LAKE, John (d.1421), of Exeter, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1404

Family and Education

m. (1) Joan ?Paes;1 (2) by 1412, Margaret, wid. of Nicholas Shapwick of Exeter.2

Offices Held

Town clerk, Exeter 1383-1401;3 receiver Mich. 1401-2, 1414-15; member of the council of 12, 1402-3, 1404-7, 1409-10, 1411-14, 1415-21; steward 1407-8, 1410-11.4

Clerk of the peace, Devon 1394-8.5

Constable of the Staple, Exeter Jan. 1409-10, 1412-14, Nov. 1416-17, 1419-20; mayor July 1414-Oct. 1415.6


Lake is first recorded in 1381 when acting as a feoffee of the Exeter property of John Hill, the lawyer and future judge, and his own career as a lawyer was undoubtedly furthered by this connexion. In 1389 he assisted Hill to purchase the manor of Houndestone in Brimpton (Somerset), an estate forfeited by Sir John Cary, chief baron of the Exchequer; he later also acted as trustee of the Devonshire estates of Hill’s son Robert*,7 and it is not surprising to find him serving in a similar capacity for another member of Hill’s circle, Thomas Raymond*.8 Lake was town clerk of Exeter for nearly 20 years, earning a regular annual fee of £2 and extra rewards for special services, such as making journeys to London to obtain Chancery writs, and for engrossing the rolls of the mayor’s court. For some of this time he was also employed as clerk to the Devonshire bench. In 1393 he was appointed by Sir John Dynham to deliver to Sir William Hasthorpe 100 marks of a debt ten times that amount; and at least two citizens of Exeter sought his services as executor of their wills.9 It was not until after he had relinquished the office of town clerk that Lake appeared on the panel electing the civic officers, although he then took part in the elections 11 times between 1402 and 1419, and during this period he was twice returned to Parliament.

In 1391 Lake had acquired from the vicars-choral of the cathedral of Exeter a lease, for life and one year, of the church of Woodbury, about seven miles from the city. As he contracted to pay an annual rent of as much as £32, it is clear that the estate was of considerable value. In 1413 he had an interest in lands in ‘Nyweton Devenebury’ and ‘Exilond’, the reversion of which pertained to Sir Hugh Courtenay*. His numerous properties in Exeter included the garden of a house in Gandy Street which had once belonged to Sir John Cary. In November 1421 it was his widow who paid the rent for their two shops and house next to All Saints’ church, so evidently he had died earlier that year.10

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. A dispensation for contracting marriage in ignorance of kinship in the fourth degree was granted to a John Lake and Joan Paes in 1406 (Reg. Stafford ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 232), but although it is certain that the MP’s wife was named Joan (JUST 1/1513 m. 58) it is possible that this dispensation may have been for John Lake ‘of Linkinhorne’ (Cornw.), referred to elsewhere in the bishop’s register.
  • 2. C241/204/36.
  • 3. Exeter City RO, receivers’ accts. 7 Ric. II-4 Hen. IV.
  • 4. Mayors’ ct. rolls 3 Hen. IV-9 Hen. V.
  • 5. E. Stephens, Clerks of Counties, 77.
  • 6. C67/24; C267/6/45, 47, 49.
  • 7. Mayor’s ct. roll 5-6 Ric. II m. 31; CPR, 1388-92, p. 80; 1401-5, p. 375; CCR, 1396-9, p. 276; 1409-13, p. 242; CP25(1)45/69/188; Hylle Cart. (Som. Rec. Soc. lxviii), 126.
  • 8. Mayor’s ct. roll 17-18 Ric. II m. 2; CP25(1)44/65/91.
  • 9. Mayor’s ct. roll 14-15 Ric. II m. 52; Exeter City RO, ED/M/771; CPR, 1391-6, p. 674; Reg. Stafford, 397.
  • 10. Exeter Cathedral Lib. Vicars Choral ms, 3249; CP25(1)45/76/16; Trans. Devon Assoc. xcii. 148; mayors’ ct. rolls 15-16 Ric. II m. 45, 16-17 Ric. II m. 20, 21-22 Ric. II m. 20; G. Oliver, Monasticon Dioecesis Exoniensis, 142.