backwell and Rodney Stoke, Som.
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Family and Education
s. and h. of Sir Thomas Rodney† of Backwell ?by Joan, da. of Hugh Cressye. m. (1) bef. 1369, Katherine, ?da. of Robert Cheddar† of Bristol, 4s. inc. Walter*, 1da.; (2) aft. 1386 and bef. Nov. 1389, Alice (d. 27 Mar. 1426), wid. of John Fitzroger, Sir Edmund Clevedon† and Sir Ralph Carminowe*, s.p. Kntd. by Mar. 1373.1
Commr. to put down unlawful assemblies, Som. June 1381; of sewers June 1382; arrest Nov. 1387; inquiry, Dorset Nov. 1388 (shipwreck), Som. May 1399 (trespass), Devon, Som., Dorset, Wilts., Bristol, Hants Dec. 1400 (concealment of the possessions of Richard II and his adherents); array, Som. Mar. 1392; to assign dower, Som., Dorset June 1397.
Sheriff, Som. and Dorset 18 Nov. 1387-1 Dec. 1388, 1 Dec. 1396-3 Nov. 1397.
J.p. Som. July-Nov. 1389.
Rodney came from a family which had established itself in Somerset before the end of the 11th century. He inherited the manors of Backwell, Stoke Giffard (now Rodney Stoke), Dinder, Winford, Saltford, ‘Twyerton’ and Lamyatt and lands elsewhere, all together valued at his death at more than £66 a year. Lamyatt was held of the duchy of Lancaster, which might account for Rodney’s participation in the expedition to France of 1373 as a knight in the service of his feudal overlord, John of Gaunt. In February 1375, however, he was preparing to go overseas in the retinue of Edmund Mortimer, earl of March. Then, too, a substantial part of his estates was held of the Despensers: his five-and-a-quarter knight’s fees so held were valued in 1376 at £53 10s.; and this connexion doubtless played a part in the arrangement of the marriage of his grandson, John, to a member of the Glamorgan family of St. John, who were also Despenser feudatories. Sir John’s uncle, Richard Rodney, was a canon of Wells cathedral, and the dean and chapter were Rodney’s tenants in property in the High Street, Wells. In addition, he held Dinder and a moiety of Stoke Giffard of the bishop of Bath and Wells. Such connexions explain his employment as a witness to several local deeds concerning Wells cathedral. Rodney’s second wife, Alice, brought to the marriage three substantial dowers, including land in Cornwall left her by her third husband, Sir Ralph Carminowe. In 1393 there was an investigation at the Exchequer as to whether, since Rodney occupied, in right of his wife, six fees ‘mortain’ of the castle of Launceston, he was obliged to keep in repair a battlement in the castle, and whether, in time of war, he had to supply six men-at-arms at his own expense to serve there for 40 days. Rodney denied any such obligations, saying that he held the fees by homage and fealty only. Besides land, Rodney had a financial interest in other ventures: in May 1395 he and Sir Humphrey Stafford I* secured a licence to use his newly built ship, the Kateryne of Lyme, to take 40 pilgrims to Santiago, no doubt in the hope that the voyage would prove lucrative.2
Rodney died on 19 Dec. 1400 an