APPLEYARD, John (1529-74 or later), of Bracon Ash, Norf.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 26 Jan. 1529, o.s. of Roger Appleyard (d. 8 July 1528) of Bracon Ash by Elizabeth, da. of John Scott of Camberwell, Surr. educ. ?Lincoln’s Inn, adm. 25 Mar. 1545. m. by 6 Nov. 1545, Elizabeth, da. of Robert Hogan of East Bradenham, Norf., 1s. suc. fa. on birth.1

Offices Held

J.p. Norf. 1558/59; sheriff, Norf. and Suff. 1559-60, gent. porter, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumb. Oct. 1565.2


John Appleyard was born nearly seven months after the death of his father, who had made provision in his will for the child his wife was carrying. His mother took as her second husband Sir John Robsart of Siderstern, Norfolk, by whom she bore a daughter Amy, later the tragic wife of Sir Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Her son’s wardship, originally bought by Thomas Wyatt I for £200, passed successively to Sir Edward Boleyn and, at the instance of Cromwell, to Robert Hogan who used it to marry the young heir to his daughter. Of Appleyard’s education nothing is known unless he was the John Appleyard admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1545. His father had named the 3rd Duke of Norfolk a supervisor of his will and a John Appleyard was gentleman usher to the duke in 1537. Whatever advantage Appleyard may have derived from a Howard connexion would have disappeared with the catastrophe of 1546, but four years later the marriage of his half-sister with Dudley brought him into the circle of a family which, like the Howards, would plunge, but rise again. A week after the marriage he obtained livery of his lands, half a dozen or more quite valuable manors, some of which he was later to sell.3

It is not known whether Appleyard was implicated in the succession crisis of 1553: the order of 26 July confining him to a radius of four miles from the court may have been precautionary rather than punitive and his general pardon of 24 Nov. was of the conventional kind. He was afterwards to claim that he had ‘ventured all that he had’ to help Robert Dudley and his wife during Mary’s reign: this may have been an exaggeration, but he was himself clearly out of sympathy and out of favour with the regime. He showed as much in the Parliament of 1555, to which he was returned as a knight for Norfolk with Sir John Clere, who also seems to have supported the Duke of Northumberland and was inclined to Protestantism. Appleyard was one of the Members, as was his brother-in-law Thomas Hogan, who followed Sir Anthony Kingston’s lead in opposing a government bill: this helped to make him a marked man, and although there seems to have been nothing to connect him with the conspiracy which followed, in May 1556 he had to bind himself in 500 marks to give continual attendance on the commissioners appointed to investigate it.4

With the accession of Elizabeth, Appleyard could look for advancement both to the royal favourite Sir Robert Dudley and to the local magnate the 4th Duke of Norfolk. Either, or both, could have had a hand in his appointment to the Norfolk bench in 1558/59; it was, however, Dudley who claimed credit for his pricking as sheriff shortly afterwards and the fact that he was not reappointed to the bench after his year in office may reflect his loss of the duke’s favour. He was also beholden to Dudley for the commission granted to him in May 1564 to recover the ships and goods captured from the French by his own ships, but afterwards misappropriated by their commanders, and for his appointment in October 1565 as porter of Berwick at a stipend of £20 a year. When in March 1566 his brother-in-law Robert Hogan wrote from Spain suggesting that he should advise Dudley, by then Earl of Leicester, to have a new ambassador sent there, Appleyard was evidently still thought to be close to Leicester, yet by the following year he had clean forfeited the earl’s goodwill. Whether Appleyard had brooded, as he claimed to have done, over the death of Amy Robsart, or whether his urgings that the case should be reopened were a cloak for other purposes it is difficult to say, but by 1566 he had half fallen in with a plot to have the matter reinvestigated. Although the episode was and remains obscure, the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Sussex were plausibly named as men who wished to use this lever to overturn Leicester. Appleyard told Thomas Blount that he had refused the offer of £1,000 to lend his weight to this, for ‘neither for gold or friend I will be against him while I live’. In May 1567 he was sent to the Fleet and in June he was before the Council for defaming Leicester on several counts, including the murder of his wife, the sending of the 3rd Earl of Derby into Scotland and the hindering of the Queen’s marriage. At a meeting between the two at Greenwich the earl called Appleyard a ‘very villain’ and threatened to run him through. When Appleyard confessed his malice and craved pardon, the lord keeper reminded him that in a similar case in King Henry VII’s time the offender had lost his ears; ‘so as I think’, wrote Sir Henry Neville, ‘his end will be the pillory’.5

His prospects ruined, Appleyard seems to have retired to Norfolk, where in 1570 he completed his self-destruction by becoming one of the leaders of a pathetic little rising having the disparate aims of securing the expulsion of foreign immigrants and effecting the release of the Duke of Norfolk. His part in this is characteristically obscure: at his trial he claimed to have intended to betray the conspirators, and whether because this was believed or because of his previous connexion with Leicester, he escaped execution, being condemned to perpetual imprisonment and forfeiture of property. After four years he was transferred from Norwich castle to the custody of the sheriff and in May 1574 to that of the dean of Norwich, with a grant of some liberty. That is the last trace found of him.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Roger Virgoe


  • 1. Date of birth given at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/51/7. Blomefield, Norf. v. 84; PCC 14 Jankyn, 42 Alen. John Appleyard has been credited with a yr. bro. Philip, perhaps to be identified with the Member for Thetford in 1571, DNB (Dudley, Robert), a relationship only possible if John’s age was incorrectly given in his fa.’s i.p.m.
  • 2. APC, vii. 311; CPR, 1563-6, p. 211.
  • 3. PCC 14 Jankyn; Index 10217(1), f. 8; LP Hen. VIII, v-vii, xii; CPR, 1549-50, p. 167; Blomefield, v. 67; vii. 199; ix. 164.
  • 4. APC, iv. 420; v. 274; CPR, 1553-4, p. 433; HMC Hatfield, i. 350-1; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2.
  • 5. HMC Hatfield, i. 345-51; A. H. Smith, County and Court, 32-34; CPR, 1563-6, pp. 126, 211; HMC Pepys, 80; Pollard, Pol. Hist. Eng. 1547-1603, p. 239; EHR, i. 248-54; Nineteenth Cent. xi. 433.
  • 6. Blomefield, iii. 284; Strype, Annals, 1(2), 365-6; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 171; APC, viii. 221, 240; CPR, 1569-72, p. 165; N. Williams, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, 179-88; Norf. Arch. xxxii. 73-81; HMC Pepys, 80.