POLLINGTON, Ralph (by 1519-87), of Wallingford, Berks.
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Family and Education
b. by 1519, s. of Thomas Pollington of Wallingford. m. (1) by 1546, Joan, at least 2s.; (2) Agnes, 4s. 3da; at least 1 ch. illegit.2
Mayor, Wallingford 1549, 1552, 1555, 1557, 1558, 1568.3
During the first half of the 16th century, the family of Pollington was rivalled in Wallingford only by that of à Deane. Ralph Pollington’s father was a mercer who had been a freeman at least since 1507, and first became mayor in 1513, after which he and William à Deane practically monopolized this office for 30 years. At first William à Deane the elder was assessed as the richer man, but by 1525 Pollington headed the list. He remained the wealthiest townsman until his death in the summer of 1547 after which Ralph increased the family’s pre-eminence.4
Pollington followed his father into trade and dealt in cloth. It is probable that he was the eldest son, for he was his father’s residuary legatee and sole executor, receiving all the property in Wallingford. There were, however, both a brother called John, who was left some lands in Oxfordshire, and several other children, to each of whom Ralph was enjoined to pay £20. He himself had already started to accumulate property. In 1540 he bought a cottage and garden at Wallingford and in 1542 several orchards and crofts at Fawley, Buckinghamshire: this second purchase involved him in a chancery suit shortly before the death of Henry VIII. In December 1546 he and one John Petyt were licensed to acquire the neighbouring manor of Wyfold in Oxfordshire.5
After his father’s death, Pollington became more prominent in borough affairs. It is likely that a man as prominent as his father had sat in one or more of the early Parliaments of Henry VIII, for which no returns have survived, and his son was an obvious choice if a townsman was to replace Henry Huntley, whose Membership of Edward VI’s first Parliament was cut short by his death in 1549. The appearance of Pollington’s name on the list of Members revised for the last session of that Parliament shows that he was indeed by-elected to it. With but a single session to his credit, he might have expected to be returned to the next Parliament. On that occasion, however, both Wallingford seats went to non-townsmen, and Pollington was not to sit again until 1558.6
It is possible that his landed interests and the lawsuits arising from them made Pollington reluctant to continue as a Member. His lease of a fulling mill from the royal manor of Ewelme in 1549 brought no trouble, but his purchases at Fawley were the subject of further proceedings. Preparations were made to try the case locally, which so alarmed Pollington that he petitioned the chancellor to transfer it to London. Among other reasons for this adjournment he explained that he ‘is now daily attendant at this present Parliament ... and cannot therefore attend the trial of the said issue with such diligence as is therein requisite’. In the first year of Mary’s reign he again invoked the law, when trying to evict a widow from her tenement on his manor of Wyfold: the court of requests finding that the defendant had forfeited it by being ‘incontinent of her living’ since her husband’s death. This was a triumph for property but not for morality, for Pollington was himself to leave an illegitimate child. His attitude to the Catholic restoration is not known, but he was to be mayor of Wallingford three times under Mary.7
Pollington was not re-elected to Parliament after 1558, but he was to serve once more as mayor and remained active in local affairs until his death on 19 Dec. 1587. By his will made on 3 May 1585 and styling him gentleman he asked to be buried in St. Peter’s church, Wallingford, and provided for his family. Further to an earlier settlement in favour of his two elder sons, John and Ralph, he gave them £10 apiece, with the injunction not to contest the will as ‘either of them will answer before God at the dreadful day of judgment’. Agnes, his second wife and executrix, had to support the younger children under a bond of £300 to the overseers, Thomas Farmer† and Michael Molyns†.8
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: T. F.T. Baker
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament; Hatfield 207.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 45 Alen, 80 Spencer; C1/1312/56; 142/217/130.
- 3. Berks. RO, W/AC a1, ff. 59v, 60v, 71v, 72v; J. K. Hedges, Wallingford, ii. 228.
- 4. Berks. RO, W/AC a1, ff. 1, 8, 15v, 18, 21, 24; E179/73/128, 156, 74/216.
- 5. Berks. RO, W/AC a1, f. 52v; C1/1152/27; LP Hen. VIII, xxi.
- 6. Hedges, ii. 312.
- 7. CPR, 1558-60, p. 393; C1/1312/56-57; Req. 2/22/32, 75/2.
- 8. Berks. RO, W/AC a1, f. 68; C142/217/130; PCC 80 Spencer.