DONE, Sir John (1501/2-61), of Utkinton, Cheshire.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1501/2, 1st s. of Richard Done of Utkinton by Joan, da. of Sir Thomas or Peter Gerard of Bryn, Lancs. m. Jane, da. of Randall Mainwaring of Peover, Cheshire, s.p. suc. fa. 1516/17. Kntd. by Jan. 1535.2

Offices Held

Sheriff, Cheshire 1529-30; ?member, household of Princess Mary 1533; commr. tenths of spiritualities, Cheshire 1535, musters 1545, 1546, relief, Cheshire and Chester 1550; master forester, Delamere Cheshire, c.1536; j.p. Cheshire 1539-d.3


The Done family had long been established at Utkinton, and John Done’s mother came of an influential Lancashire family with at least one Cheshire branch. The Done lands lay east of Chester; on the pardon roll of 1559 John Done is described as ‘of Utkinton ... alias late of Eddisbury, alias of Tarporley’. His master forestership of Delamere was at least quasi-hereditary: his forbears had held it in the 14th century and he himself claimed it ‘by inheritance’ although a memorandum by Cromwell implies that it was granted, or perhaps regranted, in 1536.4

Done may have been the ‘John Downe’ of the larder in Princess Mary’s household about 1533; a number of Cheshire gentlemen were in Mary’s service at that time and she appears to have maintained her western connexions after her official household at Ludlow was dispersed. Such a link would have strengthened his claim to the knighthood of the shire in 1558, although by then he was probably of sufficient standing to secure it without royal intervention. It is indeed somewhat surprising that Done, an active local official with a good military record, married to a Mainwaring of Peover and related to Sir Richard Cotton, had not done so earlier. The explanation may lie in his quarrels with leading Cheshire gentlemen. About 1537 he was involved in his most famous lawsuit, against Sir Piers Dutton over Delamere; he claimed forest rights by inheritance, cited actions there by his grandfather and accused Dutton of abusing the office of sheriff and of suborning witnesses during the early stages of the long suit. In the upshot Dutton, although he was in favour at court, lost the case and is said to have been outlawed. Some years earlier Done had clashed with Sir Giles Capell, who accused him of fraudulent claims to property in Tarporley, and in 1552 the Privy Council instructed the justices of assize to dissuade him if possible from disinheriting his brother James, heir apparent to the Utkinton estates. Obviously a proud, ambitious man, Done might have been happier as a professional soldier. He was an active commissioner for musters during the Scottish border troubles, raising and training a contingent from Utkinton in addition to leading a section of the 3,000 Cheshire levies who fought in Scotland during 1544-5. The crown annuity of £20 which he received in February 1551 was presumably given for his long and varied services.5

Nothing is known Nothing is known of Done’s religious beliefs. In July 1541 he had headed a commission to prepare the monastic church at Chester for its new role as a cathedral, but this may have been simply a tribute to his social ascendancy. He did not live long enough under Elizabeth to make proof of his allegiance to the Anglican settlement and he seems to have made no will. He died on 6 Nov. 1561 and was buried at Tarporley three days later. His own childlessness and the previous death of his brother James conduced to the disputes about the inheritance which were finally settled by a marriage between the heir, his niece Ellen, and John Done of Flaxyards, Cheshire.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. OR gives ‘Jacobus Downe armiger’ as do the two lists of Members, C193/32/2 and Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264, but the indenture gives ‘Johannem Downe militem’, C219/25/16.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., Ches. 3/61/21. Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 85-86; (lix), 86; Ormerod, Cheshire, ii. 249 seq.; LP Hen. VIII, viii; Ches. 3/74/3.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, viii, x, xiii-xv, xix, xx. add.; CPR, 1553, pp. 360-1.
  • 4. Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, v. 26; Ormerod, ii. 249 seq.; HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 1; NRA 16207 passim; LP Hen. VIII, x-xii, xix, add.; CPR, 1558-60, p. 166.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, vi, xii, xix, xx, add.; Harl. 283, ff. 15-17; Ormerod, ii. 252; HMC Bath, iv. 71; APC, iv. 20; CPR, 1558-60, p. 166.
  • 6. LP Hen VIII, add.; Ormerod, ii. 246; Ches. 3/61/21, 74/3; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. lix), 86.