PRIDEAUX, John (by 1520-58), of Upton Pyne, Devon and the Inner Temple, London.

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



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1520, 1st s. of Thomas Prideaux of Ashburton, Devon by Joan. educ. I. Temple, adm. 15 Nov. 1537. m. by 1549, Mary, da. of Sir Hugh Stukeley of Trent, Som., 3s. 3da. suc. fa. 22 Jan. 1548.2

Offices Held

Bencher, I. Temple 1550, Summer reader 1551, Lent 1552, Autumn 1555.

Commr. chantries, Devon 1546, 1548, relief 1550; counsel to Exeter 20 Oct. 1548; j.p.q. Devon 1554; serjeant-at-law 1555; King and Queen’s serjeant-at-law 23 Jan. 1558.3


John Prideaux the serjeant had a number of contemporary namesakes but it was certainly he who was knight of the shire for Devon in 1554. Whether he also sat for Plymouth in the Parliament of 1547 is less clear: it is possible that he was the John Prideaux assessed towards a subsidy at Plymouth during 1543-4 on goods worth 20s., but although the serjeant was related to the influential Edgecombes he is not known to have had a more personal link with the town. The Roger Prideaux who sat in this Parliament for Totnes was doubtless related to him: it is not clear which of them was the ‘Mr. Prideaux’ to whom a bill for decayed houses was committed after its first reading on 30 Jan. 1550, but John Prideaux was presumably the ‘Mr. Pridioke skilled in the law’ consulted at the Temple by the advisers of the 16th Earl of Oxford over the measure which became the Act for frustrating assurances to the Duke of Somerset made by the earl (5 and 6 Edw. VI, no. 35).4

With Exeter, Prideaux did have a close connexion: in 1548 as ‘John Prideaux of Bramford Pyne’ he was granted an annual fee of 20s. for his counsel. He progressed steadily at his inn and became involved in local administration in Devon. He was caught up in an affair of greater moment when in January 1554 he and Sir Thomas Denys, the sheriff, got wind of the plot to raise Exeter against the Spanish marriage: the declaration which he made on 24 Jan. is the chief source of information on the episode. It can hardly be a coincidence that two months later he was elected, for the only time in his career, one of the knights of the shire for Devon: his friend Denys was doubtless of help to him as sheriff, but the court may well have intervened on behalf of so trusty a watchdog. Twelve months later he was made a serjeant, and with his promotion to King and Queen’s serjeant in January 1558 he was clearly heading for the bench before his death on the following 29 Sept. A knell was rung for him at Ashburton, whose churchwardens he had advised in legal matters for many years.5

Prideaux had added considerably to his patrimony. The chantry lands in Herefordshire worth £55 a year which he and Roger Hereford had bought in 1549 he divided with Hereford, and a year before his death he and his wife paid nearly £1,200 for the reversion of a number of Devon manors held by the Duchess of Suffolk for life. Not only did he buy property himself but he also advised others about their land transactions. Prideaux left no will and administration was first granted to Thomas Stukeley, his brother-in-law, who was also granted the wardship of his son and heir Thomas. Thomas Prideaux had licence to enter on the lands on 17 May 1571 and 12 months later shared administration of the goods with a sister.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. C219/282/2; Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/84/29. Vis. Devon, ed. Vivian, 624.
  • 3. St.Ch.3/2/14; CPR, 1548-9, p. 135; 1553, p. 352; 1553-4, pp. 18, 59; 1557-8, p. 1.
  • 4. E179/97/237; C1/1253/48-56; CJ, i. 16; information from Susan Flower.
  • 5. Exeter mayor’s ct. bk. 1545-7, f. 99; Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 157-76 passim; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 57; D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 35-38; Ashburton Churchwardens’ Accts. (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. n.s. x), 121, 139, 140; C142/122/31.
  • 6. CPR, 1548-9, p. 258; 1550-3, p. 248; 1555-7, p. 479; 1558-60, pp. 19, 227; 1569-72, p. 245; J. E. Kew, ‘The land market in Devon 1536-58’ (Exeter Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1967), 23; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, i. 455; C142/122/31; PCC Admins. ed. Glencross, ii. 6.