COLMAN, Francis (by 1525-63/64), of Nottingham.

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



Mar. 1553
Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1525. m. (1) Anne; (2) Joan.1

Offices Held

Town clerk, Nottingham 1546-7, mayor’s clerk 1546-8, 1557-8, bridgemaster 1553-4, 1558-9, sheriff 1555-6.2


The origins and early career of Francis Colman remain obscure. Apart from a weaver named Richard Colman who was indicted at Nottingham quarter sessions in 1467, no one bearing the name had been found in records of the locality until November 1538, when another Richard Colman was a juror at a coroner’s inquest in the town. Eight years later Francis Colman appears as town clerk. Of the legal training which he must have received to qualify for this appointment there seems likewise to be no trace.3

Colman continued to serve the borough until 1559. Besides occupying a series of offices—and being paid fees for them such as the 43s.4d. a year he received as mayor’s clerk—he performed a variety of municipal duties, some of them involving travel. In 1546 he went with four others on a mission to London which lasted seven weeks and for which he received 30s. for his expenses, and in 1557 he was one of seven representatives of the town who visited the justices of the peace at Mansfield to discuss the arrangements for despatching troops from Nottingham to the north. The impact of private interests on the town also engaged him. After the Suttons of Averham had diverted the water of the Trent through their own land, to the detriment of Newark which sought and gained a court decision in favour of a weir to prevent further loss of water, Colman was one of three Nottingham men who negotiated the building of the weir. Both Colman and the corporation doubtless viewed his Membership of Parliament as a corollary of his municipal offices and activities. Unlike some of the Nottingham Members during these years he is not known to have been associated with the 2nd Earl of Rutland, and he is thus to be regarded as the town’s own choice.4

By his will, made in August 1563, Colman asked to be buried in St. Mary’s church near the body of his first wife. He left the details of the funeral arrangements to the discretion of his executors and supervisors, but directed that it should be conducted ‘without any pomp and pride’. Evidently a studious man, he bequeathed books (unnamed) of law and of medicine as well as bibles and copies of scripture: these and the tone of the will imply that Colman died a Protestant. He made numerous gifts of money, clothing and household goods to members of his family, friends and servants, and left 13s.4d. to the guardians of the free school in Nottingham, 5s. to St. Mary’s poor box, and 8d. to every under-officer of the mayor and the sheriff. Probate was granted in May 1566, but Colman had died by 1564, the bridgewardens having recorded their receipt in that year of his bequest of £6 13s.4d. for the immediate repair of Trent Bridge.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: C. J. Black


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. York wills 17, f. 545.
  • 2. Nottingham Bor. Recs. iii. 466; iv. 93, 115, 396, 417; Trans. Thoroton Soc. xxvii. 70.
  • 3. Nottingham Bor. Recs. ii. 263; Thoroton Soc. rec. ser. xxv. 87.
  • 4. Nottingam Bor. Recs. iv. 89, 115, 121-2; C. Brown, Newark, ii. 21.
  • 5. York wills 17, f. 545; Nottingham Bor. Recs. iv. 39.