GOSNOLD, John (by 1507-54), of Otley, Suff. and London.
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Family and Education
b. by 1507, 1st s. of Robert Gosnold of Otley by Agnes, da. of John Hill of Ashe. educ. G. Inn, adm. 1526, called 1528. m. Catherine, da. of Sir Thomas Blennerhasset of Frenze, Norf.1
J.p. Suff. 1543-d., Mdx. 1547-d.; custos rot. Suff. by 1547-d.; commr. chantries, Norf. and Suff. 1546, 1548, heresies 1549, 1551, 1552, relief, Mdx., Suff. 1550, reform of canon law 1551, goods of churches and fraternities, London 1553; other commissions 1541-d.; officer, ct. augmentations by 1543-6, solicitor 1547-52; solicitor-gen. 1 May 1552-Sept. 1553.2
John Gosnold was born into a gentle family resident in Suffolk for several generations. His father Robert was put on the bench in 1524 and his uncle Edmund was a coroner for the county, but he was the first of the family known to have been trained in the law. His legal services were retained by Thomas Wentworth, 1st Baron Wentworth, as early as 1532 and by the 3rd Duke of Norfolk by 1546, but it was his appointment to the court of augmentations which marked the first stage of his advancement. At the re-organization of the court before Henry VIII’s death he became its solicitor with a salary of £80 a year.3
Gosnold’s return for Ipswich in 1547 reflected his personal standing as a local magistrate, his connexions with the Wentworths and other East Anglian families, and his recent promotion in the augmentations. The bill committed to him after its second reading on 12 Dec. 1549 emerged after being recast as the Act regulating cloth production (3 and 4 Edw. VI, c.2), but two others committed to him, for cattle breeding and the continuance of certain measures, failed. In January 1549 Thomas Jolye enlisted his help against the bill to deprive the 2nd Earl of Cumberland of the hereditary shrievalty of Westmorland. During the final session in 1552 he served on the committees to scrutinize the return of John Blundell for London and to redraft the treasons bill, and shortly before the dissolution he was ordered with William Grimston to report on a misdemeanour. Gosnold’s appointment as solicitor-general shortly after this may have been a reward for his services in the House. Although he stood well with the Duke of Northumberland, he is not known to have been returned to the Parliament of March 1553, but as solicitor-general he received a writ of assistance and in virtue of this was present in the Lords. In the course of the Parliament he took seven bills down to the Commons, including that for the subsidy of the clergy.4
The years 1547-1552 were very important to a man in Gosnold’s position. The decision to dispose of chantry lands greatly increased the work of augmentations, and besides serving on chantry commissions Gosnold seized the opportunity for profitable private investment; he and Sir Edward Warner paid over £800 for grants of chantry lands in East Anglia and the midlands. Among his other duties at this time he served frequently as a feoffee to uses, once at least for the Duke of Northumberland.5
In 1549 Gosnold received £10 for riding to Suffolk to quell a commotion there during Ket’s rebellion. Among the ecclesiastical commissions on which he sat was one in October 1551 to inquire into the activities of the Catholic warden of the Fleet prison. He was among the lawyers appointed to act in the Merchant Adventurers’ dispute with the Hanseatic League, and after restrictions had been placed on the alien merchants he was called on to treat with the ambassadors sent to England to discuss the matter. During the sickness of Chancellor Rich in 1551 he was named as a possible keeper of the great seal. He took part in the trial of Bishop Gardiner and in September 1551 sat on the commission to try the bishops of Worcester and Chichester, when the commissioners were forbidden to bring about ‘any long delay by granting them any learned counsel’. A year later he was one of those appointed to deprive Bishop Tunstall of Durham.6
As solicitor-general Gosnold was one of those expected by Edward VI to sign the device altering the succession. At first he refused but eventually he did so. Of his part in the crisis following the King’s death nothing has come to light, but Mary replaced him as solicitor-general by William Cordell. Reelected for Ipswich to the first Parliament of the new reign, Gosnold joined the opposition to the initial measures to restore Catholicism. On 12 Oct. 1553 he was named to the committee to decide on the validity of the returns of John Foster II for Plympton Erle and Alexander Nowell for West Looe, and a month later he helped to bring two bills back to the Commons from the Lords.