CHOCKE, Alexander I (by 1566-1607), of Avington, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



17 Oct. 1605 - 29 July 1607

Family and Education

b. by 1566, 1st s. of Richard Chocke of Avington and Elizabeth, da. of William Boulting of Sutton, Som.1 m. 21 June 1574, Joan, da. of Thomas Webb, clothier of Clifford, Beckington, Som., s.p.2 suc. fa. 1593.3 d. 29 July 1607.4 sig. Alex[ander] Chokke.

Offices Held

J.p. Berks. 1595-d.,5 commr. recusancy inquiry 1601,6 inquiry into eccles. affairs, Enborne, Berks. 1604,7 subsidy, Wilts. 1605,8 oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ., 1606-d.9


Chocke’s family had been established in Somerset since the early fifteenth century. Sir Richard Chocke had justice of Common Pleas from the early 1460s, and through marriage, Sir Richard’s son had acquired Avington manor.10 This property was settled on Chocke at his own marriage in 1574, fulfilling an arrangement made in 1566, when both he and his intended bride were infants. Other Berkshire properties were inherited on the death of Chocke’s father in 1593.11 Although Chocke lived in Avington, his family maintained strong connections with Westbury, where his paternal grandfather had lived, and he himself owned lands near the borough. On his marriage his father-in-law granted him land in neighbouring Beckington and a half-share in Westbury Seymour manor, while on 18 Oct. 1605, the day after his election to Parliament, his mother-in-law settled on him the manor of Westbury St. Maur.12

Chocke’s membership of a recusancy commission in 1601 testified to his family’s interest in godly affairs. So too did a letter written by Chocke in 1599 to the 1st earl of Hertford which contained information concerning a copy of The Ecclesiastical History of England, smuggled to Bristol from Cadiz, in which Hertford (among others) was criticized as a heretic.13 In February 1605 Chocke was appointed to investigate allegations that the Prayer Book and 1604 Canons had been defaced in the parish of Enborne, Berkshire. Suspicion had initially rested upon the minister, Robert Brookes, but Chocke, ‘being a special friend to the said parson’, was said to have delivered ‘threatening speeches to the petitioners, and the said parson has made such extraordinary means to the bishop of Sarum and others that he is likely to go unblamed for his disorders’. Brookes escaped censure after Chocke reported to Lord Cecil (Robert Cecil†) that the culprit could not be found.14

The first member of his family to sit for Parliament, Chocke was returned at a by-election at Westbury caused by the appointment of Sir James Ley as chief justice of Ireland.15 For a novice with few parliamentary connections, he was surprisingly active. On 16 Apr. 1606 he supported Sir Henry Poole’s complaint that the earl of Hertford, lord lieutenant of Wiltshire, had imposed taxes on the local population in order to pay for the services of a muster-master, by questioning the need for lord lieutenants, whose duties had traditionally been performed by the county sheriff.16 Chocke was named to committees for measures including the alehouse bill (11 Feb. 1606), and the regulation of the wages of spinners and weavers (24 Feb.); he added a proviso to the latter bill when it was reported from committee on 10 March.17 He was later named to committees for bills to remove excuses for non-attendance at church and to restrain the abuses of players (both 19 Mar. 1606), to regulate the Marshalsea Court (21 Mar. and later 10 Dec. 1606), and to examine the assize on fuel (8 Apr.) and the drainage of the Great Fens (15 April).18 He was added to the bill committee to examine delays in the execution of writs (8 May), and on 14 May was one of the delegation ordered to present the ecclesiastical grievances to the king.19 Two days later, he was added to the committee conferring with the Lords about the brewing bill and was named to a committee for a private estate bill (16 May). His other committee nominations during the session comprised the bill for the better maintenance of tillage in Herefordshire (20 Mar. 1606, and later 4 Mar. 1607), and a measure to resolve difficulties arising from the repeal of the Elizabethan Sanctuary Act (22 May 1606).20 On the penultimate day of the session, 26 May 1606, when Sir Robert Wingfield moved to punish the precentor of Lincoln cathedral for preaching a sermon at St. Paul’s Cross accusing the Commons of sedition and interference in ecclesiastical affairs, Chocke spoke briefly but vehemently against the offender, and was added to the committee ordered to investigate.21

Early in the next parliamentary session, Chocke was named to attend the conference at which royal ministers attempted to prod the Commons into action over the Union (24 Nov. 1606). He and several other Wiltshire MPs were appointed to consider an estate bill for the benefit of Thomas Mompesson, to whom Chocke himself was distantly related (26 November).22 He was again named to committees for various bills concerning social regulation: drunkenness (8 Dec.), bastards and poor relief (9 Dec.), and the sale of beer to unlicensed alehousekeepers (13 December).23 Other legislative committees to which he was named included those to prevent the implementation of ecclesiastical canons not confirmed by Parliament (11 Dec.), and to explain an Act of 1571 concerning the ministry (9 Mar. 1607).24 His last committee appointment was for a naturalization bill (10 March.).25

Chocke’s will of 28 July 1607 included a lengthy religious preface, following which he left cattle to his elder brother and the ministers of Avington, Kintbury and Enborne, and doles to the poor of Kintbury and Hungerford. His wife was named as his executrix, while his nephew, Alexander Chocke II*, ‘who my wife has adopted to be our heir’, was given his books and seals.26 He died on the following day.27

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Henry Lancaster


  • 1. Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 23; Vis. Wilts. (Harl. Soc. cv-cvi), 93, 168; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 22, 185; The Gen. v. 245; n.s. i. 5. Some peds. wrongly suggest that he was knighted.
  • 2. F. Brown, Chocke Fam. Genealogy, 14; PROB 11/68, f. 376.
  • 3. C142/235/103.
  • 4. C142/296/132.
  • 5. C231/1, f. 3v.
  • 6. C181/1, f. 34.
  • 7. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 73.
  • 8. E179/198/342.
  • 9. C181/2, f. 9.
  • 10. Tropenell Cartulary ed. J.S. Davies, i. 289; Sainty, Judges, 70; Brown, 1.
  • 11. VCH Berks. iv. 159; C142/235/103.
  • 12. VCH Wilts. viii. 150; C142/211/186; Hoare, Hist. Wilts. ‘Westbury Hundred’, 39.
  • 13. CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 340.
  • 14. HMC Hatfield, xvii. 73, 98-9, 178, 195.
  • 15. CJ, i. 323b; Bowyer Diary, 188.
  • 16. VCH Wilts. v. 126; Bowyer Diary, 130.
  • 17. CJ, i. 266b, 273a, 281b.
  • 18. Ibid. 286b, 287b, 288a, 295a, 298b.
  • 19. Ibid. 307a, 309a.
  • 20. Ibid. 287b, 309b, 310a, 311b, 347b.
  • 21. Ibid. 312b.
  • 22. Ibid. 324b, 325a.
  • 23. Ibid. 328b, 330b.
  • 24. Ibid. 329b, 350b.
  • 25. Ibid. 347b, 351a.
  • 26. PROB 11/111, f. 387v; WARD 7/33/268.
  • 27. C142/296/132.