ESTCOTT, Richard (1596-1636), of Lincoln's Inn, London
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Family and Education
bap. 28 July 1596, 2nd s. of Richard Estcott (d.1635) of Launceston, Cornw., draper, and his 2nd w. Honor, da. of John Stone of Trevigo, Cornw., wid. of Charles Prust (d.1592) of Hartland, Devon.1 educ. Exeter Coll. Oxf. 1612; L. Inn 1613, called 1620.2 m. by c.1623,3 Alice, da. of Sir John Brett of Edmonton, Mdx., 5s. 5da.4 bur. 6 Dec. 1636.5 sig. Rich[ard] Estcott.
Commr. piracy, Cornw. 1626.8
The Estcotts were minor Devon gentry whose pedigree stretched back at least 200 years. Estcott’s father, Richard, took a Launceston woman as his first wife and, settling in that borough, became one of its leading merchants.9 He was elected mayor for the first time in 1596, the year of Estcott’s birth, and his local prominence was confirmed in the 1620s by his appointment as a Cornish commissioner for subsidy and piracy.10 Estcott, as a younger son, needed to build his own career, and trained as a lawyer at Lincoln’s Inn, where his contemporaries included his future brother-in-law, Owen Brett, and a future recorder of Launceston, John Glanville*.11
Although Estcott based much of his legal practice at Lincoln’s Inn, he evidently divided his time between London and Cornwall. Already serving as Glanville’s deputy at Launceston by 1625, he was appointed to a Cornish piracy commission in the following year. The combination of his professional responsibilities and his father’s local standing explains his repeated election to Parliament for Launceston and the neighbouring borough of Newport during the 1620s. Indeed, as a ‘viander’ of Newport in 1624, and as mayor of Launceston in 1628, Richard Estcott was twice able to exert direct influence over his son’s elections, since these positions required him to act as a returning officer.12
As Estcott had a home in London, he was probably prepared to forgo parliamentary wages, which may help to explain his popularity as an electoral candidate. However, he seems not to have been a particularly assiduous Member. He left no mark on the proceedings of either the 1624 session or the following year’s Westminster sitting, and though he attended the Oxford sitting of 1625, obtaining permission on 2 Aug. to take his seat before receiving communion, he probably left early, as he was in Launceston by 15 August. During the 1626 Parliament he absented himself without leave at least three times, though he was presumably present on 10 June, when he was added to the committee for Lady Dale’s private bill; whether he was personally interested in this measure is unclear.13 He seems to have contributed to debates only in 1628, when the Commons investigated John Mohun’s* unsuccessful bid to prevent the election of William Coryton and (Sir) John Eliot as Cornwall’s knights of the shire. Estcott had sat for Newport alongside Eliot, and was now partnered at Launceston by Eliot’s close friend, Bevill Grenville. Nevertheless, he was also a first cousin of (Sir) James Bagg II*, Mohun’s closest political ally, and this family tie apparently weighed more heavily with him. When several of Mohun’s supporters were brought to Westminster to explain their conduct, Estcott backed their request to have counsel, and opposed a motion that they should admit their misdeeds publicly in Cornwall (12 and 13 May). He must have missed the start of the next parliamentary session, since he was still in Launceston on 19 Jan. 1629, and it is not known whether he subsequently attended the House.14
Apart from his interventions in 1628, Estcott has not been identified as an active adherent of Mohun and Bagg during the 1620s, and he possibly sought to remain aloof from Cornwall’s factional battles. In 1631 he acted on Grenville’s behalf in a land transaction with Bagg, and he may well also have been the ‘Mr. Escot’ who delivered correspondence from Grenville to the imprisoned Eliot at around the same time.15 Estcott was by now securing recognition as a lawyer, though his appointment in 1630 as Lent reader at Furnival’s Inn, the subsidiary body attached to Lincoln’s Inn, ended in embarrassment when poor attendance by the students forced the abandonment of proceedings.16 His role as deputy recorder of Launceston also brought with it personal complications. In 1631, presumably in this capacity, he drew up a Chancery bill in which the borough’s mayor accused Estcott’s father and brother, among others, of misappropriating funds.17 That same year, he purchased a house in Launceston on which he already held a lease, but he continued to use Lincoln’s Inn as his formal address. In 1633 Bagg designated Estcott’s chamber there as the location for the payment of a loan in a dubious financial deal, and Estcott himself was called as a witness in the resultant Star Chamber suit two years later.18
Estcott drew up his will on 12 July 1636, declaring himself to be ‘weak in body’. A year earlier he had inherited from his father some land in Cornwall, which he now designated for sale to provide maintenance and portions for his wife and infant children. However, he wished his books to be kept for whichever of his sons first took up the law. Estcott died in December 1636 at Ampthill, Bedfordshire, where he had acquired a small estate near a property owned by his brother-in-law Brett. None of his direct descendants sat in Parliament.19
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- 1. Cornw. RO, FP118/1/1, pp. 90, 271; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 159; C2/Jas.I/E5/70; SP46/58, f. 206v.
- 2. Al. Ox.; LI Admiss.; LI Black Bks. ii. 219.
- 3. Date calculated from admiss. of Estcott’s eldest s. to L. Inn in Feb. 1640: LI Admiss.
- 4. C54/2852/5; Vivian, 159.
- 5. Regs. Ampthill and Tingrith ed. F.G. Emmison (Beds. Par. Regs. xvii), 79.
- 6. Cornw. RO, B/LAUS/339; C2/Chas.I/D51/30.
- 7. LI Black Bks. ii. 293.
- 8. C181/3, f. 196.
- 9. Vivian, 158-9; E179/88/268; 179/89/310.
- 10. R. and O.B. Peter, Launceston and Dunheved, 402; C212/22/23; C181/3, ff. 113v, 196.
- 11. LI Admiss.
- 12. C219/38/58; 219/41B/173.
- 13. Procs. 1625, p.378; Procs. 1626, iii. 414; Cornw. RO, B/LAUS/339-40.
- 14. CD 1628, iii. 376, 393; Vivian, 446; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 34; Cornw. RO, B/LAUS/341.
- 15. C54/2898/28; J. Forster, Sir John Eliot (1872 edn.), ii. 391-2.
- 16. LI Black Bks. ii. 293-4.
- 17. C2/Chas.I/D51/30.
- 18. Cornwall RO, WW120; SP16/300/62; C2/Chas.I/P70/39.
- 19. PROB 11/173, ff. 34v-5; 11/174, ff. 193-4; Ampthill and Tingrith Regs. ed. Emmison, 5, 79; VCH Beds. iii. 259.