SNELL, John (by 1537-87), of Kington St. Michael, Wilts.

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. by 1537, 1st s. of Nicholas Snell of Kington St. Michael by his 1st w. Alice, da. of John Pye of Rowdon. m. (1) Katherine (d.1566), da. of John Warneford of Sevenhampton, 2s. 3da.; (2) Susanna (d.1570). suc. fa. 1577.2

Offices Held

J.p. Wilts. from c.1579, sheriff 1584-5; escheator, Wilts. and Hant 1582-3.3


The Snells were prominent on the Wiltshire-Somerset border. Snell’s grandfather was the last steward of the abbey of Glastonbury’s lands in Wiltshire and, at the dissolution, acquired the estates before other speculators had a chance to intervene. Kington St. Michael became the family seat and for at least 100 years afterwards each generation was able to add to the property. Following the example of the monks of Glastonbury they were successful farmers. John Snell, because his father lived to be an old man, was head of the family for ten years only, but he had taken over the administration of the estates before his father’s death. In 1575 he paid £385 for the manor of Eaton Piercy, also in Kington St. Michael: after this transaction the family owned virtually the whole parish. Earlier he had sold the manor of West Hatch after Nicholas Snell had admitted concealing for about 20 years that he owned it. The Exchequer demanded £500 arrears from the family.4

During the last years of his life Snell was actively concerned in county administration, serving his turn as sheriff in 1584-5. A letter he wrote to the Privy Council during his shrievalty survives among the State Papers. He reported that most of the recusants from whom he had been ordered to demand horses for service abroad, were no longer living in the county. In the last year of his life Snell, together with