MALLORY, Sir John (1555/6-1619), of Studley Royal, nr. Ripon, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

b. 1555/6, 1st s. of Sir William Mallory† of Hutton Conyers Yorks. and 1st w. Ursula, da. of George Gale†, goldsmith, of York.1 educ. L. Inn 1574.2 m. by 1578, Anne (d.1627), da. of William, 2nd Bar. Eure of Malton Yorks., 9s. (3 d.v.p.) 6da. (2 d.v.p.).3 suc. fa. 1603;4 kntd. 17 Apr. 1603.5 d. 14 Aug. 1619.6 sig. Joh[n] Mallorye.

Offices Held

J.p. Yorks. (W. Riding) 1598-d.; liberty of Ripon, Yorks. by 1601-d., (N. Riding) 1617-d.;7 commr. sewers N. Riding 1604, oyer and terminer, Northern circ. 1605-17;8 member, Council in the North 1603-d.;9 commr. subsidy N. and W. Ridings 1608, aid W. Riding 1609, survey duke of York’s estates 1609.10

Member, Virg. Co. 1609.11


Mallory’s ancestors had held Hutton Conyers since the middle of the thirteenth century, and acquired Studley, two miles from Ripon, in 1452. His father, who represented the county in 1584, was the first of the family to enter Parliament. Being related to Cardinal Allen, his religious loyalties came under suspicion, but he remained a Protestant, though his own wife and his son’s both came from strongly Catholic families, and he was also closely related to the neighbouring recusant families, the Inglebys of Ripley and the Yorkes of Gouthwaite.12

The Mallorys’ fortunes took a turn for the worse in 1597, when Stephen Procter bought the neighbouring Fountains Abbey estate, with the intention of bringing both godly Protestantism and modern industrial practices to the area. Procter informed against his neighbours over their support for Catholic priests, and disputed their claims to common rights on Grewelthorpe Moor, which he enclosed and began mining for coal and lead. Commoners from several manors laid claim to the moor, and Procter’s enclosures were quickly thrown down at the behest of, Sir William Ingleby, tenant of Kirkby Malzeard manor. The Mallorys were dragged into the resulting litigation in Star Chamber, and (Sir) John complained to Sir Robert Cecil† that Proctor, ‘in the short time he has been a justice, has bred more faction and sedition than many of our justices have made unity’. Procter regained possession of the moor, only to be ejected in May 1603, when his mines were first occupied by rival commoners and then destroyed. A fresh bill was laid in Star Chamber, accusing Ingleby and Mallory of instigating the riots, and claiming that Mallory had promoted five attempts on Procter’s life in the previous two years. This dispute also proved inconclusive, and in 1608 the earl of Derby, Ingleby’s landlord at Kirkby Malzeard, bought out his tenant’s rights and assigned Procter a lease of 450 acres of moor as his share of the disputed commons.13

Despite these quarrels, Mallory, who inherited his estates only days before James’s accession, prospered in the early years of the new reign. He was the first Yorkshireman to be knighted by James on his way south, and was appointed to the Council in the North at the behest of Cecil’s brother, the outgoing lord president. At the same time as his tenants were occupying Procter’s mines, he assured Cecil that ‘I have more relied of your house than of any other of the nobility whomsoever’. Mallory must have secured official backing at the 1604 election, when Christopher Parkins, Cecil’s nominee at Ripon in 1597 and 1601, was found a seat at Morpeth. This allowed Mallory to be returned for his local constituency, presumably with the approval of lord president Sheffield, whose predecessors had also nominated to the seat.14

While at Westminster Mallory lodged in the Strand, where one of Proctor’s servants found him at cards with Sir Henry Constable*, Sir Henry Widdrington* and Sir Henry Slingsby*. In his first speech on 30 Mar. 1604 Mallory spoke against a conference with the judges over the Buckinghamshire election, because the Commons’ decision in favour of Sir Francis Goodwin’s* return was ‘a thing done already, not to be reversed’; he was named to the committee appointed to draft a written justification of the House’s proceedings. On 18 May he moved for statutory confirmation of all letters patent granted since the beginning of the reign, which would have included Ripon’s new charter, then about to pass the seals: seven lawyers, headed by Francis Moore, were ordered to draft a bill, which was later dropped at the Speaker’s request, presumably because a similar measure had been tabled in the Lords. He attended the conference at which the king’s initial plans for the Union with Scotland were revealed (14 Apr.), helped to prepare for another on religion (19 Apr.), and was named to the committee for the resulting bills to restrict pluralities and favour a learned ministry (4 June). He also moved that a committee of MPs should participate in the examination of a libel against the bishop of London, which the Speaker had tried to suppress.15

After the Gunpowder Plot, Mallory’s son Christopher, a recusant with connections to the plotters, fled into exile in the Spanish Netherlands. Mallory did not himself come under immediate suspicion, and a few weeks into the parliamentary session, he was named to attend the key conference with the Lords about reform of the recusancy laws (3 Feb. 1606). He was also named to committees for (Sir) John Hotham’s* jointure bill (25 Jan. 1606) and another bill to confirm Crown leases. He left no trace on the records of the 1606-7 session.16 In 1608 Procter brought further suits against Mallory and Sir John Yorke over the Grewelthorpe moor dispute. Mallory responded by invading the St. James’s Fair at Thirsk at the head of a troop of armed men and usurping Procter’s place as Lord Derby’s steward. ‘Let me not be put out’, Proctor begged, ‘and my mortal enemy preferred to my place’. Meanwhile, at Christmas 1609 Christopher Mallory returned briefly from Flanders to participate in the festivities at Gouthwaite Hall, acting the part of the devil who delighted Sir John Yorke and most of his guests by carrying an Anglican clergyman and his bible off to Hell.17

In the parliamentary session which began in February 1610, Mallory made trouble for his chief enemy by exploiting complaints against Procter’s patent for collection of unpaid fines due as the Crown’s share from common informations. As Proctor was an esquire of the Body to the king, Mallory first ingratiated himself with Cecil (now lord treasurer Salisbury). The Commons, he said, had

entered into consideration of divers gross and weighty grievances, the bowels of which I rather could have wished had been close shut up than any way by us unripped or discovered, since the opening of one is the hatching and breaking of divers others; so that in fine we shall fall into a chaos of confusions and dilemmas amongst ourselves, and trouble your honour with multiplicity of them.

He recommended a general pardon and the ‘recalling or resuming into His Majesty’s royal hands all letters patent that kindle and add fuel to the promoters’ fire’. At the same time, he informed his cousin William Gale, a major creditor of Procter’s, that the latter ‘did owe many thousand pounds unto the King’s Majesty, which was warning enough ... to seek for help and remedy by law ... with all speed’.18

Complaints about Procter (probably instigated by Mallory) were made to the committee for grievances at the start of the session, and when the issue was reported to the House, Mallory offered details, and was included on the sub-committee ordered to make further investigation (8 March). Procter was then arrested under a royal warrant, but after Mallory told the House ‘that Sir Stephen had given out that Sir John had a purpose to murder him because he informed against him’, the king was persuaded to allow Procter to be delivered to the Commons’ custody for punishment on 15 May. As an interested party, Mallory was excluded from the committee drawing up the punitive bill which voided the patent, stripped Procter of his knighthood, banished him from Court and allowed those he had distrained to sue for restitution from his own estate. This bill was stalled in the Lords, but MPs ensured that Procter was excluded from the statutory pardon, while Mallory sent a copy of the frustrated bill to Yorkshire, which his friends ‘published openly to have been done by Parliament’.19

Mallory also took a keener interest than normal in other business during the session. He spoke twice in the debate on the Great Contract, moving to admit Serjeant Hutton’s evidence on abuses of purveyance (24 Feb.),20 and backing the proposal of Sir William Maurice to approve the deal in principle before working out the precise demands for retribution (28 Feb.), which may reflect his satisfaction with the king’s willingness to proceed against Proctor. He was one of a deputation sent to ask the king for a Proclamation requiring all officeholders to take the Oath of Allegiance (26 May), and served as a teller against a bill restricting the use of decrees of outlawry in private debt actions. As a member of the Council in the North, he was appointed to attend a conference with the Lords on justice in the north (4 July), and he was among those appointed to deliver the Commons’ grievance petitions to the king (7 July). In the subsidy debate of 11 July, despite the fact that Yorkshire was charged relatively lightly for tenths and fifteenths, he backed the suggestion of Sir William Maynard that tenths should not be levied, because they fell too heavily on the poor: ‘rather two subsidies, and no fifteenth, than one subsidy and two fifteenths’. He left no trace on the records of the fifth session.21

Procter was released from the Tower shortly after Parliament was prorogued in July 1610, and revenged himself upon Yorke, Ingleby and Mallory in the following year with a Star Chamber prosecution which recounted the tale of the 1609 interlude, and alleged that these three and another Catholic neighbour, Sir Francis Trappes, had met the Wintour brothers at Gouthwaite Hall shortly before the Gunpowder Plot, and had sheltered the Jesuit John Gerard after the plot was discovered. The government took these charges seriously, arresting all four men and their wives. However, Procter’s gravest allegations were clearly not believed, as these were capital crimes which would have caused the suit to have been revoked into King’s Bench. Mallory was fined £500 in 1616, which was reduced to £100 on appeal, and paid off in instalments over the next three years. Two decades’ worth of litigation took its toll upon the finances of both sides: Mallory sold his manor of Washington, co. Durham to Bishop James for £4,000 in 1613, while Procter’s widow sold the Fountains estate to (Sir) Timothy Whittingham* in 1622.22

At the general election of 1614 Mallory stood as knight of the shire, perhaps partly in emulation of his father, but doubtless also to secure a public vindication of his reputation in the face of Procter’s accusations. Mallory assembled an impressive coalition at the county court: neighbours such as the mayor of Ripon, William Aldeburghe* and the recusant Thomas Tankard of Boroughbridge naturally rallied to his cause; but he also won over the Fairfaxes of Denton, their cousins the Belasyses of Coxwold, and even Christopher Wandesford*, who later became Wentworth’s closest associate; while Mallory’s brother-in-law Ralph, Lord Eure† presumably canvassed on his behalf among East Riding families including Sir William Constable, 1st bt.*, the recusant Sir Henry Constable, Sir William Alford*, John Hotham* and John Legard*. However, Mallory was obliged to contest the junior seat with Sir Thomas Wentworth*, who was backed by his great-uncle, Sir George Savile†. The latter used his position as sheriff to ensure that Mallory’s supporters were drowned out at the shout on election day ‘by sounding of trumpets and other practices’. At the start of the parliamentary session William Mallory (returned for Ripon in his father’s stead) submitted a petition ‘about the election of the knights of the shire’, but this was ‘respited till Sir John Savile’s coming up’ and thereafter vanished without trace.23

Mallory died on 14 Aug. 1619. No will or administration has been found.24

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 156-7.
  • 2. LI Admiss.
  • 3. Vis. Yorks. 157; Memorials Fountains Abbey ed. J.R. Walbran (Surtees Soc. lxvii), 325-8.
  • 4. C142/281/17.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 100.
  • 6. C142/708/102.
  • 7. C181/1, f. 8v; C231/1, ff. 55v, 142v, 231/4, f. 49.
  • 8. C181/1, f. 105, 181/2, f. 256.
  • 9. R. Reid, Council in the North, 496.
  • 10. C181/1/86, 105; SP14/31/1, 43/107; HMC Hatfield, xxi. 132.
  • 11. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iv. 363.
  • 12. Memorials Fountains Abbey, 314, 315; Procs. Leeds Philos. and Lit. Soc. x. 222.
  • 13. J.T. Cliffe, Yorks. Gentry, 136; HMC Hatfield, xii. 161, 186, 452- 3; STAC 8/227/1-2; C. Howard, Sir John Yorke of Nidderdale, 49- 51.
  • 14. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 100; HMC Hatfield, vii. 404; xi. 409, 442; xv. 82, 106, 394.
  • 15. CD 1604-7, pp. 36, 66-7; CJ, i. 231b, 974b.
  • 16. Memorials Fountains Abbey, 326; STAC 8/227/1, ff. 5, 54, 81-83, 91, 94-95; Howard, 38.
  • 17. Howard, 52-4, 69; STAC 8/227/1, f. 40; 8/227/4, f. 4; 8/227/35, f. 4; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 530.
  • 18. Lansd. 167, ff. 24, 27; SP14/52/77;
  • 19. STAC 8/227/35, ff. 27-28; Procs. 1610 ed. E.R. Foster, ii. 359, 412-14; CJ, i. 407b, 415a, 421, 428b; C.C.G. Tite, Impeachment and Parl. Judicature in Early Stuart Eng. 64-72.
  • 20. The report of this speech is garbled. Hutton’s evidence may actually have concerned the Procter case. CJ, i. 398b, 400a.
  • 21. Ibid. 399b, 403a, 409a, 433b, 439b, 445b, 448b; Procs. 1610, ii. 254.
  • 22. STAC 8/227/35, ff. 22, 84; Birkhead Letters ed. M.C. Questier (Cam. Soc. ser. 5. xii), 131; W. Yorks AS (Leeds), Vyner 1048-9, 5160; Cliffe, 124-5; Howard, 45.
  • 23. W. Yorks AS (Bradford), 32D86/38/2, f. 14; CJ, i. 457b; Procs. 1614 (Commons), 471.
  • 24. C142/708/102.