MEVEREL, John (d.1444), of Throwley, Staffs.
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Family and Education
prob. s. and h. of John Meverel (d.1399/1400) of Fradswell, Staffs. by his w. Margaret. m. 2s. 2da.1
Commr. to make an arrest, Staffs. Dec. 1411.
Sheriff, Staffs. 10 Nov. 1417-4 Nov. 1418.
Meverel must still have been quite young when John Meverel the elder, who was almost certainly his father, was murdered at Fradswell within months of Henry IV’s accession to the throne. Even so, he soon found himself in trouble with the authorities as a result of his involvement (along with John de la Pole*) in a poaching raid on the royal chases in the High Peak. Legal proceedings were begun against the malefactors in 1406, although thanks to their social position they were able to avoid punishment. Meverel’s family was an influential one, for they owned a sizeable estate in and around Fradswell as well as other property to the north on the Staffordshire-Derbyshire border. They had acquired powerful connexions on the marriage of Thomas Meverel’s daughter, Elizabeth, to Sir Nicholas Stafford*; and on her death, at some point before May 1414, her estates in Throwley, Fradswell and the Derbyshire manor of Tideswell, as well as other scattered holdings and franchises in the two counties, descended to the subject of this biography, who was her next heir. Meverel also owned part, if not all, of the manor of Bishopstone in Herefordshire, but we do not know if this formed part of his inheritance.2 His mother’s marriage to Henry Delves (d. by 1419) brought Meverel links with another important local family, although these did not prevent him and his kinsman, John Delves†, sometime sheriff of Staffordshire, from taking different sides in the feud between the Erdeswyks and Edmund, Lord Ferrers.3 The first direct evidence of Meverel’s involvement in this protracted vendetta is to be found in his inclusion with Ferrers on a commission for the arrest of Hugh Erdeswyk’s* partisans in December 1411, although he and other neighbouring landowners had already begun recruiting supporters some two years before, in contravention of the statute which forbade the general distribution of liveries. Meverel himself assumed Lord Ferrers’s colours in 1414, earning another fine, which, together with an earlier one for illegal retaining on his own part, was excused in the summer of 1415 on his production of royal letters of pardon issued to him in March 1411 and December 1414. The second pardon was particularly valuable, because he then stood charged before the court of King’s bench, along with over 300 others, of various transgressions committed during an outbreak of hostilities between the rival parties. His presence in the Leicester Parliament of 1414, which had expressed particular concern about levels of lawlessness in the north Midlands, and had, indeed, given rise to the subsequent judicial proceedings, is thus of considerable interest; and it looks very much as if he was returned to help defend Ferrers from attack. Meverel’s aggressive tendencies were put to more constructive use in November 1420 and December 1428, when his name was included among those knights and esquires of Staffordshire considered most ‘able and sufficient’ to take part in national defence during the French war.4
Yet his career continued to be marked by a series of private quarrels and contested claims to property. Between 1419 and 1423, for example, he sued several people in the common lawcourts, claiming to be owed debts in the order of £52.5 In November 1421 he was bound over in sureties of £100 to appear before the royal council, possibly to answer for his offence in arranging the marriage of Thomas Bromley, a royal ward, without permission. He obtained a pardon upon payment of a fine of 100 marks in the following June, and one month later he received custody of the young man’s estates at a farm of £12 a year.6 The marriage of Meverel’s eldest son, Sir Sampson, also took place at about this time. Not enough evidence has survived to establish his wife’s identity beyond doubt, but it has been suggested that she was one of the four daughters and eventual coheirs of (Sir) Roger Leche of Chatsworth, Meverel’s influential colleague in the Parliament of November 1414. Leche, who held a number of important offices on the duchy of Lancaster estates and was also briefly treasurer of England, owned land near Tideswell, and may perhaps have been a personal friend of Meverel’s. The latter appears to have settled the manor of Tideswell upon Sir Sampson and his wife in, or before, 1423, and joined with him in a violent attempt to intimidate the local jury which met to examine his title to the property. Father and son are also said to have resisted arrest by holding Newton Grange in a state of siege against the sheriff of Derbyshire, an allegation which appears more than likely in view of their truculent behaviour on other occasions. In 1437, for instance, Meverel was pardoned his outlawry on an indictment of joining with his son to harbour a convicted robber at Fradswell, while Sir Sampson was then engaged in the early years of what was to prove a long and vicious feud with Ralph Basset of Blore.7
Meanwhile, in May 1434, Meverel was understandably listed among the leading residents of Staffordshire who were required to take the general oath not to maintain persons disturbing the peace.8 From 1422 onwards he made provision in a series of deeds for the settlement of his estates upon his two sons, with remainders to his two daughters, naming among his feoffees-to-uses Edmund, Lord Ferrers, and John Stafford, successively bishop of Bath and Wells and archbishop of Canterbury. He died on 1 May 1444, and was succeeded by Sir Sampson, who sat on the Staffordshire bench from 1449 to 1460, and possibly represented the county in later Parliaments.9
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Variants: Meverell, Meverill.
- 1. CCR, 1429-35, p. 183; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvi. 82. A John Meverel senior and his wife, Joan, the daughter of William Stafford, are mentioned, together with their son John, in a deed of 1410. Yeatman’s belief that this refers to the MP and his parents is manifestly wrong, as Meverel’s mother was called Margaret. It seems unlikely, on chronological grounds, that Meverel was then himself old enough to have an adult son, although the possibility cannot be discounted (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvii. 80; C.P. Yeatman, Feudal Hist. Derbys. v. 180).
- 2. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xii. 189, 207, xiii. 176; xvi. 53; CPR, 1401-5, p. 54; 1413-16, p. 190; 1429-36, p. 600; CChR, i. 5; iii. 55; Pipe Roll Soc. lv. no. 298; CCR, 1429-35, p. 183; Wm. Salt Lib. Stafford, Salt deed (Pearson) 292.
- 3. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvii. 67, 71, 80.
- 4. Ibid. 9, 19-21, 29, 30; n.s. vi (pt. 2), 198; CPR, 1408-13, pp. 284, 376; E28/97/31, 33.
- 5. Wm. Salt. Arch. Soc. xvii. 66, 70-71, 90.
- 6. CPR, 1416-22, p. 435; CCR, 1419-22, p. 215; CFR, xiv. 439.
- 7. Yeatman, v. 159; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xvii. 99; n.s. iii. 138; Staffs. Parl. Hist. i (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), 244.
- 8. CPR, 1429-36, p. 399.
- 9. Staffs. Parl. Hist. i. 244; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. (1921), 3; CCR, 1429-35, p. 183; C139/112/64.