DELAVAL, Sir John (by 1579-1652), of Dissington, Northumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. by 1579,1 2nd s. of Sir Robert Delaval (d.1607) of Seaton Delaval, Northumb. and Dorothy, da. of Sir Ralph Grey of Chillingham, Northumb.2 educ. M. Temple 1595.3 m. (1) by 1603, Anne (bur. 3 July 1608), da. of Sir George Bowes† of Streatlam, co. Dur. and wid. of Thomas Hilton (d.1598) of Castle Hilton, co. Dur., 1s. 1da.; (2) settlement 13 Dec. 1612, Elizabeth (bur. 27 Aug. 1658), da. of Sir George Selby* of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumb., 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da.4 kntd. 4 May 1617.5 d. 12 Aug. 1652.6 sig. John Delavale.

Offices Held

J.p. Northumb. c.1607-at least 1640, by 1650-d.,7 sheriff 1610-11, 1624-5, 1634-5,8 collector, Privy Seal loan 1612-13;9 commr. oyer and terminer, Cumb., Northumb., Westmld. 1618-at least 1625,10 Northumb. 1644,11 inquiry, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1618-20,12 to suppress malefactors, Borders 1619,13 survey bridge, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumb. 1620,14 subsidy, Northumb. 1622, 1624;15 town clerk, Newcastle-upon-Tyne from 1623;16 dep. v.-adm. Northumb. by 1626-at least 1638,17 v.-adm. co. Durham and Northumb. 1640-at least 1641;18 dep. lt. Northumb. by 1627-at least 1640,19 commr. Forced Loan 1627,20 survey defences, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1635,21 assessment, Northumb. 1642-4, 1647-8,22 array 1642,23 sequestration of delinquents 1643, levying of money 1643, Northern Assoc. 1645, militia, Northumb. 1648.24


Delaval belonged to one of Northumberland’s oldest gentry families. His forbears settled at Seaton Delaval, in the south-east of the county, as early as Henry II’s reign, and first provided a knight of the shire in 1373.25 Delaval’s father, Sir Robert, was very active in local government. A stalwart Protestant, whose estate of 8,000 acres made him the dominant landowner in the Newcastle region, he was Northumberland’s sheriff on three occasions, and served on all the main commissions for enforcing law and order in the Borders.26 Sir Robert’s eldest son, Sir Ralph, maintained the family’s high profile, similarly exercising the shrievalty three times, and acting as a Border commissioner and deputy lieutenant. Appointed custos rotulorum of Northumberland in 1618, he nevertheless lacked firm leadership qualities, and apparently never sought to represent the county in Parliament.27

Delaval himself, although a younger son, was relatively well provided for by his family. In 1600 his father granted him a life interest in the manor of North Dissington, roughly 12 miles south-west of Seaton Delaval, while Ralph simultaneously leased him another estate in the same area. This property was augmented by the purchase of South Dissington manor eight years later.28 From this base Delaval gradually established himself as a prominent local gentleman. Appointed to the Northumberland bench in around 1607, he served as county sheriff for the first time in 1610-11. A year after his shrieval term ended, he married into one of Newcastle’s leading families, the Selbys, and in 1617 he was knighted in the city when James I stayed there on his way to Scotland.29 With Delaval’s enhanced status came fresh administrative responsibilities. An energetic Border commissioner from 1618, he was appointed to a succession of inquiries into the lands attached to the castle at Newcastle, and even helped to assess progress on the new bridge at Berwick-upon-Tweed, at the opposite end of the county. In 1623 he succeeded his younger brother, Claudius, as town clerk of Newcastle, and within the next three years he took over from Sir Henry Widdrington* as deputy vice admiral of Northumberland, serving under Theophilus Howard, Lord Howard de Walden*. As sheriff in 1624-5, he presided over the first parliamentary elections of Charles I’s reign, and also vigorously enforced the collection of recusancy fines from the county’s Catholics.30

Now firmly established as one of Northumberland’s most authoritative voices, Delaval was elected a knight of the shire in 1626. As a novice at Westminster, however, he made little impact on the Commons’ proceedings, never speaking (so far as is known) and attracting nominations only to legislative committees concerning the marshlands of Canvey Island, Essex, and the estates of Sir Timothy Hutton, a relative of his first wife (28 Mar. and 11 May). In his capacity as a Northumberland Member, he may also have helped to prepare the presentment of recusants in Newcastle and County Durham (21 February).31

Delaval’s record of conscientious public service continued through his later career. As a deputy lieutenant in 1628, he cooperated with the unpopular militia reforms then being introduced in Northumberland. In February 1629 he was appointed by the House of Lords to investigate complaints that Lord Grey of Warke (Sir William Grey*) had been slandered by a Newcastle man.32 During his third term as sheriff, Delaval was appointed to assess the costs of upgrading that city’s defences against naval attack. In 1640 he secured promotion as vice admiral of Northumberland and County Durham, despite repeated complaints during the previous 13 years that he had seized wrecks in the liberty of Tynemouth, which lay outside his jurisdiction.33

During the Bishops’ Wars Delaval was one of the handful of Northumberland deputy lieutenants trusted by the government.34 However, it is unclear where his true loyalties lay in the Civil War. He was apparently regarded at Westminster as a parliamentarian, judging from the number of parliamentary commissions to which he was named, but he also spent time in the royalist garrison at Newcastle prior to 1644, when he surrendered to the besieging Scots and took the Covenant. Thereafter he remained firmly allied to the parliamentarian cause, and accepted office under the Commonwealth.35 Delaval died intestate in August 1652, and was buried at Newburn, a few miles south of Dissington. Administration of his estate was granted to his widow on 17 May 1653. His son Robert sat for Morpeth in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament.36

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Age calculated from date of admiss. to M. Temple.
  • 2. Hist. Northumb. (Northumb. Co. Hist. Cttee.), ix. 169-70, 172.
  • 3. M. Temple Admiss.
  • 4. Hist. Northumb. ix. 172; CP, vii. 33.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 163.
  • 6. Hist. Northumb. ix. 172.
  • 7. C66/1748, 2859; C193/13/3, f. 49; 193/13/4, f. 73v.
  • 8. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 99.
  • 9. E403/2732, f. 203.
  • 10. C181/2, f. 310v; 181/3, f. 107.
  • 11. C181/5, f. 245v.
  • 12. C181/2, ff. 310v, 340; 181/3, f. 14.
  • 13. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 3, p. 97.
  • 14. APC, 1619-21, pp. 123-4, 172; SP14/113/6.
  • 15. C212/22/21, 23.
  • 16. Hist. Northumb. ix. 172.
  • 17. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 411; HCA 30/158, f. 422.
  • 18. Vice Admirals of the Coast comp. J.C. Sainty and A.D. Thrush (L. and I. Soc. cccxxi), 18, 40.
  • 19. SP16/66/86; CSP Dom. 1640-1, p. 175.
  • 20. C193/12/2, f. 43.
  • 21. CSP Dom. 1635, p. 269.
  • 22. SR, v. 154; A. and O. i. 93, 547, 972, 1089.
  • 23. Northants. RO, FH 133.
  • 24. A. and O. i. 115, 150, 233, 707, 1241.
  • 25. Hist. Northumb. ix. 167; OR.
  • 26. HMC Hatfield, xviii. 368; xix. 5; C142/300/185; R. Howell, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Puritan Revolution, 28; List of Sheriffs, 99; S.J. and S.J. Watts, From Border to Middle Shire: Northumb. 1586-1625, p. 114; C181/1, ff. 31v, 38v.
  • 27. List of Sheriffs, 99; C181/2, ff. 50v, 138, 308; HMC 13th Rep. vi. 186; Watts, 193.
  • 28. C142/300/185; Northumb. RO, Delaval ms 1DE/1/26; Hist. Northumb. xiii. 181.
  • 29. C2/Chas.I/S85/48; R. Welford, Hist. Newcastle and Gateshead, 219.
  • 30. SP14/113/6; 14/152/64; Watts, 84, 216.
  • 31. Procs. 1626, ii. 81, 385; iii. 227.
  • 32. HMC 3rd Rep. 40; HMC 4th Rep. 21; HMC 13th Rep. vi. 186.
  • 33. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 105; 1628-9, p. 375; 1635, p. 269; 1636-7, p. 283.
  • 34. Ibid. 1638-9, p. 385; 1640, p. 67.
  • 35. Howell, 160.
  • 36. Hist. Northumb. ix. 172; PROB 6/30, f. 170.