HAWLEY, John II (d.1436), of Dartmouth, Devon and Trematon, Cornw.

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



May 1413
Nov. 1414
May 1421

Family and Education

s. and h. of John Hawley I*, m. by 1408, Margaret,1 1s. 1da.

Offices Held

Controller of tunnage and poundage, London 10 June 1401-2, customs and subsidies from Bridgwater to Exeter 10 Feb. 1402-Mar. 1404, Feb. 1413-Nov. 1415, Dartmouth Nov. 1415-Feb. 1416, Exeter and Dartmouth Nov. 1421-May 1425.

Feodary and escheator of the duchy of Cornw. in Cornw. and Devon, 20 Feb. 1402-d.

Commr. of arrest, Dartmouth Apr., June, Oct. 1410, Devon Dec. 1428, Feb. 1429, Devon, Dorset Apr. 1430, June 1431; inquiry Apr. 1413, July 1423, Sept. 1434 (breaches of truce at sea), May 1415 (the seizure of Sir Thomas Carew’s ships), Devon, Cornw. Feb., July 1419 (concealed crown income); to seize vessels illegally taken at sea Apr. 1413; hold inquisitions post mortem, Devon, Cornw. Feb. 1420; hold musters, Exeter, Plymouth, Dartmouth June 1430; of array, Devon July 1433, Jan. 1436.

Mayor, Dartmouth, Mich. 1410-11.2

Under sheriff, Cornw. Mich. 1411-12.

J.p. Cornw. 12 Feb. 1422-July 1431.

Dep. butler, Dartmouth 10 Dec. 1422-Oct. 1425.


The younger John Hawley’s career in royal service began some eight years before his father’s death in 1408, and it was probably he who, in 1400, described as the ‘King’s servant’, shared a grant of money pertaining to the Crown for the escape of prisoners from Northampton gaol. In the following year he was appointed controller of tunnage and poundage collected in the port of London. Then, early in 1402, he was given, for life, an appointment in the duchy of Cornwall carrying with it a wage of 6d. a day: the office of feodary and escheator in the duchy, continuance in which would depend upon a retention of the favour of Prince Henry of Monmouth, who held the duchy. Although Hawley made appearances in Chancery, for example on behalf of Elizabeth, Lady Botreaux (when she was granted custody of the Fitzwaryn estates), he seems to have spent little time in the royal household and his main interests are suggested more by his provision of securities of 250 marks for John William I* of Kingswear, who was well known to the government for his piratical ventures. In fact, in the early years of Henry IV’s reign Hawley was himself involved in numerous activities of that sort, controlled from Dartmouth and at the expense of Spanish, Breton and Flemish shipping. Even so, like his father, he was put on official inquiries into the violation of truces. Similarly, too, he was relied upon for naval defence: for instance, on 1 Oct. 1406 he took out royal letters of protection in view of his intended service at sea with Richard Clitheroe I*, admiral to the south and west, under the temporary parliamentary scheme for coastal defence supervised by the merchants of England. But neither father nor son was long free of difficulties in this period: not only was John senior in the Tower from December 1406 to February 1407, but on 3 Mar. next the seizure of the younger John’s estates was ordered to punish him for leaving the court of Chancery without licence and for refusing to indemnify a merchant of Pamplona for a cargo of olive oil taken at sea. In October 1410 he was ordered under a penalty of £500 once again to appear in Chancery; and when, after a repetition of the command, he still failed to do so, the sheriff of Devon was instructed under a similar penalty to arrest him and distrain his goods and chattels.3

Nevertheless, Hawley continued to make attacks on such merchant shipping as he chose to suspect of being of enemy origin: in 1411 he seized the St. Michael of Sluys, various Breton vessels and the Seint Croice of Castile. As regards the last, he claimed to be acting under letters of marque granted in reprisal for piracies done by the men of Santander, although in 1413 he agreed to make full restitution. It is not so easy to justify his armed attack in Tor Bay on the George of Paignton in a quarrel over a Breton prize, nor the capture of Le Grace Dieu of Brittany which had been freighted by Robert Russell II* of Bristol under a safe conduct granted by Henry IV.4 Not surprisingly, his career continued to have its fluctuations: in 1411 the prince of Wales named him as under sheriff of Cornwall, yet in 1413 when he became King he sent orders for Hawley’s arrest; on 19 June 1415 Hawley took out royal letters of protection as a member of the King’s own retinue for the invasion of Normandy, yet two years later he affronted Henry by disobeying his command to come to him and his Council at Southampton, and in 1418 his estates were temporarily declared forfeit. Throughout the following summer Hawley served at sea under Sir Hugh Courtenay, the heir to the earldom of Devon, patrolling the Channel in defence of the coasts, and in February 1420, now described as ‘King’s esquire’, he was retained to do further service under Courtenay’s command. This same year, from 30 Apr. to 1 Nov., he was at sea with a personal force of 50 men-at-arms and 100 archers, as one of four leaders of a fleet of five ships and ten balingers manned by 1,500 soldiers, his associates in command being Courtenay (who had now succeeded to the earldom), Lord Botreaux and Sir Thomas Carew.5 From February 1422 for nine years Hawley was a j.p. in Cornwall, but he was not deterred by his new status from continuing his unlawful activities at sea. His most serious offence in this period occurred in 1427 when with a ‘grete navey of Ingelond’ he captured a ship of a Scottish merchant and spoiled it of merchandise worth £220, compounding the crime by breaking his promise to the merchant to make good the loss. A year later, the King’s Council again sought his arrest.6

Hawley died on 8 May 1436, perhaps while on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James of Compostella. His estates in Devon were valued at £69 10s. a year and those in Cornwall at £54 2s.d., but this was undoubtedly a low estimate of the total value of his holdings, which included all of the former Tresilian estates purchased by his father. Moreover, in 1434 he had already settled some lands in Cornwall on his son Nicholas and the latter’s wife, Isabel, whose holdings were afterwards said to be worth 300 marks. After their deaths, in 1442 and 1443 respectively, the whole estate passed to John Hawley’s daughter Elizabeth (b.1412), the wife of John Copplestone,* who had been joint receiver-general and steward of the duchy of Cornwall in 1422-3.7

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Reg. Stafford, 276. She was possibly the da. of Sir Robert Tresilian†, c.j.KB, who had been m. in 1386 to John Arundel I* and then divorced.
  • 2. E368/183-4.
  • 3. CPR, 1399-1401, pp. 404, 532; 1401-5, p. 117; 1405-8, pp. 239, 245; 1408-13, p. 316; CCR, 1405-9, p. 177; 1409-13, pp. 129, 135; CFR, xiii. 207.
  • 4. CCR, 1409-13, p. 264; 1413-19, pp. 9, 67, 501, 503; CPR, 1408-13, pp. 381, 474; 1413-16, p. 35; C1/6/120, 123; Sel. Cases in Chancery (Selden Soc. x), 90-91.
  • 5. CPR, 1413-16, p. 116; 1416-22, pp. 274, 319; DKR, xliv, 566, 610, 616; CFR, xiv. 245; C76/101 m. 2; E404/35/283; R.A. Newhall, Eng. Conquest Normandy, 199.
  • 6. C1/20/18; CPR, 1422-9, p. 548.
  • 7. H.R. Watkin, Dartmouth, 116, 415-16; C139/80/25; CFR, xvii. 255-6; West Country Shipping (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. xxi), 42.