John de Sutton, Baron Dudley

DUDLEY, JOHN (SUTTON) de, Baron Dudley (1401?–1487), statesman, was son of John de Sutton V (d. 1406), grandson of John de Sutton IV (d. 1396), and great-grandson of John de Sutton III, who was dead in 1370. The great-grandfather was the son of John de Sutton II (d. 1359), who was son and heir of another John de Sutton I, by Margaret, sister and coheiress of John de Somery, baron of Dudley (d. December 1321). This John de Somery was owner of the castle and lordship of Dudley, Staffordshire, which had been in his family since an ancestor married in Henry II’s time Hawyse, sister and heiress of Gervase Paganell (cf. William Salt, Archæolog. Soc. Coll. ix. pt. ii. 9–11). He became Baron Dudley in right of a writ of summons which was issued on the meeting of each parliament summoned between 1308 and 1322. John de Somery’s brother-in-law, John de Sutton I, came, on his marriage, into possession of the Dudley estates, and his son, John de Sutton II, received a summons to sit as a baron in parliament 25 Feb. 1341–2. He was there described as ‘Johannes de Sutton de Duddeley.’ The same honour was not extended to the third, fourth, or fifth John de Suttons. The sixth John de Sutton, the subject of this memoir, was five years old on his father’s death in 1406. His mother was Constance Blount. He was regularly summoned to parliament from 15 Feb. 1439–40 till his death in 1487. The writ entitles him ‘Johannes Sutton de Dudley,’ and although the surname Sutton was never definitely abandoned, he and his descendants usually called themselves Dudley or Sutton, alias Dudley. Dugdale and the best authorities treat this John Sutton de Dudley as the first baron Dudley of the Sutton family. It is true that a predecessor had been summoned to parliament as feudal baron of Dudley in virtue of his tenure of Dudley Castle, but the peerage practically originated in the writ issued to the sixth John de Sutton, 15 Feb. 1439–40. Its subsequent issue was not interrupted till the line failed.

Dudley served in France under Henry V and bore the royal standard at the king’s funeral in 1422. In 1428 he succeeded Sir John de Grey as viceroy of Ireland. He made a savage attack on the O’Byrnes, who threatened the borders of the Irish Pale; presided over a parliament at Dublin in 1429, and resigned office in the next year. In 1444 he was granted 100l. by Henry VI in consideration of his services in this and the preceding reign, and was ambassador to the Duke of Brittany in 1447 and to the Duke of Burgundy in 1449. For a time he was treasurer to the king, and in 1451 was created K.G. He took up arms for the Lancastrians in the wars of the Roses, was taken prisoner at the battle of St. Albans (21 May 1455), and was sent to the Tower (Paston Letters, ed. Gairdner, i. 327, 336). He apparently was at liberty in 1459, when he was wounded at the battle of Bloreheath. On Edward IV’s accession he made his peace with the Yorkists, and was in as high favour with Edward as with his predecessor. He was granted a hundred marks from the revenues of the duchy of Cornwall and 100l. from the customs of the port of Southampton. In 1477–8 he was in France with the Earl of Arundel as ambassador to negotiate a continuance of the peace treaty. On 24 May 1483 he held the feast of St. George at Windsor. He died 30 Sept. 1487, and was buried in the priory of St. James, Dudley. His will, dated 17 Aug. 1487, appointed Sir William Hussey and Sir Reginald Bray [q. v.] executors.

Dudley married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Berkeley, and widow of Edward Charlton, last lord Charlton of Powys [q. v.], who died in 1422; she was dead in 1479. His eldest son, Edmund, died in his father’s lifetime; another son, John, was probably father of Edmund Dudley [q. v.] William [q. v.], the third son, became bishop of Durham. Oliver, the fourth son, was slain at the battle of Edgecote, near Banbury, 25 July 1469: his will, made three days before the battle, is extant; his brother William is named as one of his executors. The heir, Edmund, married (1) Joice, daughter of John, lord Tiptoft, and sister of the well-known Earl of Worcester; and (2) Matilda or Maud, daughter of Thomas, baron Clifford. By his first wife he had two sons, Edward and John, and a daughter, Joice, and by his second wife seven sons and four daughters. The eldest son, Edward (b. 1457), succeeded his grandfather as second Baron Dudley in 1487, and married Cecilie, daughter of Sir William Willoughby. He died in 1531. He was succeeded as third Baron Dudley by his half-witted son John (b. 1496), who was nicknamed ‘Lord Quondam;’ was with Henry VIII in France in 1513, when he is doubtfully said to have been knighted; sold his estates of Dudley to John Dudley, duke of Northumberland [q. v.]; became a destitute pauper; was never summoned to parliament; married Cecily, daughter of Thomas Grey, marquis of Dorset, and was buried with elaborate Roman catholic ceremonies in St. Margaret’s, Westminster, 17 Sept. 1553 (Machyn, p. 44; Wood, Letters, iii. 78, 80). The third baron’s eldest son, Edward, was fourth Baron Dudley; saw service in Ireland in 1536 under his uncle, Lord Leonard Grey, and in Scotland in 1546; was knighted 2 Oct. 1553; was restored to Dudley Castle in 1554; was lieutenant of Hampnes, Picardy, 1556–8; and entertained Queen Elizabeth at Dudley Castle in 1575. After an unsuccessful suit to a widow Anne, lady Berkeley, he married (1) Catherine, daughter of Sir John Brydges [q. v.], first lord Chandos; (2) Jane, daughter of Edward Stanley, lord Derby; and (3) Mary, daughter of William, lord Howard of Effingham. He was buried at St. Margaret’s, Westminster, 12 Aug. 1586. Edward, the fourth baron’s heir, was fifth baron Dudley. He married Theodosia, daughter of Sir James Harrington, and had a son Ferdinando, created K.B. in 1610, who married Honora, daughter of Edward Seymour, lord Beauchamp, and was buried at St. Margaret’s 23 Nov. 1621. The fifth baron survived his heir till 23 June 1643. He had a large illegitimate family by a mistress, Elizabeth Tomlinson of Dudley, among them Dud Dudley [q. v.] His only legitimate representative, his son’s daughter Frances (d. 1697), married Humble (d. 1670), son of William Ward, the ancestor of the later Lords Dudley and Ward (cf. William Salt, Archæolog. Soc. Coll. v. pt. 2, pp. 114–17).

[The difficulties connected with the Dudley pedigree are fully discussed in Adlard’s The Sutton Dudleys of England and the Dudleys of Massachusetts in New England (1862); in the Herald and Genealogist, ii. 414–26, 494–9, v. 98–127 (chiefly by H. Sydney Grazebrook); in Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xi. 152, 198, 239, 272, 398, 434; and in Charles Twamley’s History of Dudley Castle (1867). But the best authority is a paper by Mr. H. Sydney Grazebrook in Staffordshire Hist. Coll. of the William Salt Society, vol. ix. pt. 2 (1888). See also Dugdale’s Baronage, ii. 214 et seq. (where many errors have been detected); Biog. Brit. (Kippis) (where the Dudley genealogy is treated in a separate article); Baker’s Northamptonshire; Shaw’s Staffordshire; Ormerod’s Cheshire; Gilbert’s Viceroys of Ireland, pp. 323–7; Walcott’s St. Margaret’s, Westminster; Wood’s Letters of Illustrious Ladies.]

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 16
Dudley, John de by Sidney Lee

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