CALVELEY, Sir John (d.1403), of Stapleford, Leics. and Teigh, Rutland.

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



Oct. 1383
Nov. 1390
Sept. 1397

Family and Education

nephew of Sir Hugh Calveley the elder (d.1394) of Bunbury, Cheshire, governor of the Channel Isles. m. by May 1384, Margaret, da. and coh. of Roger Cheyne of Salop, wid. of Sir Christopher Folville of Teigh and of Sir Laurence Hauberk† (d.1381) of Stapleford, poss. 1s. Kntd. between Oct. 1383 and Nov. 1384.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Rutland 11 Nov. 1384-23 July 1385, 15 Nov. 1389-25 Feb. 1390, Warws. and Leics. 15 Nov. 1389-25 Feb. 1390; Feb. 1402 dep. sheriff, Rutland by Oct. 1385-22 Oct. 1386.2

Commr. of array, Leics. Apr. 1385, Mar. 1392, Dec. 1399; to make an arrest Jan. 1387; of inquiry, Rutland Feb. 1402 (the dowager countess of Oxford’s claim to the manor of Market Overton).

Steward of the lordship of Oakham, Rutland, for the King 2 Nov. 1388-2 Mar. 1390, for Edward, earl of Rutland, 2 Mar. 1390-20 Oct. 1399.

J.p. Leics. 15 July 1389-June 1390.


Calveley grew up in Cheshire where his family possessed considerable influence as landowners. Appropriately enough, the first known reference to him also concerns his uncle, Sir Hugh Calveley, one of the most outstanding English captains of the 14th century, who complained, in about 1377, of the problems faced by one of his kinsmen in gaining possession of a living in North Wales. A number of his relatives, including our Member, appear to have been active in support of the young priest, although their plans were evidently thwarted by the legal authorities within the palatinate of Chester itself. Calveley’s life underwent a dramatic change as a result of his marriage to a wealthy widow with considerable property in Rutland and Leicestershire. His wife, Margaret, held a dower of property around Teigh, in Rutland, which had been settled upon her by her first husband, Sir Christopher Folville. On the death of his successor, Sir Laurence Hauberk, who was brutally murdered by Sir Thomas Maureward*, a follower of Sir Hugh Calveley, she took seisin of an estate centred upon the village of Stapleford in Leicestershire. Within a few years of his marriage, Calveley had not only represented both counties in Parliament, but had also served a term as sheriff in each, had been made steward of the lordship of Oakham, and had obtained a seat on the Leicestershire bench. That he made use of his position to advance the careers of other members of his family seems more than likely: as deputy sheriff of Rutland with personal responsibility for holding the elections to the Parliament of October 1385, he was, for example, ideally placed to secure the return of his cousin, Hugh Calveley*, who had by then married one of his stepdaughters, Agnes, the heiress to the Hauberk estates. He may also have intervened less directly to help another of his kinsmen, the Cheshire knight, Sir Hugh Browe, his colleague in the Parliament of November 1390, and the eventual husband of one of his Folville stepdaughters.3

We may reasonably assume that Calveley was already married by October 1383, when he first represented Rutland in Parliament. In the following May he and his wife were arraigned on an assize of novel disseisin brought by a rival claimant to Margaret’s property in Teigh. The outcome remains unknown, although they appear to have defended their title successfully. Calveley served for a while in the garrison of Berwick-upon-Tweed, being granted royal letters of protection early in 1384 for a year’s absence on the Scottish border under the command of the earl of Northumberland. Notwithstanding these letters, he was sued in the court of the constable of England by one John Whitchurch for a debt of 700 francs, and it was only after a personal petition to the King that he managed to obtain a writ of supersedeas to halt the proceedings. In common with most of the male members of his family, Calveley enjoyed a considerable reputation for military prowess. In March 1387 he took up arms again, this time in the retinue of Richard, earl of Arundel, whom he accompanied on his naval expedition against the combined Flemish, French and Spanish fleets. Shortly afterwards he was pardoned his outlawry for failing to defend himself against an action for debt brought by the wealthy London draper, John Hende, to whom he owed £15 3s.4d.His wife’s kinsman, Robert Hauberk, was less fortunate in avoiding the consequences of outlawry, and in July of the same year Calveley obtained custody of some of his confiscated Leicestershire estates. He himself went to law at about this date, in an attempt to recover an unpaid debt from the parson of Luddington in Warwickshire.4

Calveley’s relations with the Hauberk family seem to have changed during the 1390s from the cordial to the blatantly hostile, largely as a result of a dispute over the manor of Scalford in Leicestershire. In August 1392 the dying Agnes Hauberk of Scalford appointed him as an executor of her will (which included a bequest to his wife, Margaret, her former daughter-in-law); but within a matter of months he had become involved in a protracted lawsuit against Agnes’s son, John, who refused to accept that (Sir) Hugh Calveley’s wife possessed a superior title to the manor. The case dragged on after (Sir) Hugh’s death, and did not reach a final verdict until July 1396, when his widow and her stepfather, the subject of this biography, were confirmed in possession.5 The latter had by then been made custodian of his late kinsman’s two sons and their extensive inheritance, which now included the estates left by Sir Hugh Calveley the elder on his death, without direct heirs, in April 1394. The deceased’s manors of Shotwick and Lea in Cheshire were awarded to Sir John separately under the terms of various royal grants, the first of which specified a limited tenancy of seven years. Almost immediately afterwards, however, on 28 May 1394, the manor of Shotwick alone was settled upon him for life, rent-free, as one of the King’s knights. Its value must have been considerable, because in September 1398 he agreed to exchange the property for a standard annuity of £30, again payable for life in return for his services to the Crown. Our MP subsequently petitioned Henry IV on behalf of his young ward, David Calveley, who had entered part of his inheritance without a royal licence. Letters of pardon were duly issued in April 1400, but soon afterwards Calveley decided to relinquish his wardship, and sold it to Sir John Handforth, who promptly married the boy’s brother, Hugh, to his daughter.6

Meanwhile, during the early months of 1394, Calveley made three appearances as a mainpernor. In February he stood surety for John, Lord Beaumont, who had just taken on the keepership of the Styuecle estates; and in the following March he performed a similar service for the Cheshire knight, Sir Richard Winnington. He also offered joint bail of £1,000 on behalf of Sir Ralph Lumley, whose dispute with Roger, Lord Clifford’s widow, Maud, had taken a violent turn. It was at about this time that Sir John surrendered his title to part of the Hauberk estates in the Leicestershire village of Saxby, which he and his wife may previously have occupied. Calveley appears to have gone abroad in the summer of 1396, since he then obtained permission from the Crown to appoint three attorneys for the supervision of his affairs in England. His position as a King’s knight may well account for his return to the second Parliament of 1397, in which Richard II finally revenged himself against his old enemies, the Lords Appellant of 1388. Yet Calveley himself was by no means an uncritical supporter of the court party, and there is reason to suppose that his own political affiliations at this time were highly ambiguous. He found it expedient to sue out a royal pardon in May 1398, specifically because of the support which he himself had given to the Appellants, no doubt in the person of Arundel (who had just been executed for treason), and quite possibly in view of his existing attachment to Thomas, duke of Norfolk, one of the ‘junior’ Appellants. When the duke left England as an exile in October 1398, Calveley was among the band of 80 well-wishers who accompanied him to Lowestoft, and although other evidence of their association has so far not appeared, we may justifiably assume that it had by then grown fairly strong.7

Calveley clearly did not scruple to throw in his lot with the newly-crowned Henry IV, who, in December 1400, gave his ‘dear bachelor’ custody of the manor of Stapleford with rents to the value of £40 a year. Our Member was one of the six persons summoned in the following July to represent Leicestershire at a great council. He did not, however, live long enough to improve upon his fortunes as a supporter of the house of Lancaster, for he was killed (and died intestate) while fighting for the King, on 21 July 1403, at the battle of Shrewsbury. Shortly before this date Calveley had offered sureties of £200 on behalf of Sir Richard Vernon, who was captured and beheaded as a traitor because he had supported the rebels. It was thus, ironically under the circumstances, that Sir John’s own possessions were temporarily declared forfeit, although they were restored to the two nominees responsible for administering his estate some six months later. One of these men was also named John Calveley, and may well have been his son. He certainly shared the fruits of Lancastrian patronage, and by 1407 had become an esquire of the body to Henry IV.8

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


  • 1. C66/317 m. 11d; SC8/103/5103; PRO List ’Sheriffs’, 112; CPR, 1401-5, p. 353; Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xi. 464; VCH Rutland, ii. 153; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 135. Both Sir John Calveley and (Sir) Hugh Caveley MP were nephews of the distinguished soldier, Sir Hugh Calveley the elder. It seems likely that they themselves were cousins rather than brothers, since (Sir) Hugh, who appears to have been the younger of the two, was heir to his father’s estates. T. Ormerod (Palatine and City of Chester ed. Helsby, ii. 768) is certainly wrong in describing them as father and son, although unlike R. Thoresby (Ducatis Leodiensis, 116) and T. Wotton (English Baronage, iv. 136-8) he does not make the mistake of attaching our Member to the Calveley family of Calveley in Yorks.
  • 2. C219/8/12.
  • 3. Ibid.; Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc. xi. 464; VCH Rutland, ii. 153; SC8/103/5103.
  • 4. C66/317 m. 11d; E101/40/33 m. 17; CFR, x. 191; CPR, 1381-5, pp. 595-6; 1385-9, p. 334; CCR, 1385-9, p. 611; Cal. Scots Docs. (supp.) v. no. 4126.
  • 5. Early Lincoln Wills ed. Gibbons, 48-49; JUST 1/1501 rot. 68, 69, 70v, 73.
  • 6. DKR, xxxvi. 80-81; CFR, xi. 114-15; CPR, 1391-6, pp. 416, 419; 1399-1401, pp. 260-1.
  • 7. CPR, 1391-6, p. 380; CCR, 1392-6, p. 293; CFR, xi. 112; J. Nichols, Leics. ii. 350-1; DKR, xxxvi. 80; C67/30 m. 3; A. Goodman, Loyal Conspiracy, 163.
  • 8. DL41/15 f. 17d; DKR, xxxvi. 80; PCC, i. 159, 162; English Baronage, iv. 138; CPR, 1401-5, p. 353; 1405-8, p. 380; J. Trokelowe, Chron. ed. Riley, 369, 371.