Thomas Brerewode, Vicar of Colyton

Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VI, (January 1910 to October 1911), illus. pp. 129-30.


A.J.P. Taylor

Prepared by Michael Steer

The Note provides information about Colyton’s last ‘Romish’ and pluralist vicar, Dr Thomas Brerewood, Chancellor to Bishop Veysey, who had the former Vicarage and Brerewood House built in 1529. It also provides a copy of his will. The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Note 124. THOMAS BREREWODE, VICAR OF COLYTON.- The following particulars have been gathered relating to Thomas Brerewode, Vicar of Colyton from 3rd February, 1524, to the time of his death, 29th May, 1544.

It was this Vicar who built the vicarage, with its inter- esting porch, which has sculptured on it : - "Peditatio totum Meditatio totum," the arms, ancient, of the Diocese of Exeter ; the Tudor rose; the Arragon pomegranate; and the shield of arms of the Bishop of Exeter of that time, John Veysey. Under the arms of the Bishop is the date, a.d. MCCCCCXXIX, and in the corner of the shield the initials" T.B."

Carved in oak in the vicarage is his rebus - T.B. inter- twined with a briarwood bush. The same appears in stained glass, with the arms of the Bishop, those of the Merchant Adventurers, and St. Andrew with his cross, and on a label " Sancte Andrea ora pro nobis."

It was he who placed the handsome stone screen in the Church which now stands in the south aisle of the chancel; it is not in its original position, which was across the south transept, about where the vestry partition now is. It was intended to form a chantry, where he wished to be buried, but the registers do not contain the entry of his burial. The rebus, as in the vicarage, surmounted by the Canon's Cap, is repeated on the screen.

Thomas Brerewode was Fellow of All Souls' Coll., Oxford, 1511; B.C.L. 9th February, 1511-12; D.C.L. 9th April, 1527; Canon of St. Paul's, London, 1518-1524; Canon of Exeter, 1523; Archdeacon of Barnstaple, 1528-1544; Pre- bendary of Endellion in Cornwall, 1533-1542, and of Ridge in Crediton, 1536; Rector of St. Ewe, 1536; Rector of Ilfracombe, 1530-44, on the presentation of Henry VIII; and Rector of Bradninch, 1538- 1544, also on the presenta- tion of the King ; Chancellor to the Bishop of Exeter, and his Vicar General.

The following abstract of his will has been obtained from Somerset House, P.C.C. (Pynnyng 23) : -

Thomas Brerewood, Clerk and Archdeacon of Barnstaple. Dated 22nd May, 36 Henry VIII. (1544), proved 2nd March, 1544-5. To Joan Merlyn. my sister, 10s. To Eustace Webbe, scholar at Paules School, -£20, if so much remayn after my debts payd and funeralles allowed. To Simon Repington £20, which remayneth now in his hands. To John Parre, my servant, on condition he make a true servant of such money as he hath receaved of mine since my coming out of Devon. To George Rolles my right in the house and gardens I now dwell in in the Close of Exeter, held from the late Abbott and Convent of Buckfast, paiing to the King's Majesty the rent. To John Brawne my nagg Gipcian and 40s. To Mathewe Berde, my servant, one nagg called Conch and 40s. An obite to be found every year by my executors in the Cathedrall. All money my singular good lorde bishop of Exeter shall give towards my charges and costes of my late trouble shall goe to the performance of this my last Will. To James Artour, my cooke, one gelding with I late bought of Nicholas Charnells.

Executors - George Rolles and Simon Repington.

Through the kindness of the late Mr. W. E. Mugford the particulars have been obtained of the "late trouble " mentioned in the Will. Mr. Mugford in his letter says: - "The whole story is too long to give here, but very briefly the heads of it are as follows : The Bishop had sent down Commissioners, of whom Thomas Brerewode, as Vicar General, was one, to stop the farming out of the Arch- deaconry of Cornwall, and the farmer, a layman, having brought them before the Court in London, February 3rd, 1543-4, under the Statute of Praemunire for having obeyed the Bishop's instructions, they were condemned and com- mitted to prison, where it is believed that Brerewode died."

It is seen from the words "since my coming out of Devon " that the Vicar was not in the county when he made his will.

It is evident from his ordering in his will an "obite every year in the Cathedrall," that, like the Bishop, he did not conform to the new order of things caused by the Refor- mation, but followed the old order he was brought up in.

Simon Repington was a yeoman of Happerhayne, in Colyton, and was a man of some standing. He was one of the custodians of Church Goods appointed by the Com- missioners of King Edward VI. in 1552. He was buried at Colyton on 2nd February, 1602.         A. J. P. Skinner.