MARVYN, John (b.1559), of the Middle Temple, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. 1559, 1st s. of Edmund Marvyn by Jane, da. of Sir Richard Catesby of Warws., wid. of Robert Gaynesford of Carshalton, Surr. educ. Trinity, Oxf. 1581; M. Temple, from New Inn 1583.2

Offices Held


A John Marvyn was returned for Hindon at a by-election in February 1585, following Dr. Dale’s preference for the seat at Chichester to which he had also been elected. In the two subsequent Parliaments of 1586 and 1589 a John Marvyn was again chosen at Hindon. The problem is whether on each occasion the Member was the same person or whether two relatives of the same name are involved. The Member for 1586 is described in the return as ‘esq. of the Middle Temple’, and this fixes his identity as the eldest grandson of Sir John Marvyn and nephew of (Sir) James Marvyn of Fonthill Gifford, near Hindon, who more or less controlled one of the Hindon nominations from 1585 on. The by-election return in 1585 gives no status or description for the Member, but as the official stress in 1586 was on returning Members of the previous Parliament, we can probably accept the same identity.

In 1589 the return gives no status or description, but in the Crown Office list both Members for Hindon are described as gentlemen. If this is to be taken seriously, a plausible case could be made for identifying the 1589 Member as John Marvyn of Pertwood, Wiltshire, eldest son of John Marvyn of Pertwood and husband of Melior Goldsborough. He was older than his cousin John and belonged to a younger branch of the family. He owned property in Hindon. But the description on the Crown Office list is not conclusive. In fact the second Member for Hindon in 1589, John Lyly, is bracketed with Marvyn as ‘gentleman’, but when returned for Aylesbury in 1593 is described as ‘esq.’. It would be stranger for John Marvyn of Pertwood to develop parliamentary leanings in mature life than for the other John, young and educated at the university and inns of court, to prevail on his uncle to return him thrice to Parliament.

John Marvyn of the Middle Temple was the eldest grandson of Sir John Marvyn, but his father was the second son of a family of 13. Although Edmund, the father, had married in February 1559 the daughter of a Warwickshire knight and the widow of a substantial landowner in Surrey, she does not appear to have brought property into the marriage, for later she was said to have ‘nothing to live on’; while the description of John’s father as ‘of Founten’ at his entry to the Middle Temple suggests that Edmund had been obliged to find a home with or on the estate of his elder brother. The omission of Edmund’s name from his father’s will might argue that he was otherwise provided for, yet the fact that Sir John appointed a guardian, his son-in-law John Ryve, as trustee for John and his brothers and for the property he left them seems rather to imply that he regarded Edmund as incompetent.3

John Marvyn was thus eldest grandson of one owner of Fonthill Gifford and eldest nephew of another. In the first capacity he was the object, at the age of six, of a considerable benefaction. On his deathbed his grandfather made a will which benefited John and his two brothers at the expense of James, the heir, who had and was to have no son himself. Sir John left the three boys his lease of Boynton and to John, with remainder to his brothers, all his purchased lands, that is to say, the manor of Compton Bassett which he had acquired in 1553. However, as James, in contesting the will, pointed out, these lands had been rented by the family for generations; they lay intermingled with the old inheritance even to the door of the house, and they furnished the ‘dairy, ponds, woods, heronsewers, orchard, hopyard’ and pastures for beef and mutton for the household at Fonthill. There is reason to think that James was able to upset the will; he was certainly defending Compton Bassett as his own inherited property against claims for assart in 1607.4

John Marvyn made his first appearance in public at his grandfather’s funeral; and the conspicuous absence of his uncle James from the ceremony might have seemed to augur ill for hopes of patronage from the new owner of Fonthill Gifford. Yet Sir James, although a violent man, was also a forgiving one; and lacking a boy of his own he was driven, in his desire to perpetuate the family name, to favour young male relations, of whom John was the nearest. John must have made his home at Fonthill and have been sent from there, first for not more than two years to Oxford, and then, again briefly, under the aegis of his uncle Ryve, to the Middle Temple. When the parliamentary vacancy occurred at Hindon, John Marvyn at 25 was a not unsuitable candidate for Sir James to put forward.5

Marvyn is not known to have made any mark in Parliament, or in public life. The course of his private affairs rests equally obscure. Fonthill church was pulled down and no record survives even of the year of his death. But when his uncle James came to make his will in 1610 he mentioned that John and his brothers were already dead and included their debts to him among his bequests; from which it may be inferred that John Marvyn remained a protégé of Fonthill Manor till the end.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Muriel Booth


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. W. R. Drake, Fasciculus Mervinensis (privately 1873), p. 9 and app. 1; Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. i. 358.
  • 3. SP14/192/8; Drake, app. 1, p. ix.
  • 4. SP14/192/8.
  • 5. Drake, app. 1, p. xiii; M.T. Recs. i. 265.
  • 6. Drake, 19 and app. 1, pp. ix-xii.