WOOLCOMBE, John (1680-1713), of Pitton, Yealmpton, Devon

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



4 Feb. 1702 - 1705

Family and Education

bap. 8 June 1680, 1st s. of John Woolcombe of Pitton by Thomasine, da. of Philip Francis, mayor of Plymouth 1642, 1651.  educ. Exeter, Oxf. 1697; M. Temple 1698.  m. settlement 30 Jan. 1707, Anne (d. 1713), da. of Richard Hele, rector of Helland, Cornw., of Flete House, Holbeton, Devon, and sis. of Richard Hele*, s.psuc. fa. 1690; uncle Henry Woolcombe at Ashbury, Devon 1692.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Devon 1711–12.


The only member of his family ever to sit in Parliament, Woolcombe was returned at a by-election in February 1702 at the age of 21, and was chosen again in the general election in the following July, probably as a nominee of the Trelawnys. He was not, however, destitute of any interest of his own, both as a local landowner and as a connexion of the Hele family, founders and trustees of a charity often crucial in Plymouth elections. A Tory, Woolcombe voted on 13 Feb. 1703 against agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. At a call of the House on 23 Nov. 1703 he was one of the Members discovered to be absent without leave, and was given three weeks to come up to Westminster. Forecast as a probable supporter of the Tack, he failed to vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704, no doubt under the influence of the Trelawnys. ‘Ousted’ in the 1705 election as a result of a Whig coup in Plymouth corporation, he did not stand again. Woolcombe died only a matter of days after his wife in April 1713, and was buried at Yealmpton on 20 Apr. His estate passed to a younger brother, rector of Zeal Monachorum, Devon.2

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 446, 803; Vis. Eng. and Wales Notes ed. Crisp, xiv. 20.
  • 2. E. F. Eliott-Drake, Fam. of Drake, ii. 156–7; Vis. Eng. and Wales Notes, 20–21.