John Sutton, 3rd Baron Dudley

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John Sutton, 3rd Baron Dudley (1494–1553), commonly known as Lord Quondam, was the eldest son and heir of Sir Edward Sutton, 2nd Baron Dudley and his wife Lady Cicely (Willoughby) Sutton, a descendant of Edward III of England.


He was born about 1494, at Dudley Castle, Worcestershire. He was betrothed to Lady Cecily Grey (a daughter of Thomas Grey, 1st Marquess of Dorset, by Cecily, his wife, suo jure Baroness Harington and Baroness Bonville) by 30 October 1501, whom he subsequently married. He was knighted 13 October 1513. He succeeded his father Edward Sutton, 2nd Baron Dudley as Baron Dudley in 1532 and immediately began to sell his patrimony, including half of Powis Castle. He was never summoned to Parliament.

He acquired the nickname "Lord Quondam" ("Lord Has-been" or "Lord Formerly") when he allowed his estate, including the castle of Dudley, to fall into the possession of his cousin, John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. The Duke resided at Dudley Castle and added new and magnificent structures to the old fortress. After Northumberland's execution, Dudley Castle was forfeited to the crown, and in 1555 was restored by Mary to Lord Quondam's eldest son, Edward Sutton, 4th Baron Dudley.

Dugdale wrote, “It is reported by credible tradition of this John Lord Dudley, that being a man of weak understanding, whereby he had exposed himself to some wants, and so became entangled in the usurer’s bonds, John Dudley, then Viscount Lisle and Earl of Warwick (afterwards Duke of Northumberland), thirsting after Dudley Castle, the chief seat of the family, made those money merchants his instruments to work him out of it, which by some mortgage being at length effected, this poor lord became exposed to the charity of his friends for a subsistence, and spending the remainder of his life in visits amongst them, was commonly called the Lord Quondam.” There is much evidence in the "Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII" to suggest that Warwick and Cromwell between them colluded to entangle Lord Dudley before the fact, and didn't simply take advantage of him afterwards, as suggested by Dugdale's sources.[1]


'Lord Quondam' had several brothers: Thomas, William, Arthur, Geoffery and George. Lord Dudley decided upon a city residence at Tothill Street in Westminster. He died in Middlesex and was buried 18 September 1553 in St Margaret's, Westminster, London; his wife was buried there on 28 April 1554.[2] It is a perhaps not insignificant detail to add that his cousin and nemesis John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland was executed on August 22 of the same year, 1553.

His children included Edward, Captain Henry (Knt.), George, Margaret, Thomas, Dorothy, Elizabeth, and Robert.

It is often stated that Thomas Dudley was a grandson of Captain Sir Henry Dudley. He sailed on the Arbella in 1630 to become governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony several times. However the descent from the Barons Dudley is not proven. According to Cotton Mather's history,[3] Gov. Dudley used a seal with the arms of the Sutton family on official documents and his will. Whatever the ambiguities associated with his paternal ancestry, however, both Dudley's mother Susanna Thorne and his second wife Katherine Deighton were demonstrably of noble descent.[4][5]

Indeed, according to one theory,[6] the difficulty of proving Gov. Dudley's descent from Lord Quondam is compounded by reluctance during his lifetime to acknowledge any connection to that pauper and national laughing-stock. This long-standing genealogical Gordian knot may soon be cut through DNA testing.


  1. ^ Gairdner, James, ed. (1893). Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII. 13:2. 
  2. ^ J. G. Nichols, ed., Diary of Henry Machyn, Camden Society, (1848), p. 398
  3. ^ Mather, Cotton; Deane, Charles (1870). The life of Mr. Thomas Dudley, several times governor of the colony of Massachusetts. Cambridge: Press of J. Wilson and Son. 
  4. ^ Douglas, Richardson; Everingham, Kimball; Faris, David (2004). Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company. p. 600. 
  5. ^ Weis, Frederick Lewis; Sheppard, Walter Lee; Beall, William Ryland; Beall, Kaleen E. Ancestral Roots Of Certain American Colonists Who Came To America Before 1700 (8th ed.). p. 90. 
  6. ^ Curtis, Henry Allen. "Roger Dudley Proved to be Captain Henry Dudley" (PDF). 
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Edward Sutton
Baron Dudley
Succeeded by
Edward Sutton