COSWORTH, John (by 1516-75), of London and Cosworth, nr. St. Columb, Cornw.

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



Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1516, 2nd s. of Robert Cosworth of Cosworth by Mary, da. of John Wolver(s)ton or Wolvedon of Golden in Probus, Cornw. m. lic. 13 Jan. 1545, Dorothy, da. of Sir William Lok, alderman and sheriff of London, wid. of Ottiwell Hill, mercer of London, 7s. inc. Edward and Thomas 1da.1

Offices Held

Jt. receiver, duchy of Cornw. Nov. 1553, sole Feb. 1554-Mar. 1572; portreeve, Mitchell, Cornw. 1553-4.2


Cosworth’s duchy office ensured his return for Lostwithiel, the administrative headquarters of the duchy of Cornwall. In 1563, when Lostwithiel returned a Mildmay and a Killigrew, Cosworth was returned for Penryn, where the Killigrews owned property. By the accession of Elizabeth he was a wealthy man, who as one of a syndicate of London mercers had speculated extensively in monastic estates. His duchy office no doubt provided the finance for further land transactions under Elizabeth. The property he purchased in Cornwall may have been for his own use—though he never attained the status of a j.p.—but his acquisitions in Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and Yorkshire were with a view to resale. In addition, he had considerable interests in tin-mining; he owned a large share, bought from Thomas Roydont of ‘the tin works in St Agnes parish, called the Pell’.3

Before 1568, when his nephew John, whose heir male he was, died, Cosworth was enfeoffed of much of the family property. The two men worked in partnership in duchy of Cornwall affairs, the nephew acting as his uncle’s agent for the Truro district. Early in Elizabeth’s reign a Truro merchant complained in Chancery that the Cosworths had by high-handed proceedings come into possession of his counting-house books and other documents. The elder John remained an active official almost until his death. In 1568 he attested notes drawn up on the coinage of tin in the stannary towns, and Privy Council instructions to him on duchy business survive for dates as late as 1573.4

He died 20 or 21 Dec. 1575. In his will, drawn up in the previous August, and proved 5 Mar. 1576, he asked to be buried in the parish church of Colan, Cornwall, the tombstone to cost £10. It bears his recumbent effigy in armour, with an inscription styling him ‘some time mercer of London, receiver of the duchy of Cornwall’. He left £1,000 to his wife—£500 to be restored to the estate if she remarried—together with a £120 annuity, the profits of his tin works and two furnished rooms in the house at Cosworth. She was to take over the executorship if the eldest son Thomas refused to act. The will also settled annuities on five surviving children, while charitable bequests included £1 to the poor of each of ten Cornish parishes. Three of the six overseers were Richard Chamond, Francis Godolphin and John Killigrew I; another was Cosworth’s relative John Arundell of Trerice.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. C142/150/187; PCC 8 Sheffeld; Vis. Cornw. (Harl. Soc. ix), 50 and n; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. i), 16, where generations are confused; Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses , 71; Marr Lic. Fac. Off. (Harl. Soc. xxiv), 3; Vis. London (Harl. Soc. cix, cx), 19.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xix(2), p. 317; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 55; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 206, 235; 1569-72, p. 476; C219/21/31.
  • 3. LP Hen VIII, xix(2), p. 317; CPR, 1560-3, pp. 378, 602; 1563-6, p. 196; Truro Mus. HP 1/3; PCC 3 Carew.
  • 4. C142/150/187; 4 C142/150/187; PCC 8 Sheffeld; C3/121/90; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 308; APC, viii. 109.
  • 5. Vis. London, 19 and n.; E.H.W. Dunkin, Mon. Brasses of Cornw. 40; PCC 3 Carew; Mill Stephenson, 71.