PENROSE, John, of Methleigh in Breage, 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



Family and Education

m. 1s. ?2da.

Offices Held


Methleigh is situated in west Cornwall, near Helston, and although Penrose is known to have held lands elsewhere in the county none of the premises traced was situated either in or near Liskeard.1 He may, however, have had something to do with the administration of the duchy of Cornwall, of which Liskeard formed a part, for in 1401, in association with Thomas Colyn* and John Skewys*, he entered into recognizances for £24 with Prince Henry of Monmouth, newly created duke of Cornwall. Other notices of Penrose in the Chancery rolls, as a witness to deeds in Cornwall and as a surety for Cornish litigants, reveal nothing of interest about his career. But it is worth noting that in the Hilary and Easter terms of 1411 he was engaged in suits in the King’s bench against one James Wilcok and his kinsmen for breaking into his property at ‘Penrosvyen’ and ‘Penroswarther’ some ten years previously. They in their turn accused him of causing damage to their property at ‘Launereth’, and it is quite likely that legal proceedings were still going on at the time of his election to Parliament at the end of the year.2

In February 1414, as John Penrose ‘of Methleigh, esquire’, he became indebted in the sum of £20 at the Staple of Westminster to a Cornish merchant and Robert Coventry, citizen and mercer of London. Three years later, after he had failed to repay the money according to the bond, a precept was sent to the sheriff of Cornwall ordering his arrest and the confiscation of some of his property. An extent taken subsequently valued Penrose’s 15 messuages and 500 acres of land at no more than £1 12s.8d. What became of him afterwards is not clear.3

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


He has been distinguished from John Penrose of Escalls in Sennen, Cornw., who served as c.j. of the justiciars’ bench, Ireland, 1385-6, j.KB England Jan. 1391-c. May 1394, and justiciar of S. Wales May 1392-July 1393, leading at the same time an extraordinary career of crime, well documented from 1371 until his removal from the bench: Sel. Cases King’s Bench (Selden Soc. lxxxviii), pp. xii-xiii, 77-80. The judge m. (1) by 1371, Joan (d.c.1391), da. of Richard Carnver; ?(2) by 1395, Constance. He held estates in west Cornw. (near Helston and Lands’ End) and property in Surr. and London. He was still alive in 1407 but seems to have died before Easter 1411, when William Penrose was described as his son and heir (KB27/604 m. 6d). Another son, also named John, eventually became heir to his estates but he is unlikely to have been MP for Liskeard, for he was ‘fatuus’ from his birth (C139/127/28). The pedigrees given in Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 365, 366, are confused, and it is quite possible that John Penrose of Methleigh was a kinsman of the judge.

  • 1. Feudal Aids, i. 226; Add. Ch. 15352; Cornw. Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1950), 918.
  • 2. CCR, 1399-1402, p. 398; 1402-5, p. 316; 1405-9, p. 90; KB27/599 mm. 59d, 63d, 600 m. 61.
  • 3. C131/59/23. It was probably another John Penrose of Methleigh who represented Truro in 1435 and Helston in 1442 and was active as late as 1458 (CAD, iv. A9931).