STURGEON, John (by 1498-1570/71), of London.
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Family and Education
b. by 1498, 1st s. of Henry Sturgeon of London, by w. Joan. m. by 1522, at least 3s. 2da. suc. fa. Aug. 1526.2
Auditor, London 1537-8, 1542-4, bridgemaster 1547-8, chamberlain 1550-63; gov. Merchant Adventurers 1545, 1548-50.3
John Sturgeon may have been related to two 15th-century namesakes, a London mercer who sat in Parliament for the City and his more distinguished son who was knight of the shire for Hertfordshire. The latter held Gatesbury, Hertfordshire, and in his will of 1526 Sturgeon’s father, a London ironmonger, mentions a kinsman at nearby Ware. Sturgeon did not follow his father’s trade, being a member of the company of haberdashers by 1519 at about which time he imported haberdashery to the value of £248, but he lived in his father’s parish of St. Benet Gracechurch, where (as his father had done) he served as churchwarden.4
Sturgeon was common councilman for Bridge ward in London by 1535. On 27 Jan. 1536 he was one of a number of commoners appointed by the court of aldermen to discuss ‘such matters as shall be profitable for the common wealth of this city’ at the coming session of Parliament. Later, when he was himself a Member of Parliament, he and the other Members for London were enjoined to consult among themselves about the City’s parliamentary programme before the beginning of the session of 1543, and on 21 Feb. 1544 the court of aldermen agreed that they should oppose a bill ‘against merchants, for packing of woollen cloths’. He had been named a commissioner in the Act for the partition of Wapping marsh (35 Hen. VIII, c.9). Later in 1544 he was imprisoned ‘for his wilful disobedience’ and only released by the court after Chancellor Wriothesley had sent letters in his favour. In June 1545 he was employed to convey money overseas for the King, and when in November he showed the aldermen a letter from Sir Edward Bray ‘concerning certain provision to be made for conveying of wood to this City’ the Members were told to ‘use their discretion therein as they shall think good at the Parliament’.5
On 26 Nov. 1547 Sturgeon was appointed by the common council of London to assist in the preparation of an answer to a bill introduced four days earlier into the Lords ‘against the City’ for the river Thames: whether or not the answer was completed no more was heard of the bill. Sturgeon’s employment in this matter may mean that he sat in the Parliament of 1547 from the outset, but it is more likely that his experience in the two previous Parliaments, not current Membership, accounts for his inclusion in the 28-strong committee. His later Membership of the Parliament is known from a list revised for its final session in 1552 where his name is struck through and erroneously marked ‘mortuus’. Unlike John Story, whose name precedes his and is also deleted, Sturgeon is not known to have been replaced in the Commons. The notice of his death some 18 years prematurely was perhaps a simple clerical error, but it could be that Sturgeon’s name had been confused with that of John Croke and that he himself was Croke’s replacement. Whenever he was returned for Hindon he presumably owed his election to the Privy Council and perhaps especially to the influence of Cranmer. As early as 1536 letters which Sturgeon wrote to a friend at Calais, evidently on religious matters, were prudently burnt by the recipient, whose reply of June 1536 reveals that Sturgeon was then a friend of Hugh Latimer and a Protestant sympathizer. William Morice, whose brother was Cranmer’s secretary and who had known Latimer since 1532, sat for the nearby borough of Downton in the same Parliament. The imprisonment and deprivation of Bishop Gardiner during Edward VI’s reign left the episcopal boroughs of Downton, Hindon and Taunton open to intervention.6
Sturgeon was elected one of the bridgemasters of London in 1547 against eight other candidates; reelected in the following year, he was replaced in October following his election as governor of the Merchant Adventurers. He had served as governor once before, in 1545, when he and other Englishmen at Antwerp were arrested, ‘but in a gentle manner’, in retaliation for the arrest in England of subjects of the Emperor. During his second term he represented the company at the entry of Philip of Spain into Antwerp in the summer of 1549. In November 1550 nine men disputed the chamberlainship of London. The contestants were reduced to two by vote of the court of aldermen, and Sturgeon was elected by the commonalty, although his rival Henry Fisher, a London skinner, was supported by a letter from the King. He held the office for 13 years, and was thus again involved in the reception of Philip of Spain as well as making payments on behalf of the City to such men as Speaker Pollard. He retired in 1563 ‘by reason of his great age and weakness of body’ and had by then begun to settle his estate, giving to London plots of land in Finsbury field and Newgate; early in 1569 he granted to his parish church a yearly rent of 40s. which he had been left for this purpose. He died in 1570 or early in 1571 and was buried in St. Benet Gracechurch.