WISEMAN, John (by 1515-58), of Great Canfield, Essex.

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



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1515, 1st s. of William Wiseman by Mary Glascock of Essex. educ. ?I. Temple, adm. 7 May 1525. m. Agnes, da. of (?Ralph) Josselyn of Essex, at least 3s. inc. Robert 1da.1

Offices Held

Servant of 15th Earl of Oxford, member, council of 16th Earl by 1542, auditor to 16th Earl in 1542; auditor, ct. augmentations Cheshire, Derbys., Lincs. and Notts. 12 May 1536-4 May 1544, Kent, Surr., Suss. in 1552-3; j.p. Essex 1554-d.2


There can be little doubt that the John Wiseman who sat in the third and fourth Marian Parliaments was the augmentations official of that name. As one of the auditors of that court from its establishment in 1536 until its dissolution in 1554 Wiseman had served for eight years under Sir Richard Rich and, after an interval, for a further five under Sir Richard Sackville. The influence wielded by these two ex-chancellors of the court at Maldon and East Grinstead respectively points to this former subordinate as the Member for those boroughs in turn. At East Grinstead Wiseman probably had as his fellow-Member another auditor of the augmentations in William Barnes I.

Wiseman had two contemporary namesakes with whom he is liable to be confused. The first, an Essex justice of the peace who lived at Felstead, may have sprung from the family of Thornham in Suffolk which had furnished that shire with one of its knights in the Parliament of 1491; this John Wiseman died in January 1559 leaving a wife Joan and a son and heir Thomas. The other made his career in London, where he was for 26 years secondary of the Compter in Bread Street; he also had a son Thomas, who married one of the daughters of Stephen Vaughan. If John Wiseman of the augmentations, who himself settled at Great Canfield, is distinguishable from his neighbour at Felstead by their differing domiciles, marital histories and dates of death, his identification with the Londoner can scarcely be entertained in view of the seeming incompatibility of their offices. Of the three, the future auditor is most likely to have been the member of the Inner Temple since he alone was to be regularly styled esquire.3

Wiseman was to combine his duties for the augmentations with service to successive earls of Oxford. How early he became associated with the 15th Earl is not known, but it could have been with Oxford’s support that he obtained the auditorship. (Still more useful would have been the favour of Rich which he is likely to have enjoyed as a kinsman of Rich’s servant William Glascock.) His standing with the 16th Earl is reflected in the dispute of 1542 between his cousin Thomas Josselyn and the earl over the keepership of Stansted Mountfitchet park; he and one ‘Ryve’ (probably John Ryther, another of Oxford’s servants who was to name Wiseman an executor) handled the earl’s case, and not even the intervention of Josselyn’s brother-in-law John Gates seems to have affected the issue. It was from Oxford that Wiseman leased the manor of Great Canfield in February 1546 and in the following year bought the park. His other acquisitions included Ringmere grange in Suffolk from the Duke of Suffolk, Little Maplestead in Essex from George Harper (probably the Member of that name), and a string of ex-monastic properties in Leicestershire, the last doubtless a dividend of his auditorship. He continued to extend and consolidate his landed position after he exchanged that office for a pension of £133 6s.8d.; in May 1557 he had a grant of the manor of Middle Lavant, Sussex, and among his last purchases was the parsonage of Great Canfield from one of the Cecils.4

Wiseman was evidently on his deathbed when he made his will on 12 Aug. 1558, for it was proved 13 days later. The will distributed his lands, which it catalogued in detail, between his heir John and his younger sons Thomas and Robert, bestowed 200 marks and £20 towards marriage on his daughter Clement, and provided for his wife, who was the executrix, relatives and servants.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: S. M. Thorpe / R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first appointment. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 326, 529; PCC 38 Noodes.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, add.; Essex RO, D/DPr/140, 141; information from Susan Flower; W. C. Richardson, Ct. Augmentations, 55-56, 59n, 81-82, 100n, 240 and n, 258, 267 and n, 339, 494; Stowe 571, f. 9v; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, p. 498; CPR, 1553-4, p. 19.
  • 3. Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 210; LP Hen. VIII, i-vi, xiii, xviii, xix; CPR, 1547-8, p. 83; 1549-51, p. 199; 1553-4, p. 19; 1554-5, pp. 107, 115, 354; 1555-7, p. 434; 1558-60, pp. 363, 365; PCC 8 Mellershe; City of London RO, Guildhall, rep. 4, ff. 170, 170v; 5, f. 181; 10, ff. 178, 238, 238v; 11, ff. 19, 27, 246v; 12(1), f. 199v; 13(2), f. 293; SP10/5/18, f. 76.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, xi-xvii, xix-xxi, add.; CPR, 1547-8 to 1558-60 passim; C1/1381/32, 33; Lansd. 156(28), f. 108v.
  • 5. PCC 38 Noodes; C142/118/48.