COLLES, Edmund (1528-1606), of Leigh, Worcs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. 1528, 1st s. of William Colles of Leigh by Margaret (b.1497), da. of one Hitch of Glos. educ. I. Temple 1553. m. (1) Jane or Joan, da. of Robert Somervile of Edstone, Warws. by Mary, sis. of Sir Edward Greville, 1s. 1da.; (2) Anne, da. of Sir Robert Townsend, justice of Chester, wid. of Humphrey Archer of Umberslade Hall, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. suc. fa. 1558.1

Offices Held

Escheator, Worcs. 1564, j.p. by 1585, sheriff 1574-5, 1590-1; member, council in the marches of Wales 1602; dep. lt. Worcs.2


Colles’s father had been bailiff of the manor of Leigh, owned by Pershore abbey, and in 1553, some time after the dissolution of the monasteries, he obtained its lease from the Crown for 67 years. Colles himself took this over and was the occupant in 1576, notwithstanding certain royal grants to the Earl of Leicester and Sir Christopher Hatton. Before 1585 he had bought some of the demesne lands and in July 1590 he purchased from the Crown the whole manor and the advowson of Leigh for £1,743. Meanwhile he had acquired several neighbouring properties, including, in 1564, Colles Place, which he claimed had belonged to his ancestors.3

In some ways Colles had an extraordinary career. At the time he was appointed escheator of Worcestershire he was reported as ‘indifferent in religion’, and some ten years later was counted among the supporters of Mary Queen of Scots. Yet he became a j.p. and in October 1585 was sent by the sheriff to collect contributions from recusants’ houses towards the campaign against Spain in the Netherlands. In 1587 he was ‘very meet for his experience in service’ as a j.p., yet a local Catholic antiquary, Thomas Habington, thought Coiles ‘a grave, wise and learned governor of this shire’, and ‘the wisest of his age’. Among the most active j.p.s in the shire, Colles served twice as sheriff and performed other public services. In 1587 he was one of three gentlemen nominated by the Privy Council to arbitrate in the disputes between Sylvanus Scory and the bisho