CHUDLEIGH, Sir James (d.1401/2), of Ashton and Shirwell, Devon.

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



May 1382
Apr. 1384
Nov. 1384
Jan. 1390
Nov. 1390

Family and Education

s. and h. of John Chudleigh of Ashton by Joan, da. and h. of Sir John Beauchamp of Ryme, Devon. m. (1) Joan, da. of Sir Henry Pomeroy of Berry Pomeroy, Devon, 1da.; (2) Joan, da. of John Beaumont; (3) Joan, da. of Sir Alexander Champernowne of Bere Ferrers, Devon, 1s. James†. Kntd. by 1381.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Devon 7 Nov. 1376-22 June 1377, 11 Dec. 1384-20 Oct. 1385, 11 Nov. 1394-9 Nov. 1395.

Commr. of array, Devon Mar. 1380, Dec. 1399; oyer and terminer Nov. 1381, Oct., Nov. 1382, July 1384, Dec. 1385, Feb. 1386, Cornw. Sept. 1393, Devon Sept. 1398; against unlawful assemblies Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of arrest, Som., Dorset, Devon, Cornw. Feb. 1382, Devon Jan. 1392; to hear an appeal from the admiral’s ct., Feb. 1383; make proclamation against disturbers of the peace, Devon May, June 1384; perambulate the border between Cornw. and Devon, July 1386; enforce statutes relating to salmon, Devon Mar. 1388; of inquiry, Devon, Cornw. July 1389 ( Sir John Cary’s† estates), Devon Nov. 1389 (unlawful assemblies), Feb. 1392 (manor of Tawstock), Devon, Cornw. Mar. 1393 (concealments), Bristol, Som., Cornw., Devon Dec. 1399, May 1400 (concealments), Devon, Cornw. Aug. 1400 (wastes), Devon Nov. 1400 (concealment of alnage); to survey the estates of the Lords Appellant of 1388, Oct. 1397; of weirs, Devon June 1398.

J.p. Devon 8 Mar. 1382-Apr. 1385, 15 July 1389-Dec. 1391, 22 Jan. 1392-4, 16 May 1401-d.

Escheator, Devon and Cornw. 8 Dec. 1391-24 Oct. 1392.


In the last two decades of the 14th century Chudleigh was one of the most prominent men below peerage rank living in Devon. Like so many of his contemporaries he had begun his career following the profession of arms: during the celebrated dispute between Sir Robert Grosvenor and Richard, Lord Scrope of Bolton, in the court of chivalry, he recalled his service at Poitiers and then under Gaunt in Spain. In February 1368 he was preparing to go overseas again, and a year later chose to extend his stay abroad. In neither case, however, is his destination known. From May 1372 until January 1373, when still an esquire, he was serving at sea under Sir Philip Courtenay*, admiral of the western fleet. Chudleigh’s almost continuous public service after 1380 must have precluded many more journeys abroad, although he was a member of the earl of Devon’s retinue, which put to sea from March 1387 under the command of the admiral, Richard, earl of Arundel.2

It is curious that while Chudleigh’s work on commissions made him a prominent public servant in Devon, very little is known about his personal activities. However, he was quite capable of interfering with parliamentary elections. In reply to royal writs, dated September 1386 and February 1387, ordering the burgesses of Barnstaple to pay the expenses incurred by John Henrys† in going to the Parliament of 1385 as one of their representatives, the town bailiffs stated that they were unable to do so as Henrys was an inhabitant of Somerset, not Devon, and they denied responsibility on the ground that at the time of the election Chudleigh, as sheriff of Devon, had returned Henrys at his own instance and for the sake of personal gain, without their knowledge or assent. Similarly, although Chudleigh was closely involved in dealings with the Courtenays, from whom he held much of his land, he was able to take a strong independent line with the earl of Devon in 1391. On that occasion he and Sir William Sturmy* were appointed to arrest one of the earl’s retainers, and clearly incurred Courtenay’s displeasure by proceeding with the matter legally. Most of Chudleigh’s actions suggest that he was influential enough to do any job well, whether to perambulate a boundary to settle a dispute, to administer the oath in favour of the Lords Appellant of 1388, or to arbitrate in one of Sir Philip Courtenay’s land disputes.3

Chudleigh’s position in Devon must have rested largely on his substantial property. From the earl of Devon he held six knight’s fees, including Shirwell, mainly situated in the north of the county. By 1386 he was holding Broadclyst, Halsford and Clawton in Devon and Widemouth in Cornwall, and he frequently appears in ecclesiastical records as patron of Ashton and Landcross. In addition he presented to Loxhore in 1381 during a minority, to Ringmore in 1396 on account of an enfeoffment, and to Alverdiscott in 1401 in the absence of the patron, for whom he acted as attorney. Chudleigh, among others, benefited from the forfeiture of the estates of Sir John Cary, chief baron of the Exchequer, who underwent exile in 1388, though it is doubtful whether the cost of lawsuits over the properties in Houndstone, Kingston Pitney and Yeovil allowed the grantees any profits. He also held tenements in Exeter, some of which he donated to St. Stephen’s church in 1388.4

Chudleigh died some time between June 1401 and November 1402, and was succeeded by his son James (knight of the shire for Devon in 1426, 1429 and 1431). His widow married Sir Philip Courtenay’s son John, and her dower lands were the subject of the Courtenays’ quarrel with Chudleigh’s daughter, Joan, and her third husband, Sir Thomas Pomeroy*. It is some indication of Chudleigh’s standing that his daughter had earlier been married successively to Sir John St. Aubyn and Sir Philip Bryan†, a papal dispensation for the latter marriage having been granted to heal ‘wars and discencions’ between Chudleigh and Guy, Lord Bryan, the young man’s influential father.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421


Variants: Chedle, Chidelegh, Chuddesley.

Reg. Brantingham ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 415; Trans. Devon Assoc. xxxi. 195.

  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 38, 65, 162, 189; Reg. Brantingham, 449; E.B. Powley, House of de la Pomerai, 1, 63, 67; N. and Q. viii. 225. Vivian (189) gives as Chudleigh’s 3rd w. Joan, da. and h. of Sir Richard Merton, wid. of John Bampfield, but she was m. to Sir John Pomeroy* and lived on until 1420.
  • 2. Scrope v. Grosvenor, 75; CPR, 1367-70, pp. 85, 208; E101/31/31, 40/33 m. 2.
  • 3. C219/8/13; Sel. Cases before King’s Council (Selden Soc. xxxv), 79-80; CPR, 1385-9, p. 255; 1391-6, p. 82; CCR, 1385-9, p. 406; RP, iii. 302.
  • 4. CIPM, xii. 333; xiv. 325; CCR, 1369-74, p. 393; 1396-9, p. 276; Cornw. Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1950), 824; Reg. Brantingham, 55, 69, 92, 98, 101; Reg. Stafford, 141, 143, 197; CPR, 1385-9, p. 461; 1388-92, p. 80; E315/52/132.
  • 5. RP, iii. 488, Reg. Wykeham (Hants Rec. Soc. 1896-9), ii. 378-9.