CLERKE, John II (by 1525-54 or later), of Wookey, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. by 1525, s. of Thomas Clerke. educ. ?L. Inn, adm. 1 Mar. 1544.2

Offices Held

Commr. relief, Som. 1550; j.p. 1554.3


No John Clerke has been traced at Bath in the early 16th century, but of the many bearers of this name the Member for 1547 was presumably the son of Thomas Clerke, overseer of the temporalities of the bishopric of Bath and Wells, who sat for Wells in the same Parliament. It is tempting, in view of the neighbouring Seymour interest, to see the hand of the Protector Somerset, or perhaps Admiral Seymour, in the election, as two years later the son of the overseer was to call the Protector’s steward, (Sir) John Thynne, his ‘good master’.4

In Trinity term 1527 Thomas Clerke was assigned a chamber in Lincoln’s Inn for his life and that of his son John or of any other of his sons: whether this means that John was already a student there, or was expected to become one when old enough, is not clear, but if he was the John Clerke admitted to the inn in 1544 the arrangement made in 1527 may well have been made when he was still a child. The inn’s resolution of 27 Nov. 1550 that ‘Mr. Clerke’s chamber shall be seized for the House until all arrears of old Clerke’s pensions be paid’ can be taken to refer to the father and son; both were at that time Members, but as the Parliament of 1547 stood prorogued from February 1550 to January 1552 they may not have been occupying it. John Clerke was assessed for the subsidy at Wookey in 1546 on goods worth £12.5

Little else has come to light about Clerke. In 1551 he received a dispensation to hold a prebend at Wells, originally given him by his uncle, Bishop Clerke of Bath, without taking holy orders. His inclusion on the Somerset bench under Mary suggests that an episcopal background may have conduced to religious conservatism, but as this appears to be the last known reference to him there is little merit in such speculation. The omission of his name from his father’s will seems to imply that he was dead before it was made late in 1554: this would make it easier to distinguish him from his namesake, the proctor of the court of arches, who was still at work in that court in 1565.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 26 More.
  • 3. CPR, 1553, p. 359; 1553-4, p. 23.
  • 4. Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 2, ff. 97-97v.
  • 5. P. Hembry, Bps. Bath and Wells, 1540-1640, pp. 16, 54-59, 75-76; Black Bk. L. Inn, i. 217, 296; E179/170/220.
  • 6. Hembry, 58; CPR, 1550-3, p. 51; 1553-4, p. 23; PCC 26 More; Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 120.