GREYNDORE, Sir John (c.1356-1416), of Abenhall, Glos.

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



Oct. 1404

Family and Education

b.c.1356, s. and h. of Laurence Greyndore of Hadnock, Mon. by Margaret, da. and h. of Sir Ralph Abenhall of Abenhall. m. (1) Marion Hathewey, 1s. Robert*; (2) bef. Apr. 1392, Isabel, 1da. Kntd. by Apr. 1398.1

Offices Held

Tax collector, Glos. May 1379, Nov. 1382, Nov. 1383, Mar. 1388, Herefs. Mar. 1404.

Constable of St. Briavels and keeper of the Forest of Dean, Glos. 13 Nov. 1384-d.

Commr. of inquiry, Glos. Apr. 1398 (forfeited goods and chattels of Thomas, duke of Gloucester), Herefs. June 1406 (concealments); to resist Welsh rebels and relieve Abergavenny May 1401; make proclamation of Henry IV’s intention to govern well, Herefs. May 1402; of oyer and terminer, Herefs., Glos. Nov. 1405, S. Wales June 1413; to raise royal loans, Glos., Herefs. June 1406; send victuals to Bristol for Parliament Nov. 1409; relieve Coity castle Oct. 1412; safeguard the march against Welsh rebels June 1415.

Sheriff, Glam. 25 Jan. 1400-c. Nov. 1414, Glos. 22 Nov. 1405-5 Nov. 1406, 10 Dec. 1411-3 Nov. 1412.

Constable of Usk castle c.1402-3, Radnor castle 24 Sept. 1402-28 Jan. 1405, dep. constable of Monmouth and Skenfrith castles 20 Feb. 1405-25 Dec. 1406, constable of Chepstow castle 11 June 1405-c.1409, of Whitecastle 22 May 1406-d. , of Aberystwyth castle Mich. 1408-c.1410, of Monmouth and the Three Castles 5 Apr. 1413-d.2

J.p. Herefs. 27 Apr. 1404-Nov. 1413.

Steward of Usk and Caerleon 29 Mar. 1406-aft. 1413, of Monmouth 11 Jan. 1412-d. , of Bodley and Minsterworth, Glos. Dec. 1413-June 1416.3

Justice itinerant, S. Wales 1415.4


Sir John Greyndore was a notable soldier and an important figure in the government of the southern Welsh marches. His lands were all on the Gloucestershire-Monmouthshire border, in or near the Forest of Dean. From his father he inherited the manor of Clearwell, Gloucestershire, and lands at English Bicknor, Newland and St. Briavels, in the same county, and at Hadnock, near Monmouth. From his mother (after her death in 1375 and that of her second husband in the following year) he received the manor of Abenhall and land at nearby Little Dean, and in the course of his career he also acquired half the manor of Micheldean. His first wife, Marion Hathewey, likewise came of a local family, with land at Ruardean.5

John is first mentioned in September 1376 when (aged about 20) he entered into a joint recognizance with his relation, Raulyn Greyndore of Micheldean. Three years later he served for the first time as a royal tax collector. In 1394 he accompanied Richard II to Ireland, and by April 1398 he had been knighted. During Richard II’s reign he also served several local magnates: in 1384 Guy, Lord Bryan, had made him constable of his castle of St. Briavels and keeper of the Forest of Dean during Guy’s lifetime, and a year later this appointment was confirmed by the King for Greyndore’s own life. He was also retained by Gilbert, Lord Talbot, who before his death in 1387 granted him a life annuity of £10 from the lordships of Archenfield and Goodrich in Herefordshire. In addition, he had links with William Beauchamp, Lord Abergavenny, for whose Kentish lands he was to act as a feoffee in 1400. Several members of the Greyndore family (including Sir John’s father) had been retainers of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, and Sir John himself may also have served the duke, to whom he conveyed land in Hadnock in 1392.6

Such a connexion would explain Greyndore’s rise to prominence after the accession of Henry IV. As early in the reign as 12 Oct. 1399, by which time he was already described as a King’s knight, he was granted custody of the Gloucestershire lands (worth 20 marks a year) of the late William Blount, with the marriage of his heir, Isabel. Furthermore, three months later he was appointed sheriff of Glamorgan, which formerly hereditary office had been confiscated following the treason of Thomas, Lord Despenser. Between September and December 1400, he took part in Henry IV’s Scottish campaign, serving with Lord Grey of Codnor at Roxburgh and with the prince of Wales at Leith. In January 1401 he was first returned to Parliament, and in August following he was summoned to a great council at Westminster.7 By then Owen Glendower’s rebellion had broken out, and for the next nine years Sir John was to be more or less continuously employed in its containment and suppression. In May 1401 he had been one of those commissioned to relieve Abergavenny, and by July 1402 he had taken command of New Radnor castle, which he garrisoned for the next two-and-a-half years with up to ten men-at-arms and 60 archers. At about the same time he appears to have commanded Usk castle, which had a garrison some 80 strong. On 1 Aug. 1402 his services were rewarded by royal grant of 40 marks and a tun of wine annually, and a month later he was officially appointed constable of Radnor and custodian of the lordships of Presteigne, Kingsland, Norton and Pembridge in Radnorshire and Herefordshire which were then in the King’s hands during the minority of Edmund Mortimer, earl of March. Thus, when the earl’s uncle, Sir Edmund Mortimer, went over to Glendower in December 1402, one of his first actions was to write to Greyndore, informing him of his change of front and urging him to forbear making raids on Mortimer lands occupied by Glendower. It is doubtful whether such a plea took effect.8

By now Sir John was attached to the household of Prince Henry, the King’s lieutenant in Wales, and on 21 July 1403 (with a company of five men-at-arms and 40 archers) he fought in the prince’s retinue at the battle of Shrewsbury. At other times during the period from April 1403 until July 1404 he was paid the wages of his own large retinue of 20 lances and 100 archers, operating near Montgomery and elsewhere in Wales. Then, in October following, he found time to attend the ‘Unlearned’ Parliament at Coventry, the other representative for Herefordshire being his neighbour, Thomas Walwyn II of Much Marcle, to whom he was to be later connected by marriage when his daughter, Joan, married Walwyn’s son, William. By February 1405 Greyndore had exchanged his command at Radnor for the posts of deputy constable of the castle and town of Monmouth and of Skenfrith castle. During the following spring he played a major part in two signal defeats inflicted on the Welsh in that area. The first was on 11 Mar., when 8,000 rebels from Gwent and Glamorgan attacked and burnt the town of Grosmont. Prince Henry counter-attacked with ‘mon petit meigne de mon hostel’ under Gilbert, Lord Talbot, who was joined by the retinues of Sir William Newport* and Greyndore. Although these forces ‘ne feurent q’un tres petit povoir en tous’, they routed the Welsh, and killed, it was said, nearly a thousand of them. Not long afterwards Greyndore and Lord Grey of Codnor were in command of the garrison of Usk castle when (perhaps on 5 May) it was attacked by a Welsh force under Griffith, eldest son of Owen Glendower. The English sallied out and defeated the rebels on the hill of Pwll Melyn, capturing Griffith and killing his uncle, Tudor. After the battle, 300 Welsh captives were executed.9

Sir John’s military services continued to be much in demand. In June 1405 he was appointed constable of Chepstow, with responsibility for the surrounding area, and in the following September he was negotiating for the submission of the defeated rebels of Gwent. In March 1406 he was granted (probably as a reward) the stewardship of the Mortimer lordships of Usk and Caerleon, and in May following (when he had an episcopal licence to appoint his own confessor) he became constable of Whitecastle, an appointment for life. Nor did his services go unrecognized by Parliament, for on 19 June Sir John Tiptoft, then Speaker, made specific reference to him as one of those whom the Commons were petitioning the King to reward for their ‘grandes labours et disseases pur resister les rebealx de Gales’. Exactly what rewards came his way as a result is unknown, but on 22 May 1408 he had a life grant of lands in the lordship of Newport, worth 40 marks a year, confiscated from various Welsh rebels.10

Meanwhile, during the summer of 1407, Sir John had been with Prince Henry at the siege of Aberystwyth castle, and he witnessed the articles of surrender drawn up there on 8 Sept. Glendower repudiated the agreement, however, and the castle held out for another year. Prince Henry’s trust in Greyndore is amply demonstrated by the fact that he was immediately appointed constable of this key fortress, and he apparently retained command until 1410, by which time the long rebellion had been effectively crushed. Not long before, a barge of his (operating from Bristol) had been involved in capturing and plundering a Genoese carrack at Milford Haven. Greyndore’s men carried off 60 butts of wine ‘for safe-keeping’ at Chepstow, but in March 1410 Sir John was ordered to return them.11

Shortly after Henry of Monmouth’s succession to the throne, Greyndore was appointed steward and constable of Monmouth and the Three Castles (Grosmont, Skenfrith and Whitecastle) and granted a life annuity of £64 over and above his wages. He thus became the principal officer of the duchy of Lancaster in south-east Wales, as well as a member of the duchy council; and it was as such that he served ex officio on royal commissions and as a justice itinerant.12 His private interests at this time seem to have connected him with Joan, widow of William, Lord Abergavenny. In 1413 he was a party to a recognizance involving her acquisition of the former Despenser lands in South Wales, and in 1415 he was her fellow trustee when Thomas, Lord Berkeley, acquired the castle of Bridgwater, Somerset, from the earl of March.13

On 16 June 1415 Sir John was granted wide powers of government in the southern Welsh march, it being his duty to keep the peace there during Henry V’s absence in France. This commission seems to have been a dead letter, however, for four days earlier he had been granted royal letters of protection as a member of the King’s army himself and, though aged about 60, he served at the siege of Harfleur with ten men-at-arms, 30 archers and 120 miners, the latter presumably from the pits in the Forest of Dean.14 Whether he accompanied the King from Harfleur to Agincourt is not known, but he did form part of the garrison at Harfleur (under Thomas, earl of Dorset) between December 1415 and April 1416. He may well have died there, and he was certainly dead by September 1416, when a new steward of Monmouth was appointed. He was succeeded in his estates by his son Robert.15

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: Charles Kightly


  • 1. CIPM, xiv. 143; CCR, 1354-60, p. 477; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 13; Harl. 1543, f. 177; Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. i. 87; vi. 144; Glos. RO, D33/59, 138/64. His 2nd w., Isabel, although at some time the wife of John Joce (CPR, 1441-6, p. 388), did not, as stated by R.A. Griffiths in Principality of Wales, i. 235-7, bring Greyndore the Newland estates in the Forest of Dean; these had come to the family through his gdfa.’s marriage to Margaret Joce.
  • 2. PPC, ii. 68; E101/43/11; CPR, 1401-5, p. 120; 1405-8, p. 25; DL25/3515; DL29/615/9842; DL42/16 ff. 146, 150, 179; Somerville, Duchy, i. 171, 647, 649, 654; J.H. Wylie, Hen. IV, ii. 304; SC6/1222/10, 11; Griffiths, i. 235-7.
  • 3. CPR, 1405-8, p. 160; NLW, Badminton deed 981; DL29/615/9843-4; DL42/16 ff. 78, 266, 17 f. 190.
  • 4. T.B. Pugh, Marcher Ldships S. Wales, 50.
  • 5. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. i. 87; vi. 143-5; vii. 117-19; CIPM, xiv. 143; CPR, 1381-5, p. 267; CCR, 1413-19, p. 338; CFR, ix. 288; Reg. Trefnant (Canterbury and York Soc. xx), 176; Reg. Mascall (ibid. xxi), 172.
  • 6. CCR, 1374-7, p. 445; CPR, 1391-6, p. 473; 1396-9, p. 138; 1399-1401, p. 411; 1429-36, p. 344; CFR, xvi. 200-1; Reg. Gaunt, 1371-5, i. 71; 1379-83, i. 530-1.
  • 7. CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 10, 249; Feudal Aids, ii. 302; E101/42/38, 40; PPC, i. 162.
  • 8. E101/43/11; J.E. Lloyd, Owen Glendower, 62-75; PPC, ii. 68; CPR, 1401-5, pp. 112, 120; Orig. Letters ed. Ellis, ii. 24-26.
  • 9. Wylie, iv. 243-4, 246; Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. vi. 145; CFR, ix. 288; Orig. Letters, 2nd ser. i. 38-41, 70; PPC, i. 248-50; Lloyd, 95-97; Adam of Usk, Chron. ed. Thompson, 103; J. Trokelowe, Chron. ed. Riley, 399.
  • 10. Reg. Mascall. 23; Wylie, ii. 304; RP, iii. 577; CPR, 1405-8, p. 439.
  • 11. St. Albans Chron. ed. Galbraith, 23; Lloyd, 130-3, 136; Griffiths, 235; CPR, 1408-13, pp. 175, 178-9.
  • 12. DL29/615/9843-5, 730/12015 m. 16, 731/12018 mm. 9-14; DL 42/16 f. 78, 17 f. 190; CPR, 1413-16, p. 112.
  • 13. CCR, 1413-19, p. 110; CP, i. 27; iv. 282; Som. Feet of Fines (Som. Rec. Soc. xxii), 176-7.
  • 14. Wylie, Hen. V, i. 456; CPR, 1413-16, p. 347; DKR, xliv. 568; E101/69/5/418; N.H. Nicolas, Agincourt, 380, 386. The monumental brass of his son, Robert, at Newland, Glos., shows his crest as a Forest of Dean miner with pick and lamp. Is it possible that this device may commemorate some notable feat carried out by Sir John’s retinue at Harfleur?
  • 15. E101/47/39; CFR, xiv. 144; DL29/615/9845.