CHEVERELL, John, of Chilfrome, Chantmarle and Upper Sturthill, Dorset.
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Family and Education
Cheverell was a lawyer, making regular appearances at the Dorchester assizes from 1402.2 In February 1403 he and John Moryn, a monk from the abbey of St. Etienne in Caen, shared the custody of lands of a dependency of the abbey, the alien cell of Panfield (Essex), for which they were to pay £43 6s.8d. a year for the duration of the war with France. But it was in Dorset that Cheverell made his mark. Although in 1408 he acquired lands in Combe St. Nicholas, Ashill and Stickepath (Somerset) and in Devon, too, most of his territorial interests were in that county. In the year of his second return to Parliament (1407) he had purchased property in Sherbourne,3 and by marriage he acquired an interest in holdings in the eastern part of the shire. The manor of East Stoke (about three miles from Wareham) was held by the Chantmarie family whose estates were divided between two heiresses, Joan, who married Cheverell, and Christine who married John Jordan of Wolfeton. Cheverell’s marriage may have taken place by 1409 when he acted as attorney at the assizes for Walter Chantmarle and his cousin, Henry Smedmore, in a dispute over the manor of ‘Byestwall’ and Stoborough which had once belonged to their great-grandfather Sir William Estoke†. In 1412 this manor was settled on John Harris*, another claimant (through his wife Sibyl), with remainder to his stepson John Moune, but in default of heirs it was then to be divided between the Chantmarle sisters and their husbands. Taking possession of East Stoke caused no such difficulties: in 1412 Cheverell and Jordan presented to the church there as lords of the manor, and Cheverell later made presentations with his sister-in-law (in 1434) and his nephew (in 1439).4
Meanwhile, Cheverell had made several important contacts among the notables of Dorset. In May 1408 he joined with Thomas Cole I* in standing surety in £200, binding themselves to bring to Chancery John de la Lynde, the heir of a tenant-in-chief. A few weeks later he shared with William Filoll* a royal grant of lands in Dorset and Hampshire held in wardship, for which they were to pay £20 a year, and in 1411 he witnessed a conveyance on Filoll’s behalf. Cheverell’s involvement in the administration of the estates of Benedictine houses continued: on 21 Oct. 1413 he and a Dorchester MP, John Ford II, stood surety at the Exchequer for the prior of Wareham and five days later he acted similarly for the prior of Loders. It was they, Cheverell and Ford, who subsequently paid more than £700 into the Exchequer on the two priors’ behalf.5 Cheverell was also much in demand as a feoffee-to-uses, those for whom he acted in this capacity including the Dorset landowners Thomas Faringdon*, William Mountfort II*, Ralph Bush* and Robert Lovell*, and he also served as an executor of the will of his brother-in-law John Jordan.6 In 1437 Lovell’s widow, Elizabeth, named Cheverell among her executors, too, and four years later he obtained a royal licence to grant to the chapel of St. Helen in Chilfrome lands in Crokern Stoke (in Lydlinch), and to the college of St. Mary of Slapton, Devon, lands in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, for the provision of religious services for the souls of Elizabeth and her late husband, and for the welfare of their grand daughter Avice and her husband Sir James Ormond (later earl of Wiltshire). Subsequently, he was party to a suit in the court of common pleas brought against an erstwhile bailiff of estates at Northam, Devon, formerly belonging to the Lovells.7
Cheverell’s possession of heraldic arms, his designation as ‘gentleman’ and his appearance at the elections for the knights of the shire held at Dorchester in 1410, 1429 and 1436, suggest a reputable standing in the county. Before his death his son Walter (d.1481) married Christine, daughter of Henry Russell† (Walter’s fellow Member for Weymouth in 1442), from whom descended the dukes of Bedford of that name. By the time of Walter’s death the Cheverell estates were worth at least £60 a year.8
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
- 1. There are pedigrees of the Cheverell (Sacheverell) family in Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 44, and J. Hutchins, Hist. Dorset, i. 414. In the latter John is incorrectly named as William (but is correctly named in the text), and this error was copied in HP ed. Wedgwood 1439-1509, Biogs. 180.
- 2. JUST 1/1513 m. 61, 1518 m. 20, 1519 mm. 114, 116, 117.
- 3. CFR, xii. 195; Dorset Feet of Fines, ii. 258; Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xxii), 170.
- 4. Hutchins, i. 413; JUST 1/1519 mm. 26, 31; Dorset Feet of Fines, ii. 270-1.
- 5. CCR, 1405-9, p. 392; 1409-13, p. 208; CPR, 1405-8, p. 458; CFR, xiv. 36, 37; Harl. Roll CC 31.
- 6. Dorchester Recs. ed. Mayo, 206, 272; Dorset Feet of Fines, ii. 278, 300, 354; CCR, 1429-35, p. 328; 1447-54, pp. 154-5; CPR, 1422-9, p. 290; CAD, i. C58, 1069.
- 7. CPR, 1436-41, p. 500; 1441-6, p. 385; PCC 22 Luffenham.
- 8. C219/14/1, 15/1; C140/85/45.