John Dynham, 1st Baron Dynham

Arms of Dynham: Gules, four fusils in fess ermine

John Dynham, 1st Baron Dynham (c. 1433–1501) was an English peer and politician. He served as Lord High Treasurer of England and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was one of the few men to serve as councillor to Kings Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII and was trusted by all of them.


He was born at Nutwell in the parish of Woodbury in East Devon, eldest son and heir of Sir John Dinham (1406–1458) by his wife Joan Arches (died 1497), sister and heiress of John Arches and daughter of Sir Richard Arches (died 1417), MP for Buckinghamshire in 1402, of Eythrope, Cranwell (both in the parish of Waddesdon) and Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire,[1] whose arms were: Gules, three arches argent. The Dynhams had been at Nutwell since about 1122 and were one of the leading gentry families in Devon. His father died in 1458, but his mother was in occupation of the lands until her own death in 1496/7.[2]


His service to the House of York began in 1459 when the future Edward IV and his Neville relatives, fleeing the disastrous Battle of Ludford Bridge took refuge with his mother, for which Edward later rewarded her; John himself bought the ship on which they fled to Calais.[3] He was attainted by the Coventry Parliament and led two successful raids against the royal forces at Sandwich. During the first raid he captured Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers, thus producing the (in retrospect) comical scene where Rivers was humiliated for his low birth by his future son-in-law, King Edward IV.[4]

Under Edward IV

He was made High Sheriff of Devon and Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1460. After Edward IV's accession he became a member of the Privy Council and was created Baron Dynham in 1467, although no grant of lands accompanied the title, as was usual.[3] Ross[5] suggests that he did not become a leading figure in government until the death of Humphrey Stafford, Earl of Devon. During the years of crisis from 1469 to 1471 Dynham remained wholly loyal to Edward, and following Edward's return to power became one of the foremost members of the Government; he was Commander-in-Chief of naval forces during the brief Anglo-French War in 1475.[6] On the other hand, the Crown was somewhat grudging with grants of land, his estates being confined to Devon and Cornwall.[3] Nor did he have a powerful network of family alliances: two of his sisters married into the Carew and Arundell families who were of purely local importance; the others married into the Zouche and Fitzwarin families, who were peers but not, until the accession of Richard III, of wide influence.[3]

Under Richard III

After Richard III's accession he continued to flourish, becoming Lieutenant of Calais. In that capacity he recaptured Hammes Castle, which had defected to Henry VII but was criiticised for allowing the garrison to depart. His marriage connections now became useful since John, 7th Lord Zouche had married his sister Joan. Zouche was one of the coming men in Richard's reign, but his prospects were ruined by the Battle of Bosworth.[7]

Under Henry VII

After Richard's death he remained at Calais until it became clear that Henry VII bore him no ill-will. In fact Chrimes suggests that Henry was anxious to obtain the services of a man with such a record of service and loyalty to the Crown.[8] While the Zouche connection had been useful, Dynham acquired a new patron in Lord Willoughby de Broke, his second wife's father, who was Steward of the Royal Household. Certainly Dynham flourished under Henry; he was made a Knight of the Garter,[3] and was Lord Treasurer from 1486 until his death: he took his duties at the Exchequer very seriously and spent most of his time at Lambeth for convenience. He received several grants and sat on numerous commissions.[9] He was one of the judges who tried the rebels after the Cornish Rebellion of 1497.

His career did not suffer from the execution for treason of his stepson Lord FitzWalter in 1495;[10] nor the attainder of his brother-in-law Lord Zouche; he was given an allowance to support his impoverished sister Lady Zouche, and Zouche after years of disgrace was eventually restored to a measure of favour.[11]


He married firstly Elizabeth FitzWalter, suo jure 8th Baroness FitzWalter (1430–pre.1485), widow of John Radcliffe.[12] Her estates passed on her death to her son from her first marriage, the 9th Baron FitzWalter,[3] (attainted for treason in 1495).

He married secondly, about 1485, Elizabeth Willoughby (died pre-1510), daughter of Robert Willoughby, 1st Baron Willoughby de Broke, who survived him and remarried William FitzAlan, 18th Earl of Arundel.[13] By his second wife he had at least two children who died young:[3]


His landholdings included:

Death and burial

He died at his home in Lambeth, 28 January 1501 and was buried in the London Greyfriars.[3] His three brothers had all predeceased him, and the title died with him.


His estates descended to the heirs of his four surviving sisters (a fifth sister, Edith, appears to have predeceased him, leaving no issue):[14]

Arms of Sapcotes impaling Dinham, Bampton Church

He also had an illegitimate son, Thomas Dynham (died 1519), who was granted lands in Eythrope, Buckinghamshire, [3] and who married Joan Ormond, eldest daughter of John Ormond (died 1503) and Joan Chaworth.[19]

Heraldic tapestry

Flemish tapestry (c.1497-1501) showing heraldry of Lord Dynham. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

A large wool and silk Flemish tapestry dated post-1487 exists in the Cloisters Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York which consists almost entirely of the armorial bearings and heraldic badges of Lord Dynham.[20][21] It is said to come from the workshop of the Grenier family of Tournai, which is known to have supplied tapestries to King Henry VII in 1486 and 1488. In the latter year the king ordered his then Treasurer, Lord Dynham, to allow these imports to enter England free of duty, and according to Bonnie (1962) Dinham may have ordered one for himself at the same time[22]

The central motif is an escutcheon of the jousting tournament form surrounded by a Garter, which order Dinham received in 1487, thus partially dating the tapestry. The supporters are two harts, said to be a form of canting heraldry referring to Hartland Abbey one of the family's oldest possessions.[23] The crest displayed is on a chapeau gules turned up ermine an ermine statant between two lighted candles proper. In each of the upper corners is a further escutcheon, showing on the dexter side the arms of Dynham of Gules, four lozenges ermine[24] and on the sinister side the arms of Dynham impaling Arches: Gules, three arches argent, both shields surrounded by the Garter. These two shields represent respectively Lord Dynham's father and mother[25] The family Badge of the Dynhams was a stag's head, again in allusion to Hartland Abbey,[26] whilst Lord Dynham's personal badge was a topcastle of a warship, containing five javelins leaning against the railing, above which is a pennant with the Cross of St George. This personal badge is liberally displayed on the tapestry.


  1. Cokayne 1916, p. 377.
  2. Hicks.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Hicks 2004.
  4. Alison Weir Lancaster and York- the Wars of the Roses Arrow Books edition 1996 p.234
  5. Charles Ross Edward IV Eyre Methuen Ltd. 1974
  6. Ross Edward IV
  7. Ross Richard III University of California Press 1984 p.48
  8. Chrimes, pp.107–8
  9. Chrimes p.108
  10. Chrimes p.138
  11. Jones, Michael and Underwood Michael The King's Mother Cambridge University Press 1993 p.113
  12. Cokayne 1916, p. 380.
  13. Cokayne, G.E. Complete Peerage Reprinted Gloucester 2000 Vol.1, p. 250
  14. 1 2 Chope, p.37
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 Cokayne 1916, p. 381.
  16. "28 DorothyS1". Retrieved 2013-12-27.
  17. Shapcott of Shapcott, Knowstone, per Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.677
  18. Chope, p.37, quoting Notes & Queries, 5th series, vol. IX, pp.347, 394 & Haines, H., A Manual of Monumental Brasses, p.32
  19. Cokayne 1913, p. 154.
  20. Nickel, Helmut. "Some Remarks on the Armorial Tapestry of John Dynham at The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum Journal 19/20" (PDF). Cloisters Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, ref: 60.127.1. pp. 25–29. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  21. See also: Young, Bonnie, John Dynham and His Tapestry, MMAB, n.s. 20, June 1962, pp.309-316
  22. Nickel, p.27, with reference to Bonnie, 1962
  23. Nickel, p.28
  24. Four lozenges clearly visible, whilst some sources state the arms to show 5
  25. Nickel, p.25
  26. Nickel, p.29


Political offices
Preceded by
Edmund, Earl of Rutland

Deputy: John Talbot

Lord Chancellor of Ireland
Succeeded by
Sir William Welles
Preceded by
John Tuchet, 6th Baron Audley
Lord High Treasurer
Succeeded by
Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk
Peerage of England
New title Baron Dynham
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