WOOLTON, John (c.1564-1614), of Exeter and Pilton, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
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Family and Education

b. c.1564, 1st s. of John Woolton of Whalley, Lancs. by his 1st w. educ. All Souls, Oxf. BA Feb. 1585, MA Jan. 1588, fellow, MB and MD July 1599. m. Elizabeth, at least 4s. 2da. suc. fa. 1594.1

Offices Held


Woolton presumably owed his seat in the Commons to his father, a former Marian exile who occupied the see of Exeter for nearly 15 years, and was a friend of the 2nd Earl of Bedford. The bishop’s liberty of Truro adjoined the borough. Woolton’s mother, who died about 1581, was the daughter of a priest. The Wooltons were closely related by marriage to the Nowell brothers—Dean Alexander of St. Paul’s, Dean Laurence of Lichfield and Robert—and, through them, with the puritan Bowyer family of London and Sussex, several of whom sat in Elizabethan Parliaments. Woolton himself was licensed to practice medicine in 1593, having already settled in Exeter. He remained in the city at least until 1606, when one of his children was baptized in the cathedral, and then retired to Pillon or Pillard in the parish of Pilton, near Barnstaple, an estate bought by his father. There he died 26 Oct. 1614, aged about 50. His will, dated the previous day, was proved in February 1615. The elder daughter, Elizabeth, was left £100 and the younger, Mary, 100 marks, but they were to receive their legacies only if they married with the approval of the executors. Minor bequests were made to his brother Matthew, to two sisters, including the wife of Thomas Barrett, archdeacon of Exeter, to an ‘apprentice’ called Katherine, and to the poor of Pilton. An inquisition, held at Barnstaple in September 1616, showed that most of his estates were in and around Pilton and were held of Robert Chichester, the leading figure in that part of Devon. All the children were under age, the heir, Anthony, being 14 years and 4 months.2

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: M.R.P.


  • 1. J. Raach, Directory of Eng. Country Physicians, 94; PCC 20 Rudd, 37 Dixy.
  • 2. DNB (Woolton or Wolton, John); The Spending of the Money of Robert Nowell, ed. Grosart, 267 n; Strype, Whitgift, iii. 153-8; Rectors of Manchester and Wardens of Collegiate Ch., ed. F. R. Raines (Chetham Soc. new ser v.) 84-9; Trans. Dev. Assoc. lxxxi. 204; Exeter in 17th Cent. ed. W. G. Hoskins (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. n.s. ii), 5; PCC 20 Rudd; C142/663/172.