FOXLEY, John, of Dartmouth, Devon.

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



Family and Education

m. by 1408, Katherine.

Offices Held

Commr. of inquiry, Dartmouth Mar. 1403 (smuggling); to survey Dartmouth Mar. 1406; of arrest, Devon June 1431.

Mayor, Dartmouth Mich. 1408-9, 1415-16, 1424-5, 1430-1.1

Tax collector, Devon May, Nov. 1416, Dec. 1429.


Through marriage Foxley acquired property near the chapel of St. Clare in Hardness, a township forming part of the medieval borough of Clifton-Dartmouth-Hardness, and his holdings there and in Southtown-Dartmouth so increased over the years as eventually 1o comprise 26 messuages.2 In 1409, when he was mayor of Dartmouth for the first of four well-spaced terms, the King’s Council accused him and other local men of illegally harbouring and maintaining John William* of Kingswear and his followers, who had committed serious breaches of the truce with Brittany: Foxley’s contacts with members of the Vintners’ Company of London suggest that his principal mercantile interest was in wine, and it was probably his trade in this commodity through the ports of north Devon that led to his election 10 Parliament in 1410 for Barnstaple. However, like John William, he found that more profit might be had from the seizure of vessels at sea than from normal commerce: on 16 Apr. 1410, when the Parliament had entered upon its second session, a commission was issued for his arrest along with several other men from west country ports, no doubt to answer for piracy. Such activity could, moreover, cause quarrels at home: in 1412 Sir Thomas Carew and John Hawley II* appointed him as an arbiter in their dispute with certain mariners of Paignton over a Breton prize. Foxley is known to have put to sea twice in 1418 on more legitimate business: first, under letters of protection granted in April, as one of the retinue of the admiral of England, Thomas Beaufort, duke of Exeter, and then, in November, in the company of the King’s brother Thomas, duke of Clarence, the lieutenant general of the army in France. Then, in May 1420, he was mustered at Southampton in the force led by Sir Thomas Carew. Probably his duties involved transporting troops to Normandy and roving the Channel to protect English shipping.3

In July 1423 a commission of oyer and terminer was set up to investigate a complaint made by Thomas Gille Dartmouth that Foxley, along with two local ‘gentlemen’, Robert Hill of Churchstow and John Prideaux of Orcharton, all arrayed in a warlike manner, had assaulted him on three separate occasions, at Bigbury, Dodbrooke and Kingsbridge. It was again in association with Prideaux that, in the following year, Foxley sailed for Normandy in the retinue of Sir John Robessart, the captain of St. Sauveur le Visconte. In a petition from a Portuguese merchant dating from some time between 1426 and 1432, Foxley is described as a deputy of the admiral of England (either Thomas Beaufort or his successor from 1426, John, duke of Bedford). Although he was only once elected as parliamentary burgess for Dartmouth, he often provided securities at the elections for other representatives chosen for the borough: thus in 1421 he acted in this way for Henry Sadeler and John Burley II, in 1422, 1423, 1425 and 1431 for John Hawley II, in 1426 for John Gayncotet and William Notefield, and in 1437 for Thomas Asshenden II*.4 He died before 1445.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. H.R. Watkin, Dartmouth, 184.
  • 2. Watkin, 91, 109; CP25(1)46/81/61; Trans. Devon Assoc. lxi. 235.
  • 3. CCR, 1405-9, p. 437; CPR, 1408-13, p. 222; 1422-9, p. 244; Sel. Cases in Chancery (Selden Soc. x), 91; DKR, xliv. 604, 608; E101/49/35.
  • 4. CPR, 1422-9, p. 137; C1/7/126; C219/12/6, 13/1-4, 14/2, 15/1.
  • 5. Watkin, 126.