SAINTCLERE, John (1506/7-68/71), of East Budleigh and Ashburton, Devon.

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



Family and Education

b. 1506/7, 1st s. of Gilbert Saintclere of East Budleigh by Joan, da. of John Strowbridge of Streathayne in the parish of Colyton. m. by 1540, Joan, da. of John Ford of Ashburton, prob. 1s. suc. fa. 15 Nov. 1525.1

Offices Held

Capt. Jesus of Lubeck 1545; commr. musters, Devon 1546, relief 1550; j.p. 1547-53.2


The Saintcleres had been seated at Tidwell in East Budleigh since the first half of the 15th century. John Saintclere’s father died seised of the manors of Clyst Hydon and Kennerleigh together with 360 acres in Clyst Hydon and Tidwell. His mother was left a life interest in Tidwell, and under his father’s will Saintclere received an ‘iron-bound wain with eight oxen’, 100 sheep and a featherbed. He added considerably to his modest patrimony: he married a local heiress, and acquired by purchase other lands near Budleigh from Richard Duke and elsewhere in Devon from the 3rd Marquess of Dorset.3

After his marriage Saintclere made his principal home at Ashburton. In 1546 he obtained an 80-year lease of the manor and borough from Bishop Veysey of Exeter. Two years later he supported the claim of the townsmen that the exercise of the town’s market belonged to them and not to the guild of St. Lawrence. The issue was a crucial one because John Prideaux, one of the chantry commissioners for Devon, argued that the lease of the market, as a possession of the dissolved guild, was the property of the crown. Prideaux referred the issue to the quarter sessions held at Exeter that October, but evidently lost his case. Saintclere and the townsmen were probably helped by his family’s friendship with Sir Thomas Denys, the presiding justice, but their principal champion at Exeter was Nicholas Adams alias Bodrugan, a lawyer, who argued that Ashburton market was not affected by the terms of the Chantries Act (1 Edw. VI, c. 14).4

Saintclere relied on Adams’s counsel in several more personal matters, and in 1549 as a justice of the peace he evicted rival claimants to some of Adams’s property near Dartmouth. This relationship may help to explain his Membership of Parliament for a Cornish borough in 1555 as Adams had been one of West Looe’s original representatives, but he probably owed his election to the duchy of Cornwall through his tin-mining interests and his position as the leading figure in a stannary town: his fellow-Member William St. Aubyn was related to the Bluett and Grenville families with whom he had worked during the French wars of the 1540s. Saintclere did not follow Sir Anthony Kingston’s lead in helping to defeat a government bill, but his support for the measure did not facilitate his reelection to Parliament or his restoration to the Devon bench from which he had been discharged at Mary’s accession.5

In July 1557 Saintclere was bound by the Council in a recognizance for £500 to help Robert Carey and Sir John Chichester in their investigations into mining in Cornwall. Little trace has been found of him in the remaining years of his life: he was still alive in 1568 when he and his wife received the rent for some property in Ashburton, but in the following year his wife was the sole recipient and in 1571 she was described as ‘widow’. He was succeeded by Gabriel Saintclere, who was probably his son Within a few years this prodigal had wasted much of the family substance in riotous living and pulled down the house at Tidwell.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/45/62. Vis. Devon, ed. Vivian, 349; PCC 2 Porch.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xx, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, p. 83; 1553, p. 352.
  • 3. C142/29/133, 45/162; PCC 2 Porch; Trans. Dev. Assoc. xxii. 284; Devon Monastic Lands (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. i), 31; LP Hen. VIII, xxi.
  • 4. Trans. Dev. Assoc. xxviii. 213; St.Ch.3/2/14.
  • 5. St.Ch.2/20/290; LP Hen. VIII, xx, xxi.
  • 6. APC, vi. 133; Ashburton Churchwardens’ Accts. (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. n.s. xv), 108, 128, 157, 159, 161; E179/100/367, m. 4v, 369, m. 3v; Trans. Dev. Assoc. xxii. 284.