PRIDEAUX, Jonathan (-d.1637), of Thuborough, Sutcombe, Devon

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

1st s. of Richard Prideaux of Thuborough and his 1st w. Grace, da. and h. of Nicholas Carminowe* of Respryn, Cornw. m. lic. 7 Sept. 1597, Winifred, da. of Tristram Gorges of St. Budeaux, Devon, 1s. 4da.1 suc. fa. 1617.2 bur. July 1637.3

Offices Held

Officer militia, Devon c.1633.4


Prideaux belonged to an ancient West Country family with a pedigree stretching back to the Conquest and a parliamentary record dating from 1298. In 1603 his father Richard inherited five Devon manors, including Thuborough, and sufficient property in Cornwall to qualify him as a j.p. there.5 However, for reasons which are unclear, he was already in financial difficulties, and the next few years witnessed a gradual wasting of his estates. In 1606, while Richard was seriously ill, Prideaux attempted to keep one creditor at bay by mortgaging their household goods, but the tactic failed and two manorial properties in Devon then utilized as alternative security for repayment were forfeited. In 1609 Prideaux, who was also short of money, disposed of lands inherited from his mother.6 The trend was briefly reversed four years later, when Richard inherited the estates of his Cornish cousin John Arundell of Gwarnack, but of these a large proportion were claimed by another relative, John Arundell* of Trerice, Cornwall. When the Chancery judges ruled in Arundell’s favour in 1615, Richard refused to comply with their verdict and was confined to the Fleet, where he probably remained until his death two years later.7

Prideaux finally came to terms with Arundell in 1622, but by then he was embroiled in a dispute with his stepmother. Richard’s will of 1614 had observed that the loss of so many properties had undermined his ability to provide for his family, and his widow Zenobia subsequently sought to augment the legacies designated for her daughters. In 1621 a reluctant Prideaux agreed to find an additional £200, mortgaging a manor to Zenobia as security for payment, but he then missed the vital deadline. His stepmother foreclosed on the mortgage, a Chancery suit again ensued, and although in November 1624 Prideaux’s right to the manor was confirmed on condition that he paid a revised settlement to his half-sisters, he still failed to produce the money. The situation was further complicated by the fact that, since 1622, he had been outlawed over other outstanding debts.8

On 6 May 1625 Prideaux was elected to Parliament at Bossiney, doubtless through the influence of a junior branch of his family which possessed property in the area.9 He took no known part in either sitting, but this is hardly surprising since his main objective was almost certainly to secure temporary relief from his creditors by means of parliamentary privilege. On 23 May he obtained a fresh Chancery order postponing payment to his stepmother until the following November. When he once more defaulted his lawyers returned to court to argue that Prideaux, ‘being a burgess in the Parliament and attending the same both in Easter and Trinity terms’, had been prevented from complying by these duties. The judges agreed to a further two months’ grace, but then lost patience and dismissed the suit.10

In 1629, in urgent need of £1,000, Prideaux sold his largest remaining Arundell manor to Lord Mohun (John Mohun*). However, his subsequent claim that he had been coerced into an outright sale when seeking only a mortgage may have been accepted by Chancery, since the property seems to have continued in his family until 1704.11 Prideaux’s will, drawn up on 27 June 1637, mentions no specific possessions except Thuborough, and in the absence of an inquisition post mortem it is difficult to establish what else he had managed to retain. He bequeathed only £710 to his four daughters, though two of them at least were already married. Prideaux was buried in the following month at Sutcombe. His son Richard sat for Bodmin in the Short Parliament.12

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 619-20.
  • 2. C2/Jas.I/P14/10.
  • 3. Vivian, 620.
  • 4. T. Westcote, Devonshire, 72.
  • 5. Vivian, 616; OR; C142/292/170; C66/1662.
  • 6. C2/Jas.I/P2/20; P13/67; J. Maclean, Deanery of Trigg Minor, iii. 156.
  • 7. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 12; C78/325/14; C2/Chas.I/P33/27.
  • 8. C54/2529/1; PROB 11/133, f. 137v; C2/Jas.I/P14/10; 2/Chas.I/P73/66; C78/290/11.
  • 9. OR; Maclean, ii. 90; iii. 13, 129-30.
  • 10. C78/290/11.
  • 11. C54/2814/12; C2/Chas.I/P73/66; D. and S. Lysons, Magna Britannia, iii: Cornw. 12.
  • 12. PROB 11/175, f. 73; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 620.