Sir John SCUDAMORE of Holme Lacy

Born: 1540

Died: 15 Apr 1623

Father: William SCUDAMORE of Holme Lacy

Mother: Ursula PAKINGTON

Married 1: Eleanor CROFT (dau. of Sir James Croft and Alice Warnecombe)


1. James SCUDAMORE of Holme Lacy (Sir)

2. John SCUDAMORE (Priest)




Married 2: Mary SHELTON BEF Jan 1574


6. James SCUDAMORE (Sir)


John Scudamore of Holme Lacy

English School cir. 1590

The details in this biography come from the History of Parliament, a biographical dictionary of Members of the House of Commons.

First son of William Scudamore (d. bef. 1560) by Ursula, da. of Sir John Pakington of Hampton Lovett, Worcs. educ. I. Temple, Nov. 1559. Married first Eleanor (d. 1569), dau. of Sir James Croft of Croft Castle, 3s. 2da.; and secondly Mary, dau. of Sir John Shelton of Shelton, Norf., 2s. suc. gd.-fa. 1571. Kntd. bef. 1593.

J.p. Herefs. by 1570, sheriff 1581-2, custos rot. and dep. lt. 1581-90; commr. musters, recusants by 1583; steward, Ashperton, Stretton and Yorkhill 1571, Kidwelly 1587, Hereford 1616-17; seneschal of Cradley, Ledbury, Ross and Bishop’s Castle; gent. pens. by 1573-1603, standard bearer 1599; gent. usher to Queen Elizabeth; member, council in the marches of Wales 1602.

Scudamore’s wardship was sold, in 1561, to Sir James Croft. The yearly value of his property was then rated at £14 13s.4d. and in 1563 he had licence to enter upon his lands. In 1571, however, he inherited the estates of his grandfather, a gentleman of wealth and consequence in the county, though ‘no favourer of religion’, and this, together with his marriage to Croft’s daughter, gave him a position in Herefordshire surpassed only by that of Croft and the Conningsbys.

His second wifw, Mary Shelton, was at court as a chamberer to Queen Elizabeth from 1 Jan 1571, and remained in the Queen’s service until her death. She was one of only six women who were appointed to the Privy chamber. When her close friend, Dorothy Stafford, was ill, it was Mary who was the Queen's sleeping companion. Mary Shelton weds Sir John Scudamore without the Queen’s consent. In a letter from Eleanor Brydges to the Earl of Rutland it was written that "no one ever bought her husband more dearly", speaking of an incident when the Queen reportedly broke Mary’s finger by hitting her with a hairbrush. The Queen, in a passion at the discovery of what had taken place, "telt liberall bothe with bloes and yevel words". But after that, Elizabeth not only sanctioned the marriage, but appointed the new Mrs. Scudamore as gentlewoman of the bedchamber. Mary had hundred of gowns under her charge, and kept careful inventory of them all. Mary continued as a chamberer and became quite influential at court as well as being a favorite with the Queen. Royal gifts included £400 in 1591 and £300 in 1594.

In every Parliament between 1571 and 1589 he was returned as junior Member to Sir James Croft. He considered sitting in the 1593 Parliament, but decided to give place to his brother-in-law, Herbert Croft. In 1597, however, he was back. So far as is known he did not speak in the House. He was named to committees on Ledbury hospital (4 Mar 1581), ecclesiastical matters (14 Nov 1597) and bridging the river Wye (12 Dec 1597). As a knight of the shire in 1584-5 he could have served on the subsidy committee (24 Feb), and the following committees in 1597: enclosures (5 Nov), the poor law (5, 22 Nov), armour and weapons (8 Nov), penal laws (8 Nov), monopolies (10 Nov), the subsidy (15 Nov) and Newport bridge (29 Nov).

Scudamore’s standpoint over religion is not clear. His name appears on a list drawn up in the interests of Mary Queen of Scots in 1574, but in 1576 he wrote to the Council, warning them that the next mayor of Hereford might be ‘a hinderer of the godly proceeding of the present state of religion’, and in the same year he furnished the names of recusants ‘not to be reduced to conformity by any good persuasion’. In any event his loyalty was unquestioned. The Privy Council frequently referred cases to him: in 1589, he was to hear a controversy between an esquire of the Queen’s stable and a London merchant, and the next year he was instructed to examine a case of disputed inheritance. His second marriage, to a cousin and lady of the bedchamber to Queen Elizabeth, led to a post at court, and hence to his ‘continual absence out of the county’, and in 1590 he was replaced as deputy lieutenant of Herefordshire.

In 1580, John and Mary Scudamore, together with Tomasina, was also known as Mrs. Tomyson, or Tomasin De Paris, paid a visit to Dr. John Dee, the Queen's astrologer, at Richmond. Although at least one of her contemporaries referred to her as Italian, Tomasina was a dwarf (probably really a midget) who was at the court of Elizabeth Tudor from 1577 until 1603. She was always clothed in the latest fashions at the Queen's expense and given many personal gifts besides. In 1579, her sister, Prudence De Paris, possibly at court on a visit, was given a gown of violet cloth. Tomasina could apparently read and write because one of the Queen's gifts to her was a "penner" and ink horn.

Scudamore was a patron of the mathematician Thomas Allen, and a benefactor of the Bodleian, whose founder he knew. His sister married a recusant; his eldest surviving son John became a Catholic priest, John Dowland in 1595 reporting to Cecil that he had encountered in Florence an English priest, ‘son and heir to Sir John Scudamore of the court’.

On 20 Jul 1619 Scudamore made his will, ‘hoping assuredly through the only merits of Jesus Christ’, to be received ‘into the company of the heavenly angels and blessed saints’. The bulk of his property passed to his grandson, John Scudamore, with legacies to his other grandsons, Barnaby and James, to his brother Rowland, and to several friends. The poor were also remembered. Sir John Pakington and Walter Pye were overseers and the will was proved 7 May 1623.


J.J.C.: SCUDAMORE, John (c.1542-1623), of Holme Lacy, Herefs.

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