Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Baldwin, John

BALDWIN, JOHN (d. 1545), chief justice of the common pleas, was a member of the Inner Temple, of which inn he was appointed reader in the autumn of 1516, at Easter 1524, and again in the autumn of 1531, while he twice filled the office of treasurer, in 1524 and 1530. In 1510 his name appears on the commission of the peace for Buckinghamshire, with which county he was connected throughout his life, acting on commissions of gaol delivery and subsidy, and for the assessment of the values of church property which formed the basis of the 'valor ecclesiasticus' of 1535. In 1520 he was a man of sufficient mark to be nominated on the sheriff roll, but was not selected by the king. In 1529 he was joined in commission with the master of the rolls, the chief baron of the exchequer, two of the justices of common pleas, and other distinguished lawyers, to hear causes in chancery committed to them by Cardinal Wolsey, then lord chancellor; and in the following year, on the cardinal's fall, he was selected to hold inquisitions as to the extent of his property in Buckinghamshire. He sat in the House of Commons once, being burgess for Hindon, in Wiltshire, in the parliament which met on 3 Nov. 1529, and continued till 4 April 1536. On 13 April 1530 he was appointed attorney-general for Wales and the Marches (which were then governed by the Princess Mary's council under the presidency of the Bishop of Exeter), and also of the county palatine of Chester and Flint. He vacated these offices on the appointment of Richard Riche on 3 May 1532. His patent as serjeant-at-law is dated 16 Nov. 1531, but the title is given to him two months earlier in a commission of gaol delivery for Bedford Castle. Shortly after this promotion he accompanied Sir John Spelman as justice of assize for the northern circuit, and was placed on the commission of the peace in Cumberland, Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Yorkshire. He still, however, served on the commission of gaol delivery at Aylesbury in the same year. According to a manuscript copy of Spelman's 'Reports,' quoted by Dugdale, he and Thomas Willoughby were the first serjeants-at-law who received the honour of knighthood. This was in Trinity term, 1534. In the following year (19 April 1535) he was appointed chief justice of the common pleas, and almost the first cases in which he acted in a judicial capacity were the trials of the prior of the London Charterhouse, Bishop Fisher, and Sir Thomas More for treason. He also acted in the same capacity at the trials of Anne Boleyn and her companions, of Lord Darcy, and the ringleaders of the northern rebellion.

He appears to have lived principally at Aylesbury, from which place two letters from him in the 'Cromwell Correspondence' in the Public Record Office are dated, and in his later years acquired a considerable estate in the county, consisting of the house and site of the Grey Friars at Aylesbury (Pat. 32 Hen. VIII, pt. 8), and the manors of Ellesborough and Dunrich, forfeited by the attainder of Sir Henry Pole and the Countess of Salisbury. According to an inquisition taken at Aylesbury on 22 Dec. 1545 he died on 24 Oct. in that year, leaving as his next heirs Thomas Packington, son of his daughter Agnes whose husband, Robert Packington, M.P. for London, was shot in Cheapside in 1536), and John Burlacy, son of his daughter Petronilla. In the pedigree in Harl. MS. 533 the elder daughter is called Ann, and Foss gives her name as Katharine, on what authority does not appear. He had also a son William, who married Mary Tyringham, but died in his father's lifetime. His widow became a lunatic shortly after his death. An extract from his will is given in the inquisition.

[Calendar of State Papers, Hen. VIII, vols. i.-vii.; Patent Rolls, 37 Hen. VIII, pt. ii. 7, and 38 Hen. VIII, pt. ii. 12; Baga de Secretis; Reports of Deputy Keeper of Public Records, iii. App. ii. p. 237, and ix. App. ii. p. 162; State Trials, i. 387, 398; Dugdale's Origines Juridiciales, 137; Foss's Judges of England, v. 134.]

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