WYSE, John (b.c.1377), of Sydenham Damarel in Marystowe, Devon.

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

b.c.1377, yr. bro. of Oliver Wyse*. m. (1) ?Joan, da. of John Milliton of Meavy, Devon;1 (2) by 1425, Constance, da. of William and Alice Coffyn, wid. of Maurice Berd and Robert Boniface (d.1423), 2s. inc. Thomas.

Offices Held

Escheator, Devon and Cornw. 12 Feb.-5 Nov. 1430.

Commr. to assess contributions to a parliamentary grant, Devon Apr. 1431.


Wyse came from a substantial Devonshire family living near Tavistock which owned the manor of Greystone in Lezant, just over the border with Cornwall.2 Probably the first notice of him occurs in 1390 when, presumably still under age, he claimed title to lands on the manor of Lawhitton, Devon, as a tenant of the bishop of Exeter. He made his seat at Sydenham, where he built his own oratory, and in the north of the shire he enjoyed the right of presentation to the church of Lew Trenchard. Undue exercise of his influence in Cornwall, which derived from holdings at Tremodret (in Roche), Allet (in Kenwyn), Penair (in Gorran), Trethake and Little Lantyan, led him to be later described as ‘un grand comune enbraciour et maintenour des querels’.3

Early on in his career Wyse came into contact with various other members of the gentry of the West Country: in 1402, for instance, he stood surety for William Carew, esquire, and in 1412 he was party as a feoffee for William Wynard (afterwards recorder of Exeter) to a mortgage of £120 secured on the manor of Cobham Week. His interest in the affairs of both shires in which he owned land is suggested by his attendance on 23 Oct. 1414 at the shire elections for Devon (held at Exeter castle) and on 5 Nov. following at those for Cornwall (conducted at Lostwithiel).4 There can be little doubt that he was the John Wyse who was granted royal letters of protection in July 1415 as a member of Sir John Phelip’s* retinue in Henry V’s first expedition to Normandy, and described as ‘esquire’ was in the force which marched on to Agincourt after Phelip’s death. But he evidently did not immediately seek a repetition of this experience when Henry again invaded France, for he was able to attend the elections for Devon to the Parliament of 1417, and in February 1418 became involved in a violent affray, resulting in bloodshed, on consecrated ground in the cemetery at St. Germoe. It may have been this trouble at home which prompted him to undertake further military service abroad. In March following he made preparations to cross the Channel in the company of the duke of Exeter, and he doubtless served in the Normandy campaigns of the next two years. As a member of Exeter’s retinue Wyse must have witnessed the siege of Rouen and its surrender in January 1419; and on 27 Apr. following he received a grant in tail-male of lands in and near the duchy capital for a yearly quit rent of a dagger. In February 1420 six Normans, all under age, obtained official leave to treat with Wyse, to whom their estates had been given by the English King.5

On his return to England, Hugh Courtenay, earl of Devon, granted Wyse a lease for 50s. a year of his mills and other property at Okehampton. It seems quite likely, indeed, that there was a family connexion between the Wyses and the Courtenays, for after the earl’s death in 1422 our MP’s son, Thomas, was made feodary of the estates of the earldom during the minority of the heir, Earl Thomas.6 Having sat in the Commons for the second time, John was present at the Cornish elections to the Parliament of 1423 and at those for both Cornwall and Devon in 1425. At the belated inquisition post mortem on his brother Oliver, held in 1426, it was revealed that John had been receiving the issues of his property in Cornwall ever since his death in 1420. Nevertheless, on 1 Nov. following, he and his kinsman, Richard Trevanion*, were granted at the Exchequer the wardship of Oliver’s 40 acres in ‘Tymbel Park’ in Greystone, together with his office of bailiff of the hundred of East Wivelshire, pending an inquiry into the King’s rights, and a year later he was allowed possession of the same on condition that he would answer at the Exchequer for all profits, if these were adjudged to the Crown. As John Wyse ‘the elder’, in 1430 he served in the office of escheator of Devon and Cornwall. Four years later he appeared on the list of those certified into Chancery by the knights of the shire for Devon as fit to be sworn not to maintain breakers of the peace.7

When, in 1437, Thomas Mede, abbot of Tavistock, was required by Bishop Lacy of Exeter to defend himself in his court at Chudleigh on charges of wasting the assets of the abbey, it was alleged against him that he had leased out at farm to Wyse for the term of the latter’s life, and for as little as £36 a year, the abbey’s principal manor of Hurdwick and, furthermore, had promised to provide him with a bottle of wine for every night he should spend on the premises. In October that year Wyse, aged over 60 on his own testimony, provided proof that John, son of (Sir) John Colshull II* had reached his majority, but he did not live much longer. In 1445 the bishop granted an indulgence to all who would pray for the souls of the three husbands of Constance Coffyn (of whom Wyse was the last), in the aisle dedicated to St. Thomas the Martyr, which she had newly built in Tavistock parish church.8

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


Date of Birth:C139/89/67.

  • 1. C. Worthy, Devon Parishes, i. 169.
  • 2. Devonshire Wills ed. Worthy, 340-2.
  • 3. Reg. Brantingham, ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 696; Reg. Stafford, 183; Reg. Lacy (Canterbury and York Soc. lx), 113, 151; Feudal Aids, i. 223-5, 234-5, 450, 493-4; Procs. Chancery Eliz. ed. Caley and Bayley, i. pp. xiii-xiv.
  • 4. CPR, 1402-5, p. 129; 1409-13, p. 336; C219/11/4.
  • 5. N.H. Nicolas, Agincourt 386; C219/12/2; Reg. Stafford, 315; DKR, xli. 772; xlii. 341; xliv. 573, 602.
  • 6. SC6/1118/6. It was this Thomas Wyse (and not John’s nephew, as given in HP ed. Wedgwood 1439-1509, Biogs. 960), who sat for Tavistock in 1427 and for Devon in 1432, 1447 and 1450.
  • 7. C219/13/2, 3; C139/23/27; CFR, xv. 154-5, 191; CPR, 1429-36, p. 399.
  • 8. Reg. Lacy (Canterbury and York Soc. lxi), 347; ibid. (lxii), 216, 219; C139/89/67. Wyse’s younger son, John (d.1475), married Thomasina, da. of Sir Baldwin Fulford of Great Fulford, and, through his da. Alice, was gdfa. of John Russell, 1st earl of Bedford: C140/51/5; G. Scott Thomson, Two Cents. Fam. Hist. 110-12, 315.