DUKE, Richard (by 1515-72), of London and Otterton, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. by 1515, 1st s. of Henry Duke by Maud, da. of Roger White. educ. I. Temple, adm. 8 Feb. 1533. m. (1) by Apr. 1539, Elizabeth, da. of John Franke of Yorks., 1da.; (2) settlement 20 Apr. 1562, Joan, da. of Thomas Hoby or Halby of London, wid. of William Pantin of London and John Sprint of Bristol, Glos. 1s. d.v.p.2
Clerk, ct. augmentations 1536-54; j.p. Devon 1547-d., Dorset, Mdx., Som. 1547; commr. relief, Devon, Dorset, Exeter 1550; sheriff, Devon 1563-4.3
Richard Duke, the grandson of an Exeter merchant, was appointed clerk of the council of the court of augmentations at the establishment of the court in 1536 and held the office until its dissolution, when he was granted an annuity of £133 6s.8d. in recompense for the cancellation of his life grant. As clerk he was well placed to take advantage of the distribution of monastic and chantry land. His earliest acquisition was the lease of Pilton priory, Devon, in December 1536 and his first large purchase was in February 1540 of the manors of East Budleigh and Otterton, Devon, for nearly £1,730. The Dukes are said to have lived at Otterton from the time of Edward III and the manor became Richard Duke’s chief residence outside London; before this he had had a home in Colchester. He further increased his land holding in the west country in the 1540s, buying in 1542 the manor of Templecombe, Somerset, in 1544 the island of Brownsea, Dorset, in 1546 the manors of Weston, Dorset and (with his brother John Duke) Collaton Abbot, Devon, and receiving by royal grants Upper Budleigh and (with his brother) manors in Devon and Somerset. Duke also speculated in property and negotiated transactions on behalf of others.4
In 1545 Duke’s superior in augmentations, Sir Thomas Arundell, managed the parliamentary elections in the south-west. Duke presumably owed his nomination at Weymouth together with Roger Stourton to Arundell, who was himself chosen as knight for Dorset. Two years later Arundell was re-elected for the same shire, but on this occasion Duke turned to Dartmouth where his family had had connexions in the 15th century. His fellow-Member, Sir Peter Carew, was lord of the borough and an associate of Sir John Russell, Baron Russell, who may have been patron at Weymouth in 1545: both these men could have promoted Duke’s election at Dartmouth since they and others were to share with him three years later the potentially lucrative grant to mine iron and coal on Dartmoor and Exmoor, but his Membership in 1547 was probably the work of Arundell who had obtained the election of one of Duke’s colleagues previously at Dartmouth. Duke is not known to have been returned to Parliament after the fall of his patron.5
Although Duke lost his clerkship in augmentations with the abolition of the court in 1554 he was evidently not out of favour during the reign of Mary since he continued on the Devon bench. He gave no less satisfaction under Elizabeth, who pricked him sheriff towards the end of his career. In April 1562 he set up a trust for himself and his second wife, and after their deaths for their son, if they should have one. A son was born but died in infancy, and Duke’s heirs when he himself died on 8 Sept. 1572 were his daughter, Christina, who inherited the greater part of the property, and his nephew, the son of John Duke to whom the use of the trust set up in 1562 remained. Duke died without making a will: letters of administration of his estate were granted first on 10 Sept. 1573, to his widow and then, three days later, jointly to his widow and his daughter, then the wife of her stepmother’s son Gregory Sprint†.6