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Sir Lewis Pollard (c. 1465 – 21 October, 1526) of King's Nympton, Devon, was Justice of the Common Pleas from 1514 to 1526 and served as MP for Totnes in 1491 and was a JP in Devon in 1492. He was knighted after 1509. He was one of several Devonshire men to be "innated with a genius to study law", as identified by Fuller, who became eminent lawyers at a national level. He was a kinsman of the judge and Speaker of the House of Commons Sir John Pollard (c. 1508–1557). He was also a member of the first group of feoffees of Manchester Grammar School.
He was a member of an ancient Devonshire gentry family, a younger son of Robert Pollard, second son of John Pollard of Way in the parish of St Giles in the Wood, near Great Torrington, Devon, by his wife, a member of the Lewknor family of Sussex. Robert's father John Pollard (whose wife was Alyanora Copleston (d. 21 September 1430), whose monumental brass exists in the parish church of St Giles in the Wood, daughter of John Copleston of Copleston, Devon) settled on him his lands in Roborough, about 5 miles SE of Great Torrington. Risdon states that Sir Lewis Pollard resided at Grilston, in the parish of Bishop's Nympton, before he purchased the nearby manor of King's Nympton to the south. The following were the principal historic seats of the wider Pollard family:
Way, St Giles in the Wood
The former Way mansion of the Pollards is now represented by the farmhose known as Way Barton. Reset into the front wall of the house are the stone heads c. 1300 of two ladies wearing wimples and above the smaller head of a man. In 1309 Robert Pollard was granted by the Bishop of Exeter licence to build an oratory at Weye, of which no trace remains in the present house. A monumental brass exists in St Giles Church of Alyanora Pollard (d. 1430), of which only the original lower half of a female figure has survived, the top half being an accurate modern replacement, with the inscription below it:
Hic jacet Alyanora Pollard qui fuit uxor Joh(ann)is Pollard et filia Joh(ann)is Copleston qui obiit xxi die mensis Septembris Anno d(o)m(in)i Mill(ensi)mo CCCCXXX cuius animae propitietur Deus Amen. ("Here lies Eleanor / Alianore Pollard who was the wife of John Pollard and daughter of John Copleston who died on the 21st day of the month of September in the One thousandth four hundredth and thirtieth year of Our Lord of whose soul may God look upon with favour Amen".)
John de Coplestone was of Colebroke, Devon and married Katherine de Graas, by whom he had Eleanor. There are two further inscriptions on the same slab made later to commemorate two distant relations:
- Firstly, immediately beneath the above inscription, a small brass plaque with portrait of a kneeling lady, to commemorate Johanna Risdon (d.17/5/1610), daughter of George Pollard of Langley and mother of Tristram Risdon of Winscott in the parish of St Giles in the Wood, the author of "The Survey of Devon" (c. 1630).
- Secondly, below the last, incised in the stone slab on which the brasses are affixed memorial text to Margaret Risdon (d.1636), daughter of Tristram Risdon.
Risdon stated Way to have been the residence of the de la Way family temp. King John (1199–1216), and to have been granted by Walter de la Way, the son of William de la Way, to Walter Pollard temp. Edward I (1272–1307), which grant was witnessed by Sir Henry Sully and Sir Thomas Merton. Hoskins referred to Way as the "fons et origo of the mighty tribe of Pollard" and stated it to have been acquired by them from the de la Way family even earlier before 1242.
East Barton, Horwood
Prince however identified the most ancient residence of the Pollard family of Devon to be in the parish of Horwood, about 4 miles east of Bideford and 5 1/2 miles NW of Way. This was the seat of Walter Pollard temp. Henry III (1216–1272). The family seat was on the site of the present farmhouse known as East Barton. In the Church of St Michael in Horwood, on a recessed ledge under the window in the north wall of the "Pollard Aisle" (the north aisle of the church) is a high quality elaborately sculpted alabaster effigy about four feet long of a lady, c. 1450, with horned head-dress and wearing a rich robe in which are enfolded three children, believed to represent Elizabeth Pollard (d.1430). It is of similar style quality and date to the larger alabaster effigy of Elizabeth Courtenay in the Church of St Dubricius, Porlock, Somerset. The family remained at Horwood until at least the 17th century, as the mural monument affixed in the splay of the window above the effigy testifies, inscribed to "Arthure Pollard of this parish, who died in 1633. His wife, a second son of the prominent Fortescue family of Filleigh, as is revealed by the arms of Pollard impaling Fortescue with a crescent for difference of a second son. The arms of Pollard feature on the small door of the altar-table, on the beams above the east window of the Pollard Aisle and on the bench-ends in the main aisle of the church. Two large ledger stones inscribed to the 16th century. Pollards are set into the floor in the place of greatest honour, below the altar table against the east wall. A further ledger stone exists in the Pollard Aisle of a 17th-century Pollard of Instow, near Bideford.
A further branch of the Pollard family headed by Richard Pollard was established at Langley in the parish of Yarnscombe, one mile NE of the parish church and 3 miles NE of Way, temp. Richard II (1377–1399), and a male member of this family, probably a brother of Johanna Risdon (d.17/5/1610) and therefore uncle of Tristram Risdon, was later usher to Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603) and married a sister of Bess of Hardwick, (Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury) (1521–1608). e
Lewis Pollard entered the Middle Temple to train as a lawyer, and was appointed Reader of that society, the third person to hold that office. He was appointed one of ten Sergeants at Law in 1505, during at a great ceremonial feast in Lambeth Palace with 1,000 guests including King Henry VII himself. In 1507 Pollard was appointed the King's Sergeant-at-Law to Henry VII and three years later the appointment was renewed by Henry VIII, who soon after appointed him a Justice of the Common Pleas. He remained in this office of judge until his death on 21 October 1526. Prince wrote of his career:
"This high and great trust of a judge (an higher than which is hardly found upon earth, the lives and livelyhoods of men being therein concern'd) Sir Lewis Pollard executed with great faithfulness and reputation, the fragrant odour whereof perfumes his memory unto this day. His knowledge in the laws and other commendable virtues (as a certain writer tells us [i.e. Thomas Westcote]) together with a numerous issue rendered him famous above most of his age and rank".
Purchase of lands
He purchased the manor of King's Nympton in Devon, where he built a residence and established a deer park. This remained the principal seat of the family for several generations and in the south aisle of the Parish Church of St James exists at the east end the "Pollard Chapel" with 17th-century panelling. He purchased the manor of Oakford in August 1507 for £203 from Sir Charles Brandon (d.1545), later Duke of Suffolk, and from his wife Margaret. The Pollards held Oakford until 1604 when it was sold by Sir Hugh Pollard to Richard Hill alias Spurway, a clothier of Tavistock.
Marriage and progeny
He married Agnes Hext, daughter of Thomas Hext, a prominent lawyer of Kingston (in the parish of Staverton, near Totnes), by his wife Florence Bonville. Westcote stated her to be the heiress of Dunisford (or Donesford). By her he had eleven sons and eleven daughters, including:
The Heralds' Visitations of Devon lists the following sons of Sir Lewis Pollard:
- Sir Hugh I Pollard (fl.1535,1545), eldest son and heir, great-grandfather of Sir Lewis Pollard, 1st Baronet of King's Nympton. He was Sheriff of Devon in 1535/6 and was Recorder of Barnstaple in 1545, to which honorary officer the Borough of Barnstaple entrusted the nominations of its two Member of Parliament. One of the MP's he nominated was George Rolle (d.1552), a London lawyer, who in 1523 had been appointed by a private Act of Parliament as life tenant of the office of "Keeper of the Writs and Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas", due to his "long good and perfect knowledge and experience" of the functioning of that Court. Rolle was thus an associate of Sir Hugh's father, Sir Lewis I Pollard, one of the Judges of the Common Pleas. It was in the small Devonshire parish of St Giles in the Wood, the ancestral home of the Pollards, where Rolle purchased his seat of Stevenstone, which eventually at the start of the 20th century became the caput of "the largest estate Devon had ever seen", today managed by the Clinton Devon Estates company. Through the influence of his younger brother Sir Richard Pollard he obtained the wardship of Richard Bury (1516–1543), son and heir of John Bury (d.1533) of Colleton, Chulmleigh, whom he married to his daughter Elizabeth Pollard. Richard Pollard obtained as his own wife John Bury's daughter Jacquetta, as promised him in her father's will.
- Sir Richard Pollard (1505–1542), 2nd son, MP for Taunton (1536) and Devon (1539, 1542), of Putney, Surrey. King's Remembrancer of the Exchequer and a law reporter He was an assistant of Thomas Cromwell in administering the surrender of religious houses following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and was employed particularly as a surveyor who visited the premises and made a detailed valuation of the house's assets and income. In 1537 he was granted by King Henry VIII the manor of Combe Martin in Devon and in 1540 Forde Abbey.
- John Pollard, 3rd son, Archdeacon of Wiltshire, Archdeacon of Cornwall, Archdeacon of Barnstaple (1544–1554), Archdeacon of Totnes and Canon of Exeter Cathedral. His full biography is included in Hooker's Synopsis.
- Robert Pollard (d.1576), 4th son, purchased from the crown the manor of Knowstone, where he was buried on 26 September 1576. He married Anne (or Agnes) Chichester (d.1541), daughter of Richard Chichester of Hall, Bishop's Tawton by his wife Thomasine de Hall (d.1502), heiress of Hall. His eldest son was Hugh Pollard, whose daughter Temperance Pollard (d.1637) married William Pincombe (1566-1625) of South Molton and East Buckland in Devon, Coroner of Devon, whose ancestor had come into Devon in about 1485 as a follower of Baron Zouche, lord of the manor of North Molton.
- Anthony Pollard, 5th son.
- Sir George Pollard, 6th son, knighted at Boulogne for his role in the defence of that English outpost.
The Heralds' Visitations of Devon names five daughters of Sir Lewis Pollard:
- Anne Pollard, wife of Humphrey Moore (d.1537) of Moorehays in the parish of Burlescombe, in the church of which exists his monument.
- Jane Pollard, wife of Sir Hugh Stucley (1496-1559) lord of the manor of Affeton in Devon and mother of the mercenary Thomas Stukley. A heraldic stained-glass roundel survives in the south window of the Pollard Chapel in the south aisle of King's Nympton Church showing the arms of Stucley impaling Pollard, with quarterings of each family. The arms are as follows: baron, quarterly 1st Azure, three pears pendant or (Stucley); 2nd Argent a chevron engrailed between three fleurs-de-lis sable (de Affeton); 3rd Argent a chevron gules between three roses of the second seeded or (Manningford?); 4th Gules, three lions rampant or (FitzRoger); femme quarterly 1st & 4th Argent, a chevron sable between three mullets gules pierced or (de Via/Way of Way, St Giles in the Wood); 2nd & 3rd Argent, a chevron sable between three escallops gules (Pollard)
- Philippa Pollard, wife of Sir Hugh Paulet of Sampford Peverell
- Thomasine Pollard, wife of Admiral Sir George Carew (d.1545)
- Elizabeth, wife firstly (as his second wife) of John Crocker of Lineham, by whom she had issue, and secondly of Sir Hugh Trevanion
- Unnamed daughter, wife of "Hugh" Courtenay of Powderham, whose identity is uncertain.
Death & burial
He died on d. 21 October 1526 aged about 61 and was buried in the church at King's Nympton, as Risdon stated "In Nymet Church Judge Pollard lieth honourably interred, having a monument erected to his memory" (see below), as well as a stained-glass memorial window nearby, now lost (see below). His reference to "Nymet" is clearly intended as Bishop's Nympton, as the passage occurs within his section on that parish, which is followed by a separate section on King's Nympton.
His will was dated 4 November 1525 and bequeathed the profits of his manor of Oakford to a chantry "to pray for my soule my father my mother my uncle Maister Lewis Pollard..." He mentioned "My Lady of Canon Lege", possibly a reference to Canonsleigh Abbey. He mentioned his brother Thomas Pollard, his sons John, Richard, Antonye, his godson Lewes Stucley and "Annes my wife", whom he requested should not remarry, in which case she should inherit together with his son John the residue of all his goods. He left £6 13s 4d towards the building of a church tower at either Bishop's Nympton or King's Nympton. The will was witnessed by Antony Pollard, Squire, and Thomas Hext, gent.
The monument generally assumed to be to Sir Lewis Pollard in Bishop's Nympton Church is an ornately sculpted late Perpendicular Gothic stone Easter Sepulchre, which shows no effigy, set into the north wall of the chancel, near the altar. It shows several heraldic escutcheons from which any painted armorials have been completely worn away. Only a heraldic crest remains on top of the structure, apparently a leopard's head and neck issuing from a helm. This is not however reconcilable with the often quoted crest of the Pollards, namely a stag passant argent attired or. Possibly for this reason the monument is generally attributed with some doubt to Sir Lewis Pollard in modern publications.
In 1630 when Risdon was writing his "Survey of Devon", a now lost stained-glass window existed in Bishop's Nympton Church which depicted Sir Lewis Pollard, probably kneeling, with ten or eleven sons behind him on one side, and on the other side his wife facing him, probably also kneeling, with 10 or 11 daughters behind her. The following story is related by Prince:
"There was a tradition of long standing in this family. That his lady, glassing this window in her husband's absence at the Term in London, caused one child more than she then had to be set up there; presuming, having had one and twenty already, and usually conceiving at her husband's coming home, that she should have another. Which, inserted in expectation, came to pass in reality".
Such arrangement of husband kneeling opposite wife, perhaps separated by a prie-dieu, he with sons behind him and she with daughters behind her, was a common composition for monuments at this period, as seen for example in the Rolle monumental brasses in Petrockstowe Church. An inscription on the glass stated, according to Risdon, "his name, marriage, office and issue" with underneath the following inscription:
Orate pro bono statu Ludovici Pollard militis unius Justiciar(iorum) Domini Regis de Banco et Eliz(abetha) uxor(is) eius qui istam fenestram fieri fecerunt ("Pray for the good of Lewis Pollard, knight, one of the Justices of the Bench of the Lord King, and Elizabeth his wife who brought this window into being")
This inscription according to Prince was modelled on an ancient Pollard family inscription formerly existing in Horwood Church, in a window of the so-called "Pollard Aisle" built by that family, as follows:
Orate pro bono statu Johannis Pollard et Emmae uxoris eius qui istam guildam fieri fecerunt
This evidences their having establisherd a guild in that church. Emma was one of the five daughters and co-heiresses of Sir John Doddiscombe of Doddiscombsleigh, near Exeter, Devon. In the window at Horwood was depicted the Pollard arms impaling Argent, a griffin rampant sable. The griffin was according to a tradition in the Pollard family, the armorial of a Duke of France, whose daughter, formerly a nun in France, had married a member of the Pollard family, who had become enamoured of her whilst on campaign in France, and had received dispensation to marry her.
- Prince, John, Worthies of Devon, pp. 640–644
- Risdon, Tristram, Survey of Devon, 1630, 1810 ed., pp. 309, Bishop's Nympton.
- Hoskins, W.G., A New Survey of England: Devon, London, 1959
- Baker, J.H., Biography of Sir Lewis Pollard, published in History of Parliament: House of Commons 1439–1509, eds. Wedgwood, J.C., & Holt A.D.
- Vivian, Heraldic Visitations of Devon, 1895, p.597
- Hoskins, p.337
- Biography in History of Parliament series
- Hoskins, p.79 mentions Fuller listing also Henry de Bracton, Sir John Cary, Sir John Wadham, Sir John Fortescue. After him came Drewe, Harris, Glanville, Sir William Periam and Sir Edmond Prideaux
- Foundation Charter quoted in
- Risdon, p.309
- Pevsner, N., Buildings of England: Devon
- Coulter, James, Ancient Chapels of North Devon, 1993, p.64
- Risdon, p.274, Torrington
- Hoskins, p.470
- Pevsner, N., Buildings of England: Devon
- Hoskins, p.520
- Pevsner, p.522
- Lysons, Magna Britannia
- Biog. in HoP
- Westcote, Thomas, A View of Devonshire in 1630, p.47
- Vivian, 1895, p.598
- History of Parliament biog. on his contemporary George Rolle of Stevenstone, MP
- When held by the eventual heir of the two main branches of the Rolle family, Charles John Robert Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis, 21st Baron Clinton (1863–1957), per Lauder, Rosemary, Devon Families, Tiverton, 2002, p.73
- Byrne, Muriel St. Clare, (ed.) The Lisle Letters, 6 vols, University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London, 1981, vol.1, p.604; Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.123, pedigree of Bury of Colliton
- History of Parliament biography
- Frequent references to his activities are recorded in Letters & Papers of Henry VIII, 1537
- Risdon, Survey of Devon (1810 edition, p.348)
- Listed by Vivian (1895) as "Sir John" and erroneously stated to be of Ford, in fact the possession of his brother Sir Richard
- "Memorials of Barnstaple; being an attempt to supply the want of a history of that ancient borough" Gribble,J.B: Barnstaple, J.Avery, 1830
- Risdon, p.303
- Vivian, 1895, p.176, pedigree of Chichester of Hall
- Vivian, p.594, pedigree of Pincombe
- History of Parliament biography
- Vivian, 1895, p.598
- Vivian, 1895, p.573, pedigree of Moore
- Erroneously named as Phillippa in Vivian, 1895, p.598, pedigree of Pollard, given corrected on p.721, pedigree of Stucley
- Lysons, Magna Britannia, Vol.6: Devon, 1822, Families removed or extinct since 1620 
- Listed by Vivian as "Jane"
- Vivian, 1895, p.254, pedigree of Crocker
- Not listed by Vivian
- Sainty, John (1993). The Judges of England 1272 -1990: a list of judges of the superior courts. Oxford: Selden Society. OCLC 29670782, p.71
- Biog in History of Parliament appears confused on the issue of his place of burial
- Quoted in www.celtic-casimir, citing source of Thomas Westcote, A View of Devonshire in 1630, p.493
- Pevsner, p.183, states it "probably to Sir Lewis Pollard"; Hoskins, p.337 also states it "probably that of Sir Lewis Pollard"
- Prince vehemently stated the window was in King's Nympton Church and criticised Fuller for having stated it to have been in Bishop's Nympton Church. Risdon, the most contemporaneous source, was clear that it was in "Nymet Church", which text appeared in his section on Bishop's Nympton, before a separate section on King's Nympton
- Text quoted from Risdon, p.310, full word endings as extended and shown in Prince
- Pole, Sir William (d.1635), Collections Towards a Description of the County of Devon, Sir John-William de la Pole (ed.), London, 1791, p.256
- Hoskins, p.413