MELHUISH (MELHUYS), John (by 1530), of Truro, Cornw.

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



Oct. 1553
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1530. m. Jane, da. of Robert Kelloway alias Stowford of Stowford in Dolton, Devon, 1da.1

Offices Held

Mayor, Truro temp. Edw. VI.2


John Melhuish, a tin merchant, was described in a Star Chamber case as ‘well friended and favoured’ in Truro. One of his friends may have been Thomas Roydon, his fellow-Member in 1554: both he and Roydon were present in the coinage hall at Truro on July 1556 when the retainers of (Sir) William Godolphin I tried to oust William Isham from the comptrollership; Roydon, moreover, was a member of the illegal jury alleged to have been empanelled by Melhuish for the purpose of trying a man whom he favoured.3

Melhuish’s elections to Parliament were the natural extension of his municipal career: on both occasions he enjoyed the superior place. In 1553 neither he nor his partner Nicholas Randall offended the Queen by supporting the Protestant opposition, but a year later his early departure from Parliament without licence (Roydon was guilty of the same dereliction) was noticed. Although he was accordingly informed against in the King’s bench during Easter term 1555 he did not appear to answer the charges and was fined for this contempt each term from Michaelmas 1555 until the end of 1557 when the case was allowed to lapse, perhaps because he was bankrupt. Melhuish was unable to pay the duchy of Cornwall over £70 for the coinage of his tin or numerous other creditors smaller amounts. He fled Truro, but undeterred by this John Cosworth, the receiver-general for the duchy, ordered a search to be made of his house with a view to recovering the duchy’s debt. On 16 July 1558 Melhuish obtained protection from the crown for a period of four months. This patent was extended for two years on 6 Feb. 1559, with the rider that if it was not sufficient the lord chancellor or the keeper of the great seal should let him have another good in law.4

When he sued out a general pardon at the accession of Elizabeth, he styled himself as ‘late of Truro’. For a time he lived at South Holne near Buckfastleigh, Devon, from which moorland retreat he complained to Keeper Bacon about the misbehaviour of Alice Randall, late of Truro, widow (possibly of Nicholas Randall), who had allegedly dispossessed him of jewellery. The date of his death is unknown: he was probably not the John Melhuish of Sandford, Devon whose will, now lost, was proved in 1587. At his death his heir was presumably either his daughter Margery, who had married James Bonython, or the John Melhuish junior who had brought tin to the Truro coinage in 1550 and may have been his son.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from mayoralty which had been completed before his first return to Parliament. Vis. Devon, ed. Vivian, 310; Vis. Cornw. ed. Vivian, 43; W. Pole, Description of Devonshire (1791), 423.
  • 2. St.Ch.3/6/31.
  • 3. St.Ch.3/6/31; 4/1/48.
  • 4. KB27/1176-84; C1/1463/3-6; 3/121/90; CPR, 1557-8, p. 423; 1558-60, p. 58.
  • 5. CPR, 1558-60, p. 163; C3/119/60; Devon and Cornw. Wills, 136; Vis. Cornw. 43; E101/273/20, m. 20.