TALBOT, John (1545-611), of Grafton, Worcs.

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. 1545, 1st s. of Sir John Talbot of Grafton by Frances, da. of Sir John Giffard of Chillington, Staffs. educ. Oxf.; M. Temple 1560. m. 1561, Katherine, da. of Sir William Petre, 3s. 3da. suc. fa. 1555.1

Offices Held


The identification of the 1572 Worcestershire knight of the shire is anything but certain. A previous suggestion, that he was John Talbot of Longford, Shropshire, father of the 10th Earl of Shrewsbury, has to be discarded on grounds of his extreme youth, his eldest brother having been born in 1566. Another namesake, of Salwarpe, great-uncle of the 9th Earl, had only a small estate. John Talbot of Grafton would be an unexceptionable choice were it not for his Catholicism, which ought to have disqualified him from the Commons in 1572. In his favour it has to be noted that a number of the Worcestershire county families were undoubtedly Catholic; the sheriff who conducted the 1572 county election was himself classed as ‘indifferent’ in 1564; and Talbot had not publicly declared his religion at the time of his election.

Talbot was brought up by, and married into the Catholic family of Sir William Petre, though Petre himself conformed, which Talbot never did. He made no mark on the journals of his one Parliament. Indeed, before the third session took place, he and other suspected Worcestershire Catholics were summoned before the Privy Council, when he entered a formal plea for time to think things over. He was committed to the custody of the dean of Westminster by whom, the Council hoped, he might be ‘resolved in conscience’, but he was not persuaded even to outward conformity, and by the time of the 1581 session of the 1572 Parliament he was in confinement, first in the Tower, then by October in the custody of his brother-in-law, Sir John Petre. On 30 June 1593 he asked permission to reside at his own house instead of in the Isle of Ely, and much of the rest of his life passed in varying degrees of confinement. From time to time he was given permission to visit his home or London on grounds of sickness, for business reasons, or to prosecute lawsuits. Finally in 1597 or 1598 he was freed, though continuing to pay £20 a month until his death, to the great detriment of his estate. Shortly before the 1601 general election the Privy Council ordered him not to oppose the candidature of Sir Thomas Leighton as knight of the shire. After the election of 1604 he complained that the sheriff had made an ‘undue return’. In 1604, when a bill for stricter measures against recusants was before the King, Lord Windsor wrote to Talbot asking him to come to London and join in a petition against it. At this time Talbot was trying to be discharged of his recusancy money—an attempt which was taken amiss by the Council, and obliged Talbot to protest that he ‘never intended to seek for any toleration from his Highness, but only to be discharged for my life’.2

In the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot Talbot was examined and his papers searched. Several relatives were implicated including his son-in-law, Robert Winter, but no proof of Talbot’s own participation was found. He was one of the few members of his family to remain on good terms with his cousin Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury, who frequently helped him with his estates and visited him at Grafton. Talbot died 28 Jan. 1611 and was buried at Albrighton. His eldest son, George, succeeded to the earldom of Shrewsbury in 1618.3

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 135-6; VCH Worcs. iii. 126; F. G. Emmison, Tudor Secretary , 303-5.
  • 2. W. R. Williams, Parl. Hist. Worcs. 34; CP, xi. 717; Cam. Misc. ix(3), pp. 1-8; VCH Worcs. iii. 126, 207; PCC 22 Butts; CPR, 1555-7, p. 165; Lansd. 27, f. 72; 153, f. 177; APC, xii. 166, 169; xiii. 4, 183, 219; xv. 102; xvi. 389; xvii. 40, 198; xviii. 9, 45, 415; xix. 159; xx. 142; xxi. 307; xxiii. 198; xxiv. 76, 206, 304, 344, 476; xxvi. 523; xxvii. 80; xxviii. 102; xxxii. 251; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 671; 1581-90, p. 583; 1603-10, pp. 87, 146, 157, 173; Add. 1580-1625, p. 488; Cath. Rec. Soc. Misc. i.; Coll. of Arms, Talbot mss, transcribed by G. Batho, I, f. 168; HMC Hatfield, iv. 268; xiii. 472; xvi. 25, 49, 187; Lodge, Illus. iii. app. 87, 112.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 222, 242, 253, 267, 281, 282, 283, 293; APC, xxiv. 344; HMC Hatfield, xvi. 382-3; xvii. 25, 477, 494, 527; Lodge, Illus. iii. app. 85, 87, 90, 91, 92, 98, 100, 101, 112; VCH Worcs. iii. 15, 27, 123, 126-7, 272, 565; C142/305/108; CP, xi. 717-18.