COMBE, William (1551-1610), of Middle Temple, London and Warwick.

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. June 1551, posth. s. of John Combe (d.1550) of Stratford-on-Avon, Warws. by his 3rd w. Jane, da. of John Wheeler of Droitwich, Worcs., wid. of Baldwin Sheldon of Broadway. (She m. 22 Nov. 1554, Thomas Lewkenor of Alvechurch). educ. New Inn; M. Temple 1571, called 1579. m. ?(1) a da. of Thomas Lewkenor of Alvechurch; (1) or (2) Alice, da. of Richard Hanbury of London; (2) or (3) Jane, da. of Nicholas Chowne of Fairlawn in Wrotham, Kent, wid. of (Sir) John Puckering of Kew, Surr.1

Offices Held

J.p. Warws. by 1595, Worcs. by 1604; sheriff, Warws. 1607-8.


The Combes were related to several substantial families in Worcestershire and Warwickshire and were well known in Stratford, where, at the turn of the century, they engaged in a number of transactions with William Shakespeare. No adequate pedigrees of the family are known.

Though Combe’s elder brother John was classed as an adversary of true religion in 1564, and Combe himself had Catholic connexions, his loyalty to the government was certain. According to a contemporary account he was ’set to school and brought up in learning by some loving benefactors’, including the recusant Mrs. Dorothy Heath (widow of William Heath) whose arrest many years later, on 4 Jan. 1595, while sheltering a Catholic priest was brought about by Combe,

a favourite of some in authority, as namely to Doctor Whitgift ... the lord treasurer, and the lord keeper [Puckering, whose widow he married] by which means he grew to be of some account in the country.

This account mentions another recusant, Jane Sheldon (of the Catholic county family), to whom he was allied by the ‘marriage of their p