NOYES, John (by 1557-1620), of Calne, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. by 1557, ?2nd s. of William Noyes (d. c.1558) of Urchfont, Wilts., yeoman and Agnes, da. of one Woodrooffe. m. 19 Feb. 1571, Alice (bur. 24 Dec. 1622), da. of one Seager alias Parsons, 1s. at least 2da. bur. 17 Aug. 1620.1
Guild steward, Calne 1585-6, 1599-1600, 1613-14, 1618-19.2
Noyes’s father was a wealthy yeoman whose assessment of £80 for the 1523 subsidy was the highest in his hundred.3 Accordingly, Noyes received a substantial patrimony which comprised £100, livestock, and property at Marlborough and Eastcott, Wilts.4 Having established himself as a successful clothier, he became one of Calne’s leading residents, serving four times as a guild steward. His local standing was doubtless enhanced by his kinship with the Duckett family, which owned the manor of Calne and frequently influenced the borough’s parliamentary elections.5
Noyes was returned to the Commons in 1604 with a fellow clothier, William Swaddon. The latter vacated his seat in November 1605 due to ill health, his place being taken by a local gentleman, Sir Edmund Carey, and thereafter Noyes alone seems to have been entrusted with the borough’s business in London. Although he left no trace on the Commons’ records, in 1606 he secured the confirmation of the town charter, and, unlike Carey, he received parliamentary wages of £19 for that session. He also kept a note of Acts passed during the first session of 1610 which were of local interest, including measures to reform alehouses and punish deceitful spinners and weavers.6 Clearly anxious about his prolonged absences from Wiltshire at a time when the local clothing market was periodically undermined by plague, Noyes sent his wife detailed instructions on the management of his affairs. One letter dated 25 May 1604, the day before the Whitsun recess, revealed his impatience to be home. Noting that some wealthy Members had left the House early, he complained that poorer men like himself had to wait for the formal recess, for fear of being fined: ‘little flies do hang in the spider’s web, but the great hornets do rush through as oft as they list’.7 In June 1610 he attended the investiture of Prince Henry, reporting with a clothier’s eye on the costumes worn by his fellow Members.
Some knights of the Lower House of Parliament … did wear apparel worth an hundred pounds a man. Seven laces of gold of almost an hand breadth apiece, one above another round about their cloaks was nothing to speak of; for some of them the very panes of their breeches were nothing else but laces embroidered with gold. The whole House being thus furnished with sumptuous and shining apparel, I thought myself to be like a crow in the midst of a great many of golden feathered doves.8
Noyes remained a prominent figure in Calne during his final decade, but is not known to have sought election again, probably deterred by the longevity of the first Jacobean Parliament. He died in August 1620, and was buried in Calne. No will or administration has been found. He was apparently the only member of his family to sit in the Commons; he seems not to have been related to the 1614 Member, Peter Noyes.9
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Henry Lancaster / Paul Hunneyball
- 1. PROB 11/40, ff. 74v-5; Wilts. RO, Calne par. reg.; Wilts. N and Q, iv. 369.
- 2. Guild Stewards’ Bk. of Calne 1561-1688 ed. A.W. Mabbs (Wilts. Rec. Soc. vii), pp. xxi-xxii.
- 3. N and Q, (ser. 2), ii. 169.
- 4. PROB 11/40, f. 74v.
- 5. N and Q, (ser. 2), ii. 169; VCH Wilts. xvii. 100.
- 6. CJ, i. 257a; Guild Stewards’ Bk. 39; HMC Var. iii. 263-4.
- 7. Wilts. N and Q, iv. 368-9, 421-2; VCH Wilts. v. 319.
- 8. Procs. 1610, ii. 127-8.
- 9. Wilts. RO, Calne par. reg.