HAMLIN, Henry (by 1484-1549/50), of Exeter, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. by 1484, yr. s. of Nicholas Hamlin by Anne, da. of one Wilford. m. (1) or (2) by 1517, da. of Thomas Andrew of Exeter; at least 2da.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Exeter 1511-12, warden of St. Mary Magdalene hospital by 1517, member of the Twenty-Four 1519-d., receiver 1524-5, constable of the staple 1525-6, mayor 1526-7, 1538-9, j.p. 1537, alderman by 1549.2


The Exeter chronicler John Hooker described Henry Hamlin, who ‘lived by merchandise, his traffic [being] most in Brittany’, as a man who ‘thought much of the commonweal’ and who ‘had done several things’ during his second mayoralty, including the establishment of a weekly cloth market in the city; he was also one of the propagandists for the building of the new harbour. Described in a lawsuit as ‘a man of great substance and riches and a great ruler’, Hamlin evidently owed his success chiefly to his own efforts: from his father, also a merchant and mayor, he had received in 1504 only the modest bequest of 20 marks and a gown, although he did better from his mother, who left him a number of properties around Powderham and Teignmouth which were later the subject of a chancery case. It was shortly after his father’s death that Hamlin was admitted to the freedom of Exeter by succession. He is said to have spent his early years in Brittany, perhaps as a factor: by 1523 he was assessed for subsidy at £10 on goods valued at £200, with perhaps a supplementary assessment of 40s. on £60 worth of goods in a neighbouring parish.3

Hamlin had already served his first mayoral term when he was returned, with his brother-in-law John Blackaller, to the Parliament of 1529. Six days before their departure for the first session on 26 Oct. Hamlin and Blackaller were instructed to take with them the city’s charters and other documents which they were to have confirmed by Parliament, and were given £20 towards their expenses in this connexion. After their return on 22 Dec. both received wages for 58 days, the exact length of their absence at 4s. per day. They had also attended to business of their own during the session, obtaining probate of an overlooked codicil to Thomas Andrew’s will of 1517. Before they left on 10 Jan. 1531 for the second session they were given £12 6s.8d. each towards unspecified expenses, but as this money remained unspent when they returned on 3 Apr., it went towards the payment of their wages on 15 Apr., which again covered the entire period of their absence. They continued to serve together for four more sessions, but in October 1534 Blackaller was replaced, on grounds of ill-health, by Robert Hooker alias Vowell, and it was with Hooker that Hamlin attended the remaining sessions of this Parliament and probably also its successor of June 1536, to which the two are likely to have been re-elected in accordance with the King’s request for the return of the previous Members. Of Hamlin’s part in the proceedings of either Parliament nothing is known.4

Hamlin had first lived, as his father did before him, in the parish of St. Olave, but by 1543 he had moved to a house at Little Stile in St. George’s parish and that was where he died. He had lived to witness the siege of the city by the Prayer Book rebels of 1549 but unlike Blackaller he is not mentioned in that connexion, perhaps because he was already infirm. By his will of 15 Dec. 1549, which has no religious affirmation, he asked for burial near his wives in St. Olave’s and made provision for his daughters, who were both married, for his grandchildren and nephews, and for two brothers. A legacy to the corporation of Exeter was made conditional on its bringing up the harbour to the city. The executors, a brother Robert and a friend Thomas Lambert, were granted probate on 10 May 1550.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: L. M. Kirk / A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. PCC 21 Holgrave, 30 Holder, 14 Coode; C1/1090/53-6.
  • 2. Trans. Dev. Assoc. lx. 211; LP Hen. VIII, iv, xii; Exeter act bk. 1, ff. 71v, 84.
  • 3. Trans. Dev. Assoc. lx. 211; W. T. MacCaffrey, Exeter 1540-1640, 258; J. Hoker, The description of the citie of Excester (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. xi), 916; R. Izacke, Exeter (1681), 11; C1/658/43-54, 793/44-6, 1059/12-15, 1086/6, 1090/53-6; PCC 21 Holgrave; Exeter Freemen (Devon and Cornw. Rec. Soc. extra ser. i), 64; Exeter act bk. 2, f. 41; 55, f. 67v; Hooker’s commonplace bk. f. 344v; E179/96/147. PCC 30 Holder, 14 Jankyn; Exeter act bk. 1, ff. 127, 131.
  • 4. PCC 30 Holder, 14 Jankyn; Exeter act bk. 1, ff. 127, 131.
  • 5. E179/96/147, 240; PCC 14 Coode.