Sir John de Wingfield

Sir John de Wyngefeld (Wingfield) (circa 1307-prior 8th November 1361) was a soldier, attorney, and chief administration officer. He was the eldest son of John de Wyngefeld (Wingfield), and his wife Elizabeth de Honypott, daughter of John de Honypott, Esq. and Juliana.

Relatively little is known of John’s childhood, but he was likely raised at Wingfield Frumbalds Manor (later to become the site of Wingfield Castle). Sir John was educated as an attorney, and would serve later in life as an attorney to many noble men and woman of England.

In 1325, at the age of 18, John attained a royal post on 16th July 1325 when he was given by Edward II of England’s protection with his pass, i.e. passport, being valid up to 1st November, to go to France, for up to four months, to make “purveyances for His Majesty.” This meant “to purchase food supplies in bulk at a fix price;” supplies which were presumably for the Royal Household.

In 1326, John was granted a pardon because his grandfather John de Wingfield had acquired a pardon with respect to 69 acres of land in Wingfield, held in chief of Edward I of England, which was acquired by his grandfather, John de Wingfield, from Fromund le Flemyng and entered into by both grandfather and grandson without licence.

In 1331, John married the Wingfield heiress, Alianore de Glanville (died in 1375) (in Peter Bloore and Edward Martin’s book “Wingfield College and its Patrons”, there is strong evidence Alianore may actually be the daughter of Thomas de Verlay, Lord of Saxmundham and his wife Joan, who suggest is a Glanville, probably the daughter of John de Glanville and Joan de Grymeleys), thereby becoming not only Lord of all four Manors of Wingfield, but also of a further six Manors nearby, Saxmundham, Voiles in Sternfield, Herford or Harford, Fressingfield, Syleham and Weybread.

In 1333, John was at the Siege of Berwick, where the English retook, Berwick-upon-Tweed from the Scots sometime shortly after the Battle of Halidon Hill on 19 July 1333. In consideration of his service, he was exempted for life from Assizes, i.e. jury service.

In 1335, John was granted for good behavior the Suffolk Manors of Blything and Wangford and placed his coat of arms in Brockdish Church, three miles from Wingfield. From this point in time, John is referred to as Sir John in the various records, so it would appear he must have been knighted at Berwick or Halidon Hill. In this very year, Sir John had his red seal made.

In 1336, Sir John was granted Hurts Hall, Saxmundham, by which time he held also the Manors of Middleton and Sizewell. Sir John also was a witness to a deed of Sir John de Warren, 1st Earl of Surrey, Sussex and Strathmore.

In 1337, Sir John purchased from Sir William de Montague, 1st Earl of Salisbury, King of Mann (Isle of Man) and 3rd Baron Montagu, as well as Marshal of England and Lord of Denbigh Castle in Wales, the Manor of Lea-cum-Newbold in the Chapel of Bruera (Church on Health) in Cheshire, and was granted by the 7th Earl of Surrey “for life,” for the annual rent of a rose, the 220-acre Manor of Nettons in Balne (Balne Moor) in northern Yorkshire. During this same year, Sir John would begin to serve as an attorney to the 7th Earl of Surrey and Sussex.

In 1338, Edward III of England granted to Sir John a market for his Manor of Wingfield.

In 1342, Sir John was a guardian and military advisor to the Earl of Salisbury’s son, William de Montagu, who was 14 years of age and would continue to be his advisor throughout the latter’s minority until the age of 21 in 1351 (William, would later become the 2nd Earl of Salisbury, 4th Baron Montagu and King of Mann in 1344 and in 1350 became one of the founding Knights of the Order of the Garter).

In 1343, Sir John was made a Freeman of the City of York.

In 1344, Sir John served as William de Montague, 1st Earl of Salisbury executor, which he had been serving as his attorney until the time of his death. During this year, Sir John was granted the charter of Burghersh Priory, Lincoln. On 3rd August, Sir John was called to arms by Edward III of England to prepare to set out for Gascony and report to Portsmouth, England by 7th March.

In 1345, Sir John embarked for France in the 2nd Earl of Salisbury’s retinue. He was also issued an order of Edward III of England to attend upon Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester (known later in history as the Black Prince) in his voyage to Gascony. Sir John was also appointed by Edward III of England to the Prince of Wales Council of War.

On 25th August 1346, Sir John fought at the Battle of Crecy in Edward III of England’s retinue. Sir John’s brother Sir Thomas de Wingfield, also fought in the battle and was in Sir Richard FitzAlan, 3rd Earl of Arundel’s retinue. Crecy was a battle in which Edward III of England’s army defeated forces of Philip VI of France, as result of superior weaponry and tactics. The English longbow was superior to the French-Genoese crossbow. Crecy established England as a great military power.

In September 1346, King Edward III’s army approached the city of Calais, and immediately began making preparation for a drawn-out siege. By this time, Sir John was in Sir Bartholomew Burghersh’s retinue, who was soon to be appointed Lord Chamberlain of England, and Sir Thomas was still in the 3rd Earl of Arundel’s retinue. The city walls and moats of Calais could not be easily breached. For two months’ a state of stalemate prevailed. In November, the English deployed cannon, catapults and long ladders, but these new attempts to breach or scale the walls again failed.

By February 1347, siege actions at Calais ceased, and Edward III’s army began to deploy tactics to starve those within the city of Calais. A French supply convoy succeeded in supplying Calais citizens, but the English navy prevented further supply attempts. In the spring, both sides received reinforcements, but Philip VI of France could not hold off the besiegers any longer and the English were victories.

In September 1347, Sir Bartholomew Burghersh, was appointed Edward III’s Lord Chamberlain of England, whom Sir John had served while in Calais. For his service, Sir John was exempted from appointments to juries and “as a Justice” and was given the custody of Worcester Priory.

In 1348, the first year of the Black Death, on May Day (1st May), Sir John was granted a fair in Saxmundham and was excused again from jury duties for his good service in foreign parts.

In 1349, Sir John was granted the Manors of Barnardiston, Tendring (Stoke by Nayland), in Suffolk and Crondall and Farnham in Hampshire.

In 1350, Sir John was appointed Steward of all Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales’s lands, which consists of vast acres in 27 counties mainly in Cornwall and Cheshire and Wales; and was granted the three Manors of Aldeburgh Hall in Holbrook, Caldwell Hall in Hollesley near Shottisham, and Wilford in Woodbridge, all of which are in Suffolk.

In 1350 and 1351, Sir John was attorney to Robert de Ufford, Earl of Suffolk. Also in 1350, Sir John was appointed Clerk to Guy de Bryan (alias de Brienne), 1st Baron Bryan and Joan of Bar, Countess of Surrey and granddaughter of Edward I of England. Sir John and Alianore’s daughter, Katherine de Wingfield was born (19 years after they were married). Their daughter would in later years marry Michael de la Pole, who would later become the 1st Earl of Suffolk.

From 1351 until 1361, the Prince of Wales left the collection of revenue from his estates in Cheshire to Sir John. In addition, Sir John’s authority also stretched to decisions in ministerial matters.

By 9th November 1351, Sir John had been appointed Chief of the Prince’s Business Affairs and Administration (“Gouvenour de noz Busoignes”) under the Earl of Suffolk and Sir Nigel Loring. From then the Prince’s Clerk and Receiver-General was paying Sir John ten shillings a day “henceforth”.

On 12th December 1351, the Prince of Wales came and stayed with Sir John in London at “Wingfield Inn.”

On 4th August 1353, the Avignon-based Pope, Innocent VI granted Sir John and Alianore permission to possess a portable altar, to take on campaign. A month later, the Pope also granted Sir John “plenary remission at the hour of death.

By the end of September 1353, Sir John was appointed Attorney-General for Joan of Bar, Countess of Surrey.

On 8th September 1354, Sir John, now known as Knight Banneret, sailed from Plymouth to Aquitaine with the Prince of Wales and 300 others in the cog, Juliana. A Banneret was a knight who led a company in battle under his own banner. Such an honour (Knight Banneret) could only be conferred by the sovereign and in the field of battle. Knights Banneret were second to none but Knights of the Garter.

Before 20th September 1354, while on the voyage, Sir John was won 40 shillings off the Prince of Wales at the card game, tales (“odds and evens”). Sir John was referred to as “Dominus” (Lord) in the record of the Prince’s expenses.

On 20th September 1354, Sir John and the Prince of Wales arrived at Bordeaux. It was here in Bordeaux that Sir John arranged for Sir John de Norwich to let him rent the Manor of Blyford in Suffolk.

In August-September 1356, the Poitiers Campaign began, including the great raid north from Aquitaine to near Bourges and west to Tours, then south again via Poitiers (Nouaille) back to Bordeux.

On 19th September 1356, Sir John fought at the Battle of Poitiers alongside the Prince of Wales and eight of the Knights of the Garter, which was won by the English. During this battle, Sir John personally captured the Sire d’Aubigny, who was Captain of the French King’s Bodyguard, and was later ransomed by Edward III for 2,500 marks and he then paid Sir John £833.

In 1356, Sir John was promoted to “Gouvernour de noz Busoignes” or Chief Administrator of the Prince of Wales, which the Prince increased Sir John’s salary to 10 shillings a day “for life.” At the time this was the highest of all the Prince of Wales’ Ministers. The Prince of Wales also granted Sir John the Manors of Leffey in Snape, Suffolk and Maidstone in Frettenham, Norfolk.

On 23rd December 1356, Sir John held Pope Innocent’s sergeant-at-arms against his will, who was in custody in Bordeaux.

On 4th May 1358, Sir John was promoted to Chief of Council to Countess of Surrey (as of 5th November 1357 he was still known as the Attorney-General of the Countess of Surrey). Sir John’s younger brother, Sir Thomas de Wingfield, was also on the council, and it was in this year, Sir Thomas married Margaret de Bovile, the Letheringham heiress.

On 29th September 1358, Sir John was appointed the Prince Wales Attorney and Auditor.

On 18th October 1358 at Westminster, a licence was granted for Sir John and Eleanor, his wife, or their heirs or executors for certain chaplains to celebrate divine service daily in a chantry to be founded by them in Wyngefeld, and for the chaplains to appropriate the churches; provided that inquisitions be first taken.

By October 1359, the Prince of Wales appointed Sir John the Master of the Household and Prince’s Councilor.

In 1361, the plague was rife in London in the spring. Sometime between June, when Sir John was still “busily Warranting” letters in London on behalf of the Prince of Wales, and 8th November 1361, Sir John de Wingfield died. It is likely a result of the second outbreak of the Black Death.

It is not recorded if the Prince of Wales attended Sir John’s funeral, but he did pay £57-13-4d for Sir John’s funeral at Wingfield. Sir John was buried at St. Andrew’s Church.

Sir John left much of his wealth for the rebuilding of St. Andrew’s Church in Wingfield and for its reorganization as a chantry – which was organized by his executors, his widow Alianore, and his brother, Sir Thomas de Wingfield of Letheringham on 8th June 1362.


Wingfield, Jocelyn, Sir John de Wingfield III (ca. 1307-1361) How a local Anglo-Saxon rose in Norman-run England to become Executive Officer for the Black Prince, Wingfield Family Society, (2012)

Wingfield, Jocelyn, Letheringham & The Wingfields A Mardle How a family from this small Suffolk Manor played a fascinating part on the national stage 1358-1704, Wingfield Family Society, (2014)

Wingfield, Mervyn Edward, 7th Viscount Powerscourt, ed., Muniments of the Ancient Saxon family of Wingfield (privately printed, London, 1894), Wingfield Family Society, Durham, North Carolina, (1987)

Bloore, Peter and Martin, Edward, edited, Wingfield College and its Patrons: Piety and Prestige in Medieval Suffolk, The Boydell Press, (2015)

Dewing, Edward M., Pedigree of Wingfield of Wingfield, Letheringham, Easton, & c., Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, Volume 7 Part I (1889), pages. 57-68

"Posse Nolle Nobile" — Latin for "To have the power without the wish is noble."

Newly republished and available on Amazon! “Some Records of the Wingfield Family”

Some Records of the Wingfield Family

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