Sir John Spencer

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Sir John Spencer, Sr.

Also Known As: "John Spencer"
Birthdate: (67)
Birthplace: Southam, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom
Death: Died in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom
Place of Burial: (aka Brington Churchyard), Great Brington, Northamptonshire, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of William Spencer, of Rodburn; John Spencer, 1st and Elizabeth Spencer
Husband of Isabel Spencer
Father of Jane Stafford; Leonard Spencer; Lady Isabel Spencer; Sir William Spencer; Anthony Spencer and 3 others
Brother of Thomas Spencer 1472 and Unknown Spencer

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir John Spencer

  • Sir John Spencer1
  • M, #105367, d. 14 April 1522
  • Last Edited=6 Jan 2011
  • Sir John Spencer was the son of William Spencer and Elizabeth Empson. He married Isabel Grant, daughter of Walter Grant, before 1506.1 He died on 14 April 1522.1
  • On 3 September 1506 he acquired the Wormleighton estate in Warwickshire, as well as the Althorp estate in Northamptonshire.1
  • Child of Sir John Spencer
    • 1.Jane Spencer2
  • Child of Sir John Spencer and Isabel Grant
    • 1.Sir William Spencer+1 d. 22 Jun 1532
  • Citations
  • 1.[S9] Charles Kidd and David Williamson, editor, DeBretts Peerage and Baronetage (London, U.K.: DeBrett's Peerage, 1999), volume 2, page 1870. Hereinafter cited as DeBretts Peerage, 1999.
  • 2.[S21] L. G. Pine, The New Extinct Peerage 1884-1971: Containing Extinct, Abeyant, Dormant and Suspended Peerages With Genealogies and Arms (London, U.K.: Heraldry Today, 1972), page 167. Hereinafter cited as The New Extinct Peerage.
  • From:


  • Sir John Spencer1,2
  • M, #86772, b. circa 1455, d. 14 April 1552
  • Father William Spencer1 b. c 1435, d. a 1485
  • Mother Elizabeth Empson1 b. c 1438
  • Sir John Spencer was born circa 1474 at of Wormleighton, Warwickshire, England.1 He married Isabel Graunt, daughter of Walter Graunt and Elizabeth Rudinge, circa 1494.1 Sir John Spencer died on 14 April 1552 at of Brington, Northamptonshire, England.1
  • Family Isabel Graunt b. c 1475
  • Children
    • William Spencer+1 b. c 1495, d. 22 Jun 1532
    • Jane Spencer2 b. c 1496, d. 1560
    • Dorothy Spencer+3 b. c 1498
  • Citations
  • 1.[S61] Unknown author, Family Group Sheets, Family History Archives, SLC.
  • 2.[S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. I, p. 121.
  • 3.[S16] Douglas Richardson, Magna Carta Ancestry, 2nd Edition, Vol. II, p. 569.
  • From:


Sir John Spencer (1455 – 14 April 1522)[1] was an English landowner, entrepreneur and ancestor of the Spencer family.

In 1469, John Spencer's uncle – another John Spencer – had become feoffee (feudal lord) of Wormleighton in Warwickshire and a tenant at Althorp in Northamptonshire in 1486. The Spencers’ administration of their Northamptonshire and Warwickshire estates was admired and often emulated by gentlemen all over England. Sheep from their pastures were purchased for breeding and it is probable that the family’s success as farmers was rarely equalled in the century.[2]

Althorp, the family seat of the Spencer family for 500 years John Spencer first made a living by trading in livestock and other commodities and eventually saved enough money to purchase both the Wormleighton and Althorp lands. Wormleighton was bought in 1506, the manor house was completed in 1512. In 1508, John Spencer also purchased the estate of Althorp with its moated house and several hundred acres of farmland.[3] He had grazed sheep here from the 1480s. Impressed by the quality of the land, he eventually bought it and rebuilt the house in 1508.[4] At that time, his estate and mansion in Warwickshire were considerably larger, the house in Wormleighton was four times the size of Althorp.[4] In 1511 he made further purchases to acquire much of the surrounding countryside, including the villages of Little Brington and Great Brington as well their parish church of St Mary the Virgin, from Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset.[3] By putting down roots at Althorp, Sir John provided what was to become a home for the next 19 generations.[4]

Sir John Spencer and Isabella Graunt's tomb at Great Brington.[4]

Between 1513 and 1515, Sir John Spencer devoted much funds and planning to the parish church for Althorp, St Mary the Virgin in Great Brington. In 1513, he appointed Thomas Heritage to be rector of the church, who had previously been chaplain to King Henry VII and surveyor of the monarch's works at Westminster Abbey. It is altogether probable that Heritage designed and superintended the execution of Spencer's idea for a family chapel at the parish church.[3] His will, dated the 12th day of April 1522, just two days before Sir John death, states that he virtually rebuilt the whole church. His bequests included "oon hool syte of vestments and a chales", "the making of the chauncell roffe with the ledde, wall and wyndowes, and my armes to be sett in the same wyndowes" as well as his tomb, shared with his lady Isabella Graunt. For this tomb, to be placed in the easternmost bay of the family chapel, nearest to the altar, he left the sum of 20 pounds.[3]

In 1519 John Spencer was knighted by King Henry VIII, died three years later and was buried in the new family chapel at Great Brington.[3] His younger son and successor Sir William Spencer later bequeathed the church's east window of stained glass which depicted St. John the Baptist and the Spencer coat of arms, now in a south window of the chancel, in memory of his father.[3]


  • Elizabeth EMPSON
  • Born: ABT 1448, Towcester, Northamptonshire, England
  • Father: Peter EMPSON
  • Mother: Elizabeth JOSEPH
  • Married: William SPENCER ABT 1469, Towcester, Northamptonshire, England
  • Children:
    • 1. John SPENCER (Sir)
    • 2. Thomas SPENCER (Esq.)
  • From: EMPSON1


Sir John Spencer married Isabel Grant, daughter of Walter Grant, before 1506.1 He died on 14 April 1522.

On 3 September 1506 he acquired the Wormleighton estate in Warwickshire, as well as the Althorp estate in Northamptonshire.

Knighted 1504. This is the beginning of the Princess Diana line




Sir John Spencer (Speculation - 1455 – 14 April 1522) was an English landowner, entrepreneur and ancestor of the Spencer family. Death date is most commonly agreed upon by historians, but birth date is unknown, and is an estimate. Sir John is a direct male-line ancestor of Lady Diana Spencer.

Winston Churchill also hailed from the Spencer family. Churchill's Family History has an excellent genealogy that begins right with this very man, Sir John Spencer.

Let me begin with the Spencer line proper. Sir John, mentioned above, married Isabel, the daughter and co-heiress of Walter Grant of Snitterfield. He gained his wealth by enclosing lands and converting arable land into pasture. With thousands of sheep he was no common shepherd — more a farming entrepreneur. -excerpt from Churchill's Family History Coat of Arms

"In 1504, John Spencer, an innovative and entrepreneurial yeoman, considered himself sufficiently successful to justify petitioning for a grant of arms. He was awarded Azure a fess ermine between 6 sea-mews's heads erased Argent and could thenceforward be accounted a gentleman. He was subsequently knighted by Henry VIII."[1]

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Sir John Spencer's Timeline

Southam, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom
Age 34
Snitterfield, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom
Age 39
Norwich, Norfolk, United Kingdom
Age 41
Northamptonshire, , England
Age 41
Snitterfield, Warwickshire, England
Age 51
Snitterfield, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom
Age 59
April 14, 1522
Age 67
Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom
Age 67
Northamptonshire, England