EDGECOMBE, Peter (c.1536-1608), of Mount Edgcumbe and Cotehele, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. c.1536, 1st s. of Sir Richard Edgecombe, by his 2nd w. Elizabeth, da. of John Tregian of Golden; bro. of Richard I. m. c.1555, Margaret, da. of Sir Andrew Luttrell of Dunster Castle, Som., 5s. inc. Richard II 4da. suc. fa. 1562.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Devon 1565-6, Cornw. 1569-70; v.-adm. by 1568; commr. musters, Devon 1569; receiver of loan for Cornw. 1570; j.p. Devon from c.1561, q. from 1569, Cornw. q. from c.1569; custos rot. Cornw. 1573, dep. lt. 1587; steward, Liskeard by 1574-87.1


Edgecombe held a county seat for most of this period, except in 1584, when the competition in both Devon and Cornwall was too much for him, driving him to Liskeard, where he was steward. One of the 2nd Earl of Bedford’s closest supporters in the west country, he was one of the 43 young puritan MPs lampooned by a satirist in 1566. He left no mark on the records of the 1563 Parliament, but was thenceforth active. He was appointed to the subsidy committee on 7 Apr. 1571 and to the committee concerning tillage and the maintenance of the navy on 25 May. He spoke against excluding minstrels from the penalties of the vagabonds bill on 30 May 1572, and against the fraudulent conveyances bill 3 June. In 1576 he served on committees concerned with dags (17 Feb.), fraudulent conveyances (25 Feb.), innkeepers (5 Mar.), trial by jury (5 Mar.), and the inning of salt marshes (6 Mar.). In 1581 he was appointed to the subsidy committee (25 Jan.), and a committee concerned with wax (24 Feb.); on 21 Dec. 1584 he was appointed to the committee on Plymouth harbour and on 9 Mar. and 15 Mar. 1585 he was put on committees concerning the repair of highways and Devonshire kerseys. No activity is recorded in his name in either 1586 or 1589. However in all likelihood he was the Mr. Edgecombe who served on committees concerning the relief of. the poor (12 Mar.), and the town of Stonehouse where his father had built Mount Edgecumbe (26 Mar.). Edgecombe moved the bill on Stonehouse, 24 Mar. As knight for Cornwall in 1593 he was eligible also to serve on committees concerning the subsidy (26 Feb.), a legal matter (9 Mar.) and kerseys (23 Mar.). His failure to sit in the last two Elizabethan Parliaments may have been due to his debts or to infirmity: in 1598 Christopher Harris noted that he ‘goes seldom from his house’. The family was in low water financially as early as 1559 when his building programme forced Edgecombe’s father, to sell Totnes, retaining however some parliamentary patronage there, and Edgecombe’s own financial position deteriorated further as a result of mining operations following the discovery of ore on his estates in the mid-1560s. By 1597 he estimated that he had spent £4,000 on his Cornish and Merioneth mines, and he was unable to pay his rent for the royal mines. He then suggested to Cecil a scheme to bring the Queen £20,000 by enforcing the provisions of the statute of usury. Edgecombe also had seafaring interests, one of his wilder schemes being to enter into an agreement (1582) with the Portuguese Pretender to send a squadron to Brazil under letters of marque, against the King of Spain. Edgecombe died 4 Jan. 1608.2

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler


  • 1. C142/134/66; Roberts thesis; W. H. Edgcumbe, Edgcumbe Fam. Recs.; Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 63-4; Vis. Som. ed. Weaver, 43; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 389; Sloane 3194; HMC Foljambe, 25; SP12/93; J. Allen, Hist. Liskeard, 58, 231-3, 280.
  • 2. Neale, Commons, 53; Stowe 354; Gabriel thesis, 65; CPR, 1563-6, p. 91; Add. 48018, ff. 282-3, 294; House of Lords, Braye mss, Fulk Onslow’s jnl. f. 2; D’Ewes, 159, 189, 253, 288, 300, 345, 364, 368, 474, 476, 496, 499, 507, 509, 510; CJ, i. 83, 93, 106, 108, 111, 120, 129; Trinity, Dublin, Thos. Cromwell’s jnl. f. 49; HMC Lords, n.s. xi. 8; HMC Hatfield, viii. 427; Maxwell-Lyte, Hist. Dunster, i. 141; Cal. Proc. Chanc. Eliz. i. 282; Cal. Plymouth Recs. 77; APC, x. 177; M. B. Donald, Eliz. Copper, 302; A. L. Rowse, Tudor Cornw. 391; Bodl. Rawl. B 285, f. 90; HMC 2nd Rep. 21; HMC Hatfield, v. 14-15; viii. 233, 353; Collins, Peerage, iv. 328-9.