COLE, John IV (b.c.1376), of Nethway, 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




Family and Education

b.c.1376, s. of Adam Cole of Hittesleigh, Devon, by Margaret, da. of Sir Henry Pomeroy (d.1373), of Berry Pomeroy, Devon. m. (1) by 1391, Blanche; (2) aft. 1412, Margaret (d.1421); (3) 1422, Margery.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Devon 22 Nov. 1405-5 Nov. 1406.

Commr. of inquiry, Devon Dec. 1406 (piracy), Devon, Cornw. July, Nov. 1412 (breaches of truces at sea), Devon Dec. 1418 (concealments); oyer and terminer Apr., Oct. 1410, Mar., Dec. 1411; to requisition ships, Devon, Cornw. May 1416.


Cole was described as ‘of Uppetamer’ in 1391 when he and his first wife were confirmed in possession of that manor (presumably situated on the border between Cornwall and Devon), the manors of Nethway and Hittesleigh, the advowson of Hittesleigh, a third part of the manor of ‘Wynston’ near Dartmouth, and lands elsewhere in Devon, as well as in the manor of ‘Respervet’ and property in and near Launceston in Cornwall. If, as seems likely, he had already come of age, then he must have been born before 1376, the date suggested at a subsequent inquisition. These estates, together with the lands he was later holding in East Stoodleigh and Wibbery, made him a person of some substance before his term of office as sheriff of Devon, but his distinction lay rather in his inheritance of part of the Pomeroy estates and in his military exploits. Cole was associated with Sir Thomas Pomeroy*, husband of his cousin, Joan Pomeroy, as early as 1409; indeed, on 24 Dec. that year, after his name had been listed as one of only four witnesses to the parliamentary elections held at Exeter, he stood surety for the appearance of Sir Thomas in Parliament as one of the knights of the shire. Early in 1417, jointly with Sir Thomas and his wife, Cole became heir of the manor of Stockleigh Pomeroy and moieties of the manors of Harberton and Brixham after the death without children of his uncle, Sir John Pomeroy*. It was only now that, having increased his landed holdings in this way, he himself was elected knight of the shire. In 1420, shortly before her death, Sir John’s widow granted Sir Thomas and Cole the family seat at Berry. However, Cole’s interest in the Pomeroy estates seems to have soon disappeared, for Sir Thomas was said to be holding all the property at the time of his death in 1426. Perhaps Cole was bought or forced out.2

Cole normally lived at Nethway, near Dartmouth, and many of his activities were connected with that port and with maritime affairs, including an inquiry into the concealment of a Genoese ship, apparently taken by pirates. There is evidence that he took part in the invasion of France in 1415, and he was closely concerned with later expeditions, too. In May 1416 he was commissioned with a burgess of Dartmouth to muster ships and mariners in Devon and Cornwall for the large force about to put to sea under the command of Edward, Lord Courtenay. Then, in March 1417, he himself was granted royal letters of protection as a member of the retinue of Sir Thomas Carew, the latter having undertaken to guard the sea until the autumn, and make war not only on French shipping, but on vessels of Castile, Scotland and Genoa as well. In January 1418 Cole was in the service of the duke of Clarence, only to obtain, on 16 Apr. following, letters of protection during service with the admiral of England, Thomas Beaufort, duke of Exeter, no doubt also for the safe-keeping of the Channel. Three months later Cole and Thomas Treverak were contracted to be at sea from 25 July until Michaelmas with a force of 58 men-at-arms and 120 archers in their company, their express instructions being to patrol as far as possible up the River Seine, to keep the estuary open for English ships, and to protect the garrison at Harfleur from attack by water.3

This seems to have been Cole’s final period of service. He attended the parliamentary elections held at Exeter castle in the spring of 1421, and he was himself returned again as a knight of the shire two years later. His second wife died in 1421, whereupon he seems to have married a third time and to be the same as the John Cole who, with his wife Margery, received a papal indult for a portable altar in 1422. He was still alive in 1429, but probably died before 1434 when feoffees were in possession of his lands and presented an incumbent for the church at Hittesleigh. Certainly, by the following year Nethway was no longer in Cole’s possession, and ‘Uppetamer’ had come into the hands of John Cokeworthy II* of Yarnscombe.4

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421


Date of birth: C13/21/44.

OR, i. 289, 305; Reg. Stafford ed. Hingeston-Randolph 178.

  • 1. Reg. Brantingham ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 24; CIPM (Rec. Comm.), iv. 64 (the inquisition is now missing); CFR, xi. 378; CPL, vii. 314. The pedigree given by Vivian (Vis. Devon, 213) is erroneous.
  • 2. Cornw. Feet of Fines (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. 1950), 827; CP25(1)45/75/151; CFR, xi. 198, 201, 319; CCR, 1413-19, p. 451; 1419-22, pp. 157-8; 1422-9, pp. 4-5, 83; E.B. Powley, House of de la Pomerai, 67-68; Peds. Plea Rolls ed. Wrottesley, 302; Reg. Stafford, 178; CAD, i. C1397; Feudal Aids, i. 496-7; C219/10/5.
  • 3. CPR, 1405-8, p. 308; 1416-22, pp. 73, 202, 208; DKR, xliv. 595, 601, 604; N.H. Nicolas, Agincourt, 335; E404/34/128; J.H. Wylie, Hen. V, iii. 45.
  • 4. C219/12/5; CP25(1)46/81/61, 83/114, 117; Reg. Lacy ed. Hingeston-Randolph, i. 161, 272-3; CFR, xi. 378; CPL, vii. 314.