SELMAN, John II, of Plympton Erle and Portworthy, Devon.

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

Family and Education

prob. illegit, s. of John Selman I*.

Offices Held

Commr. of inquiry, Cornw. Dec. 1439 (riots at Liskeard and the suspected suicide of Edward Burnebury*), Devon Feb. 1440 (piracy).


Like his presumed father, John II was a lawyer and he resembled him, too, in spending part of his career in the service of the earls of Devon. In the spring of 1420 he joined the retinue of Hugh Courtenay, earl of Devon, prior to its embarkation for France, but his military service must have been brief, for he was home again in time to attend the Parliament which assembled in the following December. He was usually distinguished from the older John by being called ‘junior’, but the John ‘junior’ who witnessed the electoral indenture for the Parliament of 1425 was probably another kinsman, the son of Walter Selman, and it was no doubt to distinguish him from the latter that he himself was called ‘senior’ on the parliamentary returns of 1427.3 After the death of John Selman I in 1426 the family had been split in a quarrel over his landed holdings which rose to such a pitch that our John appealed to the chancellor, Archbishop Kemp, for his assistance. He claimed that Walter Selman, one of the feoffees of the deceased’s estate, had refused to hand over part of his inheritance, namely property in Fernhill, ‘Priours park’ and ‘Walleford park’. For his part, Walter contended that the elder John had died leaving no legitimate issue, and that he himself was entitled to the property in dispute by virtue of a gift from Selman’s sister and true heir, Alice Baret.4 Whatever the outcome of the quarrel, our MP was not left a poor man: by 1428 he possessed land at Loughtor Mills in Plympton St. Mary; in 1429 he was described as a ‘gentleman’ of Plympton Erle when he provided securities at the Exchequer for the lessees of the Pomeroy estates; and within ten years he acquired property in Portworthy in the parish of Shaugh. In 1439 he was associated with John Copplestone* and James Chudleigh (both of whom had earlier served as feoffees of John I’s property) as trustees of lands in Loughtor and Colebrooke; and in the same year he stood surety at the Exchequer for Roger Honyton*, the grantee of the marriage of a royal ward, and served on the first of his two royal commissions. He was present at the parliamentary elections held at Launceston in 1442, being then named as a mainpernor for the representatives for Bodmin, and he was probably still living four years later when a labourer of Plympton Erle was pardoned outlawry for failing to appear in court to answer his suit.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. On all three occasions called ‘junior’.
  • 2. Called ‘senior’.
  • 3. E101/49/34; C219/13/3.
  • 4. C1/7/182-5.
  • 5. Feudal Aids, i. 455; CFR, xv. 266; xvi. 121; CCR, 1435-41, p. 249; C219/15/2; CPR, 1441-6, p. 385.