WONSTON (WOLSTON), Alfred, of Newton Abbot, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, ed. J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe., 1993
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

m. by 1409, Denise, da. and h. of John Ferrers. ?1s. John†.

Offices Held

Bailiff of the stannary of Chagford, Devon Mich. 1405-11.1

Forester of the western parts of Dartmoor Mich. 1414-24.2


The very few facts known about Wonston’s life do not go very far to explain his election to Parliament by, all told, three Devonshire boroughs. It is possible, however, that he was a lawyer and was perhaps chosen on that account. He presented his own case at the Exeter assizes when, in 1409, he was engaged in a lawsuit with members of the Knolle family over the ownership of substantial holdings in Newton Abbot, Torbryan and Exe Island to which, he claimed, his wife was entitled as heir of her great-grandfather, Richard Forster, and he was evidently successful, at least as regards the land at Exe Island.3 It was evidently another Alfred Wonston, perhaps the MP’s father, who held the duchy of Cornwall offices of bailiff of the stannary of Chagford and forester of the eastern parts of Dartmoor from 1400 to 1405 and from 1404 to 1405, respectively,4 for on his own first appointment as bailiff at Chagford, as that Alfred’s successor, he was described as ‘junior’. While so employed he was elected to the Parliaments of 1407 and 1410, on the latter occasion also appearing at the shire court at Exeter as surety for Robert Cary’s attendance in the Commons as a knight of the shire. Four years later Wonston was appointed to the duchy of Cornwall office of forester of the western parts of Dartmoor and continued to serve in this capacity during the period when the duchy was in the hands of the infant heir to the throne, Henry of Windsor, and for the first two years of his reign as Henry VI. He is last recorded in 1428, bringing suits in the stannary court at Ashburton.5

Ref Volumes: 1386-1421

Author: L. S. Woodger


  • 1. SC6/813/22, 820/3.
  • 2. SC6/813/26, 814/6, 7.
  • 3. JUST 1/1519 m. 70; CP25(1)45/78/72.
  • 4. SC6/819/10-15.
  • 5. C219/10/5; SC2/165/38. Alfred was probably the father of John Wolston of Staverton (MP for Barnstaple in 1433 and 1435, Tavistock in 1437 and Plymouth in 1442), who like him possessed lands in Newton Abbot and Torbryan (HP ed. Wedgwood 1439-1509, Biogs. 964).