WYVELL, Thomas (-d.1632), of Wyvellscombe, St. Stephen-by-Saltash, Cornw.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

?o.s. of Oliver Wyvell of Marystow, Devon and Alice, da. of Thomas Gifford of Halsbury, Parkham, Devon. m. (1) by 1579, Thomasin (bur. 9 May 1598), da. of John Whitford of Sconner, Sheviock, Cornw., 1da. d.v.p.; (2) 18 Dec. 1628, Joan (admon. 15 May 1667), wid. of William Body1 (admon. 7 Jan. 1617) of Pardaberry, St. Germans, Cornw.2 and Elias Wills (admon. 3 July 1626) of St. Stephen-by-Saltash and da. of ?Nicholas Dawbyn of Landrake, Cornw., s.p. ?suc. fa.; bur. 7 May 1632.3 sig. Tho[mas] Wyvell.

Offices Held

Under-sheriff, Cornw. 1586-7,4 1599-1600,5 ?1602-3,6 sheriff 1625-6;7 dep. steward, Trematon honour and manor, Cornw. by 1607-at least 1617;8 j.p. Cornw. 1620-d.,9 commr. Forced Loan 1626-7.10


Wyvell’s ancestry was probably comparatively humble, since he traced his pedigree back only to his grandfather, a resident of Crediton, Devon. His father, Oliver, settled near the Cornish border at Marystow, where Wyvell himself was born. Having evidently received some legal training, Wyvell was a Common Law attorney by 1595. He married into a Cornish family, and by 1579 was living near Saltash, where Richard Carew† noted his house, ‘newly and fairly builded’.11 Wyvell served at least twice as under-sheriff of Cornwall, in 1586-7 and 1599-1600, on both occasions working for members of the Wrey family, with whom he had presumably established some connection. Following the first term of office he attracted several accusations of financial corruption. Of these, the most serious was that he concealed distrained goods from the Exchequer when presenting his shrieval accounts. However, as this charge was levelled at him nearly ten years later, its veracity may be questioned.12

Wyvell no doubt owed his election at Saltash in 1604 to his local standing. He would in any case have been in London that spring, as, perhaps serving as under-sheriff again, he had taken responsibility for passing in the Exchequer Cornwall’s shrieval accounts for 1602-3. Accordingly, on 4 Apr. he obtained permission to absent himself from the Commons until he had completed this task. Once back in the House he received three committee nominations, for bills concerned with the pilchard trade, a major West Country issue (20 June), Common Law attorneys (22 June), and letters patents (5 July). However, he made no visible impression on proceedings during the remaining four sessions.13

By 1607 Wyvell had become deputy steward of Trematon honour and manor, which abutted Saltash. His behaviour while presiding over the manorial court twice led to complaints of partiality and corruption being brought against him in Star Chamber. Despite this, he was appointed to the Cornish bench in 1620, and served as county sheriff five years later, in which capacity he oversaw the Cornish parliamentary elections of 1626. At about the same time, he refused to pay a £30 Privy Seal loan on account of the financial burden imposed on him by the shrievalty.14 Wyvell’s final encounter with controversy is difficult to interpret. On 19 May 1628 the House of Commons sent for him to answer the charge that he had breached parliamentary privilege by arresting the bailiff of Sir John Eliot, a sitting Member. It has been claimed that this incident was part of a wider pattern of judicial abuses perpetrated by the vice-warden of the Cornish stannaries, John Mohun*. However, as Wyvell was no longer the Trematon deputy steward, and apparently not employed in any other stannary capacity, it cannot be proved that he was following Mohun’s instructions. One possible explanation is that Wyvell had been encouraged to act by his old associate Sir William Wrey, who had himself been summoned to attend the Commons on 13 May because of his support for Mohun. Wyvell was brought to London and kept in custody, but seems not to have appeared before the Commons, and no evidence concerning his case was presented. Released when the 1628 session ended, he allegedly returned to Cornwall without paying the fees owed to the Commons’ serjeant-at-arms.15

According to one of his servants, Wyvell was now ‘very aged and many times before his death very weak and infirm of body and ... unable to travel about his own affairs’. His shaky signature on a lawsuit in June 1631 certainly suggests physical frailty.16 Wyvell’s only child, a daughter, had died in 1604, and his principal heir when he made his will on 1 Mar. 1632 was her eldest son, Francis Wills. Wyvell seems to have had little property to hand down, but he made financial bequests totalling several hundred pounds. His second wife was entitled to some goods and chattels from a previous marriage, and accordingly he left her just £150, along with provision for her basic maintenance and four oxen. All other significant legacies were directed towards his daughter’s children or grandchildren. Wyvell was buried at St. Stephen-by-Saltash in May 1632. The Henry Wills who represented Saltash in the Long Parliament was not one of his descendants.17

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball



  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 567; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 397.
  • 2. PROB 11/129, ff. 23v-4.
  • 3. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 567; PROB 11/149, ff. 350v-1; Cornw. RO, FP106/1/1.
  • 4. STAC 5/R25/2.
  • 5. DCO, Trelawny mss item 15: ref. supplied by James Derriman.
  • 6. CJ, i. 166a. Wyvell is not recorded as under-sheriff for this year on the DCO list.
  • 7. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 23.
  • 8. STAC 8/156/27; 8/209/3.
  • 9. C231/4, f. 97v; SP16/212, f. 10.
  • 10. C193/12/2.
  • 11. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 567; PROB 11/163, f. 68v; STAC 5/B30/22; R. Carew, Survey of Cornw. 111. The PCC transcription of Wyvell’s will misrepresents Marystow as ‘Marslowe’.
  • 12. STAC 5/C38/36; 5/K9/34; 5/R25/2; 5/T27/14.
  • 13. CJ, i. 166a, 995a, 244b, 252b.
  • 14. STAC 8/156/27; 8/209/3; Cornw. RO, CY/7288.
  • 15. CD 1628, iii. 386, 463; E215/1325; J. Forster, Sir John Eliot (2nd edn.), ii. 128; C2/Chas.I/S97/25.
  • 16. C2/Chas.I/T10/18; 2/Chas.I/B1/46.
  • 17. Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 567; PROB 11/163, ff. 68v-9.