ROLLE, William (-d.1652), of Heanton Satchville, Petrockstow, 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

yr. s. of Henry Rolle (d.1595) of Heanton Satchville and Margaret, da. and h. of Robert Yeo of Heanton Satchville. unm. bur. 14 Apr. 1652.1 sig. Will[ia]m Rolle.

Offices Held


Rolle’s father Henry was a younger son of George Rolle†, a London lawyer who settled at Stevenstone, Devon in the 1520s and invested heavily in ex-monastic lands. Henry acquired the Heanton Satchville estate through marriage, and at the time of his death also owned one manor in north Cornwall and another in Somerset. Nothing is known of Rolle’s early life. Judging from the recorded ages of his brothers, he was probably born during the 1560s. As a younger son himself, he is unlikely to have received a large inheritance, and he seems to have lived at or near Heanton throughout his life.2

In 1604 Rolle was elected to Parliament for Callington on the interest of his eldest brother Robert, who had recently purchased the local manor. He apparently took little part in the Commons’ proceedings. No speech by him survives, and he received just two nominations to bill committees, one of which addressed the pilchard trade, a perennial Cornish concern (20 June 1604), while the other dealt with the funding of a Devon school (25 Feb. 1607). Callington again returned him to Westminster in 1614 and, perhaps on the strength of his earlier attendance, he was added on 13 Apr. to the list of ‘supervisors’ appointed to check for Members who flouted the rules of the House by omitting to receive communion.3

Little can be said of Rolle’s subsequent career. Doubtless in part because of his residence at Heanton, he was frequently used as a trustee for family land deals or as a testamentary witness or executor.4 Like a number of his relatives he embraced an earnest form of Protestantism, and his own will, drawn up on 20 Mar. 1652, includes an elaborate statement of faith in Christ, ‘in whom I have believed, whom I have loved and in weakness have served, being assured that His strength and mercy was able to supply greater imperfections than I was subject unto...’ Rolle appears not to have married, and the main beneficiaries of the will were his nephews Henry* and John Rolle*, to whom he left £100 and a silver tankard each, and his executor, a great-nephew. On his other relations, neighbours and friends, who included Sir George Chudleigh* and George Monck†, he bestowed numerous small bequests, including six more silver tankards and two bibles. He further instructed that his copy of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs should be placed in the nearby church of Great Torrington. Rolle died soon after this, and was buried at Petrockstow on 14 April.5

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 652, 654; C142/242/78.
  • 2. W.G. Hoskins, Devon, 83-4, 469; T. Risdon, Survey of Devon, 266; C142/242/78; Vivian, 654; PROB 11/222, f. 281.
  • 3. C2/Jas.I/R4/25; CJ, i. 243a, 340b; Procs. 1614 (Commons), 42, 74.
  • 4. C2/Chas.I/R57/48; 2/Chas.I/R42/41; PROB 11/164, ff. 244v, 245v; 11/204, f. 46v-7v.
  • 5. PROB 11/222, f. 281r-v.