COKEWORTHY, John II, of Yarnscombe, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Dec. 1421

Family and Education

?s. of John Cokeworthy I*. m. by 1424, Margery, at least 1s. 1da.

Offices Held

Collector of customs and subsidies, Plymouth and Fowey 26 Nov. 1424-Dec. 1428, Exeter and Dartmouth Dec. 1428-9, Dartmouth Dec. 1429-30.

Tax collector, Devon Apr. 1428.

Escheator, Devon and Cornw. 5 Nov. 1430-26 Nov. 1431, 4 Nov. 1440-1.

Commr. of oyer and terminer, Devon July 1434; inquiry, Som. Jan. 1444.

Sheriff, Cornw. 4 Nov. 1455-6.


Cokeworthy was closely related to John Cokeworthy of Launceston (Member of as many as 19 Parliaments between 1377 and 1399) whose property in Cornwall he eventually inherited. His main place of residence was Yarnscombe, some eight miles from Barnstaple, where, in 1424, he was granted licence by Bishop Lacy to have his own oratory or chapel. He and his son after him also held premises in Dartmouth, ‘Cokworthy’, Torrington, Barnstaple and Tavistock, in Devon, and in Launceston, ‘Vogelers’, and Trewent, in Cornwall; and in addition in 1435 he acquired the manor of ‘Uptamer’, presumably situated by the river which marked the border between the two counties.1

In November 1419 Cokeworthy, described as ‘of Devon, gentleman’, shared with Simon Yurle* of Cornwall an Exchequer lease of lands in Chilsworthy and Ipplepen, which was to last for 20 years. A week later he was again at the Exchequer, this time to act as surety for Sir Thomas Pomeroy* and John Cole IV*, the successful claimants to the Pomeroy inheritance. He attended the shire elections at Exeter in November 1421 (when he himself was returned for Barnstaple), and again in 1422. Previously, in May 1420, he and his ‘brother’ John (who, however, had been born out of wedlock), were pardoned for having acquired without royal licence a messuage and shops in the parish of St. Clement Danes, London, which had belonged to Richard Gabriell, a canon of Exeter and one of the masters of Chancery. When attending his second Parliament (1423), Cokeworthy, who was an executor of Gabriell’s will, presented a petition for a royal commission of inquiry into the value of the priory of St. James near Exeter, as he and his fellow executors were being held responsible by the Exchequer for annual payments of 19 marks under the terms of a lease granted to Gabriell. He sold the London property to John Hatherle† before 1434, but once more neglected to obtain the necessary licence.2

In 1424 Cokeworthy had been appointed collector of customs in Plymouth and Fowey on the nomination of Bishop Beaufort of Winchester, and he continued to hold office first there, and then at Exeter and Dartmouth, for the next six years. He once more attended the shire elections at Exeter in 1430 (when serving his first term as escheator of Devon), and again in 1442, having, in the meantime, in 1434, been among the local gentry required to take the oath not to maintain breakers of the peace. One such disturbance evidently affected him personally, for five years later he brought an action at Westminster against James Wayt, a shipman from Tenby, for assault and robbery at Bristol.3

Cokeworthy’s brother, Master John Cokeworthy, who made his will in 1431, appointed him as executor and bequeathed to him and his wife and children most of his books and personal possessions. Cokeworthy was also to enjoy ‘statum quem habeo de abbate et conventu Bukfestrie in manseo meo infra clausum Exon’. Despite his illegitimacy Master John had been collated to a canonry at Hereford by Bishop Lacy, and when his patron had been translated from Hereford to Exeter in 1420 he had accompanied him in order to serve as his registrar. The MP long continued the association with Lacy: he regularly acted as the bishop’s attorney between 1434 and 1441, collecting from the receiver of the duchy of Cornwall his annual entitlement of £16 13s.4d. from the tax levied on the coinage of tin; and he was present at Clyst in 1451 when Lacy authorized an exchange of benefices between the vicar of Barnstaple and the rector of Goodleigh. It was perhaps with Lacy’s help that he acquired the papal indult for a portable altar addressed to him as ‘John Cokeworthy, nobleman, lord of Yarnscombe’ in May 1447.4 Nor was the bishop Cokeworthy’s only connexion of note. Earlier in his career he had taken on the trusteeship of William Burlestone’s* estates in Devon, had stood surety at the Exchequer for (Sir) Thomas Brooke*, and had acted as proctor for Master John Arundel (afterwards bishop of Chichester) on the occasion of his preferment as a canon of Exeter. In 1444 when Cokeworthy was patron of the church of Newton Ferrers during a minority, it was by grant of John Cornwall, Lord Fanhope; and two years later he was acting as a feoffee for Anne, duchess of Exeter (third wife of Fanhope’s stepson, John Holand).5

Cokeworthy is last recorded during his shrievalty of Devon in 1455-6. It was probably in the same year that he settled the family estates on his son, John; certainly the latter, as ‘the younger’, conveyed them to trustees (who included Nicholas Aysshton*, j.KB), in February 1456. He died at an unknown date before 1467, when John junior became a freeman of the borough of Launceston.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Reg. Lacy (Canterbury and York Soc. lx), 103; CP25(1)46/80/42, 83/117; Cornw. Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1950), 1140.
  • 2. CFR, xiv. 293, 319; C219/12/6, 13/1; CPR, 1416-22, p. 279; 1422-9, p. 218; 1429-36, p. 324; SC8/84/4198.
  • 3. C219/14/2, 15/2; CPR, 1429-36, p. 399; 1436-41, p. 464; C88/124/26.
  • 4. Reg. Lacy (Canterbury and York Soc. lxiii), 22-23; SC6/815/7-9, 11, 13; Reg. Lacy ed. Hingeston-Randolph, i. 364; CPL, x. 302.
  • 5. CP25(1)46/79/24, 80/30; CFR, xv. 170; Reg. Lacy ed. Hingeston-Randolph, i. 269, 289, 310; ibid. (Canterbury and York Soc. lxi), 356.
  • 6. Cornw. Feet of Fines, 1140; R. and O.B. Peter, Hist. Launceston, 147. Cokeworthy’s estates subsequently passed to Nicholas Cokeworthy (d. 1498): CIPM Hen. VII, ii. 228.