ADAMS, alias BODRUGAN, Nicholas (by 1521-57/84), of the Middle Temple, London and Townstall, Dartmouth, Devon.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. by 1521, 1st s. of John Adams of Venn, Devon by Catherine, da. and h. of John Stebbing alias Bodrugan of Dartmouth. educ. M. Temple. m. (1) Cecily, da. of Sir John Fulford of Fulford, Devon by Dorothy, da. of John Bourchier, 1st Earl of Bath, 1s.; (2) by 21 Jan. 1547, Mary.2
Counsel to Dartmouth by 1542-51 or later; commr. chantries, Devon 1546.3
Nicholas Adams came of a gentle family long associated with Dartmouth and its neighbourhood. Several of his ancestors had traded from the port and had held office there: his father and he continued this tradition, John Adams serving for many years as town clerk and Nicholas Adams being retained as counsel by the corporation. He also acted for the local gentry and various magnates: he was on especially good terms with John Saintclere, who helped him to expel rival claimants to property at Norton. In 1545 Adams and George Rolle jointly bought lands in south Devon worth £720, including the manor of Townstall where he made his home. Shortly afterwards he was at loggerheads with the vicar of Townstall, who petitioned Chancellor Wriothesley for redress on the plea that Adams was ‘well learned in the law and hath many good friends’. The outcome of this dispute is not known, but in 1547 Adams enfeoffed John Throckmorton I of his lands in Townstall and elsewhere to the use of himself, his wife and his heirs.4
Adams appears to have had his first experience of Parliament in 1547, when he sat for a recently enfranchised Cornish borough. He had no personal ties with West Looe, and his return there was probably due to a combination of circumstances. He was distantly related to John Reskymer who on this occasion was one of the knights for Cornwall. Through his first wife he was connected with Sir Thomas Arundell, receiver-general of the duchy of Cornwall, while his membership of the Middle Temple could have given him access to the lord lieutenant in the west, John, Baron Russell, and to the Queen Dowager, Catherine Parr. No trace of Adams’s role in this Parliament has been found, but during its second session he achieved his place in national history with the publication of the treatise An Epitome of the title that the kynges Maiestie of Englande hath to the souereigntie of Scotlande. One of a group of tracts supporting the union of the two kingdoms, the Epitomewished well to the intervention in Scotland currently being undertaken by the Protector Somerset, with whom the author associated Somerset’s brother Thomas, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, and reminded their critics that the enterprise had the sanction of an Act of Parliament of the previous reign (34 and 35 Hen. VIII, c.27). Although the work bore Adams’s name (complete with alias), the chief responsibility for it, and indeed its authorship, have been attributed to (Sir) Thomas Smith I, the secretary of state, and there is some contemporary evidence to support this ascription. It is most unlikely that such a piece could have been written, still less printed, save with official approval or co-operation, and Adams may well have had a considerably smaller share in it than his ostensible authorship suggests. By the time of the next Parliament, in March 1553, the project of union had failed and the Seymour brothers were dead, but his earlier enthusiasm for them did not prevent Adams’s re-election, this time for Dartmouth, where his own position was reinforced by his connexion with the two knights for Devon, his brother-in-law John Fulford and Sir Peter Carew. Not long