Sir John Hody, Lord Chief Justice

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John Or Johannes Hody, Knight

Birthplace: Stawell, Somerset, England
Death: Died in Pillesdon, Dorset, England
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Thomas Hody and Margaret Hody
Husband of Elizabeth Hody
Father of Johannes Hody, II; Margaret Hody; Thomas Hody; Alexander Hody; Joanna Hody and 2 others

Occupation: Chief Justice of the King’s Bench
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir John Hody, Lord Chief Justice

This is a selection from the book "The Annals of West Coker" which describes the lands inherited by Elizabeth Jewe and Sir John Hody.

Among the many lands held of William de Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, in 1396, was the fourth part of the knight's fee in Chickerell and West Chickerell, (in Dorset) held by Robert de Walsh and John Jewe, the later being in all probability the son of William le Jewe who, as we have seen, held fields in East Coker in 1345. The will of this John Jewe shows that his daughter Elizabeth who became the wife of Sir John Hody who inherited the estates of the Pillesdon family in Dorset. the same lady's inheritance of Stowell in Somerset is thus described by a writer of the seventeenth century:

A small parish is the third place my digression brings us unto, whose ancient Lords seeing I have mentioned elsewhere, I will leave and only lett you know that in succeeding ages Elizabeth daughter and heire of John Jew ( an ill-favoured name you will confesse) by Coles heire of Nethway brought it unto her husband Sir John Hody sonne of Sir Alexander Hody an ancient family I assure you and of great accompt, especially after Sir William Hody second sonne of Sir John Hody was Lord Cheife Baron of the Exchequer.


See his mention as a “local boy” in the introduction to “Village Trail” at , and on the same Web site see the church history section under “St. Mary’s Church” regarding the discovery of Hody’s vault.

The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary Woolavington, Somerset A Short History. Copyright Woolavington OnLine 2000-2005, all rights reserved.

Who built the Church? There are no records existing; the people, with few exceptions, could not read or write, which makes research difficult. The Manor from early times has been the property of the Abbots of Glaston, and was leased by them, pre-conquest, to a thegn. This was all the lower half of the village including the site of the churchyard; so it may have been at their instigation that it was reserved for a church. Perhaps the new owners of the Manor, Maud and Philip de Columber, who came in 1154 built it, nobody knows but the building by its architecture must have been there before 1200.

Although no stone church was built here before 1088, could there have been a simple place of worship before then? It seems strange that when the Saxon village was built round what is now The Square, and dwellings raised along Lower Road and Church Street, and the Manor below, this considerable area was left vacant in the middle of the community.

A interesting memorial is the Hody stone which is housed over the south windowsill of the chancel. This stone was found on the floor of the Church beneath the tower when the Church was restored about the year 1880. The letters are J.H. and they stand for John Hody, who was Chief Justice of England in the 15th century. It is on record that the will of the Chief Justice, Sir John Hody, directs that his body be buried in the church of Woolavington in Somerset near the body of Magister Johannes Hody, his uncle. There is a vault near the outer wall of the tower evidently extending underneath the floor of the Church at the west end. It is believed that this is the vault in which Magister Johannes Hody and his nephew the Chief Justice, were buried in the 15th century. Sir John Hody died in 1441 and by his will he made bequests to the Chantry Priests of Woolavington "for the love that he hadde to hyt, for ther he begane hys fyrst lernyng".


  • Sir John Hody1
  • M, #670684
  • Last Edited=5 Nov 2015
  • Sir John Hody married Elizabeth Jewel.1
  • He lived at Pilsdon, Dorset, England.1 He lived at Stowell, Somerset, England.1 He held the office of Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench.1
  • Children of Sir John Hody and Elizabeth Jewel
    • Margaret Hody+1 b. c 1440
    • Sir William Hody+1 b. b 1441, d. 1524
  • Citations
  • [S3268] Hans Harmsen, "re: Chester Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 21 August 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Chester Family."
  • From:


  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 27
  • Hody, John by John Andrew Hamilton
  • HODY, Sir John (d. 1441), chief justice of the king's bench, of an old Devonshire family, was son of Thomas Hody, lord of the manor of Kingston Magna, near Shaftesbury, Dorset, and king's escheator there under Henry V, by Margaret, daughter of John Cole of Nitheway, Torbay. From 1425 his name often occurs in the year-books, and he must have become a serjeant-at-law before 1436, for in that year he contributed as a serjeant to the equipment of the army sent into France. He represented Shaftesbury in parliament in 1423, 1425, 1428, and 1438, and the county of Somerset in 1434 and 1440. On 13 April 1440 he succeeded Sir John Juyn as chief justice of the king's bench, died in December 1441, and was buried at Woolavington, Somersetshire. Prince says of him that he won golden opinions, and Coke (Institutes, pref.) says he was one of the 'famous and expert sages of the law' who assisted Lyttelton. He had estates at Stowell in Somerset and Pillesden in Dorset, the Latter acquired through his wife Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Jewe, by whom he had five sons, including William Hody [q.v.], who became chief baron in 1486, and several daughters.
  • [Foss's Lives of the Judges; Prince's Worthies; Hutchins's Dorset, i. 317; Risdon's Devon, xvi. 60; Collect. Topogr. vii, 22; Register Chichele Lambeth, 481 b.; Engl. Chron. (Camd. Soc.), p. 60; Rot. Parl. iv.285, v. 477; Pat. 18 Hen. Vi. p.3, m.5.]
  • From:,_John_(DNB00) &


  • Sir John Hody (died 1441)[1] was an English judge and Chief Justice of the King’s Bench
  • Hody was descended from a family of considerable antiquity, though of no great note, in Devon. Jordan de Hode held lands in Hode in the thirteenth century; Richard de Hody was the king's escheator of that county in 1353/4 and 1357/8; and the same office was filled by William Hody in 1400/1. The father of the chief justice was Thomas Hody, who was lord of the manor of Kington Magna, near Shaftesbury, in the adjoining county of Dorset, in 1419/20, and in the same year was king's escheator there. He married Margaret, daughter and heiress of John Cole, of Nitheway, near Torbay, in Devon, which thus became the birthplace of his children. Their elder son Alexander was a devoted partisan of the Lancastrian cause, and was attainted in the first year of Edward IV. for his adherence to Henry VI.
  • John, the younger son, was educated as a lawyer, and is frequently mentioned in the Year Books from 1424/5. There is no record of his summons to take the degree of the coif; but from his name appearing in the legal part of the list of those who were called upon to contribute towards the equipment of the army against France in 1435/6, there is very little doubt that he was then a Serjeant; and if not then, he had certainly attained that rank before July 1439. He was returned to parliament as representative of the borough of Shaftesbury in 1419/20., and again in 1422/3, 1424/5, 1427/8 and 1436/7; and the estimation in which he stood on the latter occasion may be conceived by his being sent to the Lords with a message from the other house announcing the election of a speaker in the place of John Tyrell incapacitated by infirmity. In 1433/4 and 1439/40 he was chosen a knight of the shire for the county of Somerset; and on the death of Sir John Juyn in the latter year he was raised to the office of chief justice of the King's Bench, his patent being dated 13 April 1440. He held it not quite two years; his successor, Sir John Fortescue, being appointed on 25 January 1442. His judicial career was probably terminated by his death; for his will is dated 17 December 1441, though the precise time of its probate is not recorded.
  • Notwithstanding the short period during which he presided in the court, he is stated by Prince to have won golden opinions by his integrity and firmness in the administration of justice. Sir Edward Coke mentions him amongst the " famous and expert sages of the law" from whom Lyttelton had "great furtherance in composing his Institutes of the Laws of England."
  • The judge had an estate at Stowell, in Somerset, as early as 1427/8; but he was for some time seated at Pillesden, in Dorset, which came to him, together with the manor of Whitfield in the parish of Wivilscombe, in Somerset, and other property in both counties, by his marriage with Elizabeth,daughter and heiress of John Jewe, son and heir of John Jewe, by Alice, daughter of John de Pillesden. After his death his widow married Robert Cappes, Esq., who was sheriff of Dorset and Somerset in 1445/6. She died in 1473, having had issue by her first husband five sons and several daughters.
  • John, the eldest son, was seated at Stowell and Nitheway, and his posterity continued there for many generations. William, the second son was chief baron of the Exchequer in the reign of Henry VII. From him sprang a branch which resided at Pillesden, and became extinct in the 18th century.
  • The will of the chief justice, by which it appears that his father survived him, directs his body to be buried in the church of Wolavington, in Somerset, near the body "Magistri Johannis Hody," his uncle. By the large amount of silver plate and other articles which he gives in legacies, some idea may be formed of the domestic economy of a chief justice of England in the middle of the fifteenth century.
  • From:


  • HODY, John (d.1441), of Stowell, Som. and Pilsdon, Dorset.
  • s. of Thomas Hody, esquire (d.1442), of Kington Magna, Dorset; er. bro. of Alexander†. m. by 1430, Elizabeth (d. 3 Aug. 1473), da. and h. of John Jewe (d.1415/16), of Whitfield in Wiveliscombe, Som. and Pilsdon,2 5s. inc. Sir William†, 3da. Kntd. bef. June 1440.
  • Offices Held
    • Commr. of inquiry, Som. May 1428 (concealed crown income), Devon, Som. June 1432 (q. piracy), West Country Aug. 1433 (crimes committed since 1413), Dorset, Devon, Som., Cornw. Feb. 1434 (q. escapes of prisoners), Hants, Wilts., Som., Dorset, Devon, Cornw. July 1434 (concealed crown income), Som. Feb. 1435 (breach of statutes relating to exports), Devon, Cornw. July 1435 (estates of John, earl of Arundel), Som. Jan. 1438 (insurrections and felonies), Bristol Nov. 1438 (charges against Thomas Stevens*), Salop Feb. 1439 (death of Thomas Dyer of Ludlow); gaol delivery (q.), Ilchester May 1430, Dec. 1433, Aug. 1434, Sept. 1434, May 1435, Feb., Mar. 1438, May 1440, Old Sarum Dec. 1440; oyer and terminer, Som. June 1432, Salop, Worcs. Jan. 1439, Devon Sept. 1439, Northants. Oct. 1439, Cornw. July 1440, Devon Sept. 1440, Oxon., Berks. June 1441, London, Mdx., Essex, Kent, Surrey Oct. 1441; to raise a loan, Som., Dorset Mar. 1439.
    • J.p. Som. 2 Dec. 1430-d., Berks. 12 Feb. 1439-d., Salop 13 Feb. 1439-June 1440, Glos. 18 May 1439-Apr. 1440, Suss. 8 July 1440-d., Kent 24 July 1440-d., Surr. 16 Oct. 1440-d., Essex 17 Feb. 1441-d.
    • Escheator, Som. and Dorset 26 Nov. 1431-5 Nov. 1432.
    • Distributor of a tax allowance, Som. Dec. 1433, Jan. 1436, May 1437.
    • Recorder, Bristol c.1438-d.3
    • Justice of assize, western circuit 24 Jan. 1439, eastern circuit 10 June 1440.
    • C.j.KB 13 Apr. 1440-d.
  • According to a possibly prejudiced account dating from the 1470s the chief justice’s grandfather, Adam Hody, was a ‘bondeman to my lorde of Awdely and heywarde of Wollavyngton’ (Somerset), whose sons Thomas and John were born before his marriage to Isabel Gilbarde. If this was true then the success of both of Adam’s sons in surmounting such overwhelming disadvantages was quite remarkable. John was educated at Oxford and rose to be precentor of Wells from 1410 to 1426 and thereafter chancellor of the diocese until his death in 1440, having in the meantime served as chancellor and executor to Bishop Polton of Worcester. Thomas (our John’s father) entered the service of Sir Hugh Luttrell* of Dunster, for whom he acted as receiver-general from 1406 to 1419; and, forging a place for himself among the landed gentry of Dorset and Somerset, he was appointed in 1418 as royal escheator of the joint bailiwick of the two counties. Such a rise, from servile status to occupation of the headship of the judiciary in just two generations, would be an outstanding achievement.4
  • Thomas Hody acquired the manor of Kington Magna (Dorset), but this never passed to John, for his father was still living at the time of his own death. Both he and his brother, Alexander (who was to sit in nine Parliaments between 1429 and 1455, for either Shaftesbury, Bridgwater or Somerset), entered the legal profession. It was early success as an apprentice-at-law which enabled John to purchase two parts of the manor of Wydecombe and the whole of the manor of Stowell (Somerset) in the 1420s, and those of Wootton Glanville and Long Critchell (Dorset) in 1435 and 1439, respectively. He also acquired property in Shaftesbury and a small estate not far away at Fonthill (Wiltshire), but his manors of Pilsdon, West Chickerell and Putton (Dorset), and East and West Whitefield (Somerset), together with property in Dorchester and a moiety of Bere Hall (Devon), all came to him through his marriage to Elizabeth Jewe in about 1430. At the time of Elizabeth’s father’s death 15 years previously her three brothers and a sister were still living, but all four died before her marriage to Hody, thus leaving her as sole heir to the estate.5 Hody also took care to augment his lands and local influence by obtaining royal grants: in 1428 he was awarded a joint lease of lands lately belonging to Sir Thomas Pomeroy*, during the minority of his heir; in 1431 he obtained an Exchequer lease of the manor of Whitewell in Colyton, part of the inheritance of the earl of Devon; in 1434 he shared with John Stourton I* of Preston Plucknett the marriage of a royal ward, Stourton’s grandson John Hill; and in 1437 with a close friend, William Carent* of Toomer, he took custody of the royal manor of Gillingham.6
  • It was, quite clearly, Hody’s legal expertise which prompted the burgesses of Shaftesbury to seek his services in five Parliaments and the gentry of two shires to have him represent them in four more. His rapid rise suggests that he showed himself to be a competent commissioner and an able j.p. Yet his many tasks in the sphere of local government did not result in a half-hearted interest in the proceedings of the Parliaments which he attended as a Member of the Commons. On 2 Dec. 1435 he, William Tresham† and John Vampage†, the King’s attorney-general, were each paid £6 13s.4d. for ‘labouring’ in the present Parliament ‘circa diversa negocia et materias necessarias ipsius Regis ibidem expedienda pro commodo Regis’, and a fortnight later Hody received an additional £3 as a reward for ‘engrossing’ various grants made by the Lords and Commons. Obviously, he had been deeply involved in the negotiations leading to the grant of taxes. In the next Parliament, when again knight of the shire for Somerset, he headed the deputation from the Commons to the King, which, on 19 Mar. 1437, announced the election of a second Speaker (William Burley*) to replace (Sir) John Tyrell*, who had been taken ill. Hody was probably by then already recorder of Bristol, and in July 1438 he assumed the dignity of a serjeant-at-law. As such he was subsequently engaged as counsel to the duchy of Lancaster. In July 1439 he and another serjeant, John Fortescue*, were chosen to arbitrate in a dispute regarding the church of St. Dunstan in the West in Fleet Street. This and the many other occasions on which Hody was asked to settle points of law indicate the respect he enjoyed.7
  • As an eminent lawyer it was only natural that Hody should have frequently acted as a feoffee-to-uses, and his clients in this regard included such important people as Thomas Courtenay, earl of Devon, Elizabeth, Lady Botreaux, William, Lord Clinton, and John, earl of Arundel.8 The last, who died in 1435, Hody also served as executor, and after the third marriage of the earl’s mother, Eleanor, countess of Arundel, he became trustee of the estates of her husband, Sir Walter (now Lord) Hungerford*.9 Among the many country gentlemen for whom Hody acted in settlements of their estates were (Sir) Thomas Brooke* of Holditch, Sir John Chideok, (Sir) John Stourton II* and Ralph Bush*, esquire.10 Sir John Latimer† of Duntish (Dorset) sought the hand of Hody’s daughter Joan for his heir, Nicholas†. But perhaps his career was best furthered by his friendship with Sir Humphrey Stafford II* of Hooke and the latter’s half-brother John, bishop of Bath and Wells and chancellor of England from 1432 to 1450, a connexion which may well have been fostered by our MP’s uncle, Master John Hody, who in 1424 and 1425 had been appointed by Bishop Stafford as his vicar-general during his absence from the see. From 1429 Hody was involved in numerous legal transactions on the Staffords’ behalf: he was a feoffee of Sir Humphrey’s estates, party to the arrangements made for the second marriage of his daughter, Alice, and assisted him in the foundation of St. Anne’s chapel in the conventual church at Abbotsbury. Then, in 1437, he was retained as a councillor to the Staffords’ kinsman, Humphrey, earl of Stafford, who paid him an annuity of £2 charged on his property at Wexcombe, Wiltshire.11
  • From 1438 Hody received a salary of £20 a year as a justice of assize, and for his services in the King’s bench from Michaelmas 1439 to April 1440 he was awarded an additional £20. On 13 Apr., following the death of Sir John Juyn, he was appointed as chief justice, with a fee of £120 p.a., having on the previous day already received a grant of 40 marks a year charged on the petty custom of Bristol and of an annual tun of wine from the royal prisage there. He was probably knighted at the time of this surprisingly rapid elevation, but first notice of his promotion dates from June. Later in the year, on 18 Aug., he was ordered by Henry VI to present himself immediately at Sheen, where his advice was needed with regard to threatened riots and touching the legality of a postponement of an assize of novel disseisin brought against James, Lord Berkeley, by the heirs-general to the Berkeley estates, two of whom (Edmund Beaufort, earl of Dorset, and John, Lord Talbot) were then investing Harfleur but reported to be in danger of raising the siege on account of the assize. But this was no doubt only one of many occasions when his counsel was sought by the King and his ministers.12
  • On 3 Dec. 1441 as chief justice Hody was personally summoned to attend the Parliament which was to meet on the following 25 Jan. However, he fell ill and died before New Year’s Day. By his will, made on 17 Dec., he left £200 in gold to his widow, and among his bequests was much silver plate, including a charger bought from the executors of Elizabeth Lovell of Rampisham (widow of Robert Lovell*), to whose number he had himself belonged. His wish was to be buried in the new chapel in Woolavington church built by his uncle, who had died in the previous year. The judge’s executors were his wife, his father (who, however, himself died less than four months later), his brother Alexander and William Carent.13 Hody mentioned four sons in his will, of whom the eldest, John, was then only six or seven. It was his second son, William, who was to follow him in the legal profession and, since he become attorney-general on Henry VII’s accession and served as chief baron of the Exchequer from 1486 to 1512, evidently with some considerable degree of success. The chief justice’s widow, who was pregnant at the time of his death, later gave birth to a fifth son. Within seven years she married Robert Cappes, esquire (sheriff of Somerset and Dorset in 1444-5), and survived until 1473.14
  • From:


  • Sir John Hody, Chief Justice of the King's Bench1,2
  • M, #88469, b. circa 1405
  • Father Thomas Hody, Lord of Kington Magna Manor3 b. c 1380
  • Sir John Hody, Chief Justice of the King's Bench was born circa 1405 at of Stawell, Somersetshire, England.1 He married Margareta Cole, daughter of John Cole, circa 1431.1 Sir John Hody, Chief Justice of the King's Bench left a will on 17 December 1441 at of Pillesden, Dorsetshire, England.3
  • Family Margareta Cole b. c 1410
  • Children
    • Johanna Hody+1 b. c 1432
    • Sir William Hody, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, Attorney General+2 b. b 1441, d. 1524
  • Citations
  • 1.[S61] Unknown author, Family Group Sheets, Family History Archives, SLC.
  • 2.[S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. III, p. 217.
  • 3.[S31] Unknown author, Wikipedia.
  • From:


  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 27
  • Hody, William by John Andrew Hamilton
  • HODY, Sir WILLIAM (d. 1522?), chief baron of the exchequer, second son of Sir John Hody [q. v.], chief justice of the king's bench, was born before 1441. Perhaps he is the William Hody who represented Totnes in the parliament of 1472 (Members of Parl. Official Returns, i. 360). His name is first mentioned in the year-books in 1476. He was in parliament in 1483, and procured a reversal of the attainder of his uncle, Sir Alexander Hody of Bowre, Somerset, who had been attainted at Edward IV's accession for adherence to the house of Lancaster. In 1485, shortly after the accession of Henry VII, he became attorney-general, and was made a serjeant-at-law at the end of the year. On 29 Oct. 1486 he was appointed chief baron of the exchequer, was still a judge in 1516 (Cal. State Papers, 1515–18, p. 876), and probably died in 1522, when John Fitzjames became chief baron. He married Eleanor, daughter of Baldwyn Mallett of Corypool, Somersetshire, by whom he had two sons, Reginald and John, and two daughters, Joan, who married Richard Warr, and Jane, who married Lawrence Wadham.
  • [Foss's Lives of the Judges; Hutchins's Dorset, i. 317; Prince's Worthies.]
  • From:,_William_(DNB00) &




  • CP 25/1/292/67, number 104.
  • Link: Image of document at AALT
  • County: Devon. Somerset. Dorset.
  • Place: Westminster.
  • Date: One week from St Michael, 9 Henry VI [6 October 1430].
  • Parties: William Carent, esquire, John Fauntleroy and Thomas Hody, querents, and John Hody and Elizabeth, his wife, deforciants.
  • Property: A moiety of the manor of Berhall' in the county of Devon and a moiety of the manors of Estwhitfeld' and Westwhitfeld' and of 12 messuages, of 4 carucates of land, of 100 acres of meadow, of 200 acres of pasture and of 10 acres of wood in Chiwe, Mertok', Kyngesbury, Compton' Pauncefote and Chiltern' Dummer in the county of Somerset and a moiety of the manors of Pillesdon', Westchikerell' and Putton' and of 1 messuage in Dorchestre in the county of Dorset.
  • Action: Plea of covenant.
  • Agreement: John Hody and Elizabeth have acknowledged the moieties to be the right of John Fauntleroy, as those which the same John, William and Thomas have of their gift, and have remised and quitclaimed them from themselves and the heirs of Elizabeth to William, John Fauntleroy and Thomas and the heirs of John for ever.
  • Warranty: Warranty.
  • For this: William, John Fauntleroy and Thomas have granted to John Hody and Elizabeth the moieties and have rendered them to them in the same court, to hold to John Hody and Elizabeth and the heirs of their bodies, of the chief lords for ever. In default of such heirs, remainder to the right heirs of Elizabeth.
  • Standardised forms of names. (These are tentative suggestions, intended only as a finding aid.)
  • Persons: William Carant, John Fauntleroy, Thomas Hody, John Hody, Elizabeth Hody
  • Places: 'Berhall', East Whitefield, West Whitefield (both in Wiveliscombe), Chew, Martock, Kingsbury Episcopi, Compton Pauncefoot, Chilthorne Domer, Pilsdon, Chickerell, Putton (in Chickerell), Dorchester
  • From:



Notes for Sir John Hody

Of Stowell, Somerset, and Pillesdon [aka Pilsdon], Dorset (jure uxoris); will dated 17 Dec 1441, proved 25 Jan 1441/42.

According to the Oxford DNB64, Hody, Sir John (d. 1441/2) he held many positions in the government, which culminated in his appointment as chief justice and his knighthood in 1440, under Henry VI. In his will he stated his wish to be buried in Woolavington church in Somerset.


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Sir John Hody, Lord Chief Justice's Timeline

Stawell, Somerset, England
Age 23
Age 24
Stowell, Somersetshire, England
Age 28
Stowell, Somerset, , England
Age 30
Stowell, Somersetshire, England
Age 32
Stowell, Somersetshire, England
Age 34
Stawell, Somersetshire, England
Age 38
Stowell, Somersetshire, England
December 17, 1441
Age 45
Pillesdon, Dorset, England
Age 45
Clovelly, Devon, , England