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Of the several namesakes traceable in the mid 16th century the most distinguished and the one most likely to have been the Member for Westbury was an attorney practising in the court of common pleas. During the late 1540s the attorney acted in the court on behalf of a west-country clientele, including among others John Perte, Nicholas Poyntz and Thomas Tyndale. In 1559 Sir Edward Rogers and Sir Thomas Throckmorton named him with Sir Maurice Berkeley, Sir Giles Poole, Sir John Thynne and others in a settlement made on the marriage of Throckmorton’s son and Rogers’s daughter. Of the parties to this settlement four had been Members of the Parliament of 1547 and Throckmorton and Thynne had sat for Wiltshire constituencies. As Stokes’s partner was another Throckmorton the patronage operating for that group could account for Stokes’s own Membership. In its turn Kenelm Throckmorton’s kinship with Catherine Parr suggests that Stokes is identifiable with a man assessed in 1545 and 1546 on £20 in goods as a member of the Queen’s household. This John Stokes or perhaps a namesake had been a groom of the chamber in 1540.2
To his own business links with Wiltshire Stokes the attorney may well have been able to add those of birth and descent. A family of that name lived within ten miles of Westbury at Seend where a clothier John Stokes died in 1498. By his wife Alice the clothier had three sons, two of whom were christened John, and the third son, Robert, also had two sons so named: yet another John, the second son of the clothier’s elder son John, had a son Edmund who married a daughter of Nicholas Snell and founded a landed family in the county. One of these John Stokes was perhaps the man living at Langley Burrell, near Chippenham, who was required to pay 26s.8d. towards the benevolence of 1545 and who—or whose namesake—was assessed on £3 for subsidy in 1576 at the same place. The modesty of these assessments does not accord with his being the attorney, who suffixed himself gentleman but whether by birth or advancement is not known.3
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: N. M. Fuidge
- 1. Hatfield 207.
- 2. CP40/1140-2; C142/149/30; LP Hen. VIII, xx; The Gen. n.s. xxx. 26; Soc. Antiq. (1790), 170.
- 3. Wilts. N. and Q. ii. 577; v. 349, 350, 393; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), ii. 25 seq.; (ser. 3), ii. 133; E. Kite, Mon. Brasses Wilts. plate x; E179/69/47, 48, m.2; Wilts. Arch. Soc. recs. br. x. 28, 56.