Stowford, John (DNB00)

STOWFORD or STONFORD, JOHN (1290?–1372?), judge, is stated to have been born at Stowford in the parish of West Down, Devonshire, about 1290 (Prince, Worthies of Devon, p. 559). He was perhaps a son of John de Stoford, who was manucaptor in 1307 for a burgess returned to parliament for Plympton (Parl. Writs, ii. 5). Stowford was an attorney for Hugh d'Audeley on 12 April 1329 and 17 June 1331 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edward III, i. 381, ii. 42). During 1331 he appears on commissions of oyer and terminer in the counties of Kent, Devon, and Pembroke, and on 12 Feb. 1332 was on the commission of peace for Devonshire (ib. ii. 57, 131, 199, 286). His name occasionally appears in judicial commissions in subsequent years, and in 1340 he is mentioned as one of the keepers of the coast of Devonshire (Fœdera, ii. 1112). In the same year he was made one of the king's serjeants, and on 23 April 1342 was appointed one of the judges of the court of common pleas. From 10 Nov. to 8 Dec. 1345 he acted temporarily as chief baron of the exchequer. Afterwards he resumed his place in the court of common pleas, where he continued to sit till midsummer 1372 (Dugdale, Orig. p. 45). He probably died soon after, and is said to have been buried in the church of West Down. Stowford made a benefaction to the convent of St. John at Wells in 1336 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edward III, iii. 334). He is said to have built the bridge over the Taw, near Barnstaple, and also a bridge between that town and Pilton. He married Joan, coheiress of the Tracys of Woollocombe. He and his wife held lands at South Petherton and Drayton, Somerset (ib. ii. 489).

[Prince's Worthies of Devon; Foss's Judges of England.]

C. L. K.