HANCOCK, Edward (c.1560-1603), of Combe Martin and Exeter, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1560, 1st s. of William Hancock of Combe Martin by his 2nd w. Joan or Jane, da. of Edward Balsh of Kentisbury. educ. Trinity Coll. Camb. 1578; I. Temple c.1580, called 1590. m. Dorothy (d.1615), da. of Amias Bampfield of Poltimore, 1s. suc. fa. 1587.

Offices Held

Clerk of assize, western circuit 1590.


Hancock was admitted to the Inner Temple free of charge at the request of ‘his near kinsman’ the lord chief justice of common pleas, Sir James Dyer. He and another student constructed their own chambers there. About 1590 Sir Walter Ralegh, who may first have met Hancock through Adrian Gilbert, bought the clerkship of assize for him from Justice Manwood for £90, and thenceforward Hancock was Ralegh’s trusted servant, in possession of his private seal. When Ralegh went to Guiana, Hancock accompanied him. Hancock’s return for Aldborough was presumably obtained through the influence of (Sir) Thomas Heneage, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, very likely at Ralegh’s request. As burgess for Aldborough he may have attended the committees concerning cloth (23 Mar.) and weirs (28 Mar.). William Strode II, himself a follower of Ralegh, presumably obtained Hancock’s return for Plympton Erle. At Barnstaple in 1601 Hancock was nominated by the Earl of Bath, though he had his own connexions with the borough, which paid him rent for Combe Martin manor, and after the election he sent the mayor a gift of venison. He sat on two minor parliamentary committees, the first concerning Rochdale, Lancashire, and second procedure, both on 11 Nov. 1601. After Ralegh’s fall Hancock committed suicide, in July 1603. Administration of his estate was granted to his widow 4 Nov., and a new administration to his daughter-in-law 28 June 1633.

Vivian, Vis. Devon, 441; C142/350/70; HMC Hatfield, iv. 507; Harl. 6995, f. 55; E. Edwards, Raleigh, ii. 83-84, 118; Barnstaple Recs. ii. 122, 166; D’Ewes, 507, 512, 634, 635; CSP Ven. 1603-7, p. 82; Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 217; PCC admons. 1603, 1633.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler