BEARE, Ellis, of Nether Exe, Devon.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
m. by 1395, Margaret, ?1s.
Tax collector, Devon May, Dec. 1384.1
Although Beare’s family background is obscure, it seems very likely that he was a native of Devon and that he was chosen as parliamentary burgess by three boroughs of the county because of his profession as a lawyer. Beare’s practice was not restricted to the local courts, although he was sought after as an attorney at the Exeter assizes; he combined his visits to Westminster for the Parliaments with business in the central courts on behalf of several Devonshire landowners. Thus, for example, in 1383 he was a mainpernor at the Exchequer for the farmer of the bailiwick of the hundred of East Budleigh; four years later he acted similarly for a lessee of property in Exeter, Topsham and Forde; and over the years he often appeared in Chancery to offer sureties for the peace or to stand bail for local men. Among his associates in the 1380s and 1390s were other successful lawyers such as John Prescott*, William Burlestone* and John Ellemede*, and his clients included the prior of Totnes.2
As well as property in Ashburton, which he held in right of his wife, Beare acquired a small estate at Nether Exe, situated to the north of Exeter. In March 1401 he was granted a joint lease of several holdings in the city itself, but was required to relinquish them only two years later when one of the leading citizens, Adam Scut*, successfully proved his title to the same in Chancery. In May 1409 Beare obtained a royal commission of oyer and terminer to bring to trial Richard Dollebury and others who, he alleged, had broken down his fences at Nether Exe and tried to murder him in his bed. He said that he had been forced to flee naked, had injured himself scaling a wall to escape his attackers and had been pursued all the way to Rewe. His tenants in Nether Exe, Rewe and Silverton had suffered from threats to their lives. He is probably last recorded in 1415 when Thomas Barton, one of the canons of Exeter, bequeathed to him a cup of ‘mazer-wood’ bound with silver, and 20s. in money,3 for although it is not impossible that he was the Ellis Beare who attended the parliamentary elections held at Exeter in 1421 and 1425, this seems very unlikely.4