SNELL, Nicholas (by 1515-77), of Kington St. Michael, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. by 1515, o.s. of Richard Snell of Kington St. Michael by Joan, da. of Nicholas Marsh of Easton. m. (1) by 1537, Alice, da. of John Pye of Rowdon, 3s. inc. John† 5da.; (2) Mary, da. of William Clevelood of Wilts., s.p. suc. fa. 1547.2
?Servant to abbot of Glastonbury by 1540; commr. relief, Wilts. 1550; j.p. 1554-58/59, q. 1561-d.; servant to earls of Pembroke by 1555-d.; sheriff, Wilts. 1566-7.3
Either Nicholas Snell or his father Richard, a yeoman of the crown, was in the service of the last abbot of Glastonbury. Possibly both men were, for in 1534 the father obtained the grant of a corrody in the abbey and six years later the son took a crown lease of the tithes of hay and corn of a rectory in Wiltshire belonging to it; the lease for 21 years at £10 a year was granted on the surrender of an earlier lease by the abbot, but it is not known whether Snell himself was the original lessee. In 1536 Snell and his father leased the manor or chantry of West Hatch and eight years later Snell purchased the manor of Kington St. Michael, formerly a grange of Glastonbury, from the crown for some £800. In the years following his father’s death he added considerably to his lands in Wiltshire. His knowledge of the ex-monastic land in the county must have put him in a favourable position as a purchaser, and may also have been the first cause of his connexion with another buyer, William Herbert I, 1st Earl of Pembroke, whose steward he became. According to the visitation of 1523 his first wife Alice was a daughter of George Pye of Oxford, but no such person has been traced, whereas John Pye of Rowdon was a Wiltshire gentleman of similar standing to the Snells and, like Richard Snell, a yeoman of the crown: ‘Oxford’ is probably a misreading for ‘Hereford’, the Pyes’ native city4.
Snell had recently been placed on the bench and was lessee of Chippenham hundred and a considerable landowner in Wiltshire when returned to Parliament for Chippenham, where his name was inserted on the indenture in a different hand. He was not one of the Members who opposed a government bill in 1555 but his name is one of those marked with a circle on a copy of the list of Members for 1558; the significance of this annotation has yet to be explained. Like his master Pembroke, Snell must have been adaptable in his religious views, to which his will of 20 Dec. 1576 furnishes no clue. He died on 31 Mar. 1577.5