FRENCHE, John (c.1540-79), of the Inner Temple, London.

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. c.1540, s. of John Frenche of Copredy, Oxon. by his w. Joanne. m. Mary, da. of one Godfrey, 1s. 3da. educ. I. Temple 1557, bencher 1573, Autumn reader 1577.

Offices Held


The son of a yeoman, Frenche did well as a lawyer, buying land in Kent, and refurbishing his chambers at the Inner Temple. He built a new study there for his son if, as Frenche hoped, he should become a member. It is not clear how he came to be returned for the 2nd Earl of Pembroke’s borough of Old Sarum, unless he (or—more likely—a relation) was the John Frenche who was a Pembroke tenant in Somerset. In any case there is no doubt that it was the lawyer who was the MP, as he served on five legal committees in the first two sessions of the 1572 Parliament. He made two reported speeches, urging the execution of the Duke of Norfolk (16 May 1572) and on the bill concerning jeofails (28 June). His committee work included a private bill for William Isley’s debts (14 Feb. 1576), a bill for the county palatine of Chester (25 Feb. 1576) and a bill for haberdashery (28 Feb. 1576). Frenche fits neatly into the category of ambitious Elizabethan lawyers, and no doubt more would have been heard of him but for his early death on 25 May 1579. In his will, made 19 Apr. and proved 23 June of that year, he enjoined his son, to whom he left his law books, to remember how his father had risen from a poor estate to one of wealth and standing. He appointed three friends to advise him in his studies. He left £400 to each daughter and an annuity of £10 to his parents. He appointed his wife sole executrix, warning her not to remarry with a papist ‘lest the heavenly hand of God be upon her in her old days’. He was buried in the Temple church.

PCC 26 Bakon, 11, 56 Scott; C142/186/17; C. Monro, Acta Canc. 453-4; Pembroke Survey (Roxburghe Club), 460, 461, 468, 469; CJ, i. 94, 95, 105, 106, 108, 111; D’Ewes, 206, 207, 209, 250, 251, 253; Trinity, Dublin, Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. ff. 17, 67.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.