CAVELL, William (1507-64 or later), of Tre Harrock in St. Kew and St. Winnow, Cornw.

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



Family and Education

b. 9 Oct. 1507, 1st s. of Nicholas Cavell of Tre Harrock by Thomasin, da. and h. of William Knight of Fowey. m. (1) Elizabeth, da. of John Godolphin of Paul, 2s. 3da.; (2) Dorothy, wid. of Lawrence Courtenay (d.1548) of St. Winnow. suc. fa. 25 Oct. 1530.2

Offices Held

Reeve, Fowey 1544-5; coroner, Cornw. by 1545.3


William Cavell belonged to a family which had been settled at Tre Harrock, some seven miles from Camelford, since the 14th century, and which was linked by marriage and descent with several families in the neighbourhood, especially the Roscarrocks. He was friendly with both William Carnsew and John Reskymer, with whom he was alleged to have collaborated in an attack on John Skewys’s manor of Polrode in 1543. Two years later he was charged with a more serious offence, when the widow of Nicholas Lower accused him as coroner of exercising undue influence in favour of William Lower over the jury empanelled to ascertain how her husband had met his death. Cavell may have been guilty of no more than impatience but the bringing of a similar charge against him in 1561 gives colour to the complaint.4

In 1545 Cavell attended the meeting of the county court where John Beauchamp, a cousin of William Carnsew, was elected one of the knights for Cornwall in the last Parliament of Henry VIII’s reign. When Cavell was himself returned two years later as the senior Member for Dunheved, his local standing may have been reinforced by Beauchamp, whose Grenville kinsmen had an interest in the borough: John Reskymer entered the House on this occasion as one of the knights for Cornwall, and his fellow-Member Nicholas Carminowe was one of his neighbours. Cavell did not attend Parliament again until Mary’s reign, when he evidently utilized his family’s links with Camelford. Although his partner George Tadlowe joined the protest organized by Sir Anthony Kingston, the ‘Mr. Cavel’ who voted against a government bill in 1555 is thought to have been his cousin Humphrey. In the previous autumn Cavell had been present at the parliamentary election for the county when another of his neighbours, Thomas Treffry I, was chosen. After his second marriage Cavell settled at St. Winnow and it was there, despite litigation with the relatives of his wife’s first husband, that he was assessed at £16 for the subsidy in 1559. He is last glimpsed in 1564 when he was noted amongst the Cornish gentlemen ‘which are no justices, yet being of some authority are judged no favourers’ of the Anglican settlement. His property passed to his elder son John who lived until 1602.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth given at fa.’s i.p.m., C142/80/105. J. Maclean, Trigg. Minor, ii. 162-3; C1/1379/26-28.
  • 3. Duchy Cornw. RO, 126, m. 13v; St.Ch.2/30/40.
  • 4. Maclean, ii. 135, 162-3; Req.2/3/377; St.Ch.2/30/40; 5/T22/31.
  • 5. C3/47/92, 48/51; 219/18C/15, 23/19; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 69-70; Maclean, ii. 162-3.