POLE, Sir John de la (d.c.1397), of Hartington, Derbys. and Alstonfield, Staffs.

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. 1377

Family and Education

s. of John de la Pole (d. by 1364) of Hartington. m. Isabel (fl. 1406), at least 1s. John*. Kntd. by Feb. 1386.1

Offices Held

Forester of Crowdecote, Derbys. for John, duke of Lancaster, Jan. 1365-d.; bailiff of the duchy of Lancaster lordship of the High Peak 14 Nov. 1379-aft. 5 Feb. 1382; surveyor of the lordship and chase of the High Peak 15 Sept. 1380; steward of the High Peak 20 Sept. 1382-91.2

Assessor of a tax, Derbys. May 1379.

Commr. to suppress the insurgents, Derbys. Dec. 1381, Mar., Dec. 1382; of oyer and terminer, Notts. Mar. 1386 (disorder at Worksop); to make arrests, Derbys. Nov. 1391; of array Mar. 1392; inquiry Staffs. Feb. 1395 (complaints by the abbot of Dieulacres), Derbys., Staffs. May 1395 (illegal use of hunting dogs).

J.p. Derbys. 23 Jan. 1384-Apr. 1386, 6 Dec. 1387-Jan. 1397.


John de la Pole appears to have succeeded to the family estates by 1364, when he sued a local man for poaching his game at Alstonfield. His principal residence, the home of his ancestors, lay across the county border at Hartington in Derbyshire; and in the following year he consolidated his possessions by acquiring additional farmland there and in the villages of Buck Stone and Cowdale. This land carried with it the office of forester of Crowdecote, a duchy of Lancaster post which may well have brought de la Pole his first contact with John of Gaunt, the then duke. It was in the spring of 1372 that Gaunt agreed to offer him a 12-year lease, dated, retrospectively, from Michaelmas 1370, of certain land and grazing rights in Hartington. We know very little about relations between the two men over the next few years, but by November 1379 Gaunt was prepared to reward de la Pole’s ‘loialtee et discrecion’ with the office of bailiff of the High Peak at an annual fee of eight marks. De la Pole’s first return to Parliament, two years previously, may perhaps have owed something to the influence of his powerful patron; and when he again entered the Commons, in 1394, it was as one of the duke’s leading supporters in Derbyshire. Several marks of favour were shown to him throughout this period, ranging from a gift of game in 1380 (it is interesting to note that Gaunt left his ‘cher et bien ame’ retainer to supervise the allocation of similar presents to other members of the local gentry), to the highly lucrative posts of surveyor and steward of the duchy lordship of the High Peak. He was thus able to negotiate for himself a preferential lease, at just £20 p.a., of all the herbage in this part of Derbyshire for a period of six years beginning in October 1383. Moreover, by then he had also obtained an annuity of £10, charged upon the revenues of Tutbury in Staffordshire, as a member of the ducal retinue in peace and war. The terms of his contract took him, as a newly created knight, to Spain in the summer of 1386 on the unsuccessful expedition which Gaunt had hoped would enforce his claim to the throne of Castile. One of the attorneys whom he chose to supervise his affairs during his absence was Sir John de la Pole of Newborough, a kinsman and distinguished member of the duchy of Lancaster council, who may have helped to advance him in the early stages of his career. In return, of course, Gaunt expected his Derbyshire followers to help maintain his political hegemony in the north Midlands; and when, in about 1388, another of his clients, Sir Roger Strange*, was involved in a dispute over the ownership of the manor of Shenstone in Staffordshire, Sir John was sent along (together with such other notable members of the ducal retinue as Sir Walter Blount*, Sir Philip Okeover* and Sir Nicholas Montgomery I*), to overawe the jury at the local assizes.3

The precise date of de la Pole’s death is not recorded, but it probably occurred before January 1397, when his name disappears from the list of Derbyshire commissioners of the peace. In the following autumn his widow, Isabel, sued a group of Staffordshire men for damaging her crops at Alstonfield. Five years later she again went to law, this time with her second husband, Sir Thomas Beek, for the recovery of dower properties in other parts of Staffordshire. De la Pole left at least one son, John, who also represented Derbyshire in Parliament.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: C.R.


It is important to distinguish this MP from two other contemporaries and namesakes . Comparatively little confusion exists between him and Sir John de la Pole of Cheshire (b.c.1353), a retainer of Richard II (Scrope v. Grosvenor, i. 83, 361; ii. 269; DKR, xxxvi. 385-6); but his career was in many ways similar to that of his kinsman, the distinguished lawyer, Sir John de la Pole* of Newborough, Staffs. (d.c.1390), father of Peter de la Pole*. This biography is based solely upon specific references to John de la Pole of Hartington, on the assumption that others probably concern the more eminent of the two men.

  • 1. CP25(1)39/37/182; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xiii. 39; xiv. 245; xv. 83, 102; xvi. 56.
  • 2. CP25(1)39/37/182; Somerville, Duchy, i. 382; Reg. Gaunt 1379-83, nos. 112-13, 946, 1060.
  • 3. CP25(1)39/37/182; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xi. 184; xiii. 39; xiv. 244-5; Reg. Gaunt 1379-83, p. 12, nos. 37, 45, 150, 360, 378, 597, 946, 1043, 1060; S.K. Walker, ‘John of Gaunt and his retainers, 1361-99’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1986), 245-6.
  • 4. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. xv. 83, 102.