Sir John ZOUCHE of Codnor

Born: ABT 1524, Codnor Castle, Derbyshire, England

Died: 19 Jun 1586

Buried: Heanor, Derbyshire, England

Father: George ZOUCHE of Codnor

Mother: Anne GAINSFORD

Married: Eleanor WHALLEY (dau. of Richard Whalley and Ursula Thwaites)


1. Eleanor ZOUCHE

2. John ZOUCHE (b. 1561)

3. George ZOUCHE (b. 1563)

4. John ZOUCHE of Codnor (Sir)

First son of George Zouche of Codnor by Anne, dau. of Sir John Gaynsford of Crowhurst, Surr. educ. St. John’s, Camb. matric. Easter 1549; ?G. Inn, adm. 1552. Married Eleanor, dau. of Richard Whalley of Kirton, Welbeck and Sibthorpe, Notts. and Wimbledon, Surr. 3s. inc. John, 1da, Eleanor, who married Edward Zouche, 11th Lod of Harrynworth. Suc. fa. 30 Aug 1556. KB 15 Jan 1559.

J.p. Derbys. 1558/59-d., q. by 1569; sheriff, Notts. and Derbys. 1561-2, Derbys. 1571-2, 1580-1; commr. musters 1569, 1573, 1577, subsidy 1581; other commissions 1564-d.; dep. lt. 1585-d.

John Zouche of Codnor came of a cadet branch of the noble family seated at Harrington, Northamptonshire. His father was a gentleman pensioner 1540-c.1544. Anne Gainsford was a member of Anne Boleyn’s household as early as 1528. Zouche had livery of his lands in May 1557, so that his election as knight of the shire at the close of the year, when still in his early twenties, was an early recognition of his emergence; in this he resembled his fellow-Member Godfrey Foljambe, who although some years older had yet to succeed to his patrimony. If, as is likely, Zouche was one of the executors of Sir John St. John´s will of Apr 1558, he was probably already connected with St. John’s son-in-law Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, who 20 years later was to recommend him as custos rotulorum of Derbyshire; his cousin Thomas Randolph, who sat with him in the Commons, was a protégé of the Earl.

The accession of Elizabeth brought Zouche the knighthood of the Bath, membership of the Derbyshire bench and his first shrievalty. His acceptability to the new regime was confirmed by a favourable judgment from his bishop in 1564 and by his choice in Jun 1569 to assist George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, who was ill, in his custody of Mary Queen of Scots at South Wingfield. This episode may have helped to turn Shrewsbury against Zouche, whom the Earl later denounced as both a troublemaker and a mishandler of public funds, and whom he appointed his joint deputy lieutenant in 1585 only ‘to please others’; Zouche’s failure to succeed Sir Francis Leke as custos rotulorum in 1580, despite the Queen’s promise to that effect, also owed something to Shrewsbury’s intervention. A further cause of dissension with his neighbours was the leading part which Zouche played in the exploitation of the Derbyshire lead deposits. If he sought election to any of the early Elizabethan Parliaments these various enmities clearly balked him, but as sheriff of Derbyshire he made the return in 1572 and 12 years later he and John Harpur sought to engineer the defeat of Sir Charles Cavendish.

In 1565 George Vernon of Haddon left his ‘right worshipful friendsSir John Zouche and Sir Francis Leke a horse to each. In 1566 he had sued out a licence to alienate the manor and castle of Codnor, other Derbyshire manors, and lands in Northamptonshire and Yorkshire, but in the inquisition taken in Sep 1586 he is recorded as holding these Derbyshire properties, which are said to have been sold by a descendant in 1634.

About 1578 Edward Zouche, 11th Lod of Harrynworth, married his cousin Eleanor, daughter of Sir John Zouche and Eleanor Whalley. They had two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, and lived apart after 1582. Sir John Zouche, wrote to Lord Burghley complaining of her treatment:

My Lord Souche (sic} put away this his lady twenty-nine years ago and refusing her all allowance was by law sentenced there-unto, which he not performing was excomunicate; from which he went beyond sea and returning was ordered to pay her 50s the week, from which poor allowance with a small addition from her friends hath this Baron's wife...ever since lived. She was oft dangerously sick that physic was chargeable. He never disbursed a penny, and now dead she might have rotted in her chamber ere he would have buried her.

She was buried in Apr 1611, and about six months later Edward married Sarah, daughter of Sir James Harington.

By his will of 6 May 1586 Zouche bequeathed all his lands, apart from the remaining years of a lease in a Nottinghamshire parsonage, to his wife and his eldest son John, whom he appointed executor. He named as supervisors his friends John Harpur, Ralph Sacheverell and Michael Willoughby. Zouche died on 19 Jun 1586.


Black, C. J.: ZOUCHE, John II (1534-86), of Codnor, Derbys.

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