POWLE, John (c.1562-1635), of Leominster, Herefs.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1562,1 2nd s. of Thomas Powle, vintner (d.1589), of Leominster and w. Alice. m. (1) 21 Nov. 1587, Alice (bur. 9 July 1592), da. of Robert Stubbs, vintner, of Leominster, 1da. d.v.p.; (2) by 1594, Anne (d. by 9 May 1635), 4s. 5da. (1 d.v.p.).2 d. 25 Jan. 1635.3

Offices Held

Bailiff, Leominster 1613-14, 1624-5, 1634-d.4


Powle’s name (with minor variations of spelling) is one of the commonest in the early pages of the Leominster parish register. Powle himself was probably the grandson of John Polle† senior, a merchant and Catholic sympathizer, who represented the borough in the first Marian Parliament. Although the family held considerable property in the town and served on the corporation, they were all technically ‘villeins regardant’ until well into Elizabeth’s reign. Powle himself, with his father, two brothers, and four sisters, was manumitted in 1577.5 Locally he has to be distinguished from an attorney of the same name, probably a cousin, who was party to the 1604 return and went to law with the corporation in 1609/10.6 His mother referred to Sir Thomas Coningsby† as her ‘loving friend’,7 and it was no doubt with Coningsby’s approval that he was elected to represent the borough in the first Stuart Parliament, where he played no recorded part in proceedings. At the general election of 1614 Powle probably acted as the borough’s returning officer, and in 1620 the Coningsby interest went to his stepbrother, Francis Smalman I*. He attended the next election, in 1624, but it is unlikely that he stood again.8 He was committed to the Marshalsea in 1625 by the Privy Council for imprisoning a deputy alnager and disfranchising one of the corporation who offered bail; but he was released after three days.9

According to a sabbatarian tract of 1636, Powle died shortly after serving a subpoena on a gentleman called Shuit as the latter was coming out of church on Sunday. Shuit told him ‘I thought you had been an honester man then so, to do this upon this day’, to which Powle replied, ‘I hope I am never a whit the more dishonest, or less holy for that’, whereupon he fell down dead without saying another word.10 At his death Powle owned eight messuages in Leominster, the neighbouring manor of Fulford and another messuage in Yarpole held of Sir William Croft*. Having died intestate, administration of his estate was granted to his widow on 26 Feb. 1635. His heir was his son John; a younger son Henry served as bailiff in 1640-1 and 1643-4. Nothing further is known of the family.11

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. E134/6Jas.1/Hil18.
  • 2. CPR, 1575-8, p. 279; Herefs. RO, Leominster par. reg.; PROB 11/74, ff. 302v-4; PROB 11/114, ff. 372-4; 11/126, f. 52; G.F. Townsend, Town and Bor. of Leominster, 312; PROB 6/15, f. 97.
  • 3. C142/535/114.
  • 4. Townsend, 294.
  • 5. CPR, 1575-8, pp. 110, 279.
  • 6. C219/35/1/78; Herefs. RO, Leominster bailiffs’ accts. 1609-10.
  • 7. PROB 11/126, f. 52v.
  • 8. C219/38/91.
  • 9. APC, 1623-5, pp. 443, 448-9.
  • 10. [H. Burton?], Divine Tragedy Lately Acted (1636), pp. 14-15.
  • 11. C142/535/114; PROB 6/15, f. 79v; Townsend, 294.