HELE, Sampson (c.1582-c.1655), of Gnaton, Newton Ferrers, Devon

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1582, 1st s. of Walter Hele of Gnaton and Elizabeth, da. of William Strode of Newnham, Devon.1 educ. Broadgates Hall, Oxf. May 1597, aged 15.2 m. by 1614, Joan, da. of John Glanville† of Kilworthy, j.c.p. 1598-d., 8s. (2 d.v.p.) 5da. (2 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1609.3 admon. 4 Dec. 1655.4 sig. Sampson Hele.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Devon 1620-1,5 j.p. 1624-at least 1640,6 commr. piracy 1624, 1630,7 billeting, Devon and Cornw. 1625, martial law, 1625, 1627,8 Forced Loan, Devon 1626,9 dep. lt. by 1627,10 commr. repair of St. Paul’s cathedral 1633,11 sewers 1634,12 assessment 1641-2, 1647-50, levying of money 1643.13


Hele belonged to the junior line of a minor gentry family settled in Devon since at least the twelfth century. On his father’s death in 1609 he inherited around 850 acres, including 3 manors, most of which property was located in the south-west of the county, near Plymouth and Plympton.14 In 1614 he was returned to Parliament for Plympton Erle on the interest of his cousin Sir Warwick Hele*. His nomination on 13 Apr. to help supervise the Members’ communion suggests that he enjoyed a reputation for puritan piety, but he left no other trace on the records of the Addled Parliament.15 As sheriff of Devon he was ineligible to stand at the next general election. However, in 1624 he was elected at Tavistock on the interest of his brother-in-law Francis Glanville*.16 Hele again made little impression on the Commons’ proceedings, though either he or his cousin Nicholas was appointed on 4 May to consider a naturalization bill.17

During the remainder of the 1620s Hele received numerous local government appointments. At the start of the following decade he firmly refused to compound for knighthood, but was finally forced in 1633 to pay the very heavy fine of £150.18 Despite this stand, he sided with the king during the Civil War. On campaign with Prince Maurice in 1643, he delivered the summons for the parliamentarian garrison of Dartmouth, Devon to surrender, but when he attempted the same feat at Plymouth he was arrested as a spy, and narrowly escaped with his life. In the immediate aftermath of the war Hele, who may have been protected by his Presbyterian kinsmen, such as Sir Samuel Rolle*, was appointed once more to local commissions. However, in 1650 the Devon county committee launched an inquiry into his war record and sought to confiscate his estate. Hele appealed against the investigation in the following year, apparently with some success.19 In his will, dated 10 Oct. 1653, he bequeathed more than £6,000 to his wife and children, in addition to lands he had already bestowed on them. He probably died around two years later, as his will was proved on 4 Dec. 1655. No later member of this branch of the family sat in Parliament.20

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 462.
  • 2. Al. Ox.
  • 3. Vivian, 462.
  • 4. PROB 11/246, f. 138v.
  • 5. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 37.
  • 6. C231/4, f. 164v; C66/2859.
  • 7. C181/3, f. 130v; 181/4, f. 52v.
  • 8. APC, 1625-6, pp. 55-6; 1627-8, p. 79; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 1, p. 180.
  • 9. C193/12/2, f. 11.
  • 10. SP16/78/2.
  • 11. GL, ms 25475/1, f. 14.
  • 12. C181/4, f. 164.
  • 13. SR, v. 61, 83, 150; A. and O. i. 228, 963, 1080; ii. 32, 296.
  • 14. Vivian, 461-2; C142/311/121.
  • 15. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 74.
  • 16. Vivian, 411.
  • 17. CJ, i. 783b. A nomination on 1 May concerning a Herts. estate bill should probably be assigned to William Nyell (Neale): ibid. 696b, 782a.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 73; M. Wolffe, Gentry Leaders in Peace and War, 87.
  • 19. CCAM, 1248-50; CCC, 397, 456; Vivian, 462.
  • 20. PROB 11/246, ff. 136v-8v.