Sir John CONSTABLE of Holderness, Knight

Born: 10 Jan 1527, Halsham, Yorkshire, England / ABT 1531/1541?

Died: 25 May 1579, Halsham, Yorkshire, England

Buried: Halsham, Yorkshire, Enland

Notes: Owner of Kirby Knowle, Kent.

Father: John CONSTABLE of Halsham

Mother: Joan NEVILLE

Married 1: Margaret SCROPE


1. Henry CONSTABLE of Burton Constable (Sir)

2. Ralph CONSTABLE (b. 1554)

3. Francis CONSTABLE (b. 1556)

4. Joseph CONSTABLE of Upsall

5. John CONSTABLE (b. ABT 1561)

Married 2: Catherine NEVILLE 1563/4, Castle Raby, Durham, England


6. John CONSTABLE (b. ABT 1564)

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

Born by 1526, first son of Sir John Constable of Burton Constable by Joan, dau. and coheir of Ralph Neville of Thornton Bridge. Educated Gray's Inn?, adm. 1544. Married first, Margaret, dau. of John, 8th Lord Scrope of Bolton, and had 5 sons, including Henry; married second, Catherine, dau. of Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmoreland, and had 1 son. Succeeded father 1542. Knighted 2 Oct 1553. Member of Parliament for Hedon, Mar 1553, Oct 1553, 1558, 1563. Commissioner relief, Yorks. (East Riding) 1550, sewers, Yorks. 1555, 1565, (East Riding) 1570, castles and enclosure of borders 1555; Justice of Peace (East Riding) 1554, rem. 1562, rest. by 1569; sheriff, Yorks. 1566-1567; member, council in the north Jun 1566 - Dec 1567.

The Constables of Burton Constable, the leading family in Holderness, were closely related to neighboring ones, notably the Hilliards of Winestead. In 1543 John Constable's wardship was granted to Michael Stanhope, lieutenant (later governor) of Hull and brother-in-law of Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford. Four years later Stanhope acquired the hospital of St. Sepulchre near Hedon and its possessions within that borough, and it was he who had Hedon re-enfranchised. On 10 Dec 1547 Constable had license to enter on his lands, and in the year after his former guardian's death he was returned for Hedon to Edward VI's 2nd Parliament. His fellow-Member Robert Shakerley was related to Francis Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and it is probable that in this and subsequent Parliaments patronage was shared between the Earl and the Constables. At about this time the property which Stanhope had held in Hedon was granted to Constable's brother Ralph.

Both Members were re-elected to the 1st Parliament of the reign of Mary, and Constable was knighted on the day after the Queen's coronation, three days before the Parliament met. Neither Constable nor Shakerley was listed among those who 'stood for the true religion', that is, for Protestantism, but the omission in the Journal of a christian name leaves it uncertain whether it was to Sir John Constable or to Sir Robert Constable of Everingham that a bill to establish a standard measure throughout the realm was committed after its second reading on 17 Oct Similarly, the loss of the christian name from the return makes it impossible to determine which of them was elected knight of the shire in 1555. The balance of probability lies with Sir Robert, who had sat for the shire in two earlied Parliaments, and it was thus left to Sir John's son Henry to attain the knighthood in 1588 after sitting twice for Hedon.

Sir John Constable was returned to Parliament for Hedon by Sir Robert Constable, then sheriff and debarred from sitting himself.

In May 1556 a quarrel between Constable and John Bellow, who had been a partner with Michael Stanhope in property speculation, came before the Privy Council, which on 1 Jun bound both men to keep the peace. Nine months later the Council ordered the Yorkshire justices of assize to stay proceedings against certain of Constable's servants whom Bellow had accused of murder, until Bellow, than a prisoner in the Fleet, should be free to prosecute the matter. When Constable was summoned before the Star Chamber later in 1557 over the same dispute his excuse that he was 'presently serving in the north parts' was accepted, but early in the following year he had to give a bond to appear before the Council. His services were to win him a place on the council in the north under Elizabeth but his violent and vindictive behavior led to his dismissal.

Henry Neville, 5th Earl of Westmoreland, had a grant of the seignory of Holderness in 1558 and a year later sold it to Constable, perhaps already his son-in-law, for 4,000 pounds. Constable had earlier purchased the reversion of Swine priory for 1,530 pounds and he was also to obtain the manor of Hackness in 1564. He died on 25 May 1579, four days after adding a codicil to his will.

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