ZOUCHE, Sir John (d.1585), of Ansty, 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

s. of John, 8th Lord Zouche of Harringworth, Northants. prob. by 1st w. Dorothy, da. of Sir William Capell of London. m. by c.1545, Catherine, da. of Sir George St. Leger of Annery, Devon, wid. of George Courtenay of Powderham, Devon, 3 or 4s. inc. Francis. Kntd. 10 Nov. 1549, KB Jan. 1559.2

Offices Held

Warden of Gillingham forest and bailiff of town and manor of Gillingham, Dorset 1539; esquire of the body extraordinary 1535/6; keeper of Mere park, Wilts.; steward and bailiff of duchy of Cornwall manor of Mere 1539; j.p. Wilts. from c.1559; sheriff 1559-60.3


Zouche presumably gained his Shaftesbury seat through the 1st Earl of Pembroke, to whom he may have been recommended by Sir John Rogers, knight of the shire for Dorset in 1559, and a relative of the Zouches by marriage; Pembroke was later chosen as arbitrator in a lawsuit involving Zouche and Rogers’s widow. By Elizabeth’s accession Zouche owned considerable property in Wiltshire: an assessment of 1565 charged him on £100 in lands. Early in Elizabeth’s reign he was buying land in Devon: his inquisition post mortem mentions the manors of Kingskerswell, Wreyland and Barton.4

Under Edward VI Zouche was granted an annuity, confirmed and increased to £100 by Philip and Mary in consideration of his service to Henry VIII, Edward VI, and themselves. Most of the information about Zouche after 1558 is concerned with Wiltshire, but he was also active in Dorset. The tenants of the manor of Gillingham sued him in the Exchequer for various ‘oppressions’; he was acquitted and awarded costs of 100 marks. After a tithes dispute in 1584, he brought an action for slander against the vicar of Gillingham. Dorest also figures in the one reference to him in the journals of the House of Commons: on 16 Feb. 1559 he was put in charge of the bill to tax Frenchmen living in that county, and in Somerset, for the benefit of Melcombe Regis. A few years later he served on the Dorset commission to inquire into breaches of the Act about the keeping of sheep.5

In Wiltshire he served as an active official for over 20 years. At the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign he was one of those appointed to release prisoners committed to Salisbury gaol by the episcopal officers, and as a ‘furtherer earnest’ of true religion he advised the bishop of Salisbury on the religious persuasion of local justices of the peace. From 1559 to 1581, and perhaps later, he served regularly on the Wiltshire commission of the peace, his name, from 1575 to 1578, taking precedence in quarter sessions records over everyone but Pembroke himself. His duties included regular attendance at the musters, where his last recorded appearance was as late as 1581. Outside his official career, almost all that is known of him concerns lawsuits. He was personally involved in at least two Star Chamber cases, and in a third strongly supported his distant relative, Arthur, 14th Lord Grey of Wilton, in a dispute with John Fortescue I. A member of the west-country group of protestants, he was an overseer of the will of his stepson Sir William Courtenay, and an ‘assured friend’ of Charles Morison: it may have been Morison, a stepson of the 2nd Earl of Bedford, who persuaded Bedford to write to Burghley in 1577, asking for the Queen’s consent to a renewal of some leases to Zouche. He died on 30 May 1585. The overseers of his will, made in August 1583, were Giles Estcourt and Lawrence Hyde I.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Harl. 1565, f. 2; CP, xii(2), p. 948; Hoare, Wilts. Alderbury, 207; Vis. Wilts. 1623, ed. Marshall, 50; Vis. Wilts. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 223 seq.; DNB (Zouche, Richard); PCC 30 Brudenell; C142/209/44; EHR, xxv. 553.
  • 3. CPR, 1557-8, p. 312; 1558-60, pp. 86, 103; LP Hen. VIII, ii(1), p. 872; xiv(1), p. 74; xvi. p. 727; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxix. 241.
  • 4. C33/33, f. 211v; Harl. 1111, ff. 1-6; LP Hen. VIII , xv. p. 341; CPR , 1558-60, p. 405; C142/209/44.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII , xvi. p. 727; CPR , 1554-5, p. 172; 1557-8, p. 312; 1563-6, p. 260; Hutchins, Dorset , iii. 621; DKR , xxviii. 205; CJ , i. 54.
  • 6. APC , vii. 34; x. 28; xiii. 165; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 38; DNB (Zouche, Edward; Zouche, Richard); Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. iv passim; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 335, 341; St. Ch. 5A27/23; S19/33; T. Fortescue, Lord Clermont, Fam. of Fortescue , 314-25; Add. 40629. f. 97; HMC Hatfield , ii. 150; C142/209/44; PCC 30 Brudenell; Roberts thesis.