COCK, John II (by 1506-57), of London and Broxbourne, Herts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Constituency

Dates

1547
Mar. 1533
Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1506, s. of William Cock of Broxbourne by Joan Foster. educ. I. Temple, adm. 1520. m. by 1538, Anne, da. of Thomas Goodere of Hadley, Herts., 3s. inc. Henry 2da.5

Offices Held

Autumn reader, I. Temple 1546.

Attorney-gen. duchy of Cornw. 1532-d.; j.p. Herts. 1540-?d., Mdx. 1544; attorney to Queen Catherine Parr in 1543, treasurer by 1545, receiver-gen. 29 Sept. 1545-8; chamberlain or receiver, ct. gen. surveyors of the King’s lands by 1545-Jan. 1547; steward for Thomas, Baron Seymour of Sudeley, unknown property by 1548; sheriff, Essex and Herts. 1548-9; commr. chantries 1548, relief, Herts. and Mdx. 1550, goods of churches and fraternities, Southwark 1553, other commissions, Herts. 1538-51; master of requests 13 Mar. 1550-3; PC Mar. 1552.6

Biography

The name John Cock or Coke was so common, especially in London, that it is difficult to decide which, if any, of the earlier references concern this Member. A family so named had long been settled in Hertfordshire, whence some of its members moved to London. Between 1533 and 1538 Thomas Coke,brewer of London, sued John Cock, gentleman—almost certainly the Member—in Chancery, claiming lands at Amwell, Broxbourne, Hoddesdon and Wormley as great-grandson of an earlier John Coke of Broxbourne; unfortunately Cock in his denial of the plaintiff’s title did not set out the details of his own descent. His father William Cock was a wealthy man, one of only four in Hertford hundred rated at £50 a year for the subsidy of 1526-7; he was perhaps a son of that John Cock of Wormley who died in 1480, having fathered ten sons and three daughters. The Member may also have been related to John Coke of London and Essex, clerk to the Merchant Adventurers and to the Mercers’ Company, and clerk of the recognizances, for both men were connected with the Dormer family; Coke of London had been under clerk of the recognizances to Richard Rich before becoming clerk, and the Member was also connected with Rich, for his wife’s half-brother Thomas Wroth married one of Rich’s daughters. Yet another John Cock or Cocks, a London salter, had Hertfordshire connexions; he described himself in a chancery case as ‘a man not learned nor lettered’, so that it was almost certainly not he but the Member who by 1540 had become a justice of the peace and commissioner for oyer and terminer for the liberty of St. Alban’s.7

Cock was extremely active in the land market. In January 1544 he purchased Broxbourne manor, formerly the property of the Knights Hospitallers, Tewin manor, and other ex-monastic land in Hertfordshire, Middlesex and Surrey, for a total of £1,340; two months later he resold the manor of Shere, Surrey. Between July and September of the same year he paid £228 for a manor and land at Anstey, Hertfordshire, and jointly with Sir Michael Dormer and presumably to Dormer’s use, £359 for land in Shropshire, Yorkshire and three other counties; in August 1544 a further £298 for the site and lands of New Bigging priory, Hitchin, and property outside Hertfordshire which he later resold; and £478 for further Hertfordshire land and £405 for land in other counties. In all, these transactions involved over £8,000, and Cock was to retain until his death land which had cost him almost £1,500. He may have taken advantage of his post in the court of general surveyors to buy land as an agent for friends or relatives to whom he then resold.8

By 1545 Cock’s seniority in the Inner Temple brought him the position of Autumn reader. On 2 Nov. he undertook to read ‘according to his due course’ but defaulted and was amerced 100 marks. In May 1546 it was decided to tell the King and Queen about his dereliction, and in June, perhaps as a result of this, he promised to read at the next summer vacation; presumably he did so, for in October ‘the matter of Master Cock concerning his reading’ was postponed until the following parliament of the inn and that was the end of the affair. He remained a bencher of his inn but attended few of its parliaments after 1546, and none between November 1547 and July 1557, his last appearance.9

Although a wealthy man, probably from success at the bar, Cock owed his public career and his mastership of requests mainly to his connexion with Queen Catherine Parr. As her attorney by 1543, he was paid a retainer of £10 a year and fees for legal work; he also received perquisites, such as £4 a year as steward of her lands in Essex and Hertfordshire. In March 1543 he was paid £13 6s.8d. for his services in connexion with the jointure settlement made upon the Queen’s marriage with Henry VIII. In these, which took him 15 weeks, and other tasks he must have given satisfaction, for the Queen appointed him treasurer of her chamber and, in September 1545, her receiver-general, a post which he probably held until her last marriage, with Baron Seymour.10

Cock had a long and active parliamentary career. This may have begun in 1542 when one John Cook was returned for Orford, although no connexion is known between Cock and either Orford or the borough’s patron, Sir William Willoughby, later 1st Baron Willoughby of Parham. In 1545 he was first chosen for Hertfordshire: his ascendancy over others of equal or higher standing there was doubtless aided by his royal connexion. Two years later he seems to have received two nominations: he was elected for both Cardiff and Calne, although in the absence of a return his election at Calne rests upon the evidence of the list of Members for the Parliament. Whose patronage was at work in either borough it is not easy to say. At Cardiff (Sir) William Herbert I, later 1st Earl of Pembroke, was the key figure, but he could have acted on behalf of the Queen, who was his sister-in-law, or of her new husband Baron Seymour. At Calne, too, Herbert could have intervened—he was himself to sit for Wiltshire in this Parliament—but again there are other possibilities, with both Catherine Parr and Thomas Seymour as possible patrons, and Cock’s marriage relationship to Francis Goodere, who had represented Calne in 1545 but died before August 1547, also to be borne in mind. Chosen for both boroughs, Cock presumably opted to sit for Calne and was replaced at Cardiff by Sir Philip Hoby, for it is Hoby’s name which is entered against Cardiff on the list of Members dating from 1551-2. Yet the story does not end there, for on that list Cock appears as one of the knights for Hertfordshire. A vacancy had occurred in the county twice since the Parliament opened, first on (Sir) Anthony Denny’s death in 1549 and then on Sir Henry Parker’s (who replaced Denny) on 6 Jan. 1552. Cock had been debarred from standing on the first occasion because he was sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire at the time, but in January 1552 he replaced Parker, and this despite the Privy Council’s instruction of 19 Jan. to the sheriff to secure the election of (Sir) Ralph Sadler. It is surprising that Cock, who already had a seat in Parliament, should have been preferred to Sadler, who so far as is known had not.11

If activity in the House was any criterion, Cock could claim to have earned the promotion. In each of the two previous sessions he had had a bill committed to him, he had been named in November 1549 to the delegation sent to excuse ‘Mr. Palmer, burgess’ from appearing in the common pleas, and more duties were to follow. On 27 Jan. 1552 the unsuccessful bill ‘for ploughing of arable ground’ was committed to Cock after a single reading, and on 15 Mar. its replacement, which emerged as the Act for the maintenance and increase of tillage and corn (5 and 6 Edw. VI, c.5), was committed to him before being engrossed. Even more significant was the choice of Cock on 21 Mar. 1552 as one of the committee of six lawyers instructed to draw up a new bill for the punishment of treason. In the second of Edward VI’s Parliaments, when Cock again sat as knight of the shire for Hertfordshire, he had a bill for the retail sale of wine committed to him.12

One of the two full-time masters of requests in Edward VI’s reign, Cock became a Privy Councillor in March 1552. He was one of eight Councillors commissioned to decide which of the suits brought before the Council were to be granted; the commission was headed by the 1st Earl of Bedford and Lord Darcy, who presumably decided political matters, with Cock and John Lucas giving legal guidance. Foxe relates that the King interested himself in poor men’s suits and arranged times with Cock to discuss them.13

Cock avoided, perhaps as a result of illness, direct involvement in the attempt to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne, but his career under Edward VI made him suspect to Mary and he was arrested and sent to the Fleet before the end of July 1553. On 3 Aug. he and Lucas were sent to their homes under virtual house-arrest, but whereas Lucas was soon granted, on the ground of illness, freedom ‘from being prisoner in his own house’, no similar order for Cock’s release has been found. This confinement, and the suspicion which led to it, doubtless explain his absence from the Parliament of October 1553; that Parliament was already three weeks old when on 27 Oct. he received his pardon, in which he was described as resident in St. John’s Street, Middlesex, but formerly at Broxbourne. He lost his mastership of requests, although the Privy Council once or twice ordered him to carry out small tasks for which his legal experience fitted him. He also regained his knighthood of the shire, sitting in the next three Parliaments and having further bills committed to him. In April 1554 one of his servants was granted privilege, and in 1555 he followed the lead of Sir Anthony Kingston in opposing one of the government’s bills.14

Cock continued his acquisition of land under Edward VI and Mary. At his death he owned five manors and other lands in Hertfordshire, land at Clavering, Essex, and a manor in Anglesey, which he authorized his executors to sell because ‘my debts do amount to a great sum’ and could not be met out of his revenues in Hertfordshire. He made his will on 4 July 1553, being then sick, but did not die until 6 Sept. 1557. He was buried four days later in Broxbourne church ‘without any pomp or sumptuousness’, in accordance with his own request. He left to his wife—who later married George Penruddock—her full third share of his freehold property for her life and also his leasehold land in Wormley and elsewhere; another third went to his heir and one manor to his two younger sons. The residue of Cock’s property was left to his executors for payment of his debts and to provide 400 marks each for his two daughters and his unborn child. A schedule of annuities left to friends and servants is mentioned in the will, but is not with the probate copy of it. Anne Cock alone proved the will, in May 1558; of the other five executors appointed, Cock’s heir Henry renounced probate and his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Wroth and son-in-law Thomas Crawley (assuming that he was the Elizabethan Member for Aylesbury) were in exile in Germany at the time.15

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. F. Coros

Notes

  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament; Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 4. C219/24/77; OR gives John ‘Cobbys’.
  • 5. Date of birth estimated from education. Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxii), 5; PCC 45 Alen, 24 Noodes.
  • 6. Information from G. Haslam; Rep. R. Comm. of 1552 (Archs. of Brit. Hist. and Culture iii), 65, 187; LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xv, xvii, xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 76; 1548-9, p. 135; 1550-3, pp. 141, 395; 1553, pp. 328, 354, 356, 417; E163/12/17, nos. 38, 51, 54; 315/161, ff. 17, 76, 142, 479, f. 2; Sel. Pleas Ct. of Requests (Selden Soc. xii), pp. civ seq.; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 499; APC, ii. 410; iv. 289; Req. 2/101/47.
  • 7. C1/758/53-56, 1205/38-41; 33/4, f. 151; Trans. E. Herts. Arch. Soc. ix. 121; E179/120/129; Acts Ct. of Mercers, ed. Lyell and Watney, 300.
  • 8. LP Hen. VIII, xix, xx.
  • 9. Cal. I.T. Recs. i. pp. xlv, 58, 138, 140, 142-4, 152, 193.
  • 10. E315/161, f. 142, 340, ff. 18, 66v; SP1/195/161.
  • 11. Wilts. N. and Q. iv. 119; APC, iii