MAWDLEY, John II (by 1501-72), of the Middle Temple, London and Wells, Som.

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



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1501, 1st surv. s. of John Mawdley I of Wells by Joan (?Attwater). educ. M. Temple, adm. 19 May 1517. m. (1) by 1540, Joyce (?Ayshe), 1da.; (2) by 1544, Eleanor, da. of Thomas Popwell, 2s. 1da. suc. fa. 9 Aug. 1540.2

Offices Held

Master of the revels, M. Temple 1519, Lent reader 1533, Autumn reader 1542, bencher 1533-d., treasurer 1551-2.

Auditor, Wells 1531-59, member of the Twenty-Four 4 Aug. 1534-d.; j.p. Som. 1543-7, 1558/59-d.; commr. relief 1550; escheator, Som. and Dorset 1552-3; ?steward of sheriffs’ ct. Bristol, Glos. c.1554.3


John Mawdley was described by Leland in 1542 as a clothier like his father; he had, however, been educated as a lawyer and had filled a number of offices in the Middle Temple where he had been admitted in 1520 to the chamber of one Brown of Somerset. It was not until his first return as Member for Wells that on 30 Sept. 1529 Mawdley was admitted a freeman of the city. His simultaneous exemption from civic office on condition of giving counsel did not prevent his repeated appointment as auditor, one which presumably involved only intermittent duties. His election to the ruling body in August 1534 gave it the benefit of his legal experience and doubtless served the interests of his family business.4

Mawdley’s part in the proceedings of the Parliament of 1529 is illuminated at two points. The first and more interesting mention of his name is on a list of Members drawn up by Cromwell early in 1533 and thought to be of those opposed to the bill in restraint of appeals passed during the fifth session. As a clothier Mawdley may have shared the fears of economic reprisals from abroad if the bill were passed; he is also numbered among the members of the inns of court who account for half the names on the list. The second reference to him is of a more workaday kind: he was almost certainly the ‘Mr. Maudalyn’ whose name appears with six others on the dorse of the Act regulating the keeping of sheep which was passed in the sixth session, and he may thus be taken to have been one of those to whom the bill had been committed during its passage. Mawdley probably sat in Parliament again in June 1536, when the previous Members were asked for by the King, and he was re-elected with a townsman in 1539 and with another lawyer in 1545. His return in the last of these Parliaments may have owed something to Sir Anthony Browne, a Privy Councillor and close friend of Henry VIII: a connexion between Mawdley and Browne is reflected in the grant which they obtained from the King in 1544 of the next presentation to the parish church of High Ham, Somerset. Mawdley’s replacement in 1542 by the outsider James Dyer suggests that he had given way to a fellow-Middle Templar, whose chamber he was later to take over; as Dyer was legal adviser to Sir William Fitzwilliam I, Earl of Southampton, he may have had official support, but his nomination was perhaps promoted by Mawdley himself who had declined election on appointment as Autumn reader at his inn. Mawdley was missing again in 1547, when two local officials were elected, but on this occasion and in March 1553 he may have appeared unacceptable on religious grounds. When he attempted to regain a seat in October 1553 the election was contested by the nomination of three other men and he was beaten, but he succeeded in being returned to the second and fifth Parliaments of Mary. In each of these a bill was committed to him on its second reading. On a copy of the list of Members for the Parliament of 1558 Mawdley’s name is marked with a circle. He had accepted wages for his first two Parliaments, but payment is not mentioned after 1539 and in 1558, at least, he and his fellow-Member agreed to serve without pay.5

In 1540 Mawdley had inherited from his father lands in Somerset and property in Wells. If, as Leland suggests, he carried on his father’s business, this would have supplemented his earnings at the bar to make him a wealthy man. He continued as a local magistrate and in January 1570 he was appointed one of the revived inner council of the city. He made his will on 31 Mar. of that year and died on 6 Apr. 1572.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Wells act bk. 2, p. 408.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from age at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/83/160. LP Hen. VIII, xvi.; C1/1034/32, 1146/16; Harl. 1559, f. 19; PCC 17 Alenger, 36 Peter.
  • 3. Wells act bk. 2, p. 351 et passim; LP Hen. VIII, xviii-xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 89; 1553, p. 359; 1554-5, p. 107; APC, iv. 67.
  • 4. Leland, Itin. ed. Smith, i. 145; M.T. Recs. i. 62 et passim; Wells act bk. 2, pp. 351, 364 et passim.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, ix. 1077 citing SP1/99, p. 234; xix; House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 25 Hen. VIII, no. 13; Wells act bk. 2, pp. 370, 436, 496; 3, ff. 25v, 30v; M.T. Recs, i. 86; CJ, i. 34, 51; Wm. Salt. Lib. SMS 264.
  • 6. C142/83/160; Wells act bk. 3, f. 73; PCC 36 Peter; P. M. Hembry, Bps. Bath and Wells 1540-1640, pp. 121, 131.