GAYER, John (by 1532-71 or later), of St. Mawes and Trenbrace in St. Keverne, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1532, 1st s. of Stephen Gayer of Lincoln’s Inn, London, by Jane, da. and h. of William Trenbrace of Trenbrace, St. Keverne. m. 1548 or later, Sybil, da. of Thomas Treffry I of Fowey and St. Kew, 3s. 4da. suc. fa. by 1548.1

Offices Held

Under sheriff, Cornw. 1556-7.2


Gayer’s father was a lawyer who made a fortunate marriage. He may have served Thomas Treffry as lieutenant of St Mawes castle, and certainly arranged his son’s marriage to one of Treffry’s daughters. However, he did not live to witness the marriage, or even to conclude a settlement satisfactory to all parties, as his widow dispossessed John Gayer of a manor given to him in anticipation of the marriage and their quarrel was heard in the Star Chamber. John Gayer’s inheritance from his mother was contested by several neighbours during the 1550s but he made his home at St. Keverne (the mainspring of the western rebellion in 1549) in later life, so that his rights appear to have been upheld.3

In 1552 Gayer was associated with (Sir) William Godolphin I and John Killigrew in a survey of chantry goods in Cornwall and in May that year he was entrusted with a report of its progress to William Barnes I, Thomas Mildmay and John Wiseman. Godolphin was elected a knight of the shire to the Parliament summoned in the spring of 1553 and doubtless he favoured Gayer’s return for Liskeard: Gayer’s father-in-law was sympathetic to the Duke of Northumberland, and one of Treffry’s friends, Reginald Mohun, was the returning officer for the election there as he was at Newport for the succeeding Parliament, the first of Mary’s reign. On his second appearance in the House Gayer stood ‘for the true religion’, that is to say, for Protestantism; his behaviour was presumably frowned upon both by the government and by his conservative neighbours in Cornwall, and it is hardly surprising that he did not reappear in the House in 1554 or 1555. Three years later, however, with opinion turning against the regime, he utilized his connexions at Liskeard to rejoin the Commons. He was to sit again under Elizabeth, and presumably died at some time after the dissolution of the Parliament of 1571.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Presumed to be of age at election. Vis. Cornw. ed. Vivian, 712; C1/1433/18; St.Ch.2/16/23.
  • 2. Duchy Cornw. RO, 130, m. 16v.
  • 3. A. E. Gayer, Fam. Gayer, 2-4; LP Hen. VIII, xx; C1/1430/14, 1433/18, 1502/37-39; St.Ch.2/16/22-24; F. E. Halliday, Richard Carew of Antony, 164.
  • 4. L. S. Snell, Edw. Inventories of Church Goods, Cornw., 35-36; Bodl. e Museo 17.