DALE, John.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
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Of the many bearers of this name in the late 1520s none is known to have had any connexions or interest in Surrey and only one was of gentle birth. The gentleman was a younger brother and namesake of John Dale of South Tidworth, Hampshire, who died in 1521 leaving a nine month-old daughter Alice as heir, and until his niece came of age he exercised the headship of the family. A practising lawyer with chambers at Gray’s Inn he passed on his niece’s inheritance undespoiled, although its preservation had not always been an easy task. In April 1539 his friend John Kingsmill ended a letter to Thomas Wriothesley about the election of the knights for Hampshire to the forthcoming Parliament with a plea for his own return and ‘If you think good also, you may have John Dale who is a goodwitted fellow and says he will follow your advice if it please you to get him [a] place’. Like Kingsmill, Dale may have hoped for election at Ludgershall which lay three miles from South Tidworth. This overture to Wriothesley on Dale’s behalf in 1539 creates a presumption that he was the Member returned for Guildford ten years earlier and probably re-elected in 1536 in compliance with the directive for the return of the previous Members, but if he was the Member of 1529 the patronage then operating in his favour remains a matter for speculation.1

Both in 1539 and 1542 William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, nominated Members at Guildford, and it is possible that he did so in 1529 when he himself was returned as one of the knights of the shire for Surrey. As treasurer of the Household he could have promoted the return of either of two namesakes and kinsmen employed there respectively in the larder and the kitchen. John Dale, a yeoman of the larder, attended Henry VII’s funeral and Henry VIII’s coronation in 1509, and Prince Henry’s funeral two years later. Still in the same office in 1522, he was among Westminster residents possessing lands and goods to the value of £20 who in that year were examined on oath about their contribution to a loan. By 1531 he had risen to be serjeant of the larder, and at the coronation of Anne Boleyn in 1533 he attended the temporal and spiritual lords who sat on the right of the Queen. By 1538 he had quitted the office and may have died at about this time.2

By 1520 there was also a John Dale in the kitchen, a department distinct from and superior to the larder. In October 1528, when he received a grant of Sandford Ferry, two miles east of Reading, he was holding the office of yeoman for the mouth, and by November 1540 he had risen to be master cook of the King’s household. In this capacity he seems to have given satisfaction, for in that month the King made him and his wife Elizabeth a free gift of some tenements and a shop worth just under £9 a year in Trump Alley, off Cheapside in London. Dale did not long survive the royal master whose funeral he had attended in January 1547. He made his will on 31 Aug. 1548, shortly before his death, probate being granted 13 days later. After remembering various innkeepers, he made several bequests to his fellow-servants in the Household, including 10s. to the grooms and 20s. to the yeomen, 16s. to all the officers in the buttery and 6s.8d. to the children of the kitchen. The extent of Dale’s property at his death is not known, for apart from a house at Greenwich which he set aside in a remainder for a kinsman, Francis Taylor, he bequeathed it all to his wife without specifying it. He appointed his wife sole executrix of his will and George Langret its overseer. Of these two officers of the royal household it was John Dale of the kitchen who rose to be head of the largest department there and who is known to have been favoured with grants of property: he is thus to be preferred to his less impressive namesake as the Member for Guildford in 1529, if it was Fitzwilliam who procured his election.3

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. R. Johnson


  • 1. C1/499/67, 773/13-16, 781/25; 142/29/51, 38/9; VCH Hants, iii. 392; NRA 8800 (Wriothesley no. 219); G. J. Kidston, Bonhams of Essex and Wilts. 66; SP1/146, ff. 237-8 ptd. Elton, Tudor Constitution, 292.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, i. iii, vi; information from Dr. R. C. Braddock.
  • 3. SP1/19; LP Hen. VIII, iv; HMC Bath, iv. 6; E315/235, f. 70; M. C. Rosenfield, ‘The disposal of property of London monastic houses’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1961), 323; LC2/2; PCC 13 Populwell.