ST. POLL, George (1562-1613), of Melwood and Snarford, Lincs.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 1562, 1st s. of Thomas St. Poll of Snarford by Faith, da. of Vincent Grantham† of Goltho, wid. of Thomas Moigne. educ. Corpus, Oxf. 1578; L. Inn 1580. m. Frances, da. of Christopher Wray of Glentworth, 1da. d.v.p. suc. fa. 1582. Kntd. 1593; cr. Bt. 1611.
J.p.q. Lincs. (Lindsey) from c.1583, (Holland, Kesteven) from c.1592; sheriff, Lincs. 1588-9, dep. lt. 1595; collector of the loan 1597, 1598; commr. sewers 1599, gaol delivery, Grimsby 1592, 1598.1
On 1 Sept. 1598 St. Poll wrote to Sir Robert Cecil saying that it was ‘near 20 years’ since he began to serve Cecil’s father. Whether or not this may be taken as implying that St. Poll was placed in Burghley’s household as a boy, there is no indication that he sought a career at court. His life was that of a country gentleman. After being chosen knight of the shire in 1588 he was pricked as sheriff, and a little over a fortnight after the Parliament began he was given leave of absence to attend to his duties in the county, 21 Feb. 1589. Again elected to a county seat in 1593 he was eligible to attend the subsidy committee appointed 26 Feb., and a legal committee appointed 9 Mar. On 4 Apr. he was named to the committee of the bill to explain the statute of 23 Eliz., concerning recusancy.2
St. Poll was among those leading county officials appointed to see that all working justices had taken the oath of supremacy, and he was appointed to many other commissions of inquiry. He was closely associated with Grimsby, where he paid a fine of £40 to avoid the mayoralty in 1597. He complained about his assessments for supplying horsemen for service in Ireland in 1599, 1600 and 1601. Others wealthier than himself had not been called upon; ‘not I think that other men’s hurt would be my help, but that others should not think that I had no friends to relieve me, or else that I am so senseless of my own estate as not to feel myself pressed when the burden is heavy upon me’.3
The quarrel in which St. Poll and his brother-in-law (Sir) William Wray, were involved with William Hickman, a London merchant who had recently settled in Lincolnshire, is referred to in Wray’s biography. St. Poll was described as ‘one of the deputy lieutenants of the said county of Lincoln, a man of great power and might by office and alliance there’. He and Wray were accused in Star Chamber of interfering with the coroner’s jury, choosing a partial grand jury, and bribing a witness. St. Poll of course denied the charges.4
St. Poll made his will on 18 Oct. 1612, proved 2 June 1614 by his widow, the sole executrix. He died at 4 p.m. 28 Oct. 1613, ‘when he had lived 51 years, 7 days, and some odd hours; too short a time, if it had pleased God otherwise’. As he had requested in the will, his funeral sermon was preached by Dr. John Chadwick, who described him as:
a man very much employed with the Lord Willoughby as deputy lieutenant under the most worthy lord treasurer and most wise counsellor the Lord Burghley. And when in the days of our late honoured and never to be forgotten Queen Elizabeth there was great employment for men and money to keep under the superstitious and rebellious Irish, besides the extraordinary pains he took, and the great cost he was at to further that service he disbursed payments out of his own purse for the country till sessments could be conveniently made and money collected.
Dr. Chadwick could name six learned preachers who had been educated at the university at St. Poll’s charge, and he had also been a benefactor of Magdalen and Corpus Christi colleges at Oxford. His wife was a kindred spirit. She and her sister financed the education at Cambridge of the puritan preacher, Richard Bernard, who subsequently dedicated his Christian Advertisements to St. Poll and his wife. Next to the Bible St. Poll’s preferred reading matter had been the works of Bishop Jewel. Though ‘he had often studied to see if he could draw any comfort out of the popish doctrine ... he could not see anything in that religion but ambition, human policy, and heathenish superstition’. He had once intervened on behalf of one Mr. Allen, preacher of Louth, who was in trouble for not following the service as it was in the prayer book. St. Poll, ‘sitting on the other side of the judge [said] softly that Mr. Allen was an honest man of good conversation’. St. Poll bequeathed Allen, then parson of Ladborough, £5.5
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: A. M. Mimardière
- 1. C142/202/195; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 845-6; J. Wilford, Memorials and Characters, 181; Corpus battels bk.; Royal 18 D. 111, f. 52; Lansd. 60, f. 189; 82, f. 44; 737, f. 145v; APC, xxv. 25; xxviii. 132, 559; HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 262, 282.
- 2. HMC Hatfield, viii. 325; D’Ewes, 436, 474, 496, 517.
- 3. APC, xxiii. 258; xxv. 132; xxvi. 73; xxx. 437; xxxi. 46; xxxii. 280; HMC 14th Rep. VIII, 262, 282.
- 4. St. Ch. 5/429/16, H71/39, H72/34; APC, xxx. 140-1.
- 5. PCC 61 Lawe; Wilford, 180-3; J. W. F. Hill, Tudor and Stuart Lincoln, 112; Collinson thesis, 732; Lansd. 82, f. 112.