SYRESTON, John (d.c.1417), of Trevarthen in Newlyn, Cornw.
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Family and Education
er. bro. of Robert Syreston*. m. (1) ?Joan, da. and coh. of Sir Richard Cergeaux* of Colquite by his 2nd w. s.p.;1 (2) by 1400, Joan, prob. da. of Ralph Trenewith I* by Joan (d.1428), da. and h. of Otto Bodrugan†, 3s.
Under sheriff, Cornw. 1391-2, 1400-1.2
Alnager, Cornw. 20 July 1394-Nov. 1395.
Tax collector, Cornw. May 1398, Dec. 1406.
Escheator, Cornw. 26 Nov. 1399-8 Nov. 1401.
Commr. of inquiry, Cornw. Mar. 1401 (ownership of Trelaske), July 1401, Devon, Cornw. Mar. 1403 (concealments), Nov. 1409, Nov. 1410, Sept. 1413 (the ransoming of prisoners in Brittany); to close the ports of Padstow and Wadell May 1401.
Syreston’s family background is obscure, but he was evidently related by marriage to the important Cornish family of Bodrugan and to Sir Richard Cergeaux, who held the Bodrugan estates for life. His own interests in certain of these properties suggests that his first wife may even have been one of Cergeaux’s daughters. It was with Sir Richard that he shared possession of a tin mine called ‘Tye’ in Trenelyn, where in 1390 Thomas Kendale and his men were alleged to have wasted five ‘thousands’ of tin worth 50 marks ‘by dividing the tin water by filling and raising his own tin work’. Syreston was also a feoffee of Cergeaux’s extensive manorial holdings. Probably in connexion with a dispute over the dower of Sir Richard’s widow, in 1395 he received from her recognizances in the sum of 140 marks. Syreston’s brother, Robert, secured from the Crown the guardianship of Cergeaux’s heirs and the marriages of two of his daughters, while John himself took a hand in the arbitration of disputes over the former Bodrugan estates between William Bodrugan I* (‘the bastard’) and Sir William Marney*, giving it as his opinion that the claim of the former was based on a forged document. It was doubtless in Syreston’s own interest to support Marney (presumably his brother-in-law), under whom he had by then served in the capacity of sheriff of Cornwall in 1400-1.3
Meanwhile, Syreston, a lawyer by training, had made several other contacts of note among the gentry of Cornwall: in 1389 he had stood surety for Sir William Lambourne* at the assizes at Launceston; in 1397 he acted as executor of the will of John Colyn, the former sheriff under whom he had served in 1391-2; he provided mainprise for John Arundell I at the shire elections to the second Parliament of 1397; and his services in the local and central courts had been sought by other Cornishmen, such as John Chenduyt* of Bodannan. He had dealings with Bishop Brantingham of Exeter, but after the bishop’s death, in 1394, he was found to have been in his debt to the tune of £1713s.4d., for which sum Brantingham’s executors sued him.4
Besides his income from legal fees, Syreston built up a considerable interest in the tin trade and also became a landowner of some substance. He acquired property in Marhamchurch, Shorston, Treliver and Trewarveneth, and, evidently through his second marriage, also held land at Trevarthen, where he came to live. In June 1400 Bishop Stafford granted him, his wife and his mother-in-law Joan (probably Joan Bodrugan, then the wife of John Trevarthian*), a licence to have their own oratory at Trevarthen, and seven years later extended it to apply also to Syreston’s houses in ‘Cracamtallan’, Thurlebeare (in Launcells) and ‘Whytheleye’, as well as to benefit his sons, Thomas and Henry. In the meantime, he had also acquired landed interests far away from home: in 1400 when he had stood surety at the Exchequer for the lessees of the Cornish manor of Trelaske he was described as being ‘of Cornwall and of Nottinghamshire’. But while his brother, Robert, seems to have moved permanently to the Midlands, he himself still continued to live in the West Country, and he attended the Cornish elections to the Parliaments of 1413 (May) and 1414 (Nov.).5
Syreston would appear to have died at Michaelmas 1417, when he ceased to share the issues of the Bodrugan manors of Tremodret, Trevylen and Trefrysek with Cergeaux’s surviving daughters and their husbands. In 1419 his widow and two brothers were acting as executors of his will, and within ten years his son, Thomas, inherited the house at Trevarthen.6
Ref Volumes: 1386-1421
Author: L. S. Woodger
Variants: Shireston, Sireston.
- 1. C138/40/53.
- 2. SC6/819/3, 10.
- 3. CPR, 1388-92, p. 398; CCR, 1392-6, p. 502; Cornw. Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1950), 757-9; C146/10469, 10579; CFR, xi. 246.
- 4. JUST 1/1502 mm. 171d, 220d; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 53, 311; CPR, 1396-9, p. 135; CFR, xiii. 109; C219/9/13.
- 5. Cornw. Feet of Fines 783, 796, 837, 952; JUST 1/1502 m. 192; Reg. Stafford ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 281; CCR, 1399-1402, p. 262; E101/263/26, 264/1; CFR, xii. 87; C219/11/1, 4.
- 6. C138/40/53; C241/213/44; Reg. Lacy (Canterbury and York Soc. lx), 220.