John Cheyne (speaker)

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Sir John Cheyne or Cheney (died 1414) was a Member of Parliament and briefly the initial Speaker of the House of Commons of England in the Parliament of October 1399, summoned by the newly acclaimed Henry IV.[1]

In 1372 he married Margaret, daughter of William, Lord Deincourt and the widow of Robert, Lord Tiptoft which brought him wealth and status. He becamee an esquire in the king's household and was knighted in 1378.

He took part in a number of diplomatic missions and became MP for Gloucestershire in 1390, 1393, 1394 and 1399. On the last occasion he was elected Speaker, but stood down on the ostensible grounds of ill-health, but may have been persuaded to do so by the influence of Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, who was appalled by his election and warned the clergy that Cheyne was an inveterate 'enemy' of the contemporary church. The revolution of 1399 made for strange bedfellows. Although Cheyne is never called a 'Lollard' (heretic) by contemporaries, he was a core member of a connection of knights held (with good cause) to be promoters of, or at least sympathetic to, that emerging sect. His testament (in modern parlance, his will) did reflect some of that sect's attitudes but embedded in a good deal of orthodoxy. In that generation after John Wyclif, many sympathisers with the moral and social ideas of that scholar indeed hoped this would not prove incompatible with continuing devotion to orthodox piety and acceptance within the Catholic Church.

Under Henry IV he continued to be employed on diplomatic missions, including a two-year trip to Rome in 1407.

He acquired property in Beckford, Gloucestershire as his principal estate. Being near to death, he was not implicated in the Oldcastle Rising of 1413/14, which involved a few, but far from all, of the sect, but the Cheynes of Drayton Beauchamp, Buckinghamshire, were, and they seem to have been his eventual heirs after the deaths of his sons.[2]

He died in 1414 and was buried in Beckford churchyard. He had been married a second time to Margaret, daughter and heir of Sir Edward Lovetot of Southoe, Huntingdonshire with whom he had a son, John.


  1. A Political Index to the Histories of Great Britain & Ireland, Or, a Complete Register of the Hereditary Honours, Public Offices, and Persons in Office: From the Earliest Periods to the Present Time
  2. J.S. Roskell, et al., History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1386-1421. K.B. McFarlane, Lancastrian Kings and Lollard Knights.
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir John Bussy
Speaker of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
John Doreward