LAWHIRE, John, of Lawhire, Cornw.

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



Sept. 1397

Family and Education

s. of Gerard Lawhire of Fowey. m. 2 da.

Offices Held

Under sheriff, Cornw. 1414-15.1

J.p. Cornw. 20 July 1424-31.

Havener, Cornw. and Plymouth Mich. 1427-Nov. 1431.2

Commr. to assess contributions to a parliamentary grant, Cornw. Apr. 1431; of inquiry Dec. 1432 (q. wastes on the manor of Helston).


John was a kinsman of the John Lawhire who sat for Lostwithiel in the first Parliament of 1377. In the same year his father, Gerard, made a formal division of his lands (mostly in the parish of Fowey) between him and his brother, Thomas; but the reasons behind the settlement are obscure, and in fact the father retained overall control of the estate until after 1408.3 When first returned to Parliament in 1397, John was described as ‘junior’, but he had probably already finished his training as a lawyer, and by the time of his next known public appearance (in 1405 as an attorney at the Launceston assizes) he had attracted such notable clients from among the local gentry as Sir Henry Ilcombe*. It was on his own account that in the same year he appeared in the King’s bench to defend himself on charges of manslaughter, and that in 1408 he brought an action for debt in the central courts against a man from Fowey. In 1413 he was again acting as an attorney there, this time on behalf of two more Cornishmen. Lawhire attended the shire elections held at Launceston in 1419, and a year later, after most likely an absence of over 20 years, he was himself once more returned to Parliament. On 27 Dec. 1420, shortly after the dissolution, he stood bail for John Fursdon, one of the Liskeard representatives, and provided securities for his attendance in Chancery in the following law term.4

From 1424 Lawhire served for seven years on the Cornish bench and so established important contacts with the gentry of the shire. Already, in 1423, he had been made a trustee of the estates in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall belonging to the two daughters of Thomas Peverell, who were by then married to Sir William Talbot*. and Sir Walter Hungerford*; and it was on their behalf that in 1427 and 1431 (by which time Hungerford had been made a peer and treasurer of the Exchequer) he presented incumbents to Diptford church, Devon.5 Lawhire may have occupied a post in the administration of the duchy of Cornwall before his election to Parliament for the duchy headquarters, Lostwithiel, in 1423. Certainly, four years afterwards he was appointed havener at Plymouth and in all the ports of Cornwall, in which office he was accountable to the duchy exchequer.

It was also in 1427 that Lawhire acquired a reversionary interest in lands in Resudgian and Trenalls (in the parish of St. Hilary), but at the assizes held in the following year he was accused with John Fursdon of evicting John Cork* of Paderda of other properties in the shire, thus being drawn into Fursdon’s longstanding quarrel with the plaintiff. He is last recorded in 1432 when appointed as one of the quorum of a commission ordered to investigate the wastage of assets at Helston by Robert Treage (his fellow MP for Bodmin in 1420) and Richard Penpons; and he died before 1443 when his daughters, Elizabeth and Joan, came into their inheritance.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Duchy of Cornw. RO, receiver’s acct. 42.
  • 2. CPR, 1422-9, p. 457; R. Inst. Cornw. Jnl. n.s. iv. 118.
  • 3. Cornw. RO, Rashleigh ms DDR/2188; CCR, 1405-9, p. 90.
  • 4. JUST 1/1518 m. 21d; CCR, 1405-9, p. 373; 1413-19, p. 77; 1419-22, p. 133; KB27/577 m. 12; C219/12/3.
  • 5. CPR, 1422-9, p. 70; Reg. Lacy ed. Hingeston-Randolph, i. 92, 132; CCR, 1435-41, p. 218.
  • 6. Cornw. Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1950), 973; JUST 1/1540 m. 84d; Rashleigh ms DDR/2192.