PRIDEAUX, Nicholas (c.1550-1628), of Soldon, Devon and Padstow, 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.1550, 1st s. of Roger Prideaux of Soldon by Philippa, da. of Roger Yorke. m. (1) Thomasine (d.1573), da. and h. of John Henscott of Henscott, Devon, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) 1576, Cheston (d.1610), da. and coh. of William Vyell or Viall of St. Breock, Cornw., 1s.; (3) 1611, Mary (d.1647), da. of John Castell of Ashbury, Devon, wid. of Dr. Evan Morice, chancellor of Exeter diocese, s.p. suc. fa. 1582. Kntd. Nov. 1606.

Offices Held

J.p. Devon from c.1584, Cornw. from c.1591; sheriff, Cornw. 1605-6.1


Considering his status, Prideaux’s parliamentary career was negligible. He represented one Cornish borough as a young man of about 21, made no contribution (as far as is known) to the proceedings of the House and never sat again. At the dissolution of the monasteries his great-uncle Nicholas had bought considerable property belonging to Bodmin priory, including the manor of Padstow, which he later assigned to Roger Prideaux, upon whose death it passed, with the Devon manors of Holsworthy, Chesworthy, and the family seat at Soldon, to Prideaux himself. In 1600 Prideaux settled Soldon on his son Humphrey at the latter’s marriage to Honor, daughter of Edmund Fortescue, and moved to Padstow, where he had already rebuilt the old house of the monastery, known as Prideaux Place or Place House. About 1602, Richard Carew wrote:

Mr. Nicholas Prideaux from his new and stately house thereby taketh a full and large prospect of the town, haven and country adjoining, to all which his wisdom is a stay, his authority a direction.

Prideaux’s second marriage brought him the manor of Treworder in Cornwall, where he kept up another establishment. Only a Devon inquisition survives for him: it describes Soldon as held of the Queen as of her duchy of Lancaster. For some years before his death in 1628, Prideaux administered the Soldon property for his grandson Nicholas, Humphrey Prideaux having died of smallpox about 1617.2

At one time Prideaux may have been under suspicion for religious reasons. An undated Hatfield manuscript giving information against a recusant of St. Breock states that he was much favoured by Prideaux, whose wife’s married sisters were suspected of Catholic sympathies. St. Breock was the paternal home of his second wife’s family, and one of her sisters married an Arundell of Lanherne. Prideaux’s parents, however, were protestants, and his will suggests that he shared their views. His name was removed from a commission of the peace in 1587, but soon restored. In October 1591 he was one of those who provided ships and victuals for troops going to Ireland from Cornwall, and between October 1598 and February 1599 the Council wrote to him several times about soldiers for Ireland. In the following May he sent a letter to London about a threatened Spanish invasion.3

He was knighted at the end of his year as sheriff, and continued writing letters on official business as late as 1623. He died 25 Jan. 1628 at West Putford, Devon: there is an inscription to him at Padstow.

His will, made in January 1625, was proved 24 May 1628. He left £50 and the goods at Padstow to his surviving son John, and £250 to his grandchildren. The residue went to the widow, the sole executrix.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. C142/198/37; E163/14/8, f. 7; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 549, 611; J. Maclean, Trigg Minor, ii. 226; iii. 433.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xx(1), p. 129; CPR, 1548-9, p. 226; C142/198/37; Wards 7/78/138; Maclean, ii. 207; PCC 74 Weldon; Carew’s Surv. Cornw. ed. Halliday, 219; S. Drew, Hist. Cornw. (1824), ii. 684.
  • 3. Lansd. 121, f. 66; HMC Hatfield, iv. 154; ix. 152; xiv. 313; Vis. Cornw.; PCC 7 Tirwhite, 2 Lewyn, 45 Barrington; APC, xxix. 241, 521.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 287, 609; 1619-23, p. 505; Vis. Cornw.; Wards 7/78/138; PCC 45 Barrington.