MILLICENT (MILSENT, MALLCENT), John (by 1515-77), of Barham Hall, Linton, Cambs. and London.

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. by 1515, s. of Thomas Millicent of Linton. educ. Camb. BA 1528/29. m. (1) by 1541, Elizabeth (d. 10 Nov. 1555), da. of John Gille of Wyddial, Herts., 2s. 2da.; (2) by 1558, Ellen, sis. and coheir of Andrew Fuller, wid. of Giles Pulton of Desborough, Northants.; (3) 26 Nov. 1564, Agnes, da. of (?Robert) Fleetwood of London. suc. fa. 20 Jan. 1549.1

Offices Held

?Under sheriff, Norf. and Suff. in 1533; receiver, estates of Cromwell by 1536; clerk of the peace and of the crown, Cambs. 18 Mar. 1538; commr. subsidy, Hunts. 1546, relief, Cambs. 1550, to survey estates of bpric. of Ely 1559, 1560; bailiff for Thomas Seymour, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, unknown property by 1548; feodary, honor of Clare, Cambs., Hunts. by 1553; j.p.q. Cambs. 1554-d.; attorney, duchy of Lancaster, in Chancery May 1557-Mar. 1559; escheator, Cambs. and Hunts. 1559-60.2


Of the several contemporary John Millicents to be found in the Fenland and East Anglia only two claimed the status of gentleman accorded to the second Member for Huntingdon by the return of 1547, a townsman of Great Yarmouth and the clerk of the peace in Cambridgeshire. The career of John Millicent of Yarmouth appears to have been confined to that town and its neighbourhood, and although the delivery to him in London early in 1552 of the letter granting its stewardship to the Earl of Warwick could mean that he was then attending the last session of the Parliament, he is unlikely to have been doing so for Huntingdon: it was for one of the Yarmouth seats that the 2nd Earl of Sussex was to recommend him, and then unsuccessfully, in the autumn of 1554. By contrast, his namesake of Cambridgeshire lived not far from Huntingdon and had links with that county: he is thus taken to have been the Member.3

Millicent came from a prosperous yeoman family established at Linton since the early 15th century; his father was a convert to the Protestantism that he and his descendants shared. Several years after graduating at Cambridge he had entered Cromwell’s service as one of the receivers for the minister’s estates. This preferment suggests that he was the under sheriff to (Sir) Thomas Rush in 1533 who two years later gave his age as 33, and that it was Rush who commended him to Cromwell. He assisted Richard Cromwell alias Williams* in the suppression of the lesser monasteries and in doing so was in danger of his life. He was visiting Legbourne priory with the unpopular John Bellow in October 1536 when the rebellion occurred in Lincolnshire. Fetched from Legbourne by the rebels the two were placed in the stocks at Louth for six days, but their master was told that Millicent had been hanged and Bellow baited to death by dogs. Millicent was released on the intercession of the Duke of Suffolk and rejoined Richard Cromwell at Lincoln, leaving that city two weeks later with news of the restoration of order. Cromwell sought to compensate him with a lease of some property owned by Thetford priory, but the 3rd Duke of Norfolk as founder’s kin dismissed his application. His closeness to the minister is reflected in his appointment in 1538 with Thomas Parry as a feoffee to use for the Cromwell family. In the same year he received his two clerkships.4

The fall of Cromwell checked but did not halt Millicent’s advancement. It was about this time that he married the daughter of one of the clerks of the petty bag, and in July 1541 he entered Lincoln’s Inn by special admission. In 1542 he leased the moiety of a manor at Linton and two years later he bought the moiety. In 1546 he was employed to convey money to the armies in France and Scotland, and it was probably his association with the future Protector, coupled with his service as a bailiff to Admiral Seymour, which led to his return for Huntingdon in 1547, although he had his own ties in the locality, notably with the Cromwell family, Oliver Leder and (Sir) Edward North. He was not re-elected for Huntingdon to the following Parliament, or to any subsequent one, and there is no trace of his part in the work of the House.5

In 1552 Millicent bought all the buildings and estates of Barham priory and immediately adapted the priory for use as his residence. Other purchases followed and with the growth of his estates he began to burgeon in local administration. He served Oliver Leder as a feoffee to use and on Leder’s death he acted as an overseer of his will and replaced him as the duchy of Lancaster’s attorney in Chancery. In 1557 he obtained a grant of arms but the knighthood with which he has sometimes been credited was never his. Early in Elizabeth’s reign he lost his attorneyship in the duchy, but the Queen selected him to survey the estates of the bishopric of Ely then in her hands and later the lands surrendered to her by her eventual choice as bishop. It was possibly resentment against this role that coloured Bishop Cox’s assessment of his attitude towards the church settlement as ‘some conformable’, as it was plainly wide of the mark. As a justice of the peace he subscribed to the Act of Uniformity in 1569.6

Shortly after the death of his third wife, Millicent made his will on 1 Nov. 1574 leaving his soul to the Trinity, his sins to Satan and his

wretched body to ... feed the silly worms ... within whatsoever place it shall please my executors or faithful friends to lay it in, so that the burial thereof be done ... without ... pomp, plainly and simply, and without wearing of any black gowns or coats, jangling or ringing of bells, or of any other ceremonies for they are but vain, chargeable and superstitious.

After leaving his younger son Tingleden (named after his uncle and godfather John Tingleden) £100 because he had not given him ‘money to begin his flock with’, he divided his property between his children and relatives. He left to his ‘very good and faithful friends’ Roger North, 2nd Lord North, a standing cup and to another friend Thomas Holmes a silver box. He appointed his son Robert executor and Thomas Holmes and his son-in-law William Bautrey overseers. He died on 28 Mar. 1577 and was buried beside his first wife in the chancel at Linton where a monument was erected to his memory.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: M. K. Dale / A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from education. Add. 5812, f. 168, 5848, f. 431; Misc. Gen. et Her. ii. 26-27; Vis. Northants. ed. Metcalfe, 191; PCC 1 Populwell, 30 Bucke, 25 Daughtry; CPR, 1550-3. p. 434; 1557-8, p. 325; 1558-60, p. 342; 1563-6, p. 142; Camb. Pembroke Coll. mss ex inf. A. P. M. Wright; Wards 7/102/135.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, x-xiv; M. L. Robertson, ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 527-8; St. Ch.2/23/206; E163/12/17, nos. 37, 50, 54; 179/122/133; CPR, 1553, pp. 93, 325; 1553-4, p. 17; 1558-60, pp. 31, 442; 1560-3, p. 435; 1563-6, pp. 20, 41; Somerville, Duchy, i. 457.
  • 3. H. Swinden, Gt. Yarmouth, 940; Yarmouth ass. bk. A, ff. iiv, 20v, 34v, 36, 70, 115v; CPR, 1555-7, p. 215; 1558-60, p. 31; E122/155/3, 6, 17; 179/151/350; Req.2/22/40; PCC 24 Chayre; St.Ch.3/5/78, 7/32 ex. inf. Mrs. M. Power.
  • 4. VCH Cambs. ii. 291; Test. Vet. ed. Nicolas, 617-19; Camb. Pembroke Coll. mss ex inf. Wright; LP Hen. VIII, x-xiv, add.; St.Ch.2/23/106.
  • 5. Camb. Pembroke Coll. mss ex inf. Wright; LP Hen. VIII, xxi; APC, i. 464, 466; L.I. Adm. i. 53.
  • 6. CPR 1550-3, p. 434; 1553, p. 153; 1558-60, pp. 31, 422; VCH Cambs. ii. 292; Grantees of Arms (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 179; Procs. Cambs. Antiq. Soc. xvi. 147; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 25.
  • 7. PCC 25 Daughtry; Wards 7/102/135; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 63; Pevsner, Cambs. 425.