EDGCUMBE, Piers (c.1610-1667), of Mount Edgcumbe, Cornw.; later of Cotehele, Calstock, Cornw.
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Family and Education
b. c.1610, 1st s. of Sir Richard Edgcumbe* of Mount Edgcumbe and his 2nd w. Mary, da. of Sir Thomas Coteel of London.1 educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1626;2 ?Leiden 1629;3 Padua 1632-3;4 MD (hon.) Oxf. 1644.5 m. 6 June 1636 (with £3,000), Mary, da. of John Glanville* of Broad Hinton, Wilts., 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 2da.6 suc. fa. 1639, uncle Thomas Coteel* 1640. d. 6 Jan. 1667.7 sig. P[iers] Edgcumbe.
Member, Mines Royal Co. 1639-d., dep. gov. 1654-7, asst. 1657-64.8
Master of game on the Devon estates of the 4th earl of Bedford (Sir Francis Russell*) 1639;9 commr. assessment, Cornw. 1641-2, 1660-1, 1663-d.,10 col. militia by 1642,11 j.p. from 1642, 1660-at least 1666, Devon 1660-at least 1666,12 commr. array, Devon and Cornw. 1642,13 oyer and terminer, Cornw. c.1642-6, Western circ. 1665-d., sheriff, Cornw. 1660-1,14 dep. lt. by 1662.15
Col. horse and ft. (roy.) c.1642-6.16
Other than his educational record, nothing is known of Edgcumbe’s early life. An unsubstantiated claim that he opposed the Forced Loan may be disregarded, since he was too young in 1627 to qualify as a taxpayer. In the following year, while still a minor, he was returned to Parliament after a disputed election at Newport, on the interest of his uncle, Sir John Speccott*. Another uncle, Ambrose Manaton*, who was also a prominent local landowner, actually voted for him in the contest. More surprisingly, key evidence which led to confirmation of Edgcumbe’s Commons seat on 14 Apr. 1628 was provided by (Sir) John Eliot*, who had successfully stood against Edgcumbe’s father, Sir Richard, in the Cornish shire election. The Parliament’s subsequent records make no mention of the young Member.17
In May 1629 Edgcumbe obtained a pass for three years’ foreign travel, and he was probably the ‘Perseus Edsgaimb’ who entered Leiden University in the following month. He almost certainly wrote an anonymous journal preserved in the Edgcumbe papers, which describes a nine-month tour in 1630-1 through France and Spain, countries which Edgcumbe is known to have visited. This continental sojourn concluded with his attendance at Padua University in 1632-3. Edgcumbe’s epitaph subsequently described him as ‘a master of languages and sciences’.18 The settlement accompanying his marriage in 1636 gave him the use of his family’s secondary seat of Cotehele, and three years later he succeeded to his father’s remaining estates. These were consolidated in 1640 by lands on the Isle of Wight inherited from his uncle Thomas Coteel.19 Edgcumbe served in both the Short and Long Parliaments for Camelford, but withdrew from Westminster during 1642, installing a royalist garrison at his main home, Mount Edgcumbe, later that year. Disabled from Commons’ membership in January 1644, he attended the king’s alternative assembly at Oxford, where he received an honorary degree alongside his uncle Manaton.20 Mount Edgcumbe occupied a strategic location on the Devon border close to the parliamentarian stronghold of Plymouth, and Edgcumbe exploited this fact as the Cornish royalists neared defeat in 1646, surrendering to Fairfax (Thomas Fairfax, 3rd Lord Fairfax†) in early March on favourable terms. However, this informal deal proved difficult to implement, and the compounding process dragged on until 1651.21 Later that year Edgcumbe was summoned before the Council of State on suspicion of royalist conspiracy, and his freedom of movement was somewhat constrained during the remainder of the Interregnum, though this did not prevent him playing an active role in the Mines Royal Company.22 At the Restoration Edgcumbe re-emerged as a major figure in local government, and in 1662 he returned to Parliament once again as a Member for Newport. His will of 12 May 1666 provided a £5,000 dowry for his remaining unmarried daughter. Edgcumbe died in the following January, and was buried at Calstock. His son (Sir) Richard sat in the Cavalier and Exclusion Parliaments.23
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 142.
- 2. Al. Cant.
- 3. E. Peacock, Index to Eng. Speaking Students at Leyden Univ. (Index Soc. xiii), 32 (entered as Perseus Edsgaimb).
- 4. G. Andrich, Univ. Patavinae, 140.
- 5. Cornw. RO, ME 3090; Ath. Ox. iv. (Fasti) 66 incorrectly assigns him a DCL.
- 6. Coll. Top. et Gen. v. 218; C142/579/52; Cornw. RO, ME 3044; PROB 11/324, f. 26v.
- 7. Vivian, 142; PROB 11/184, f. 127v.
- 8. BL, Loan 16 (iii), ff. 4, 8, 10, 16, 49.
- 9. Cornw. RO, ME 3089.
- 10. SR v. 82, 210, 329, 456, 529, 572, 619.
- 11. Cornw. RO, ME 2925; C181/7, pp. 313, 358.
- 12. C231/5, p. 529; C220/9/4, ff. 12v, 17; C66/3074.
- 13. Northants. RO, FH 133.
- 14. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 23.
- 15. SP29/60/66.
- 16. P.R. Newman, Roy. Officers in Eng. and Wales, 119; Cornw. RO, ME 2925.
- 17. M. Coate, Cornw. in Gt. Civil War, 31; Vivian, 142; C54/2428/38; 54/2725/2; CD 1628, ii. 53-4, 444, 446-7.
- 18. APC, 1629-30, p. 22; Cornw. RO, ME 2998, 3000, 3160; C.S. Gilbert, Hist. Survey of Cornw. i. 31.
- 19. C142/579/52; W.H. Edgcumbe, Edgcumbe Fam. Recs. i. 133; J. Oglander, Oglander Mems. ed. W.H. Long, 83.
- 20. M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 163; Cornw. RO, ME 2925; HMC Portland, i. 91; CJ, iii. 374a; Ath. Ox. iv. (Fasti), 66.
- 21. Coate, 206-8, 226; CCC, 1082-3.
- 22. HMC Portland, i. 584; CSP Dom. 1651, pp. 295, 342; Cornw. RO, ME 3027, 3047.
- 23. PROB 11/324, ff. 26v-7; Vivian, 142.