ERNELEY, John (bef.1522-72), of Bishops Cannings, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. bef. 1522, 1st s. of John Erneley of Bishops Cannings by Lucy, da. of Thomas Cook, merchant of Salisbury. m. (1) Mary, da. of William Hyde of Denchworth, Berks., 3s. 1da.; (2) Joan, da. of one Reade, wid. of Robert Drew of Southbroom, ?s.p. suc. fa. 1555.1

Offices Held

J.p. Wilts. prob. by 1557-c.62, sheriff ?1553-4, 1563-4.


The Erneleys were a Sussex family from Earnley, near Chichester. The 1559 Member’s father had bought the manor of Bourton in the parish of Bishops Cannings at the dissolution of the monasteries, and the son lived entirely in Wiltshire. His inquisition post mortem lists, besides the Bishops Cannings property, lands in Echilhampton, Eston, Newstead, Wedhampton, Baynton, Winterbourne Bassett and other parts of the county. The parish of ‘Cunwiche’ or ‘Cunwicke’ mentioned is probably Conock, near Devizes, where the family were lords of the manor. As the elder John Erneley lived on into Mary’s reign, it is difficult to distinguish the careers of father and son after the latter came of age. One of the two, probably the father, was a justice of the peace and commissioner for musters in Wiltshire before the death of Henry VIII, and in 1552-3 a surveyor of church goods in Salisbury. The younger John may have been sheriff in 1553-4, and it was certainly he whom the Privy Council thanked in February 1557 for his diligence in inquiring into a local robbery. A month later he received another official letter of thanks, this time for his part in examining Gabriel Pleydell. Few Elizabethan references have been found to him. He is not on the list of justices of the peace for 1564, the last for Wiltshire before his death. He may have been omitted because he was sheriff 1563-4, or because of the ‘great debts’ he mentioned in the will he made in 1567. He died 1 Feb. 1572, the will being proved 9 May. He apologized to his wife for the smallness of his legacy to her, and appointed his brother-in-law William Reade and William Daniell overseers. The heir and executor was his son Michael, aged about 30 when he succeeded. Considerable charitable bequests were intended.2

It is surprising that such a man, barely of knight of the shire status, should have sat for Wiltshire at all, but it was at the election for the 1559 Parliament that there took place the famous contest between Sir John Thynne and Sir George Penruddock, culminating in Thynne’s being returned through the collusion of the sheriff. In the upshot Penruddock was left out altogether, while Erneley occupied the junior seat. Presumably the enmity between Thynne and Penruddock precluded their both being elected, which could probably have been arranged at Erneley’s expense.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. C142/162/168; E150/1009/4; PCC 14 Daper, 22 Ketchyn; Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv. cv, cvi), 56; Genealogist, n.s. xii. 26; D. G. C. Elwes and C. J. Robinson, Castles and Mansions W. Suss. 75.
  • 2. Wilts. Arch. Mag. xviii. 342; xl. 441; C142/162/168; E150/1009/4; LP Hen. VIII , xx(1), p. 314; xxi(1), p. 40; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 76, 91; 1553 and App. Edw. VI, p. 359; APC, vi. 57, 67; PCC 14 Daper.