REDE, John (d.1404), of Checkendon, Oxon.

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



Sept. 1388

Family and Education

m. bef. Apr. 1378, Cecily (d. 20 May 1428), da. and coh. of William Halyngrigge by Alice, niece and coh. of John Marmion of Checkendon, 1s. 1da.

Offices Held

Commr. to put down rebellion, Bucks. Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of arrest, Oxon. June 1384; to refund sums levied for archers recruited in defence of the realm, Bucks. Feb. 1387; of gaol delivery, Wallingford May 1387, Windsor July 1390, Oxford Sept. 1390, Aylesbury Feb., Aug. 1391, Wallingford Mar. 1392, Oxford June 1392, Reading July 1393, Wallingford, Reading, Oxford Nov. 1393, Oxford Feb., June 1394, Oct. 1395, June 1396, Oxford, Wallingford, Windsor July 1399; inquiry, Oxon. Dec. 1387 (escapes of felons), Devon, Glos., Oxon., Bucks., Lincs. Sept. 1389 (wastes on the Stonor estates), river Thames Feb. 1391 (theft of nets confiscated by the water bailiff), Oxon. Dec. 1400 (holdings forfeited for treason by Sir Thomas Blount*), Oxford July 1402 (treasons); oyer and terminer, Northants. July 1392, Berks. May 1393, Oxford Feb. 1395, Berks. Aug. 1401, Dorset Mar. 1404; to hold special assizes Oct. 1397, Jan. 1398; of weirs, Oxon. June 1398; to correct errors in judgements made in the mayor’s ct. London Aug. 1398, Oct. 1399.

J.p. Bucks. Dec. 1382-July 1389, Nov. 1397-d., Oxon. Jan. 1386-July 1389, Nov. 1389-d., Oxford Oct. 1390-d., Wilts. May 1404-d.

Justice of assize May 1401-d.


Early on in his career Rede, who came from Bledlow in Buckinghamshire, acquired a tenement, shop and garden in Oxford, which he sold in 1382. As a consequence of his marriage, contracted a few years previously, he had by then established himself as a landowner in the county, with holdings in Checkendon and Stoke which his wife had inherited through her mother; and these estates, substantially increased after the death of his father-in-law (who held a large part of the inheritance ‘by the courtesy’), formed the basis of his descendants’ prosperity in the following century. With the profits of a successful career in the law, Rede was able to add to his possessions the Oxfordshire manors of Standhill (in the 1390s) and Gatehampton (1402).1

Rede’s legal practice, already well-established by 1378, brought him clients from both Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, the best known among them to start with being (Sir) Richard Chambernon and Thomas Childrey*. He soon came to be regularly appointed to royal commissions, particularly those of a judicial nature such as gaol deliveries, and his service as a j.p. lasted more than 20 years. Probably by Michaelmas 1387 he had been made steward of the manor of Benson, which, previously held by the Black Prince and his widow Joan of Kent, had quite recently come into the possession of Sir John Salisbury, a knight of the King’s chamber. However, Salisbury’s execution by judgement of the Merciless Parliament, and the forfeiture of his estates, led to Rede being summoned to the Exchequer in the Easter term of 1389 to produce certain court rolls still in his possession, so that the bailiff could make full account of the manorial issues. The same year he was also discharging the office of steward of the Chiltern hundreds, presumably as deputy to Sir John Golafre, another knight of the chamber and at that time constable of Wallingford castle. On one occasion (in 1391) Rede witnessed a deed at Rotherfield Peppard for James Butler, earl of Ormond. Then, in 1394, he agreed to act as attorney for Sir Walter de la Pole* during the latter’s absence in Ireland with Richard II’s army. Associated with him in this last task was de la Pole’s brother-in-law, Robert James* of Wallingford, with whose family he had long had close dealings. Rede was also acquainted with John Cassy, the chief baron of the Exchequer, with whom he was party to transactions in the following year. Recognition of his abilities led to his promotion to the estate and degree of serjeant-at-law in the Michaelmas term of 1396, when a great feast was held at Westminster, he and his five fellows providing the food.2

In May 1399 the serjeant was nominated as attorney by both Richard Metford, bishop of Salisbury, and Henry Beaufort, bishop of Lincoln, while they accompanied Richard II to Ireland. His appointment to commissions of gaol delivery by the caretaker government under the duke of York in July suggests that there was still no question of his loyalty to the King, but he nevertheless acquiesced in the usurpation of Henry of Bolingbroke, continuing to serve on the bench without a break until his death. Perhaps the transition was made easier for him by his connexion with the new King’s half-brother, Bishop Beaufort, for whom he witnessed a charter at Oxford in 1402. He was then in receipt of £20 p.a. as a justice of assize (as paid from May 1401); but naturally enough he continued to supplement his income with fees from private clients, such as (Sir) William Moleyns*, the wealthy Buckinghamshire landowner, who engaged his services for £2 a year. Rede was among the professional lawyers who in April 1403 were each asked to lend £100 to the Crown.3

Rede died on 31 May 1404 and was buried at Checkendon, where a monumental brass (since lost) commemorated his devotion as ‘quondam serviens domini Regis ad legem’, and depicted him wearing his gown of office. Soon afterwards his widow, Cecily (who subsequently obtained a licence from Bishop Repingdon of Lincoln to have religious services celebrated in her private chapel at Checkendon), married Sir Thomas Sackville I* of Fawley, Buckinghamshire, only to be again widowed before the end of 1406. It was Rede’s son, Edmund, who through his marriage in 1412 to Christine, daughter of Robert James, was to establish the family as landowners of some importance when, several years later, Christine became her father’s sole heir.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Authors: Richmond / L. S. Woodger


  • 1. CIMisc. iv. 67; Liber Albus Oxoniensis ed. Ellis, 66; Boarstall Cart. (Oxf. Hist. Soc. lxxxviii), pp. vii-viii, 2-3, 29-30, 32, 47-48, 63; VCH Oxon. viii. 153; CP25(1)191/23/2.
  • 2. CFR, ix. 134; CCR, 1381-5, p. 296; 1389-92, p. 525; 1392-6, pp. 223, 386, 398, 480; M.T. Pearman, Hist. Bensington, 71; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 472, 476; 1396-9, p. 28.
  • 3. CPR, 1396-9, pp. 553, 555; 1401-5, p. 232; E101/512/17; PPC, i. 203; E404/16/602.
  • 4. Parochial Colls. (Oxon. Rec. Soc. ii), 86; Brit. Arch. Assoc. n.s. xxiv. 28; Reg. Repingdon (Lincoln Rec. Soc. lvii), 61; Boarstall Cart. 29; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), vi. 364.