DUNHEAD, John II, of Huntingdon

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Sept. 1397

Family and Education

Offices Held


Probably the son of John Dunhead I, the subject of this biography is first mentioned in May 1393, when he and Richard Prentice* offered sureties in Chancery for a local clerk. He may have owned property in Catworth, Huntingdonshire, as well as in the county town itself. Certainly, a John Dunhead of Catworth was active as a trustee, in April 1405, since he then conveyed some land to the wife of a local burgess; and much later, in about 1436, he and his son, Robert, transferred two tofts and 172 acres of woodland there. It is, however, possible that we are dealing with two separate individuals, since a John Dunhead ‘gentleman of Huntingdonshire’ appears frequently during this period as a royal commissioner, tax collector and mainpernor, and was, quite clearly, of a far higher social class than our MP.1 The latter did business as a chandler; and was still known as ‘the younger’ (to distinguish him from John I) as late as 1406. It was then that he spent some time in prison in Huntingdon following an appeal of treason preferred against him by an informer. The latter failed to convince a local jury, and as a result was sentenced to be hanged while his victim went free. Not surprisingly, John II elected to live quietly for several years, although at some point before June 1425 he became involved, along with John Foxton* and Hugh Parson*, in a raid staged by the burgesses of Huntingdon on the property of the prioress of Hinchingbrooke, who had refused them rights of way and access to common pasture. According to a petition submitted by the prioress, Anne Brinkley, before the royal council, he and his fellows caused damage worth over £40 to one of her closes. The authorities viewed her complaint seriously, because a royal commission of oyer and terminer was set up to investigate the affray, and on its recommendation a compromise was reached in late July. Within a matter of days, however, George Gidding* and his friends had taken the law into their own hands, launching a violent attack on the prioress herself, and abducting some of her servants. There is nothing to suggest that Dunhead was himself a party to the second affray, and no more is definitely heard of him from this time onwards.2

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: E.M. Wade


  • 1. CFR, xv. 292, 329; xvi. 250, 307; CPR, 1391-6, p. 269; 1416-22, p. 424; Add. Ch. 33522; Hunts. Feet of Fines (Cambridge Antiq. Soc. xxxvii), 101, 106.
  • 2. CPR, 1405-8, pp. 236, 354; 1422-9, p. 303; Add. Chs. 33616-17.