MICHELL, Ralph (by 1523-78), of Bodmin, Cornw.
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Family and Education
Mayor, Bodmin 1551-2, 1560-1, 1571-2, capital burgess, 1563.2
Ralph Michell’s return as the second Member for his home town to the third Parliament of Mary’s reign was probably the apogee of his municipal career. He was of gentle origin, but by trade he was a tin merchant who was assessed towards the subsidy at Bodmin as early as 1544. Presumably he owed his opportunity to sit in Parliament as much to his local eminence as to the Queen’s wish in the autumn of 1554 that residents should be chosen, and to the chance that one seat was unexpectedly available owing to the election of Henry Chiverton as a knight for Cornwall. The names of both Michell and his fellow-Member John Courtenay were inserted on the indenture in a different hand: both men quitted the Parliament prematurely without leave and for their dereliction were informed against in the King’s bench. Michell failed to answer his summons until Hilary term 1557, by which time he had been fined 31s., and he then asked for judgment to be deferred until the next law term: when Easter term came, no further process was taken against him and the case was allowed to lapse. He was chosen mayor twice more at Bodmin but never again a Member of Parliament.3
In 1566 Michell was involved in a dispute over the ownership of lands in the parish of St. Teath, which he claimed to have purchased from two of the heirs of Thomas Trehanek: a commission was appointed to ascertain the truth of the matter and his title to the property was evidently upheld. As one of the capital burgesses named in the town’s charter of 1563, he was obliged to reside in Bodmin. Michell evidently lived there until his death in 1578, when he was succeeded by his elder son, Gilbert.4