GIFFARD, John (by 1534-1613), of Chillington, Staffs. and London.

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



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1534, 1st s. of (Sir) Thomas Giffard of Caverswall and Chillington, Staffs. by Ursula, da. of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton, Warws. m. 10 Apr. 1550, Joyce, da. of James Levenson of Lilleshall, Salop, 8s. 6da. suc. fa. 27 May. 1560.1

Offices Held

J.p.q. Staffs. 1573/74-5; sheriff 1573-4.


John Giffard was under 21 when he made his two appearances in the Commons, as junior Member for Lichfield in Mary’s first Parliament and senior Member for Stafford in her second, and in the course of a long life he never sat there again. This early, if unprophetic, start he owed to his lineage: his grandfather Sir John Giffard had been a friend of Catherine of Aragon, and his father, after accompanying him to his first Parliament as one of the knights for Staffordshire, was the sheriff who returned him to his second. The family’s strong Catholicism meant that neither father nor son was to be numbered among the Members who in the earlier of these Parliaments ‘stood for the true religion’ against the government’s initial moves towards Rome.

Although Giffard did not immediately succeed his father on the Staffordshire bench (and was thus not reported on in 1564), his choice to be sheriff in 1573 implies that he was not at first unacceptable to the Elizabethan regime. The turning-point was the Queen’s visit to Chillington early in August 1575, for three days later he was summoned before the Privy Council to defend his absence from worship at the parish church. After being examined by four bishops he was committed to the custody of the bishop of Rochester but given temporary leave to return to Chillington to reorder his house after the royal sojourn. He was then released on condition that he attended church and used the prayer book in his chapel, but he made so little attempt to conform that his estates were sequestered and he was allowed to leave his own houses at Chillington and in London only on licensed visits to the spa at King’s Newnham, Warwickshire. He nevertheless took the oath of allegiance in 1588 and contributed towards the musters for the defence of the realm, and after his son Gilbert helped to reveal the Babington plot he was dealt with less severely.2

Giffard made his will on 27 Aug. 1613. As most of his possessions were already disposed of there remained only debts to be paid and bequests made to servants. He died the next day and was buried in Brewood church, probably five days later than the date (24 Aug.) entered in the parish register. He had appointed as sole executor his son Walter, who was found to be his heir, and aged 60 years and more, at the inquisition taken on 13 Jan. 1614. The family’s fortunes were never to recover from the effects of its continuing Catholicism.3

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/127/45. Wm. Salt. Arch. Soc. iii(2), 82-83; (n.s.) 1902, p. 130; Vis. Staffs. (Harl. Soc. lxiii), 103-4; CPR, 1550-3, p. 70; C142/337/113.
  • 2. APC, ix. 13, 15, 17-19, 46-47; xii. 178, 264, 356; xiii. 7, 111, 129, 288; xiv. 19; HMC 4th Rep. 330, 333; Cath. Rec. Soc. lvii. 50; lxi. 85, 215; Wm. Salt. Arch. Soc. (n.s.) 1902, pp. 130, 139.
  • 3. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. (n.s.) 1902, p. 140; PCC 87 Lawe; C142/377/113.