HOCKMORE, William (1581-1626), of Buckland Baron, Combeinteignhead, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. 1 Nov. 1581, o. s. of John Hockmore of Buckland Baron and Mary, da. of William Floyers of Floyers Hayes, nr. Exeter, Devon.1 educ. Corpus Christi, Oxf. 1596; M. Temple 1601, called 1610.2 m. 3 Apr. 1610,3 Jane (d. 1 June 1625), da. and coh. of Sir Bartholomew Michell of Cannington, Som., 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. fa. 1582; d. 10 Oct. 1626.4
Hockmore traced his ancestry back to the fourteenth century. The family lived at Buckyate, a small estate near Totnes, Devon from the mid-fifteenth century until around 1555, when Hockmore’s grandfather Gregory ‘Huckmore’, MP for Dartmouth in 1558 and escheator for Devon and Cornwall in 1563-4, purchased a larger property at Buckland Baron, some six miles away. Gregory bequeathed his wife Alice a life interest in the bulk of the Buckland estate, and their son John subsequently designated Buckyate and over 2,000 acres of land as his wife Mary’s jointure, so the Hockmore patrimony was heavily encumbered when John died in April 1582, predeceasing both women. In addition, the infant Hockmore, who was born at his paternal grandfather’s house near Exeter, was found to be a royal ward. However, John’s childless brother Gregory obtained the wardship, and compounded with Mary for her jointure estate, though Alice retained a firm grip on Buckland Baron and neighbouring properties.11 Raised as Gregory’s heir, Hockmore attended university and the Middle Temple, where he was bound with Thomas Williams, one of Alice’s kinsmen.12 He was still in London when Gregory died in early 1607, by which time Hockmore had come of age. He failed to sue out his livery, however, leaving himself vulnerable to an extortion attempt by another uncle, Philip Hockmore, who seized Gregory’s papers and allegedly manipulated his mother, the extremely elderly Alice, for his own benefit. In April 1607, on the strength of a nuncupative will, Hockmore was granted administration of Gregory’s estate by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, but Philip obtained a rival grant from the local Archdeaconry Court. Alice also secured a stay of Hockmore’s livery, asserting that she was owed a substantial share of the profits from his wardship. Forced to come to terms, in February 1608 Hockmore resigned as administrator, and agreed to pay Alice £500 in settlement of her claims. Although he never paid this debt in full, he must have secured title to his estates by April 1610, when they were conveyed to trustees (including Thomas Williams) as part of Hockmore’s marriage settlement.13
In July 1611 Richard Connock*, the Duchy of Cornwall’s auditor, was looking for ‘a sufficient and honest gentleman’ to replace him, and the next month assigned his patent to Hockmore, to whom he was distantly related through the Williams family.14 Hockmore held this position for life and was therefore protected when Prince Henry died in 1612, and the Duchy’s administrative machine was partially dismantled. Over the next four years he continued to draw up grants of leases, and in 1614 provided figures for tin coining in Devon and Cornwall. When the Duchy was fully revived in 1616, Hockmore was one of the more active officials, preparing lists of local stewards and bailiffs, inquiring into tenancy changes, and informing tenants of revised rent demands. He also continued the task begun by Connock of recovering lost Duchy records, and may have been responsible for the systematic transcription of documents detailing the Duchy’s possessions which was undertaken that year.15 In 1617 Hockmore was dispatched to Lostwithiel, Cornwall, the Duchy’s local administrative centre, to view records there, but he also heard complaints from the inmates of Lostwithiel gaol, and investigated encroachments on Duchy property at Plymouth, Devon. In 1618 he helped to survey the Duchy’s woodlands, and in 1619-21 he prepared a report on the management of Dartmoor. By 1619 the increase in his duties induced Hockmore to employ a deputy, his brother-in-law William Bennett.16
At the same time that he was pursuing a successful career in the Duchy, Hockmore achieved a limited victory in his family dispute. Legal challenges to his uncle Philip at the time of Alice Hockmore’s death in 1613 proved fruitless, but when Philip himself died childless and intestate in 1617 Hockmore not only obtained the administration of his estate but recovered his role as administrator of his uncle Gregory’s possessions. Two years later a will alleged to be Philip’s came to light, but Hockmore successfully blocked probate. On one of these occasions, Hockmore bribed the ecclesiastical judge Sir John Bennet* with £15. Nonetheless, he failed to recover a number of key documents, and in 1620 prosecuted one of Philip’s servants for theft.17
In 1621 Hockmore was elected to Parliament for St. Mawes, probably with the backing of (Sir) Francis Vyvyan*, captain of St. Mawes Castle and Richard Connock’s kinsman by marriage. He contributed only indirectly to the Parliament’s debates. When Sir John Bennet, now a fellow MP, was accused of corruption, Hockmore informed the investigating committee about the bribe he had previously paid, and this information was reported to the House on 23 April.18
In 1622 Hockmore was re-appointed Duchy auditor jointly with Thomas Gewen*, a development which must have represented a loss of authority and fees for Hockmore. The cause of this humiliation is not known, but it may be significant that the grant awarded both auditors jurisdiction over the historic Duchy estates, but made no reference to lands acquired more recently. The omission suggests that Hockmore had lost an important battle with the Exchequer, fought out in 1619-20, over responsibility for these manors, and this in turn may help to explain his loss of status within the Duchy’s administration.19 As Hockmore’s position in the Duchy waned, he took on a more active role in Devon’s local government, but he also strengthened his ties with London, being appointed in 1622 to provide a reader’s feast at the Middle Temple. Conceivably he was making amends for his repeated absence from readings from 1610, which had contributed to his ejection from his chamber in 1614, but he may also have wished to smooth a path for his 11-year-old son Gregory, who was specially admitted to the Inn in the following year.20 Hockmore was again returned to Parliament for St. Mawes in 1624, but left no mark on its proceedings beyond the record of his nomination to the Poyntz estate bill committee on 30 April.21
By 1624 Hockmore was increasingly preoccupied with making future provision for his family. When he drew up his will on 14 June that year he had almost completed the conveyance of his estates to trustees, doubtless in order to spare his heir the sort of ordeal he had been forced to endure over his own inheritance. Greatly alarmed that his wife was now ‘strongly infected and seduced with popery’, he instructed that she should either conform to the Anglican Church, or lose custody of their children and all benefit from the will. Requesting private burial at Combeinteignhead without ‘shows, blacks or feasts’, Hockmore provided for four sermons to be preached on the inevitability of death, with the stipulation that his role as donor was to be suppressed. He specified dowries of £1,000 and 1,000 marks respectively for his two daughters, and instructed that his heir Gregory should take up the place arranged for him at the Middle Temple. It is unclear whether Hockmore’s wife bowed to his wishes before he amended his will on 20 May 1625, but in any case she died 12 days later.22 Hockmore’s own death on 10 Oct. 1626 left his heir a royal ward, and within a week William Kift approached Edward Nicholas* proposing that they and (Sir) James Bagg II* should snap up the wardship. However, on 1 Mar. 1627 Gregory’s wardship was granted to Thomas Williams and Robert Northley, two of Hockmore’s trustees.23
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 472.
- 2. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.
- 3. IGI, Som.
- 4. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 472.
- 5. DCO, M/M/5, ‘Duchy Servants’, 137; E306/1/3.
- 6. WARD 7/58/6; PROB 11/151, f. 60v.
- 7. E306/4/4, f. 39; DCO, ‘Duchy Servants’, 137.
- 8. C212/22/23.
- 9. HCA/1/32/1, f. 12.
- 10. C193/13/1, ff. 17, 24; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 6.
- 11. Vivian, Vis. Devon , 471-2; List of Escheators comp. A.C. Wood (L. and I. Soc. lxxii), 36; C142/198/39; PROB 11/54, f. 134; C2/Jas.I/H15/21.
- 12. MTR, 417; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 472.
- 13. PROB 11/109, f. 258; PROB 6/7, f. 108; C2/Jas.I/H15/21; C142/423/71.
- 14. SP46/69, f. 205; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 472, 789.
- 15. E315/76, ff. 14, 61, 75; DCO, ‘Letters and Warrants 1615-19’, ff. 14v-15, 22v, 27v, 37v-40; Add. 41661, ff. 2-73.
- 16. DCO, ‘Letters and Warrants’, ff. 64v-5, 66; Lib. D/G/8, ‘Dartmoor procs. 1203-1735’, ff. 37-8; E306/12, box 1, no.35; 306/12, box 2, bdle. 25, item 6.
- 17. C2/Jas.I/H15/21; PROB 11/122, ff. 339-40; 11/133, ff. 425v-6; PROB 6/9, f. 147v; CD 1621, iv. 247; v. 343; STAC 8/180/21.
- 18. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 93; CD 1621, ii. 311. Reports of this speech variously describe the administration as being for Hockmore’s uncle, father and brother, the latter two accounts being clearly inaccurate.
- 19. DCO, ‘Inrollments of patents 1620-5’, ff. 109-12; E306/12, box 2, bdle. 24, items 21, 22; bdle. 25, item 6.
- 20. MTR, 527, 535, 539, 548, 558, 562, 586, 670, 689.
- 21. CJ, i. 694b.
- 22. C142/198/39; PROB 11/151, ff. 59v-60v.
- 23. SP16/37/77; WARD 9/123, ff. 351v-2v.