Whiddon, John (DNB00)

WHIDDON, Sir JOHN (d. 1576), judge, was the eldest son of John Whiddon of Chagford in Devonshire, where his family had long been established. His mother, whose maiden name was Rugg, was also a native of Chagford. He studied law at the Inner Temple, and was elected a reader in the autumn of 1528. Failing to read on that occasion, his appointment was renewed for the following Lent; he was again elected to the office on 12 Nov. 1535, and was chosen treasurer on 3 Nov. 1538, holding the office for two years. He was nominated a serjeant at the close of Henry VIII's reign, and constituted by a new writ a week after the king's death. His arguments in court during Edward's reign are reported by Plowden. Whiddon was appointed a judge of the queen's bench, almost immediately after Mary's accession, by patent dated 4 Oct. 1553, and on 27 Jan. 1554–5 he was knighted. He was the first judge to ride to Westminster Hall on a horse or gelding instead of a mule, according to previous custom. In April 1557, after the rising of Thomas Stafford (1531?–1557) [q. v.], he was sent down to Yorkshire to try the prisoners, and it is said that he received the commission of general, giving him authority to raise forces to quell any further risings. It is even stated that, owing to the unsettled state of the country, he sat on the bench in full armour. His patent was renewed on Elizabeth's accession, and he continued in his office until his death. He died at Chagford on 27 Jan. 1575–6, and was buried in the parish church. He was twice married. By his first wife, Anne, daughter of Sir William Hollis, he had one daughter, Joan, married to John Ashley of London; by his second, Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of William Shilston, he had six sons and seven daughters.

[Vivian's Visitations of Devon, 1895; Foss's Judges, v. 545; Prince's Worthies of Devon, 1701, p. 593; Machyn's Diary (Camden Soc.), p. 342; Calendar of Inner Temple Records, 1896, vol. i. passim; Dugdale's Origines Juridiciales, 1680, pp. 38, 118, 164, 170.]

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