PASFORD (PAFFORD), John, of Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
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Family and Education

Offices Held

Commr. of inquiry, Devon Mar. 1381 (homicide).


There is no record of Pasford having lived in either of the boroughs for which he was elected to Parliament, but he may well have been the man of this name who, with his wife Joan, was party in 1358 to a conveyance of lands in Broadhempston, which is only about four miles from one of them, Totnes.1 Early in his career he perhaps held administrative office in the duchy of Cornwall, for in August 1376 he and William Giles were commissioned by the Crown to coin the tin mined in the Devonshire stannaries of the duchy, an appointment then in the King’s gift owing to the death of the Black Prince. But Pasford was a lawyer whose services in the central courts were sought by several local landowners, and in 1377 he is recorded as acting in Chancery for two men who had been sentenced to heavy fines by justices of oyer and terminer sitting in Devon. He himself was to be tried by such a body three years later, following a complaint by Thomas Creedy, one of the King’s serjeants-at-arms, that he and others had escaped from detention for a breach of the peace, had wounded him, kept him captive, stolen his goods, and assaulted his bailiff of Chagford. His career was evidently not permanently harmed by the affair; indeed, within a few months he was appointed to a royal commission to investigate a murder at Buckland-in-the-Moor. Moreover, in the course of the next few years he appeared at the Exchequer and in Chancery for the religious houses of Cowick, Modbury and St. Germans. In March 1387 he was given the right to farm the lands of Abergavenny priory for the duration of the war with France, and an Exchequer lease of lands in Alderford, Devon, was granted to him at the same time.2

Among Pasford’s associates were the noted Devonshire lawyers, Thomas Raymond* of Holsworthy and John Hill† (afterwards j.KB) both of whom wore the livery of Edward Courtenay, earl of Devon, and it may well be that he, too, gave legal counsel to the Courtenays. Certainly, in 1387 he stood surety at the Exchequer for the earl’s uncle, Sir Philip*, and in the following year he acted in the same court on behalf of Courtenay’s son-in-law, Robert Cary*. In October 1388 he joined Cary in assisting the widow of John Blake, who had been executed earlier that year by judgement of the Merciless Parliament. During the same session Cary’s father, Sir John, the chief baron of the Exchequer, had been impeached and his estates declared forfeit. Pasford evidently offered his services to help his sons recover their inheritance; in July 1397 he and Robert’s brother Thomas entered into recognizances for 500 marks, undertaking that they would return to Chancery six charters relating to the Cary estates. It was doubtless Robert Cary who first brought him to the notice of John Holand, duke of Exeter, half-brother to Richard II. Precisely when he joined the duke’s household is not known, but he had done so by March 1399 when his release from imprisonment by the civic authorities of London was ordered by the King’s Council after one of the duke’s clerical staff had shown them proof that he had been arrested on a fictitious bill for trespass and fraud. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that Pasford became in any way involved in Holand’s revolt against Henry IV in January 1400, for he is last noted on 4 Nov. that year in the company of an old retainer of the new King and one of the knights of the chamber, Sir John Tiptoft*.3

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Devon Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1939), 1462.
  • 2. CPR, 1374-7, pp. 307, 434; 1377-81, pp. 569-70; CFR, ix. 308; x. 173, 179, 209; xi. 306; CCR, 1385-9, p. 490.
  • 3. CFR, x. 172, 244, 256; CCR, 1396-9, pp. 202, 375; 1399-1402, p. 281. The John Pasford ‘junior’ who was also an attorney and is found in 1398 and 1403 in association with the MP’s kinsman, Walter, was perhaps his son (CPR, 1396-9, p. 461; 1401-5, p. 222). He later held the manor of ‘Pafford’ and lands in Moreton ‘in-the-Moor’: CP25(1)46/87/211.