HOLCROFT, Sir John (by 1498-1560), of Holcroft, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1498, 1st s. of John Holcroft of Holcroft by Margaret, da. of Hamnett Massey of Rixton; bro. of Sir Thomas. m. by 1519, Anne, da. of Ralph Standish of Standish, 7s. 6da. KB 20 Feb. 1547.1

Offices Held

J.p. Cheshire 1539-47, Lancs. by 1541-d.; jt. (with bro. Sir Thomas) receiver, lands formerly of Lenton priory, Notts. 1540-5; sheriff, Lancs. 1537-8, 1542-3, Cheshire 1541-2, 1546-7; commr. chantries, Cheshire, Lancs. and Chester 1546, Cheshire, Lancs. and Staffs. 1554, relief, Lancs. 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1552; other commissions 1540-51; custos rot. Lancs. 2 Apr. 1547-d.2


Sir John Holcroft and his younger but more prominent brother Sir Thomas were the first of their family to emerge from comparative obscurity. As the date of their father’s death is not known, the John Holcroft who joined the 3rd Earl of Derby with 53 men in 1536 may have been the father or the son, but it was the son who as Sir John Holcroft was joint commissioner for the musters on the Scots campaign of 1547 with George Blagge: he had been knighted at the coronation of Edward VI, being one of those who would have been created Knights of the Bath if there had been time for the ceremonies and who are usually regarded as such. His own son, another John, was knighted by the Protector Somerset at Roxburgh. In 1557 Sir John Holcroft or his son— it had not been decided or was not known which when the list was drawn up— was appointed to command 100 men with Richard Assheton of Middleton and others. In July 1539 the future Member had been granted the wardships of William and Anne Radcliffe of Winmarleigh, with annuities amounting to £23 2s.2d.; in May 1545 he received that of William Booth, with an annuity of £25; and in the same month he obtained for his services and a payment of £345 the site and lands of Upholland priory near Wigan, which he had licence to alienate to Sir Robert Worsley in 1546-47.3

Holcroft may have been of sufficient standing to procure his own election for the county in November 1554 and in 1558, although his brother, who was a duchy official and still in favour at court, is likely to have helped him and, to judge from his will, he would also have been acceptable to the Earl of Derby, whose son Sir Thomas Stanley was the senior knight in the earlier Parliament. As one of those found absent without leave when the House was called early in 1555, Holcroft was informed against in the King’s bench, although the prosecution was not pursued.4

Holcroft made his will on 2 Dec. 1559. He had already disposed of much of his property to his wife and sons, ‘as appeareth by several deeds remaining in the custody of my cousin Gilbert Gerard’. Gerard later married Anne Radcliffe, who was still Holcroft’s ward at this time: he received an annuity of 40s. and other bequests. Another Gerard cousin, William Gerard II, recorder of Chester, received £5. Holcroft’s wife, his third son Hamlet, and the two Gerards were executors. The supervisors were Holcroft’s six sons-in-law, but he also asked the Earl of Derby to act as mediator, ‘in case my executors cannot agree with my children’, and promised the earl £6 13s.4d. for his pains, besides making a special appeal to John Bradill of Brock-holes and Whalley ‘to be friendly to my children’. He left a gown to Sir Thomas Stanley. He died in 1560 and was buried at Newchurch in Culcheth, a parish of which he had purchased the tithes in 1539.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from marriage, Preston RO, Spencer of Lathom ms 380. Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxi), 117; (xcviii), 85; J. B. Watson, ‘Lancs. gentry 1529-58’ (London Univ. M.A. thesis, 1959), 335.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xiv-xvi, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 81, 102; 1553, p. 360; VCH Lancs. ii. 45, 97-98; Palatine Note Bk. ii. 222; Somerville, Duchy, i. 323n; APC, iv. 365; Watson, 337, 538.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xi, xiv, xx, xxi; Narr. Ref. (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 302n; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, pp. ccc, 219n; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, iii(2), 92.
  • 4. KB27/1176, rex roll 17.
  • 5. Chetham Soc. xxxiii. 148-57; VCH Lancs. iv. 161n.