HERCY, John (by 1499-1570), of Grove, Notts.

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



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1499, s. of Humphrey Hercy of Grove by Elizabeth, da. of Sir John Digby of Kettleby, Lincs. m. by 1521, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Sir John Stanley of Elford, Staffs. wid. of Sir James Lee of Aston, Staffs., s.p. suc. fa. 1521. Kntd. 22 Feb. 1547.2

Offices Held

Commr. subsidy, Notts. 1523, 1524, tenths of spiritualities 1535, musters 1539, 1569, chantries, Southwell 1546-8, Derbys., Notts. 1548, relief, Notts. 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; j.p. Notts. 1526-47, q. 1558/59-d.; escheator, Notts. and Derbys. 1526-7, sheriff 1532-3, 1543-4, 1548-9.3


The Hercys of Grove traced their descent to Gilbert de Arches, baron of Grove under the Angevin Kings. The lordship of Grove inherited by John Hercy contained upwards of 1,500 acres and was valued at some £175: it was augmented by five manors and other smaller properties scattered throughout the shire.4

Hercy’s career in local government began shortly after his father’s death and, with an enforced break under Mary, ended only with his own. He was first nominated for the shrievalty of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in 1527. With Sir John Markham and other notables he organized the defence of Nottinghamshire during the rebellion of 1536 and afterwards he was one of the commission which dissolved Lenton priory and had its prior executed. In October 1538 he solicited Cromwell for a reward in the shape of the stewardship of Tickhill and Gainsborough, part of the duchy of Lancaster, but the office was to remain in the hands of Sir Arthur Darcy until it was granted in 1561 to Hercy’s nephew and associate William Mering.5

Cromwell may none the less have had a hand in Hercy’s election early in 1539 to the Parliament of that year. Hercy was both well qualified for the knighthood of the shire and well friended there, but the sheriff, Sir John Markham, could well have acted on instructions in returning Hercy and his senior colleague the young Gervase Clifton. Unless he was returned again in 1542, when the names of the Nottinghamshire knights are unknown, Hercy was to sit in only one more Parliament, the first of Mary’s reign. He was then to make proof of his Protestantism by being among those who ‘stood for the true religion’, a profession which doubtless helped to exclude him from the Commons for the rest of the reign as it clearly cost him his seat on the Nottinghamshire bench. With the accession of Elizabeth he could again support the crown’s ecclesiastical policy, as in 1564 the archbishop of York certified him as doing, but although restored to the commission and named to the quorum he did not reappear in Parliament, perhaps on the ground of his age: this was his excuse to the 2nd Earl of Rutland, with whose father he had served in Scotland in 1542, for not attending the musters in 1559, yet ten years later he was able to take them.6

Hercy died childless early in 1570 and his lands were divided between eight sisters and coheirs. With the advice of several lawyers, including Hugh Thornhill, he had prepared a partition of his lands at the beginning of Mary’s reign, and it was in expectation of trouble that his will of January 1570 included elaborate precautions against dispute. The list of notables whom he called upon ‘to appease and quiet all troubles and controversies’ included the lord keeper, the Earls of Bedford, Rutland and Shrewsbury, Sir Gervase Clifton, (Sir) James Dyer, Sir William Holles and Nicholas Powtrell, and any of them who should ‘take up arms about the premises’ was to receive 10s. a day. Finally, the disputes which Hercy feared would arise between his wife and his heirs, and prove beyond the control of the executors and supervisors, he remitted to the archbishop of York ‘according to his wonted favour towards me and mine’. The widow was to receive plate and all the goods in her rooms with which to furnish her house, and 200 marks in gold and a horse in lieu of the third part of her husband’s goods to which she was entitled. The lordship of Grove passed into the Neville family, through the marriage of Hercy’s sister Barbara with George Neville of Ragnall, to whom the administration of the will was granted in 1572.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: C. J. Black


  • 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r.[1-2].
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., E150/737/7. Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. iv), 15.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, iii-vi, viii, xii-xiv, xvi, xx; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 88, 416; 1548-9, p. 137; 1553, pp. 357, 415; 1553-4, p. 22; 1554-5, pp. 109, 110; 1560-3, p. 440; 1563-6, p. 25; CSP Dom. 1547-8, p. 332; Trans. Thoroton Soc. xv. 157.
  • 4. Thoroton, Notts. ed. Thoresby, iii. 260-3; E150/737/7.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, iv, xi, xiii; Somerville, Duchy, i. 529.
  • 6. Bodl. e. Museo 17; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 72 makes no clear distinction between favourable and unfavourable justices, although the original manuscript, Hatfield 235, f. 73 (M 485/60) does; LP Hen. VIII, xvii; HMC Rutland, i. 71; HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 337; HMC Bath, iv. 60.
  • 7. CPR, 1569-72, p. 32; NRA 8412; York wills 19, f. 482.