COBBLEY, Robert, of Exeter, Devon.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
s. of Joan, sis. of Thomas Cobbley of Exeter. ?2s.
Steward, Exeter, Mich. 1403-4, 1405-6, 1409-10, 1411-12, 1415-16; member of the council of 12, July-Mich. 1413.1
Cobbley may have come from Barnstaple, but he claimed to be heir to the property in Exeter of Thomas Cobbley (d.1383), his mother’s brother, and perhaps settled in the city to secure his title. It was, curiously, during his seven-year apprenticeship to an Exeter merchant that he was returned to Parliament for Barnstaple and Exeter in 1391 and 1393, respectively, but in due course he set up independently as an importer of wine. He was formally admitted to the freedom of the city on 24 May 1396,2 but through his ‘great malice’ and insulting behaviour he promptly incurred the enmity of the mayor, John Talbot†, and suffered a term of imprisonment. The gravity of the charges against him is clear; he was bound over to keep the peace before the justices of assize, being required to enter into recognizances for 100 marks, and it was only through the influence of such friends as Robert Napton* and John Wilford* that he was eventually reinstated.3 Cobbley was named among the 36 electors to the civic offices on eight occasions between 1398 and 1419, but although he himself was chosen to be a steward five times he never attained a post of any greater importance and his only spell as a member of the influential council of 12 lasted barely three months. He occasionally served on local juries, in 1400, for example, providing evidence about a proposed grant in mortmain and in 1414 bringing indictments against perpetrators of serious crimes in the area.4 Robert may have been the father of Walter Cobbley, a fellow steward in 1409-10, and of John Cobbley, who married Isabel, daughter of Thomas Brightley and so came into possession of Brightley in Chittlehampton (near Barnstaple).5