SWYNNERTON, John (c.1349-c.1427), of Hilton, Staffs. and Welton, Northants.
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Family and Education
b.c.1349, s. and h. of Sir John Swynnerton (d.1379), of Hilton by his w. Christine. m. bef. 1399, Clemency (d. Oct. 1430), 5s. (1 d.v.p.).1
Hereditary steward of the forest of Cannock, Staffs. 25 Jan. 1380-d.2
Commr. of oyer and terminer, Staffs. Feb. 1381, July 1401; inquiry Nov. 1390, July 1406; to take sureties, Staffs., Warws. Mar. 1392.
Sheriff, Staffs. 21 Oct. 1391-18 Oct. 1392.
Escheator, Staffs. 8 Nov. 1401-29 Nov. 1402.
Swynnerton belonged to the cadet branch of a distinguished Staffordshire family, being the grandson of Sir John Swynnerton† of Hilton, who was himself the younger brother of Roger, first Lord Swynnerton of Swynnerton (d.1338). Sir John had built up a substantial estate, which included the manors of Hilton and Welton, as well as land and rents in the Staffordshire villages of Essington, Wyrley, Pillaton and Penkridge, and the area around Ticknall in Derbyshire. The seneschalsy of Cannock forest came to him through marriage, and passed, together with the rest of his property, to his son, Sir John. The latter made further additions to his inheritance, most notably the purchase of the manor of Essington, and like his father before him earned a considerable reputation as a soldier, sheriff and local commissioner.3 His own son, the subject of this biography, was therefore following an established family tradition in his performance of public office, and it was no doubt generally assumed that he would at some point represent Staffordshire in Parliament. John Swynnerton the younger first appears during the Easter term of 1372, when he and another man were being sued for an act of assault, allegedly committed at Lichfield in the previous year. It was almost certainly he, rather than his father, who joined John of Gaunt’s ill-fated expedition for the reconquest of Aquitaine in 1373 as a retainer of Thomas Beauchamp, earl of Warwick.4 On his father’s death in December 1379, Swynnerton came into his inheritance, which, over the years, was the subject of various enfeoffments-to-uses, some of which involved his friend, the lawyer, John Lane*. The size of his landed income cannot now be determined, although we know that the manor of Welton, which he leased out for life to Sir John Holt, was alone worth over £18 a year in May 1388, and contained stock and produce valued at a further £44.5 Swynnerton had, meanwhile, begun to serve occasionally on royal commissions, although, unlike his father and grandfather before him, he never sat on the local bench. In November 1389, however, he was able to use his influence to obtain a writ of supersedeas, and thus avoid proceedings for arrears of rent in Cannock forest being heard against him at the Exchequer. Two years later he began a term as sheriff of Staffordshire, during which he seized the opportunity to sue two local men for trespass on his estates at Handsacre.6
Swynnerton’s appointment as escheator of Staffordshir