COKE, John I (1635-71), of Holkham, Norf.
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Family and Education
bap. 8 Sept. 1635, 6th but o. surv. s. of John Coke of Mileham by Merriel, da. and h. of Anthony Wheatley of Hill Hall, Holkham. educ. I. Temple 1652-7, travelled abroad c.1657-64. unm. suc. fa. 1661.1
J.p. Norf. July 1660-d., commr. for oyer and terminer, Norfolk circuit 1661, assessment Norfolk 1661-9, loyal and indigent officers 1662; freeman, King’s Lynn 1670.2
Coke’s great-grandfather was granted arms in 1566, but it was of course his grandfather, Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634), who founded the fortunes of the family and began a notable parliamentary record as MP for Aldeburgh in 1589. His father took the side of Parliament during the Civil War, serving on local commissions during the Commonwealth and Protectorate, and in 1653 inherited most of the family estate, comprising 60 manors in Norfolk alone, besides large estates in Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Berkshire, valued at £8,200 p.a. They were, however, heavily mortgaged through the extravagance and mismanagement of his predecessors. At the Restoration he was proposed as a knight of the Royal Oak, when his Norfolk estate was grossly undervalued at £1,000 p.a. Coke himself was a great traveller, telling Philip Skippon, who met him at Florence in 1664, that he was on his way to Constantinople. Meanwhile he entrusted the stewardship of his estate to his ‘close friend’, Andrew Fountaine, who was said to have saved him from drowning. But when Coke embarked on marriage negotiations in 1669 for the daughter of Sir Nicholas Crisp, many of the title-deeds could not be produced, and Fountaine was discovered to have converted £20,000 to his own use. In the following year Coke was returned unopposed for Lynn on the family interest; but he took no known part in the Cavalier Parliament. He died on 1 Aug. 1671, and was buried at Holkham. He bequeathed Holkham as well as the property entailed by his great-grandfather to his cousin Robert Coke.3