LISLE, Sir John (1366-1408), of Wotton, I.o.W. and Thruxton, Hants.

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



Jan. 1404

Family and Education

b. 15 Aug. 1366, s. and h. of Sir John Lisle (d.1370) of Wotton by Maud (d.1378), kinswoman of Bp. Edington of Winchester. 1385, Elizabeth (d. 23 or 25 Feb. 1435), 1s. John*, ?1da. Kntd. 11 Oct. 1399.1

Offices Held

Warden of Chute forest, Wilts. Mar. 1388-d.

J.p. Hants 13 May 1396-Nov. 1397, 28 Nov. 1399-Feb. 1407.

Commr. to hold assizes, Salisbury Mar. 1398; of inquiry, I.o.W. July 1398 (wastes at Appuldurcombe priory), Nov. 1399 (shipwreck), Hants Feb. 1403 (wastes at Hayling priory); arrest Nov. 1399; array Dec. 1399, July 1402, Aug., Sept. 1403, May, Dec. 1406; to make proclamation of Hen. IV’s intention to govern well May 1402; fortify Southampton and safeguard Winchester Sept. 1403.

Tax controller, Hants Mar. 1404.

Sheriff, Wilts. 22 Nov. 1404-5.

Governor of Guernsey 28 May 1405-d.


The Lisles took their name (de Insula or de L’Isle) from the Isle of Wight, where they settled in about the 12th century. They were a family of some distinction: two of Sir John’s ancestors were summoned to Parliament by individual writ between 1299 and 1314, and his grandmother was a daughter of Hugh Courtenay, earl of Devon, and a great-grand daughter of Edward I. (Lisle’s own tomb displays the Courtenay arms.)

When Lisle’s father died in France, in November 1370, he himself was only four years old. During his minority his estates were held by various grantees of the Crown including Sir Richard Stury, a knight of the King’s chamber, who sold the wardship to the boy’s great-uncle, Thomas Lisle (d.1382). It was not until 1388 that he proved his age and obtained seisin of his inheritance. Two years later he secured royal confirmation of the charter of free warren granted to an ancestor of his by Edward I. Lisle’s patrimony was substantial, being comprised of the manor of Walton in Northamptonshire, a manor and the hereditary wardenship of Chute forest in Wiltshire, three manors in Dorset, and no fewer than 13 in Hampshire, of which nine were situated on the Isle of Wight, making him by far the most important landowner on the island.2 Nor was this all: Lisle’s mother had been a kinswoman of Bishop Edington of Winchester, Edward III’s one-time treasurer and chancellor, and through her he inherited a claim to the manor of South Baddesley (Hampshire) and other lands in the New Forest and elsewhere, of all of which John Edington, archdeacon of Surrey, the bishop’s principal heir, died seised in 1397. Another claimant was Lisle’s relation Eleanor, Lady St. Amand, but although the assizes found against Lisle and awarded £20 damages at Lady St. Amand’s suit for South Baddesley, the two were afterwards on good terms, which suggests that the suit had been collusive. For instance, before Sir John’s death in 1408, Lady St. Amand granted him another of the Edington properties: the manor of Holt in Bradford (Wiltshire), and his interest in the manors of Pomeroy in Wingfield (Wiltshire) and Kimpton and possibly Thruxton (Hampshire) also derived from the Edingtons.3 In 1394 Lisle conveyed his estates to feoffees, who included such prominent local figures as Bishop Waltham of Salisbury, Sir Peter Courtenay’ (a distant cousin), Sir John Berkeley I*, William Stourton* and Thomas Bonham*. During his lifetime certain changes were made to his holdings, notably in transactions completed with Richard Pavy, esquire, whose wife Joan was possibly his daughter. It was to Pavy and his wife that, in 1404, he conveyed Walton, and in the following year he witnessed a settlement on Pavy’s daughter-in-law (a daughter of Nicholas Exton of London) of £20 a year from the Pavys’ manor on the Isle of Wight. At the same time Lisle acquired from Pavy a small estate at Crookham (Berkshire) which was attached to the bailiwick of the Little Park at Thatcham. Lisle brought an action against the Crown for the manors of East Tytherley and Lockerley (Hampshire), allegedly seised from an ancestor of his in the reign of Edward I, but met with no success. In 1412 his estates in Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire alone were evaluated for the purposes of taxation at £187 13s.4d. a year. By that time they were in the possession of his widow and son.4

Under Richard II Lisle served only briefly as a j.p., once as a justice to hold special assizes, and on one other occasion as a commissioner. It is clear that he was more closely attached to the Lancastrians (a connexion which may have arisen from his position as a tenant of the duchy of Lancaster in Dorset), for he was knighted on the eve of Henry IV’s coronation, immediately appointed to serve on royal commissions of importance, and was soon to be described as a ‘King’s knight’. Quite possibly he had played an active role in the deposition of Richard II, for when, on 15 Nov. 1400, he was granted an annuity of £40 from the customs collected at Southampton, it was specifically ‘for good service to the King and his father’. Another mark of royal favour was the grant, made two years later, of the farm for ten years of the profits of herbage from Hippenscombe in the forests of Savernake and Chute. Lisle was one of the four representatives from Hampshire summoned to attend great councils in 1401 and 1403, and he represented the shire in Parliament in 1401 and 1404. In the eight years between 1400 and his death he took a leading part in local affairs, particularly during the summer and autumn of 1403 when he was put in charge of defensive measures at Southampton and Winchester in the face of threatened enemy attack; and he had to safeguard a Castilian vessel plundered and brought to the Isle of Wight by the notorious pirate, Henry Pay of Poole. In July 1405 Sir John, having recently succeeded the duke of York as governor of Guernsey, set sail to the island to defend it from further French raids. A letter of his addressed to the Council made complaint of the ruinous state of Castle Cornet, as he then found it. He explained that the castle was on the point of collapse for want of timber, and since this material was difficult to obtain owing to hostilities with France, he sought authority to take it from the ruins of Vale priory. On 10 Feb. following he was rewarded with £48 2s.4d. at the Exchequer for his endeavours to restore the castle and defend Guernsey, but there is no record of payment of a regular fee for his services. Lisle may well have spent much of the last two years of his life in the Channel Islands, although during this period it seems that he also fought in Brittany, for he brought a suit in the constable’s court against Edmund Arnold of Dartmouth regarding the despoiling of a Breton knight.5

Lisle died aged 41 on 31 Jan. or 1 Feb. 1408. His will, dated 6 Apr. 1407, specified bequests in cash amounting to nearly £25 and named his widow and his son, John, as executors. His monumental brass at Thruxton depicts him as a knight in full armour with a sword and dagger, under an elaborate canopy of three cinquefoil arches. The widow subsequently married Sir John Bysse and outlived her son, dying nearly 30 years later in 1435.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


He is not to be confused with John Lisle of Gatcombe, I.o.W., who in 1412 held lands valued at £20 p.a. (Feudal Aids, vi. 454).

  • 1. CP, viii. 39-44.
  • 2. CIPM, xiv. 80, 595; xv. 42-44, 119-20; VCH Wilts. iv. 424-6, 440; VCH Hants, iii. 484; iv. 353, 619; v. 142, 155, 162-3, 172, 195, 204, 231, 280; CCR, 1370-4, p. 77; 1381-5, pp. 141-2; 1385-9, p. 381; CPR, 1388-92, p. 262.
  • 3. CPR, 1367-70, p. 17; 1396-9, p. 71; VCH Wilts. vii. 20, 73; VCH Hants, iv. 373, 388, 617; JUST 1/1502 m. 22d, 1513 m. 2; Reg. Langham (Canterbury and York Soc. liii), 322; CFR, xiii. 25.
  • 4. CCR, 1392-6, pp. 374, 376; 1401-5, p. 368; 1405-9, p. 70; G. Baker, Northants. i. 706-7; CPR, 1405-8, p. 17; VCH Berks. iii. 316; VCH Hants, iv. 515; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 225, 247; Feudal Aids, vi. 423, 450, 457, 534.
  • 5. Chrons. London ed. Kingsford, 48; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 378; 1401-5, p. 161; 1408-13, p. 291; CCR, 1401-5, p. 203; E403/585 m. 18; PPC, i. 161, 261, 276; ii. 87, 106; E404/21/58; C76/88 m. 3.
  • 6. PCC 16 Marche; C137/69/49; C139/68/1; VCH Hants, iv. 390.