CARMINOWE, John (c.1516-92), of Fentengollen, nr. Truro, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. c.1516, 1st s. of Thomas Carminowe of Respryn by Elizabeth, da. of Edward Cheseman of Dormans Well, Norwood, Mdx.; bro. of Nicholas. m. Margaret (d.1593), da. of Christopher Tredeneck of Tredinnick in St. Breock, Cornw., 3s. inc. Oliver 1da. suc. fa. 1529; unc. John Carminowe 1547.1

Offices Held

Reeve, Lostwithiel, Cornw. 1552-3; commr. relief Cornw. 1550, piracy 1565, grain 1576; j.p. 1552-4, q.1569-d.; sheriff 1558-9.2


The Carminowes were one of the oldest of Cornish families, claiming to have settled in the county in the 9th century. John Carminowe belonged to a younger branch established at Respryn since the time of Richard II. In the 16th century this branch rivalled other eminent Cornish families in wealth and influence, as the result of the marriage of Carminowe’s grandfather to the heiress of Fentengollen, which thereafter became the chief seat of the family.

Carminowe was still a youth when his father died, and he was apparently brought up partly by his mother, who married one Edward Cleker, and partly by his uncle and namesake, whose eventual heir he became. The debts that he incurred as a young man were met by his uncle, to whom he owed a fair amount of money by 1545: his uncle forgave him this money on the condition that he did not interfere with the testamentary provision made for his younger brothers.3

In 1538 Carminowe complained in Chancery that he had been deprived of part of his inheritance by Nicholas Herle and Hugh Boscawen, who had married his cousins. The dispute seems to have gone on for some years, but in the end Carminowe probably lost the case as the manor in contention is not among the lands listed in his will. Another of his adversaries was Nicholas Randall: in 1544 Carminowe stated that there had been ‘contention, variance and strife’ for some time between the two over an annuity of four nobles claimed by Randall out of the Carminowe estates. This problem was aggravated when Sir John Arundell of Trerice purchased the annuity from Randall and began to exert pressure for its payment. About the same time Carminowe failed to redeem two bonds from a London grocer, and to prevent the grocer from seizing his lands he had to turn to his uncle for financial help.4

On his uncle’s death Carminowe became a man of substance and assumed the responsibilities in local government appropriate to one of his status. In 1552 he received a letter from the Council to investigate illegal mining in Cornwall, and a year later he attended the election of knights of the shire for the second Parliament of Edward VI’s reign. He was returned to the next Parliament, which opened several days after the coronation of Queen Mary, and despite his lack of experience he took the senior place for the county. Of his part in the proceedings of the House we know only that he did not oppose the Queen’s decision to restore Catholicism and that on 25 Oct. 1553 a bill for the currying and tanning of leather was committed to him and John Marshe. But his complaisance in this Parliament did not lead to his re-election for the county in the new Parliament of the following spring, when he is known to have attended the election of two other gentlemen at the county court. In 1555 the duchy of Cornwall noted that he owed 100 marks for unpaid tin-coinage dues, and three years later he obtained a pardon for failing to answer a charge of debt brought against him in the court of common pleas. He had been accused simultaneously in the Star Chamber of abduction, and this accumulation of offences may account for his removal from the local bench in the closing years of the reign.5

Elizabeth appointed Carminowe as her first sheriff of Cornwall, but even after his year of office she did not immediately restore him to the bench. In 1563 he was returned to Parliament again, this time for a borough not far from his home, and in the following year the bishop of Exeter considered him ‘meet to be a justice’. By the end of the decade he was again on the commission, and despite a suggestion for his removal in 1587 as ‘an old fornicator, a common drunkard, corrupt, ignorant’ he remained on the bench until his death in 1592.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Aged 28 ‘or thereabouts’ in Dec. 1544, Req. 2/3/205. J. Maclean, Trigg Minor, iii. 160-2; C142/84/11, 32; PCC 7 Jankyn.
  • 2. Duchy Cornw. RO, 226, m. 1; CPR, 1553, p. 351; 1553-4, p. 17; APC, iii. 504.
  • 3. C. S. Gilbert, Cornw. ii. 55-56; D. Gilbert, Paroch. Hist. Cornw. iii. 274; C1/620/32; 142/84/11; PCC 19 More.
  • 4. C1/758/7, 817/19-20, 962/6-10; St. Ch.2/8/123, 127; PCC 19 More, 56 Harrington.
  • 5. APC, iii. 504; v. 12; C219/20/21, 23/19; CJ, i. 28; Duchy Cornw. RO, 228, m. 7; CPR, 1557-8, p. 350; St.Ch.4/4/28.
  • 6. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 69; CPR, 1569-72, p. 223; Lansd. 48, ff. 136 seq.; 53, f. 192; 146, f. 19; PCC 56 Harrington.