CHALONER, John II (by 1526-81), of Calais and Ireland.
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Family and Education
Auditor, Calais by 1547-?58; sec. of state [I] 1559-80, jt. sec. 1580-1; PC [I] prob. 1560-d.3
MP [I] 1560.
In the course of a public career said by his son in 1581 to have spanned 34 years, John Chaloner never attained to the importance of his elder brother the diplomat. That career had presumably begun at Calais in or shortly before June 1547, when Chaloner took £3,300 from England to Sir Edward Wotton, the treasurer there. (A document which might suggest that he was in Ireland in 1542 is misleading, almost certainly referring to a later copy he made of an Irish manuscript of that date.) Chaloner may have kept the Calais office until the fall of the town, although not resident there throughout that time. In December 1554 John Hornyold obtained the reversion of it following Chaloner’s ‘death, resignation, forfeiture or surrender’, but no evidence has been found of his succession, although Chaloner’s receipt in 1551 of a grant of land in Ireland perhaps foreshadowed his intention of settling there and he is last heard of at Calais in April 1556. In the following year he was confirmed in his grant of the fee-farm of the isle of Lambay, about 15 miles from Dublin, where he had contracted to set up a colony and build a fort. The question of working mines on the island later caused him trouble with other speculators. Another difficulty was the prevalence of pirates and privateers: in April 1564 he informed Cecil that he had lost £300 by ‘spoil of the French’.4
Chaloner’s Membership of the Parliament of 1555 is known only from the inclusion of his name in a list of Members who followed the lead of Sir Anthony Kingston in opposing one of the government’s bills. That he sat for Calais may be inferred both from his official standing there and from the fact that the name of only one of the town’s Members is known: this was Edmund Peyton, who was chosen by the mayor and townsmen, so that Chaloner would have been the choice of the deputy and council. For such a Member to side with the opposition in the Commons, although not unprecedented, was certainly unusual, and the episode may have contributed to Chaloner’s withdrawal from the town.
Chaloner was to spend upwards of 20 years in Ireland. He was already there when appointed secretary in May 1559 and he was to pay only occasional visits home. On one of these, in April 1566, he carried a letter from the lord deputy and the Irish council to the Privy Council, commending his six years’ service and attributing the ‘mischance, as he feareth, of his disheriting’—doubtless a reference to the doubts then current about the legitimacy of Sir Thomas Chaloner’s son and heir—to his absence on public service. He was no more content with that service than most Irish officials. To the customary complaints of illness and frustration, and the petitions for fresh leases and different posts, he added pleas for help in suits against his nephew Thomas Chaloner†. Few, if any, of these requests were granted: a commendation by an earlier official, Lord Deputy Sussex, who called him ‘thankworthy’, produced no practical result, and the lord chancellor of Ireland, William Gerard II, opposed his arguments against a suggested composition in the inheritance suit.5
By the summer of 1580 Chaloner was infirm and Geoffrey Fenton was admitted to the office of secretary jointly with him. In the following April he was described as ‘past hope of recovery’, but the date of his death has not been found: a grant to Fenton as sole secretary was made on 14 July, although not enrolled until September, and two weeks earlier the deputy and council had granted a year’s protection to Chaloner’s son Thomas, himself a minor official in Ireland, while he was dealing with his father’s affairs. He found debts of over £1,000 and he was soon asking for leases of Irish land in view of his father’s long service and the size of the debts. Chaloner’s widow probably stayed in Ireland after his death, and her will was proved there in 1585.6