COLEPEPER, Thomas (c.1561-1613), of Wigsell, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. c.1561, 1st s. of John Colepeper of Wigsell by Elizabeth (d.1618), da. of William Sedley of Southfleet, Kent. educ. Hart Hall, Oxf. 1579; M. Temple 1583. m. (1) Anne (d.1602), da. of Sir Stephen Slaney, ld. mayor of London, 2s. 1da.; (2) Mary, da. and coh. of Roger Beeston of London, wid. of Francis Gibbon of Benenden, Kent, 1s. 3da. suc. fa. 1612.
There were several Thomas Colepepers living in Sussex and Kent in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, including one at Wilmington, another at Greenway Court, Hollingbourne, and a third at Aylesford. The Winchelsea hundred book identifies their 1597 Member of Parliament as ‘of Wigsell’. It is not certain that it was the same man who sat for Rye in 1601, but it is very likely if only because it is against the odds that two unrelated men with the same name should have sat in the Commons for adjacent boroughs in consecutive Parliaments.1
Colepeper was returned by Winchelsea in 1597 on condition that he took an oath to maintain the town’s privileges ‘to the uttermost of his power, as a baron should do’. After the Rye election in 1601 the town assembly decided to write to the two Members asking them ‘to proffer a bill into the Parliament for relief to be had by Act of Parliament toward the amendment of our decayed haven of Rye’. It is unlikely that Colepeper was paid for his services. In Parliament he served on two committees concerned with the penal laws (8 Nov. 1597, 2 Nov. 1601). As burgess for Winchelsea he was eligible to attend committees in 1601 concerning the order of business (3 Nov.) and the Severn harbour (21 Nov.).2
Colepeper died in September 1613, not long after his aged father, and in his will, dated 7 Feb. 1609 and proved 25 Sept. 1613, asked to be buried ‘with little ado’. He left a farm in Ewhurst, £500 and most of his goods to his wife, who was to be responsible for the children’s education. He provided a dowry of £700 for his eldest daughter and made his brothers John and Alexander executors of the will. They were to supervise the estates until the heir, Slaney, came of age, and, by a codicil dated 16 Sept. 1613, Colepeper instructed them to compound with the King for his son’s wardship. They were to pay outstanding debts by the sale of timber from his lands. John, the second son, eventually inherited his father’s property after Slaney’s premature death. Two of Thomas’s daughters married into prominent Kent families, the Cobhams of Cobham Hall and the Scotts of Scot’s Hall.3