MARTIN, alias HONYCHURCH, John I (by 1502-45), of Plympton St. Maurice and North Tawton, Devon.

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 1502. m. by 1523, Joan, 3s. prob. inc. John II 5da.1

Offices Held


On the list of Members of the Parliament of 1529 the name of the second burgess for Plympton appears as John Martin alias Honychurch junior. The suffixes senior and junior had been used six years before when he and a namesake had been assessed for subsidy at Plympton, the elder man then being charged 30s. on goods worth £32 and the younger 12d. on goods valued at 40s.; they were to be employed again in a chancery bill put in by the elder against the younger at some time after January 1533 for alleged detention of deeds of property at St. Ives, Cornwall. The nature of this dispute apart, there is nothing to suggest that the two men were related, but the same is not true of the connexion, implicit in the younger man’s alias, with the Honychurch family and with the village whence it derived its name. The William Honychurch with whom he sat in the opening session of the Parliament had married into a family of North Tawton, a few miles distant from that village, and it was at North Tawton that Martin both owned property and ended his days. No corresponding ties are revealed in the case of his elder namesake, probably the John Martin who died in December 1535 leaving to his 50 year-old son lands elsewhere in Devon.2

The younger Martin’s property, which included lands at Tavistock and Milton Damerel as well as at North Tawton, shows that his modest subsidy assessment at Plympton was not a measure of his material standing, but there is nothing to show what his other claims to represent the borough may have been. Having done so for the six-and-a-half years of the Parliament of 1529 he was probably re-elected to its successor of June 1536, in accordance with the King’s general request for the return of the previous Members, and he may have sat again in 1539, when the names of the Members for Plympton are lost. Of his part in the work of the Commons nothing is known.

Martin died on 16 Nov. 1545, having made his will 11 days before. To the church at North Tawton he left a pair of candlesticks, a portas and two vestments before making provision for his family: he made his wife his sole executrix, gave his five daughters £4 each, and remembered two younger sons, one of whom, John, was also probably to sit in Parliament for Plympton. At the inquisition post mortem, held 12 months later, the son and heir Humphrey (who like his brother retained the alias) was aged 22 years and more.3

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: L. M. Kirk / A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. C142/74/25, 35.
  • 2. Trans. Dev. Assoc. xix. 565; C1/850/8; 142/82/53.
  • 3. C142/74/25, 35.