HELE, John (c.1571-c.1605), of Wembury, Devon
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Family and Education
b. c.1571, 2nd s. of Sir John Hele† (d.1608) of the I. Temple and Wembury and Mary, da. and coh. of Ellis Warwick of Holbeton, Devon; bro. of Nicholas* and Sir Warwick*.2 educ. Balliol, Oxf. Jan. 1589, aged 17; I. Temple 1590.3 unm. d. by 4 Oct. 1605.
J.p. Devon c.1593-c. Mar. 1604.4
Hele was trained up to follow in the footsteps of his father, Sir John, an Elizabethan serjeant-at-law. He presumably inherited his father’s legal acumen, since he was appointed a Devon magistrate when barely of age and while still pursuing his studies at the Inner Temple. He doubtless owed his election at Plympton Erle in 1601 to his father’s local standing. In February 1604 the government ordered an inquiry into Serjeant Hele’s alleged abuse of his office in seeking to recover loans made to the 11th Lord Cobham (Henry Brooke alias Cobham†).5 This probably explains Hele’s removal from the Devon bench at around this time, and must have hampered any plans he had of standing in the general election that year. Nevertheless, when Sir Henry Beaumont II opted to sit for Leicester instead of Plympton Erle, Hele secured the vacant seat. If he hoped that his presence in the Commons would aid his father’s cause, he was disappointed, as six months later Sir John was suspended from office, fined and briefly imprisoned. Indeed, Hele made little discernible impact on the Commons, though he was named to committees on bills to settle the Seymour estates (11 June) and confirm letters patents (5 July). He died during the subsequent recess. No will or letters of administration have been found.6