BARLEY, John (d.1446), of Albury, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

s. and h. of John Barley (d. 1420) by his w. Joan (d.1419), sis. and coh. of Sir Walter Lee* of Albury. m. by 1419, Katherine (1400-66), sis. and coh. of John Walden (d. 1419) of Rickling Hall, Essex, at least 1s. Henry†.1

Offices Held

J.p. Herts. 7 July 1423-Dec. 1443, 9 June 1445-d.

Sheriff, Essex and Herts. 6 Nov. 1424-15 Jan. 1426.

Commr. to raise royal loans, Herts., Essex Mar. 1430, Mar. 1431; assess grants and taxes, Herts. Apr. 1431, Jan. 1436; of inquiry May 1436 (concealments and escapes); to collect part of a tax Feb. 1441.

Escheator, Essex and Herts. 26 Nov. 1431-5 Nov. 1432.


This Member’s family took its name from the village of Barley in Hertfordshire, although both he and his father were able greatly to extend their estates by marrying heiresses. From his mother, Barley inherited the manors of Albury, Patmer and Cockhampstead as well as land at Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire, and of Hassobury in Farnham (together with the advowson of Farnham parish church) and Mulsham Hall in Essex. John Barley the elder evidently owned the manor of Wicken Bonhunt in the same county in his own right, and left it to him when he died in 1420.2 On her coming of age in the following year, Barley’s wife, Katherine, succeeded to one half of the Walden estates, comprising farmland in Clavering, Thurrock and New Hall, and the manor of Elsenham (also in Essex, but conveniently near some of her husband’s property across the Hertfordshire border). At an unknown date, Barley further consolidated his holdings in Hertfordshire by purchasing land in Great and Little Hadham, but there is no means of telling if this had been done by 1436, when his income from property was assessed at £100 p.a.3

Barley’s first return to Parliament took place shortly after his father’s death, and marks the very start of his public career. On entering the Commons for the second time, in 1423, he had already begun a long period of service on the local bench, although most of his administrative experience was in fact acquired during the 1430s. His position in county society was then such that in the spring of 1434 he received a summons to attend the great council being held at Westminster, and two years later he was approached personally by the government for a loan of £40.4 None the less he remains a rather shadowy figure whose more personal affairs and connexions are hard to trace. Most of the evidence about him derives from the various conveyances of property in the home counties to which he was a party. Together with John Kirkby II* (who, in turn, made him a feoffee-to-uses and seems to have been his close friend), he acted as a trustee of William Rokesburgh’s* effects in Hertfordshire. He was involved with Henry Bourgchier, count of Eu, in the settlement of estates belonging to the latter’s kinsman, Nicholas Berners; and he often assisted other local landowners in a similar capacity. In 1423, for example, Sir Philip Thornbury* granted him the trusteeship of certain property which he had recently inherited in London. From time to time, Barley shared his duties as a feoffee with his brother-in-law, Henry Langley, whose kinsman, Thomas Langley (d.1437), bishop of Durham and sometime chancellor of England, appears to have owed him money. It was in February 1440 that our Member released the late bishop’s executors from all actions for debt, although no specific sums are mentioned. Barley’s trusteeship of the Essex manor of Great Wendover, which he held from 1422 onwards to the use of the influential Exchequer official, William Loveney*, brought him into conflict with the latter’s son, John, who claimed that the property had been entailed upon him at the time of his marriage. Both parties were bound over in sums totalling £200 to accept the award of Justice Fulthorpe, and the matter was settled by him, in November 1441, in Loveney’s favour.5

Barley died on 12 Feb. 1446, having already made over an annuity of 40 marks from the revenues of Albury to his son, Henry, and his wife, Katherine Cheyne. The young man was aged about 24 on succeeding to the rest of the family estates. Like his father before him, he served a term as sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire, and also represented the latter county in Parliament. His own son, William, was less distinguished, suffering temporary forfeiture for his part in Perkin Warbeck’s rebellion.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. C139/122/29; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), vii. 195; H. Chauncy, Herts. i. 290, 292, 300; P. Morant, Essex, ii. 570, 612, 625; CFR, xx. 176. R. Clutterbuck (Herts. iii. 333) mistakenly describes Katherine Walden as the wife of Henry Barley, when she was, in fact, his mother.
  • 2. C139/122/29; Chauncy, i. 292; Morant, ii. 625; VCH Herts. iii. 310; iv. 5, 7; Feudal Aids, ii. 446.
  • 3. Morant, ii. 570, 612; Feudal Aids, ii. 227; C139/122/29; EHR, xlix. 634.
  • 4. PPC, iv. 213, 328.
  • 5. C139/115/26; E132/3/29, ff. IV, 2-2v; Corporation of London RO, hr 152/68; CAD, i. C151; vi. C5051; CCR, 1422-9, p. 380; 1429-36, p. 343; 1435-41, pp. 98, 167, 356; Essex Feet of Fines, iv. 17.
  • 6. C139/122/29; CFR, xvii. 2; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 5), vii. 195; HP ed. Wedgwood 1439-1509, Biogs. 41.