COURTENAY, John (1520/21-60), of London and Tremere in Lanivet, Cornw.

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



Oct. 1553
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1520/21, 3rd s. of Richard Courtenay of Lostwithiel by 2nd w. Jane, da. of John Boscawen of Tregothnan. educ. New Inn. m.Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Richard Trengove alias Nance of Nance in Illogan, 3s. 2da.1

Offices Held

Attorney, common pleas by 1559.2


John Courtenay was a younger son of a cadet line of the influential Devon family seated at Powderham. In his youth he appears to have been attached to Cromwell’s household, since the minister’s accounts for 1538 include payments for the care of one John Courtenay whose arm had been badly cut, and also for his education at an inn of chancery, where as an attorney Courtenay kept chambers until his death. He prospered in his profession, buying the Tremere estate of 250 acres and consolidating his position in his native county by a fortunate marriage.3

In the autumn of 1553 Courtenay used his family’s connexion with Lostwithiel to have himself elected the town’s junior Member in Mary’s first Parliament. (The clerk compiling the list of Members for this Parliament inadvertently began to enter Courtenay’s name alongside Dunheved but on realizing his mistake he corrected it.) Neither he nor his fellow-Member Christopher Dauntesey, opposed the initial measures to restore Catholicism, but he is not known to have been returned to the following Parliament, unless he sat for Penryn, the names of whose Members are lost. His home at Tremere was only four miles from Bodmin and his election there with Ralph Michell for the second Parliament of 1554 met the Queen’s wish that local residents should be chosen: his name was inserted, as was Michell’s, in a different hand on the indenture. Both men failed to observe the chancellor’s comments in his opening speech on attendance, and for their early departure from the Commons they were informed against in the King’s bench during Easter term 1555. Courtenay did not answer his summons to appear until Michaelmas 1556, by which time he had been distrained 16s., and he then asked for judgment to be deferred until the next law term: when the Hilary term came no further process was taken against him and the case was allowed to drop. The action pending against Courtenay did not prevent his further appearance at Westminster in the autumn of 1555, this time as a Member for Penryn, where he presumably owed his election to his fellow-Member Ralph Couche I.4

Courtenay sued out a general pardon at the accession of Elizabeth and died on Mar. 1560, being buried at Lanivet where a monument was erected to his memory. He left a life interest in the Tremere property to his widow, who later married Thomas Arundell.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Aged 36 in 1557, St.Ch.4/4/28. Vis. Cornw. ed. Vivian, 113-15; C1/1344/49.
  • 2. CPR, 1558-60, p. 184.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xiv; CPR, 1558-60, p. 184; St.Ch.3/1/60; C1/1332/22-3, 1344/49.
  • 4. C219/23/22; KB27/1176-80.
  • 5. C142/129/14; Paroch. Hist. Cornw., iii. 13; Vis. Cornw. 52.