FITZ, John (by 1559-90), of the Inner Temple, London and Fitzford, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. by 1529, 1st s. of John Fitz of Fitzford by Agnes, da. of Roger Grenville of Stowe in Kilkhampton, Cornw. educ. I. Temple, adm. Feb. 1551. m. by 1575, Mary, da. of Sir John Sydenham of Brimpton, Som., 1s. suc. fa. 9 Mar. 1556.1
J.p.q. Devon 1579-d.; sheriff 6 Feb.-Nov. 1582.
John Fitz’s family had been established near Tavistock since the early 15th century. The tradition established by its founder that at least one member in each generation should be a lawyer was upheld by Fitz and his father. In 1554 Fitz stood on the threshold of his career and it was presumably for professional advancement that he sat in two of Mary’s Parliaments. On the first occasion he appears to have been elected both for Bossiney and for Tavistock, probably with the help of his relatives the Grenvilles, being replaced at Bossiney by John Beaumont, a senior colleague at the Temple. His two elections for Tavistock may have owed something to the Queen’s request for the return of residents, although his own and his father’s association with successive earls of Bedford is likely to have strengthened his claim. Of his part in Parliament all that is known is that he was not one of the 100 and more Members informed against in the King’s bench during Easter term 1555 for quitting it prematurely without leave. It was with a daughter of his fellow-Member Sir John Sydenham that he was to make a match, although the first reference found to Mary Sydenham as his wife dates only from 1575.2
Fitz enlarged his patrimony by marriage and purchase. In 1566 he was a member of a consortium licensed by the 2nd Earl of Bedford to mine tin at Morwelham. What else has come to light about him concerns his legal practice and his share in county administration. Although in 1568 he declined elevation to the bench of his inn, he ranked as an ‘eminent counsellor at law’. He made his will on 1 Nov. 1589. After remembering the poor and his servants he provided for his wife, son and relatives. He named his wife sole executrix and his brother-in-law Sir George Sydenham and Sir William Courtenay overseers of the will, which was proved on 9 Mar. 1590. Fitz had died on the previous New Year’s day a comparatively wealthy man, but his son and heir John dissipated this wealth before committing suicide in 1606.3
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Roger Virgoe
- 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/105/25. Vis. Devon, ed. Vivian, 342; C142/224/45.
- 2. J. Prince, Worthies of Devon, 361-3; R. N. Worth, Cal. Tavistock Par. Recs. 85, 86; C193/32/1, ff. 2, 3; 219/23/38, 39, 44; PCC 15 Wrastley.
- 3. C142/105/25, 224/45; Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 249-50, 256; CPR, 1558-60, pp. 468-9; 1572-5, p. 403; Trans. Dev. Assoc. xxii. 68-74; xlvi. 167; H. P. R. Finberg, W. Country Hist. Studies, 165; Prince, 363; PCC 17 Drury.