CROCKER, John, of Tavistock and Hele, 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

s. and h. of William Crocker† of Hele. m. Joan, 1s.

Offices Held

Portreeve, Tavistock Oct. 1393-4.1

Commr. to cause merchants to make restitution for piracy, Plymouth Oct. 1405, Feb. 1406; of oyer and terminer, Devon Oct. 1412.


Crocker’s ancestors included Richard Crocker, MP for Tavistock in 1335 (whose assessment at 16s. to the subsidy of 1332 had then been the second highest in the town), and his father sat for the same borough in January 1377.2 Various members of the family served as portreeve of Tavistock in the 14th century, and John himself was holding that office at the time of his only known election to Parliament. He witnessed deeds at Tavistock between 1378 and 1398, and paid rent to the abbey for two tenements and a messuage in the town as well as for land at Newton and Inswell Down within the lordship of Hurdwick.3

John’s father had obtained in 1383 a licence from the diocesan to have mass celebrated in the chapel at Hele. Precisely when John inherited the family lands is not known, but in 1395 he brought an action at the Exeter assizes for property in Black Torrington, and from 1398 onwards he was often designated as ‘of Hele’. His landed holdings included several acres at Cheriton Bishop and elsewhere, which he settled in 1398 on John Smyth and his wife Joan, for their lives; and in 1400 he himself acquired a lease for life of the manor of Hemmerdon, for which he agreed to pay £4 13s.4d. p.a. Five years later Crocker served on the jury which met at Exeter to assess a parliamentary subsidy levied on those owning land worth £20 a year or more, but whether it was he or his son, John Crocker of Lineham, who fell into the same category of wealthier Devonshire landowners when further assessments were made in 1412 remains uncertain.4

Crocker acted as a trustee of the property in and near Plymouth which belonged to Richard Spicer I*, one of his fellow trustees apparently being John Holand, earl of Huntingdon, whose condemnation for treason in 1400 led to the confiscation of the premises by the Crown. Crocker ‘of Hele’ attended the parliamentary elections held at Exeter in April 1413 and October 1414, having in the meantime become involved in a dispute over land at Plympton Erle and elsewhere.5 However, it is not always easy to distinguish him from his son and namesake, especially as the date of his death is not recorded.6

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. Trans. Devon Assoc. lxxix. 150.
  • 2. Ibid. lxxi. 151, 155, 157; lxxix. 149.
  • 3. Tavistock Parish Recs. ed. Worth, 72-73; Devon RO, Bedford mss, D2/144, 179, T1258 M/S21, f. 134, D84/29, ff. 7, 14.
  • 4. Reg. Brantingham ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 494; JUST 1/1502 m. 144d; CP25(1)45/69/196; Plymouth Lib. Woolcombe mss, 16, 18-20, 22; E179/95/69; Feudal Aids, vi. 418.
  • 5. CIMisc. vii. 75; CPR, 1399-1401, p. 276; C219/11/1, 4; CCR, 1413-19, p. 46.
  • 6. See Vivian, Vis. Devon, 254 and Trans. Devon Assoc. lvii. 316-17. The younger John Crocker m. by 1400, Alice, da. of John Gambon, senior, thereby acquiring the manor of Lineham in Yealmpton: Reg. Stafford ed. Hingeston-Randolph, 274; CP25(1)46/82/90. It was probably he who served on important royal commissions in Devon and Cornw. between 1416 and 1432 and attended the parliamentary elections at Exeter in 1420, 1423 and 1425. His extensive lands eventually descended to his gds. Sir John Crocker†, knight of the shire for Devon in 1491: C219/12/4, 13/2, 3; Feudal Aids, i. 453-5, 457, 461, 485.