HERLE, Thomas (by 1537-1602 or later), of Trenowth, Cornw.

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 1537, 1st s. of Nicholas Herle of Prideaux and Trenowth by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Nicholas Carminowe of Trenowth. educ. M. Temple, adm. 11 May 1558. m. (1) Jennifer, da. of Sir Hugh Trevanion of Carhayes, 5s. 3da.; (2) Elizabeth, da. and coh. of William Milliton of Pengersick, wid. of Thomas Trenwith of St. Ives and of Robert Arundell of Camborne. suc. fa. 7 May 1559.1

Offices Held

Escheator, Devon and Cornw. Feb.-Nov. 1581.


The Herle family, originally from Northumberland, had been settled in Cornwall since the 14th century. Throughout the 15th century it was seated at Prideaux near Luxulian but by the middle of the 16th had made Trenowth its chief residence. Thomas Herle presumably owed his Membership to his family’s influence at Grampound, which was not far from Trenowth. When he entered the Commons in 1558 his experience was limited and his education incomplete: his return may have been intended to broaden his knowledge as much as to commend him to a patron, and between the two sessions of the Parliament he joined the Middle Temple in preparation for a legal career. His father, who apparently never sat in Parliament, had perhaps intended to stand for election on this occasion but put his son forward instead; some such substitution would account for the insertion of his name in a different hand on the indenture. Herle may not have taken to the House and after his father’s death he is not known to have sought election again.2

In 1559 Herle succeeded to his family’s small patrimony as well as extensive lands which had been the inheritance of his mother. Five years later Elizabeth Carminowe’s estate was claimed by James Trewynnard, who had married Herle’s aunt Philippa. Herle denied that Trewynnard had any rights in the property, and he referred Keeper Bacon to a partition of Nicholas Carminowe’s lands some 20 years previously, under which certain lands had been allotted to Elizabeth Carminowe. The outcome of Herle’s appeal is not known, but it is almost certain that Trewynnard lost the case. Relations between the two men did not improve with time, as about 1569 Herle alleged in the Star Chamber that Trewynnard and accomplices had assaulted him and his servants, and entered his tinworks at Killifreth, and had taken away tin worth £50. In 1581 Herle brought another action in the same court, this time against Thomas Stephens, who, he claimed, had attacked him and his family on their way back from matins at Probus church: this episode, it seems, was the culmination of a longstanding dispute regarding a right of way over Stephens’s land. Apart from his appointment as escheator, nothing else has been discovered about Herle’s career. Evidently he was still alive in 1602, as Richard Carew lists the ‘Herle ... who wedded Trevanion’ among the resident gentlemen of the hundred of Powder. The eventual successor to the family estates was his second son Edward.3

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: J. J. Goring


  • 1. Presumed to be of age at election. Vis. Cornw. ed. Vivian, 10, 219-20, 486; Paroch. Hist. Cornw. iv. 92.
  • 2. Paroch. Hist. Cornw. iii. 191, iv. 99; C219/25/24.
  • 3. C3/178/1; 142/118/10; Vis. Cornw. 75; St. Ch.5/H75/23, H77/33; R. Carew, Survey Cornw. (1769), 143.