COLE, Thomas II, of Melcombe Regis, Dorset.
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Family and Education
m. by 1400, Willelma, prob. wid. of Henry Frompton† of Melcombe.
Mayor, Melcombe Sept. 1396-7, 1408-9.1
Commr. to prevent ships of over 30 tons from leaving Weymouth and Melcombe May 1401.
Controller, customs and subsidies, Melcombe and adjacent ports 26 Feb.-Oct. 1405; collector 30 July 1408-c.1409.
Searcher of ships, Melcombe 12 Nov. 1405-c.1416.
Cole was already a well-to-do burgess of Melcombe Regis by 1397, when, during his first mayoralty, he employed his own chaplain. Like his contemporary and namesake, Thomas Cole I* of Weymouth, he traded from Melcombe in cloth and wine. It was, however, certainly he of Melcombe who, sometime in Richard II’s reign (the exact date is not known), was elected by his fellow merchants as mayor of the Staple in his home port. As well as being involved in overseas trade, Cole had commercial links along the English coast; and in 1404 William Cole of Dartmouth (there is no evidence of a relationship) sued him in the court of common pleas for a debt of £4. On 13 Feb. 1405, a fortnight before his appointment as controller of customs at Melcombe, Cole went surety at the Exchequer for Thomas Barbour* (alias Frye) and Roger Eburton, newly-appointed alnagers for Dorset, and in March following he provided additional assurances that Eburton would not default on the Exchequer’s demands for the subsidy on cloth sold in Middlesex.2 He held important royal offices in Melcombe, not only those of controller and collector of customs (the latter concurrently with his second mayoralty), but also that of searcher of ships in the estuary, a post he occupied for about 11 years. He was returned to Parliament for the second time (1407) during his term as searcher.
As well as property in Melcombe, Cole owned as many as 25 messuages in three other Dorset towns: Wareham, Dorchester and Weymouth. In 1403 he and his wife Willelma, who was probably the widow of Henry Frompton (parliamentary representative for Melcombe in 1380 and 1383), had conveyed their holdings to Robert Veel*, a leading Dorset lawyer, and to William Ekerdon, clerk, a close associate of Sir Humphrey Stafford I* of Hooke. In addition, the couple owned a messuage in Salisbury, which in the same year they sold to William Coventre II*.3 As one of the delegates from Melcombe, Cole attended the meetings of the shire court held at Dorchester to report the results of the elections to the Parliaments of 1410, 1414, 1420 and 1421. He is last recorded when performing this service on 10 Nov. 1421.4