MICHELL, John (d.c.1588), of Truro, Cornw.
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Family and Education
Mayor, Truro 1584.2
Michell, who came of an old Cornish family, with branches at Truro, Liskeard, Harlyn, St. Neot and Bodmin, was a merchant who combined trade with piracy, like his relatives the Killigrews. The first known reference found to him is as captain of the Maudlyn of Truro in May 1537. The deputy searcher of the port reported to the Council that he had boarded the ship, which was bound for Lantregar in Brittany with ‘a company of riotous persons feigning a pope holy pilgrimage’. Michell and his crew first knocked him overboard and then carried him off to Brittany, where he was shouldered and buffeted by the inhabitants, egged on by his captors, ‘as though he had been a Turk or a Saracen’. It took him three weeks to find a ship to carry him back to England.3
By the early part of Elizabeth’s reign Michell was wealthy enough to have obtained the manor of Killigrew, in St. Erme, the ancestral estate of the Killigrews, but about 1568 he suffered heavy losses at sea. In 1587 several members of his family were involved in a lawsuit brought by Stephen Nicholas or Nantsmere, who alleged that he had been wrongfully evicted from his farm, imprisoned and put in the stocks at Truro by ‘Hugh and John Michell, gentlemen’, probably the MP’s sons, and one William Roberts. The Council asked Peter Edgecombe to inquire into the matter. This younger John was the capital burgess and first steward of the town appointed by the charter of 1589. Another son, Peter, was a sea captain who sailed round the world with Drake.4
Michell died intestate before 21 June 1588, when letters of administration were granted to his son Hugh. On the following day Hugh received a similar grant for a brother, Thomas.5