DAUNTESEY (DAUNCE), Sir John (by 1484-1545), of Thame, Oxon. and London.

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 1484, s. of John Dauntesey of Thame. m. (1) by 1500, Alice, da. of Thomas Latton of Upton, Berks., 5s. inc. William 2da.; (2) Elizabeth Peche, wid. of Sir John Skeffington (d.1525) of London; 1s. illegit. Kntd. 13 Oct. 1513.2

Offices Held

Teller of Exchequer 1505; receiver-gen. wards’ lands Nov. 1509-40; treasurer at war 1 July 1511; customer, port of London Sept. 1511; gen. surveyor, crown lands 1514-15, 1517-42; principal, ct. gen. surveyors of the King’s lands 1542-d.; chief butler of England 1515-17; knight of the body by 1516; member, council in Star Chamber by 1516, of division of King’s council for legal matters 1526; j.p. Beds., Mdx., Oxon. 1514, Berks. 1515, Bucks. 1525; sheriff, Berks. and Oxon. 1515-16; commr. subsidy, Mdx. 1523, tenths of spiritualities, Bucks. 1535; steward, Donnington, Berks. 1509, Kennington, Surr. 1516; parker, Princes Risborough 1520; steward, bp. of Lincoln’s lands, Thame and Dorchester; high steward, abbeys of Notley and Dorchester.3


John Dauntesey rose from humble origins in the town of Thame to the highest offices in the King’s financial administration by way of the London company of Goldsmiths. Nothing is known of his career before his appointment as teller of the Exchequer in 1505, but in a pardon granted him in 1509 he is described as a goldsmith, and it must have been in this capacity that he entered the royal service; to the end of his life he was employed on commissions to test and improve the coinage.4

It was as sole treasurer at war during the early campaigns of Henry VIII that Dauntesey became one of the King’s most valuable servants. His career covered a period of experiment in the financial system. He was the first of the general receivers of wards’ lands, one of the earliest general surveyors and the first principal of the court of general surveyors. He was also employed in diplomatic business. On 7 June 1523 the imperial ambassadors reported that ‘Lord’ Dauntesey and Lord Mountjoy had gone to Dover to meet the King of Denmark; three years before he had been a signatory to an ‘intercourse’ between Henry VIII and the Emperor. He could not but be closely associated with Wolsey, who employed him on several judicial and other commissions in the city of London. In 1528 a draper was summoned to Dauntesey’s house by Sir Thomas More and Sir William Kingston to be examined about his Protestant contacts. At More’s instance Wolsey made his house at Battersea available in case of need to Dauntesey’s son William, who had married More’s daughter. On Wolsey’s fall Dauntesey safely made the transition to the new regime, and he was a member of the Oxfordshire commission to view Wolsey’s goods. As early as 1516 he had been one of the King’s council sitting in the Star Chamber and after 1530 he was kept busy examining alleged traitors, both in London and in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. During the northern rebellion of 1536 he was appointed one of the Queen’s council remaining in London.5

Despite his many duties at court Dauntesey took care to build up his influence around Thame, where at the beginning of his career ‘Dawncey Close’ had been the full extent of his family’s property. His method was to become the steward of the lands of the bishop of Lincoln and of neighbouring abbeys, which he helped in time of need to pawn their plate to London goldsmiths, although the large annuities and gifts he was by now receiving from the crown would have allowed him to purchase lay estates. In 1525 he was the chief creditor of Thame abbey and he leased an estate at Lower Winchendon, Buckinghamshire, from Notley abbey. By royal grant he obtained the park and lodge of Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, for himself and a 60-year lease of the manor of Whitchurch, Oxfordshire, for his son; to these he added in 1538 Mursley priory in Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire. In London he obtained several tenements which had belonged to the Charterhouse and to Newark priory, Surrey.6

It is not clear which of his properties Dauntesey made his home: in 1534 he was said to be living 12 miles from Henley, whence both Thame and Princes Risborough are some 15 miles distant. It appears that he spent little time in London, for when in July 1528 du Bellay, the French ambassador, asked for the use of his London house, Dauntesey being about to leave for the country till September, many repairs were thought necessary as the house had hardly been occupied for three years and pigeons were nesting in it. In 1534 Sir Walter Stonor sent an informer to be examined by Dauntesey at his country house, and in the following year Dauntesey sent a coiner taken in Thame to prison at Oxford and passed on to Cromwell a record of the examination of the prior and under prior of Notley, accused by three young canons. There is evidence of his sitting as a justice in Buckinghamshire in 1537. His return as a knight of the shire for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire answered to his local standing as well as to his official position. He may well have sat before 1529 when his son William joined him as a Member for Thetford and his brother-in-law John Latton (in whose election he may have had a hand) for Oxford, and he was presumably reelected for Oxfordshire in 1536 in accordance with the King’s request for the return of the previous Members. Nothing is known of any part he may have played in the House save that it is probably he rather than his son who appears as ‘Mr. Dawnse’ on a list drawn up by Cromwell on the back of a letter of December 1534 and thought to be of Members connected, perhaps as a committee, with the treasons bill then on its passage through Parliament.7

Dauntesey died on 7 Dec. 1545, having made his will at Mursley on the previous 24 Sept. His son William succeeded to the ex-monastic property of Mursley, which had been granted to Dauntesey in tail male. His bequeathable property, however, he left to ‘Edward Daunce my son otherwise called Edward Maryott and son to Agnes Maryott now wife to Richard Bunce’, and a codicil made further provision for Edward’s upbringing. William Dauntesey is not mentioned in the will and may have been alienated from his father by his implication in treason, Nicholas Mynn, ‘one of the King’s auditors’, was named executor and (Sir) Richard Southwell supervisor. Dauntesey’s successor as the most influential man in the area of Thame was Sir John Williams, who probably owed something to Dauntesey’s help; one of Williams’s early offices was that of keeper of the jewel house, which came within Dauntesey’s purview.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Harding


  • 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. F. G. Lee, Thame Church, 46, 153; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 105; Ashmole, Berks. iii. 338; VCH Berks. iii. 288; LP Hen. VIII, xiii; Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xvi. 99; Mdx. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lxv), 96.
  • 3. E36/266, ff. 62, 66; LP Hen. VIII, i-iv, viii, x, xii, xiv, xv, xvii, xx; Val. Eccles. ii. 167; iii. 234; Lansd. 1(44), ff. 108-10.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, i; C. E. Challis, The Tudor Coinage, 70.
  • 5. W. C. Richardson, Tudor Chamber Admin. 226, 256-8, 365-6, 486; H. E. Bell, Ct. Wards, 9-10; LP Hen. VIII, iii-v, viii, xi, xvi, xix; CSP Span. (Further Supp.), 1513-42, p. 241; City of London RO, Guildhall, jnl. 12, f. 195v; rep. 4, ff. 128v, 166v; 5. f. 305(1)v; 6, f. 1.
  • 6. C1/1115/37-38; LP Hen. VIII, i, ii, iv, v, xii; Val. Eccles. iii. 232; Lee, 384-5; E318/357/1, 3, 4.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, iv, vii, viii, xii, add.; LP Hen. VIII, vii. 1522(ii) citing SP1/87, f. 106v.
  • 8. PCC 10 Alen; C142/74/3; LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xxi.