SPECCOTT, Paul (by 1600-1644), of Penheale, nr. Egloskerry, Cornw.
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Education
b. by 1600,1 2nd s. of (Sir) John Speccott* (d.1644) of Thornbury, Devon and his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of Peter Edgcumbe of Mount Edgcumbe, Cornw.; bro. of Peter*.2 educ. ‘subscribed’ Oxf. 1614;3 I. Temple 1616;4 ?travelled abroad 1619.5 m. (1) c.1635, Grace (bur. 27 Nov. 1636), da. of Robert Halswell of Halswell, Som., s.p.; (2) Dorothy (d. 4 Nov. 1691), da. of Christopher Wise of Totnes, Devon, 1s. 1da. bur. 26 Oct. 1644.6 sig. Paul Speccott.
Speccott’s status as a younger son appears to have had no adverse effect on his education. Indeed, the fact that he ‘subscribed’ at Oxford and entered the Inner Temple alongside his elder brother Peter might indicate that he was the more able of the two. In 1619 Speccott was licensed to travel abroad for three years, a privilege which Peter is not known to have enjoyed. In the following year his father concluded the purchase of Penheale, and seems to have decided early on that Speccott should eventually receive this property, as in 1623 the two jointly sued tenants of the manor who were withholding their dues. When Sir John was appointed sheriff of Cornwall in 1622, he left Speccott to nominate his under-sheriff. Speccott thereupon extorted £150 ‘security’ from his chosen candidate, John Perryman, but later took advantage of the general pardon issued at Charles I’s coronation to avoid prosecution.11
Before 1627, when he and Sir Robert Killigrew* were granted a number of small Duchy of Cornwall properties in the Penheale district, Speccott apparently possessed neither an independent estate nor government connections.12 He therefore relied on his family’s local standing and kinship ties to secure his return to Parliament for Cornish constituencies on four occasions during the 1620s. Newport, which supplied him with a seat in 1625, lay no more than four miles from Penheale, while Bossiney, which he represented in 1626, regularly provided places during the 1620s for members of the Prideaux and Edgcumbe families, his mother’s kinsmen. His election at East Looe in 1624 and 1628 was arranged by the borough’s recorder, Sir Reginald Mohun*, the half-brother of Speccott’s then stepmother.13
Considering his assiduousness in gaining entry to Parliament, Speccott made very little impact on its recorded proceedings. The ‘Mr. Speckot’ who was named on 17 Apr. 1624 to a bill committee for the relief of creditors may not have been Speccott himself but his brother Peter, who also sat that year.14 Speccott does not feature in the records of the 1625 Parliament at all, and the sole mention of him in the records for 1626 merely notes his addition to the committee to consider Giles Sewster’s petition in connection with the conveyance of his estate (29 April).15 In the 1628-9 Parliament he achieved notice only because his father’s former under-sheriff made the mistake of serving him with a subpoena on 7 Jan. 1629, this being the first day before the commencement of the second session on which parliamentary privilege applied. For his pains, the hapless Perryman was brought to the bar of the House on 17 Feb. to explain himself, though he was discharged without penalty.16
In about 1629 Speccott’s father, who had been living at Penheale, moved back to Devon, leaving his younger son to occupy the estate. In 1630 Speccott attended the Privy Council with four of Cornwall’s leading gentry (his uncle Sir Richard Edgcumbe*, Sir Richard Buller*, John Arundell* of Trerice and William Coryton*) in connection with a militia dispute, though it is not clear how he had become involved.17 At the time of Speccott’s shortlived first marriage, his father settled on him land with a sale value of about £10,000, and in 1636 Penheale acquired a new entrance bearing the initials of Speccott and his wife. After she died in childbirth, he married his stepmother’s daughter.18
Speccott may have been returned to the Short Parliament at Newport in May 1640. Unlike his father, he backed the king’s cause at the outbreak of the Civil War. However, although he attended a dinner held at Launceston for Cornwall’s royalist leaders in April 1643, the extent of his active service is unknown.19 The rift within his family was superficial, as Speccott named his father as one of his executors when he prepared his will. Drawn up on 8 May 1643, this document is chiefly remarkable for its elaborate preamble, addressed to
Most glorious God, who by the fall of my first parents hast sentenced their cursed offspring unto eternal death, which I, the sinful son of rebellious Adam, being altogether unable by any merit of mine own to escape, do therefore fly unto the merit of thy Son Jesus my only saviour, on whose unvaluable [sic] death and merits I wholly rest for pardon of my sins, steadfastly believing that when this earthly tabernacle of my body shall be dissolved my soul shall be presented through thy Son’s only merit and mediation pure and spotless before thy tribunal. ...
These firmly Protestant sentiments were accompanied by a major bequest to fund a learned preacher at Egloskerry church, indicating that Speccott and his father were divided in politics but not religion. Speccott requested a simple grave slab bearing the word ‘Resurgam’, and his wishes were respected when he died the following year. His widow remarried in April 1647, and was therefore probably not the ‘Mrs. Dorothy Speckart’ who petitioned Parliament for assistance in November of that year. Speccott’s son John served as a Member for Newport from 1661 to 1678.20
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- 1. Age calculated from date of admiss. to university.
- 2. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 707; C2/Chas.I/S36/45.
- 3. Al. Ox.
- 4. CITR, ii. 95.
- 5. APC, 1619-21, p. 49.
- 6. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 707; C2/Chas.I/S98/26; J. Polsue, Complete Paroch. Hist. of Cornw. i. 327.
- 7. C181/4, f. 3v; 181/5, ff. 92, 102v.
- 8. SR, v. 60, 82, 149.
- 9. Northants. RO, FH133.
- 10. C231/5, p. 418.
- 11. C54/2428/38; C2/Jas.I/S9/39; 2/Chas.I/P52/53.
- 12. C66/2424/2.
- 13. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 142; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 325, 707.
- 14. CJ, i. 769b.
- 15. Procs. 1626, ii. 72; iii. 97.
- 16. C2/Chas.I/P52/53; CJ, i. 924a, 930b.
- 17. C2/Chas.I/S51/11; APC, 1629-30, pp. 379-80.
- 18. C2/Chas.I/S98/26; C78/443/8; Polsue, i. 327.
- 19. M. Coate, Cornw. in Gt. Civil War, 58-9.
- 20. PROB 11/198, ff. 64v-65v; Polsue, i. 324; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 707; CJ, v. 356a.