Sir John Cavendish of Cavendish (c. 1346 – 15 June 1381) came from Cavendish, Suffolk, England. He and the village gave the name Cavendish to the aristocratic families, of the Dukedoms of Devonshire, Newcastle and Portland.
John Cavendish was descended from Robert de Gernon, who lived during the reign of Henry I and who gave a large amount of property to the Abbey of Gloucester. Robert's son, also called Robert de Gernon, of Grimston Hall, Suffolk, married the heiress of John Potton of Cavendish and obtained a landed estate in the lordship and manor of Cavendish. In consequence, his four sons exchanged their father's name for that of the estate each inherited. John was the eldest of the brothers.
One of John's brothers, Roger Cavendish, was the ancestor of Thomas Cavendish known as "The Navigator".
Sir John Cavendish became a lawyer and rose to Chief Justice of the King's Bench. He was also elected Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.
As Chief Justice he was obliged to suppress the Peasants' Revolt in 1381. Although Wat Tyler, the leader of the revolt was struck down by William Walworth, mayor of London, during negotiations on June 15, John Cavendish, the second son of the Chief Justice, gave the finishing stroke to Wat Tyler, the lord mayor having only wounded him in the neck. As a result of this, the father, Sir John Cavendish, was pursued by the peasants. He reached St. Mary's Church, Cavendish, where he pleaded sanctuary by grasping the handle of the church door. This was to no avail, however, and he was taken to the market place at Bury St. Edmunds and beheaded by a mob led by Jack Straw on 15 June 1381. He was buried in Bury St. Edmunds.
St. Mary's Church, Cavendish, benefited from a large bequest made by Sir John and had its chancel refurbished.
Sir John's great-grandsons were William Cavendish (3rd husband of Bess of Hardwick) and George Cavendish, William's brother and Cardinal Thomas Wolsey's biographer.
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