The Victorian Omnium-Gatherum
Of this distinguished antiquary little is recorded. He was fifteenth in descent from William Pulle, Poole, or De la Poole, of Poole in Cheshire; and also fifteenth in descent from Maureis de Pola, of Pole in Devonshire, in the reign of Henry II,; the union of the Cheshire with the Devonshire family, by the marriage of a younger son of the former with the heiress of the latter, having taken place in the reign of Richard II. or Henry IV. He was born at Shute, about the year 1559. Having studied at Exeter College Oxford, he became a member of the Inner Temple, of which he was elected Treasurer in the 7th of Elizabeth. Preferring retirement, he resided at a mansion called Calcombe, in the parish of Colyton, formerly the seat of the Courtenay family, of whom the estate was purchased by his father. One of the last Earls had begun to build the house on a magnificent scale, but left it unfinished. It was a ruin when it came into the possession of Sir William Pole, who rebuilt it, and made it the place of his residence. It has since been deserted, and is now in a dilapidated state, but part of it has been fitted up as a farm-house.
In the last year of Elizabeth's reign he was made High Sheriff of the county, and was. knighted in 1606. He married the eldest daughter of Sir William Peryam, by whom he left a numerous issue. His eldest son, John, was knighted before his father, and afterwards was created Baronet by Charles I, in 1628, during his father's life. Sir William died on the 9th of February 1635, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, at Calcombe, and was buried under a flat stone in the west side of the chancel of Colyton church, which was the burial place of the family.
Sir William Pole was an antiquary from a love of the study, and the fruits of his researches are of great importance to all who are interested in the history of the county of Devon. Few men could have united so much perseverance, accuracy, and diligence of investigation, to affluence and sufficient leisure to enable them to pursue such inquiries with equal success. His historical, archaeological, and heraldic information, was copious and extensive, and his compilations on the subjects of genealogies, the history of property, the ancient baronies, &c., derived from the most authentic sources, were voluminous. A considerable part of his manuscripts were lost and destroyed during the civil wars of Charles I., but the best of them remain. "He was," says Risdon, " the most accomplished treasurer of the antiquities of this county; and, had he been pleased to have been the author of this work," (The Survey of Devonshire,)" the worth of this county, the natives thereof, and his own sufficiency, would have been better known. Such a gift had he of rare memory, that he would have recited upon a sudden the descents of most eminent families, from whose lamp I have received light in these my labours." (p. 20.) Prince often refers to his manuscripts, and observes, "From this gentleman's labours most of those who wrote since on this argument have adorned their works." (p. 639.)
The most important of his works was published in 1791, by his descendant Sir J. W. De la Pole, with the following title, "Collections towards a Description of the County of Devon, by Sir William Pole, of Colcombe and Shute, Knight, who died A.D. 1635. Now first printed from the autograph in the possession of his lineal descendant Sir John William De la Pole, Bart., of Shute, &c. London, 1791" one vol. quarto. It is observed by his editor, in the Introduction, that what is published is little more than a common-place book to a much more extensive design, which the author had in contemplation so early as the year 1604, as appears from a letter of his published in this Introduction, the original of which is in the British Museum, Bibl. Harl. No. 1195, fol. 37.*
* Prince, p. 636, Risdon, p. 29. Introduction to Sir William Pole's " Collections," &c. Lysons, part ii. p. 136.
Extracted from Moore: History of Devonshire, Volume 2, 1829
Back to contents
(None identified as yet)