POLLARD, Richard (by 1505-42), of Putney, Surr., London and Forde Abbey, Dorset.
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Family and Education
b. by 1505, 2nd s. of Sir Lewis Pollard of Kings Nympton, Devon by Agnes, da. of Thomas Hext of Kingston, nr. Totnes, Devon. educ. M. Temple, adm. 4 July 1519. m. by 1528, Jacquetta, 1da. of John Bury of Colliton, Devon, 3s. inc. Sir John 1da. Kntd. 16 Jan. 1542.4
Autumn reader, M. Temple 1535, ?bencher by 1535.5
Servant of Sir William Courtenay I by 1532; j.p. Devon 1532, Mdx. 1537-d., western circuit 1540-d.; King’s remembrancer May 1536-d.; third gen. surveyor, office of gen. surveyors Feb. 1537, second 1539; sheriff, Devon 1537-8; member, council in the west 1539; steward, late possessions of Henry, Marquess of Exeter 1539-d.; second gen. surveyor, ct. gen. surveyors of the King’s lands May 1542-d.6
Richard Pollard began his career as a practising lawyer; he had chambers above the gateway to the Middle Temple, received annuities from Cornish and Devonshire abbeys, and served on the council of the south-western magnate, Sir William Courtenay. The employment by Courtenay, which included accompanying him on monastic visitations, brought Pollard to the attention of Cromwell, for whom he was working before Courtenay’s death. In the summer of 1535, at Cromwell’s request and in company with other common lawyers, he met several doctors from the court of arches to discuss spiritual jurisdiction. Afterwards he wrote to Cromwell about the unsatisfactory nature of the meeting, and suggested: if it may stand with the King’s grace’s pleasure and yours, it were better to devise a remedy that the temporal judges may hereafter have jurisdiction of all such crimes and causes as the ecclesiastical judges have had jurisdiction heretofore, and by that means we shall have but one law within this realm, which I think better in my poor mind than to have several laws.Although his radical proposal was not adopted, Pollard continued in favour and his name appears often in Cromwell’s remembrances. His experience suggests that he was the ‘Pollarde’ who supplied a series of entries found appended to a set of law reports made by Justice John Spelman.7
The suggestion that Pollard was returned for Taunton to the Parliament of 1536 rests on the appearance of his name on a list, seemingly of nominees for the bishop of Winchester’s boroughs, written by Cromwell on a document probably of that year. Cromwell had sat for Taunton in the Parliament of 1529 (with William Portman, who also appears on the above list for that borough), but he presumably transferred to a knighthood of the shire in 1536, although there is no evidence for this. In the next two Parliaments Pollard sat for Devon: his knighthood of that shire was a measure of his local and official standing, and it was amplified by his being knighted in the parliament chamber at the opening of Parliament on 16 Jan. 1542. Two weeks later, together with his fellow-Members Richard Catlyn, John Caryll and Sir Roger Townshend, Pollard was approached by the city of London to sponsor a bill for cleaning the Fleet ditch. Pollard’s brother-in-law, Sir Hugh Paulet, was sheriff on the occasion of his second election for the county.8
As a royal surveyor, Pollard was concerned with the suppression of the lesser Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Yorkshire monasteries in 1537, as well as of Glastonbury and Reading abbeys between the parliamentary sessions of 1539. He supervised the defacement of the shrines at Bury St. Edmunds, Winchester and Canterbury, where he was described as so busy night and day ‘in prayer with offering unto St. Thomas’ that he had ‘no idle worldly time’ to spare until his ‘spiritual devotion’ was completed. The recipient of numerous gifts and annuities (in 1541 he was assessed for subsidy in London at £230 in lands and fees), Pollard acquired his greatest prize with the grant in 1540 of Forde abbey—then in Devon—which he had leased the previous year. He was nominated as a founder member of the council in the west in 1539 with permission to attend at his pleasure or when summoned.9
The fall of Cromwell did not arrest Pollard’s progress: he was one of the outstanding civil servants of the period, and when the new court of general surveyors was instituted he was appointed its joint first officer. His death on 10 Nov. 1542 removed the prospect of yet higher office and of the establishment of his family in greater state. It is not known who replaced him for the last two sessions of the Parliament of 1542.