Sir John Luttrell

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Sir John Luttrell, of Dunster Castle

Death: July 10, 1551 (28-37) (Sweating sickness)
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Andrew Luttrell, Kt., of Dunster Castle and Margaret Luttrell
Husband of Mary Luttrell
Father of Catherine Copley; Dorothy Luttrell and Mary Luttrell
Brother of Honor Barrow; Lady Cecilia Rogers; Thomas Luttrell, MP, of Dunster Castle; Elizabeth Speke; Nicholas Luttrell and 5 others

Managed by: Private User
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About Sir John Luttrell

John Luttrell (soldier)

Sir John Luttrell (c. 1518/19 – 10 July 1551) was an English soldier, diplomat, and courtier under Henry VIII and Edward VI. He served under Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford (later Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector) in Scotland and France. His service is commemorated in an allegorical portrait by Hans Eworth.

John Luttrell was the eldest son of Sir Andrew Luttrell of Dunster Castle, Somerset by his wife, Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas Wyndham. He married Mary, daughter of Sir Griffith Ryce, by whom he had three daughters, Catherine, Dorothy, and Mary.[1] John Luttrell, his younger brother, and his uncle Thomas Wyndham served as boy pages in the household of Cardinal Wolsey during his embassy to France in July 1527.[2]

Luttrell accompanied Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford in the first stages of the military expeditions to Scotland known as the Rough Wooing and was present at the taking of Edinburgh and Leith. He was knighted at Leith by Hertford on 11 May 1544, immediately following the capture and burning of Edinburgh.[3]

In 1546, as the border wars in Scotland dragged on, Luttrell accompanied Hertford to France where the earl had been appointed commander of the English forces at the captured port of Boulogne. Luttrell commanded a force of 100 men[3] during five months of "fast moving raids, vicious skirmishes, and ambushes" between Hertford's army and the French.[4]

After the death of Henry VIII on 28 January 1547, Hertford, elevated to Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector to his nephew Edward VI, pursued Henry's goal of forcibly allying Scotland to England by marrying Edward to the young Mary, Queen of Scots, a conflict now known as the Rough Wooing. In September 1547, Luttrell accompanied Somerset's army into Scotland, and led the vanguard of 300 men at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, where the Scots were resoundingly defeated.[5]

In the aftermath of Pinkie, Luttrell was appointed captain of the English base at the island Abbey of Inchcolm in the Firth of Forth, from whence he harassed Scottish shipping with little success.[6] His uncle Thomas Wyndham visited in December with two warships.[7] Eventually Inchcolm was abandoned, and Luttrell was sent north in March 1548 to captain Broughty Castle which dominated the Tay and Dundee. One of Luttrell's brothers was killed in Dundee in November 1548.[8]

He was trusted as a diplomatist no less than as a soldier, and, in March 1549, he was appointed one of the two English commissioners to treat with the Earls of Argyll, Athol and Errol and others, with a view to the expulsion of the French (who were allied with the Scots against the English) from Scotland, and a marriage between Edward and Mary. The negotiation, however, came to nothing.[9] Some of Luttrell's correspondence at this time was captured by the French, and still survives, but perhaps the most remarkable survival is his 'letter of defiance' written to James Doig of Dunrobin besieging him at Broughty Castle in November 1548.[10] The tide was already turning in Scotland's favour, and at midnight on 12 February 1550 Luttrell and the garrison at Broughty surrendered to a joint French and Scottish force.[1][11]

Luttrell was held for ransom as a prisoner of James Doig of Dunrobin. On the day the peace of the Treaty of Boulogne was declared in England, 29 March 1550, Thomas Wyndham was sent to Scotland with two post horses and five Scottish hostages to exchange for Luttrell.[12] On 16 May 1550 Archbishop Hamilton organised the payment of his ransom of £1000 for the exchange of the sons of George Douglas of Pittendreich and the Master of Semple. George Douglas's son would later rule Scotland as Regent Morton.[13] Luttrell was immediately arrested for a debt to a Dundee merchant. Regent Arran paid this £19-11s in September 1550.[14] Back in England, he was rewarded with a gift of land in July 1550 by John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, who had seized control of the Council from Somerset in 1549.[15]

Sir John Luttrell died in an epidemic of the sweating sickness on 10 July 1551, while preparing for an expedition to Morocco with his uncle, Thomas Wyndham.[1] [16] His three daughters were co-heiresses to one third part of his estates, the other two-thirds devolving, by two entails and Sir John's will, upon his next brother, Thomas Luttrell.[1]

An allegorical portrait of John Luttrell with the goddesses Pax, Venus, Minerva, and the Three Graces by Hans Eworth is thought to commemorate Luttrell's service with English armed forces and the subsequent Treaty of Boulogne of 24 March 1550 which formally ended England's long war with Scotland and France. John remained a prisoner in Scotland after the treaty until his debts and ransom were paid in September 1550.[17] His brother Captain Hugh Luttrell had fought at Boulogne, but he deserted and was thought to have tried to betray the town to the French.[18]

The painting's complex allusions to Luttrell's military service and to the role of sea power in the war with Scotland and France were expounded by Dame Frances Yates in 1967.[19] The inscription on the rock in the foreground reads;

  • More than the Rock Amydys the Raging Seas,
  • The Constant Hert no Danger Dreddys nor Fearys
  • S. I. L. (Sir John Luttrell), 1550 HE (Hans Eworth)"

His right bracelet reads, "Nec Fregit Lucrum 1550", and the left "Nec Fingit Discrimen."[20] The first appears to mean; "Not in Cold Profit", the second, "Not to Discriminate," apparently deriving from the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.[21]

The original — signed with Eworth's "HE" monogram — was donated to the Courtauld Institute of Art by Lord Lee of Farnham in 1932. The painting was in "badly damaged" condition when given to the Institute, but has subsequently been conserved and restored.[22] A well-preserved copy made by George Luttrell in 1591 and which now hangs at Dunster Castle was the source of much of Dame Frances Yates' research.[22]



  • Sir John Luttrell1
  • M, #450211, b. circa 1518, d. 10 July 1551
  • Last Edited=13 Oct 2010
  • Sir John Luttrell was born circa 1518.1 He was the son of Sir Andrew Luttrell and Margaret Wyndham.1 He married Mary Griffith, daughter of Sir John Griffith.1 He died on 10 July 1551, from sweating sickness.1
  • He was invested as a Knight on 11 May 1544 at Leith, East Lothian, Scotland, by Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford.1
  • Children of Sir John Luttrell and Mary Griffith
    • 1.Catherine Luttrell1
    • 2.Dorothy Luttrell1
    • 3.Mary Luttrell1
  • Citations
  • 1.[S130] Wikipedia, online http;// Hereinafter cited as Wikipedia.
  • 2.[S3409] Caroline Maubois, "re: Penancoet Family," e-mail message to Darryl Roger Lundy, 2 December 2008. Hereinafter cited as "re: Penancoet Family."
  • From: ____________________
  • John LUTTRELL (Sir Knight)
  • Born: 1519, Dunster Castle, Somerset, England
  • Died: 10 Jul 1551
  • Notes: See his Biography.
  • Father: Andrew LUTTRELL (Sir Knight)
  • Mother: Margaret WYNDHAM
  • Married: Mary Ryce GRIFFITH (d. 1588) (dau. of Sir John Griffith) (m.2 James Godolphin of Cornwall)
  • Children:
    • 1. Catherine LUTTRELL
    • 2. Dorothy LUTTRELL
    • 3. Mary LUTTRELL
  • From: LUTTRELL (Sir Knight)4
  • From: ____________________
  • LUTTRELL, Thomas (d.1571), of Marshwood and Dunster Castle, Som.
  • 2nd s. of Sir Andrew Luttrell of Dunster Castle by Margaret, da. of Sir Thomas Wyndham of Felbrigg, Norf. m. Margaret, da. of Christopher Hadley of Withycombe, 3s. inc. George and John 4da. suc. fa. to Marshwood 1538, bro. 1551.1
  • Offices Held
    • Sheriff, Som. 1570-1.
  • Thomas was the younger brother of Sir John Luttrell, a captain in Protector Somerset’s Scottish wars. The family purchased the barony and castle of Dunster in 1375. He was probably born in the early 1520s, the second of at least eight children. His father cultivated an acquaintanceship with Thomas Cromwell†, to whom he left a silver cup so that he should be a ‘good lord to my wife and children’. There is nothing to suggest, however, that Thomas benefited from this request. The first definite references to him occur in 1548 when he was serving in the army in Scotland. He acted as a messenger between his brother and the Duke of Somerset and was able, from personal observation, to report to the Duke on the size of the French and Scottish force at Leith. He was also actively engaged in paying and recruiting men and, interestingly, a false report reached the government that he was killed when Sir John was repulsed from Dundee on 7 November.2
  • Sir John Luttrell died on 10 July 1551 and left all his property to Thomas, his male heir; but because of two important factors he was able to take possession of only a small portion of the barony of Dunster. Firstly, the law required that at least one third of the property should be given to Sir John’s three daughters, and accordingly some of the estates, including Minehead, were held in trust for them until they came of age or married. Secondly, two Luttrell widows held estates as their jointures for life. Dame Margaret Luttrell, Thomas’s mother, who lived until 1580, some time after Thomas’s own death, held the wealthy manors of Carhampton, Quantoxhead, Rodhuish, Eveton and Vexford, together with the priory of Dunster. Similarly Sir John’s widow, Dame Mary, who also outlived Thomas, held the castle and borough of Dunster, together with the rectory and tithes of the church, and the manor of Kilton. This arrangement, with a woman holding the caput of a barony, was rare. Thomas, therefore, had to be content to remain at Marshwood, which he had inherited from his father in 1538. It seems evident, however, that he spent much time consolidating the property and buying out his relatives. Thus he bought Hopcot, near Minehead and also acquired some of Mary’s rights. Further, between 1560 and 1564 he was able to purchase from Sir John’s daughters and their husbands all the estates which had been left to them, including part of the manor of Minehead.3
  • Thomas also acquired the lease of Dunster Castle from Robert Opy who had obtained it from Mary Luttrell, but he re-let most of the castle, including the hall, parlour, kitchen, stables, mill, and some pasture rights, to Opy. Perhaps he preferred to live at Marshwood. His marriage brought him more lands. On the death of her elder brother Arthur, in 1558, Margaret Hadley inherited her father’s property, which included the manors of Heathfield, Williton Hadley and Withycombe Hadley, all adjacent to Dunster. The circumstances surrounding this marriage are particularly interesting. The date of the original union is not known, but towards the end of Mary’s reign it was declared invalid because of consanguinity. The couple were distantly related but, more to the point, Thomas’s mother was Margaret’s godmother and so there was a spiritual bond. By a bull issued on 28 Nov. 1558 Paul IV validated the marriage on the condition that it was solemnized in church. This took place nearly two years later, in August 1560, at East Quantoxhead church. In the parish register the bride is entered as ‘Mrs. Margaret Hadley’, and the inscription on Thomas’s tomb records that he was ‘lawfully married’ to his wife. The date of this second ceremony was probably governed by the anticipated birth of their first son a month later.4
  • .... etc.
  • From: ___________________________

Sir John Luttrell b. 1518/1519 Dunster Castle, Somerset, England m Mary Ryee Griffith. Sir John died 1551 in the Reign of Queen Mary. His father was Sir Andrew Luttrell b. 1490-1498 in East Quantockshead, Somerset, England died 1538. His mother was Margaret Wyndham b. 1490 Felbrigg, Norfolk, England died 1580 about 40 years after Sir Andrew Luttrell. Sir John had a brother Thomas Luttrell b. 1524-1525 in Dunster, Somerset, England he became M.P. for Minehead he m. Margaret Hadley 8/27/1560. Sir Andrew Luttrell father was Sir Hugh Luttrell who m. Margaret Hill.


Burke, John., A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland Vol. 1. London: Henry Colburn, n.d., Call Number: R929.725 B95 v.1, Page 143.

SIR JOHN LUTTRELL, who in the 36th HENRY VIII. was with the Earl of Hertford in Scotland, and present at the taking of Edinburgh and Leith, when he received the honor of knighthood. Two years afterwards he was under the same nobleman at Boulogne, and had the command of a hundred men. In the reign of EDWARD VI. he was likewise distinguished in arms, and was made a Knight-Banneret, for his conduct at the taking of Yester, in the first year of that monarch. He m. Mary, daughter of Sir John Griffith, K.B. by whom (who m. after his decease James Godolphin, of Cornwall) he had three daughters, heiresses to one third part of his estates, the other two thirds devolving, by two entails, and by the will of Sir John himself, upon his next brother, THOMAS LUTTRELL, esq. M.P. for Minehead.

England: Canterbury - Wills Proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1383-1558 (K-Z)

1383 to 1558.

County: General

Country: England

1551 Luttrell, sir John, knight, died in Rochester diocese F. 37 Bucke


Lyte, Sir Henry Churchill Maxwell, A History of Dunster, and of the families of Mohun & Luttrell, (London : St. Catherine Press, Ltd., 1909). Pages 161-162.

Sir John Luttrell was not the sort of man who could settle down quietly to the normal life of a country squire. A camp was more to his liking, and, being prevented by the peace from pursuing an active military career, he determined to go abroad in search of adventure. With this object, he combined with several kindred spirits in organizing an expedition to Morocco, professedly for the development of commerce. The leader of it was to be his half-uncle Thomas Wyndham, a brave and experienced sailor, but an incorrigible pirate. When, however, the ship sailed from Portsmouth, Sir John Luttrell was not on board. The month of July 1551 was miserable on account of the sweating sickness.

"The sufferers were in general men between thirty and forty, and the stoutest and healthiest most readily caught the infection. The symptoms were a sudden perspiration, accompanied with faintness and drowsiness. Those who were taken with full stomachs died immediately. Those who caught cold shivered into dissolution in a few hours. Those who yielded to the intense temptation of sleep, though but for a quarter of an hour, woke only to die."

One of the earliest and most distinguished victims of this terrible pestilence was Sir John Luttrell, who succumbed to it at Greenwich on the 10th of July. A Londoner who records his death describes him as "a nobull captayne." He was about thirty-one years of age. A few days only before the death of Sir John Luttrell, certain commissioners had been empowered by the King to pronounce a divorce between him and his wife, upon proof of her adultery. This lady afterwards married James Godolphin of Gwinear, in Cornwall. Inasmuch as she was a legatee under the will of her mother-in-law, Dame Margaret Luttrell, we may fairly presume that the charges against her had not been established. By an arrangement repugnant to feudal ideas, the Castle of Dunster, which was the head-place of the Honour of that name, formed part of her dower or jointure. She had some house-hold goods there in 1553, which had belonged to her father, Sir Griffith Ryce, but she afterwards went to live at Kilton. She continued to bear the surname of her first husband until her death, and she was buried among the Luttrells at East Quantockshead on the last day of March 1588.

Sir John Luttrell left issue three daughters, Catherine, Dorothy and Mary, who, being minors at the time of his death, became wards of the Crown.