COLE, Richard (d.1599), of Bristol, Glos.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

s. of John Cole of Newport. m. (2) Alice, da. of William Carr I, 1s. dv.p.1

Offices Held

Alderman, Bristol, sheriff 1569-70, mayor 1585-6.2


Cole was a mercer, related by marriage to the Bristol families Smyth and Carr. His father-in-law, who died in 1575, bequeathed him 300 oz. of parcel-gilt plate, and a further £20 for being executor. Active in municipal life, he was one of the aldermen who, in 1590, wrote to acknowledge the assistance of Michael Hickes in bringing suits to the notice of Lord Burghley. On at least one occasion he acted on behalf of the Privy Council. He owned a house and lands in Nailsea Samford, Somerset, and other lands in Congresbury and Week, Somerset. Towards the end of his life he bought the manor of Samford, Somerset, and other property in Bristol including two warehouses on the quay, and gardens and houses in the suburbs.3

During Cole’s mayoralty, in the spring of 1586, Lord Stafford (Edward Stafford I) claimed a right to seize Cole and his brother Thomas as ‘villeins appurtenant’ to his manor of Thornbury, alleging that he was as free to deal with them as with his cattle. The brothers appealed to the Privy Council for protection. Stafford was ordered to forbear from hindering their trade or otherwise molesting them, since they were prepared to answer his claims in the law courts. The Council insisted that someone of Cole’s standing should not be treated in this fashion. These instructions were flouted by Stafford, who refused to contest the matter at law and instead made further attempts to seize their persons. On 7 May 1587 Stafford was summoned before the Council and on 5 Dec. the lord chancellor and two other judges were appointed to hear the case. The unknown verdict presumably favoured the Coles.

In 1568 Cole was one of several Bristol citizens who complained that the bishop of Gloucester, in his sermons, had uttered

very strange, perilous and corrupt doctrines, as well to the defacing of Christ’s sincere gospel and God’s undefiled religion, as to the no small hazarding of the common tranquillity.

The ‘Mr. Cole’ who is mentioned in the parliamentary journals on as 23 Mar. 1585 as serving on a committee concerning apprentices, was probably Richard Cole. Certainly as burgess for Bristol he would have had the opportunity to serve on a committee on cloth on 15 Mar. 1593.

Cole died in July 1599. By his will, drawn up 16 June and proved 7 July of that year, he made his nephew Richard his heir, his own son having died without issue. He asked to be buried in the grave of his first wife, in the parish church of All Saints, and bequeathed £2,000, together with plate, household stuff, furniture, linen and some property to his widow. Every poor person in the almshouses of Bristol and its suburbs was to receive 12d., and an annuity of 20s. was given to the poor children of the Queen Elizabeth hospital. He set aside £30 to repair the ‘causeway’ between Bristol and Gloucester, at the village of Newport, ‘where I was born’. In order that a learned preacher might give two sermons a year in All Saints, an annuity of 20s. was provided. Along with his brother William, as executors he appointed Christopher Kedgwyn, grocer, and Edmund Carr, each of whom received £10, and Thomas White, merchant, who was to have £50. The overseers included his ‘cousin’ George Snigge, the recorder, and Mr. Ham, the town clerk. Cole’s widow Alice was a benefactor of local charities.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: W.J.J.


  • 1. Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 224-5; Bristol Wills (Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans.), 207-9; Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 27.
  • 2. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xix. 134-7; A. B. Beaven, Bristol Lists, 166, 195, 283.
  • 3. Bristol Wills, 207-9; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xix. 134-5; APC, xvii. 44; Lansd. 46, f. 97; Staple Ct. Bks. of Bristol (Bristol Rec. Soc.), ed. Rich, 194, 217; PCC 64 Kidd.
  • 4. APC, xv. 69, 303-4; J. Latimer, 16th Cent. Bristol, 85-6; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. v. 229-30; li. 118; D’Ewes, 372, 501; PCC 64 Kidd.