Sir John de Gresley of Drakelowe, Derbyshire
- Born: Abt 1328
- Marriage (1): Alice Swynnerton about 1345 1
- Marriage (2): Joan Toly before 1352 1 2
- Died: Bef May 1396 1
Sir John de Gresley, Kt.
Sir John de Gresley is notable, not only for his long life, which covered more than three-quarters of the fourteenth century, but also for his marriage with the widow of the head of the De Wasteneys family, an alliance which ultimately brought the manor of Colton and other large possessions to the estate of the Gresleys.
As early as 1327-8 a John de Gresley occurs in a Subsidy Rolll for Derbyshire as holding land in Lullington, but the
head of the family was still under age at Easter 1334 when the Earl of Lancaster claimed the wardship of him from Roger de Swynnerton. In 1349-50 he is first found as Sir John de Gresley, Kt., and both in 1358-9 and 1372-3 is Sheriff of Derbyshire with Nottinghamshire. In the brief Parliament of 1372 he sat as a representative of Staffordshire. In his earlier years he seems to have imitated his uncles, if he be the John who was accused of trespass in 1341, 1342 and 1345, but that there were other Johns de Gresley, whom we cannot place in the pedigree, is shown by one of those names being Prior of Gresley in 1360-1, who perhaps induced Sir John to make a considerable grant of land to the Priory two years afterwards.
His armorial seal is attached to a deed of 1372, and to a manumission of Thomas Nettebreyder his butler at Drakelowe, May 28, 1379: but in Oct. 1393 he lost this seal, and there is a curious deed of Oct. 17, 1394, in which he repudiates all writings sealed since his loss, and himself makes use of the seal of the Deanery of Repton in its place. He died before Easter 1396, having outlived his only son Sir Nicholas.
Sir John was twice married: first in about 1345 to Alice de Swinnerton, perhaps a grand-niece of the Sir John de Swinnerton who abducted her husband's grandmother, and a niece of the Sir Roger who claimed wardship of her husband against the Earl of Lancaster in 1334. She occurs as his wife in 1346-7 and 1348-9, but died soon after, leaving an only son: Nicholas, born about 1345-50 (see p. 50).
Sir John's second marriage was of great importance to the fortunes of himself and his descendants. Before 1352 he married Joan the widow of Sir Thomas de Wasteneys, although she had taken a vow of chastity on the death of her husband, and had received the usual ring and mantle in token of it, so that her marriage required a papal mandate and penance for its allowance. The great Colton estates of the De Wasteneys had been entailed on Sir Thomas and Joan for life with remainder to his sons William, John and Thomas and their issue, but none of the three had children, and almost the whole estate came into the possession of Joan, then Dame Gresley. The young brothers De Wasteneys probably resented the second marriage of their mother and the transference of the property to a Gresley: and in 1363 and 1366 we find William and Thomas sued for stealing swans from Sir John de Gresley at Rugeley: but for more than 250 years from this time the Gresleys were Lords of the Manor of Colton and held the Advowson of the Church. Joan's maiden name was Toly, she being the daughter of John Toly of Wymondham in Norfolk (?): and it would appear that she had first married Sir Richard Peshall, for in 1396 Adam Pesale son of Joan wife of John de Grisele, and Nicholas his brother, are indicted and outlawed for breaking into Drakelowe and stealing money and plate: but neither of the Toly nor of the Peshall family at this time do I readily find any connected account. Her will, written at Drakelowe, dated May 23, 1393, and proved Dec. 28, 1393, is printed in full in Parker's Colton, 2nd edition, p. 106. She desired to be buried at Braceborough ('Brassingborough') in Lincolnshire, and left legacies to the Prior of Gresley and (her grandson?) Thomas de Gresley. Her death clearly took place in 1393, and she left no children by Sir John de Gresley, unless possibly a daughter Thomasine, for whom see p. 56.
A William de Gresley ' Esquire' occurs between 1363 and 1397, at which date he represented Nottingham in the Great Parliament, but I cannot find the nature of his connexion with the Gresleys of Drakelowe. 1
John married Alice Swynnerton about 1345.1 (Alice Swynnerton died after 1349 1.)
John next married Joan Toly, daughter of John Toly of Wymondham, Norfolk and Unknown, before 1352.1 2 (Joan Toly died between 23 May and 28 Dec 1393 1 3.)