FLEETWOOD, John (d.1590), of Colwich, Staffs. and Penwortham, Lancs.
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Family and Education
1st s. of William Fleetwood of Heskin, Lancs. by Eleanor or Helen, da. of Robert or Richard Standish; bro. of Thomas. m. (1) Catherine, da. of John Christmas of Colchester, Essex, s.p.; (2) Jane, da. of Sir Thomas Langton† of Newton, Lancs., 9 ch. inc. at least 2s.1
Clerk of Chancery 1535-70; usher of change of money in the Tower c.1538; clerk of the peace and of the Crown, Cheshire 1538; j.p. Staffs. 1547-53, from c.1573, Lancs. from 1561, ?rem. 1587; sheriff, Staffs. 1548-9, 1568-9, Lancs. 1577-8, 1586-7.2
Fleetwood was a government official who did well out of the dissolution of the monasteries through his friendship with Richard Rich†, chancellor of the court of augmentations. After first leasing Penwortham priory from the abbey and convent of Evesham, he purchased the reversion from the Crown. He also obtained a grant of Colwich priory. The resulting transformation was described by the contemporary historian Erdeswick: the chancel had been made into a parlour, the church into a hall and the steeple into a kitchen. Not surprisingly, on the accession of Queen Mary Fleetwood was removed from the commission of the peace. He was not immediately reinstated by Elizabeth, though he purchased more land—Wooton-under-Weever from Sir William Cecil in 1565, Prestwood in 1565, Ellaston in 1571 and Quixhill five years later. Indeed, he bought to the end of his life, by which time his estates ranged throughout Staffordshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire. In 1587 he even acquired land in county Waterford, Ireland. Colwich remained his main residence, and in 1572, he took a turn as knight of the shire. His age and the fact that he ‘lieth altogether in the county of Staffordshire, saving this year during the time he is sheriff’, were in 1587 given as reasons for removing him from the Lancashire commission of the peace.3
Before his death Fleetwood settled a great proportion of his land by indenture. Part went to Edward Standish and Nicholas Rigby, and the greater proportion was put in trust until the marriage of his sons Thomas and Richard with daughters of Sir Richard Sherborne† and Thomas Leighe respectively. By this arrangement Thomas had the Staffordshire lands and Richard the Lancashire. Fleetwood died at Penwortham in 1590, between 6 Oct. when he made his will, and 13 Oct. when he was buried. His will was proved 5 Jan. 1591. One of the overseers was his nephew, the recorder of London.4