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Royal Ancestry of Robert Cole (ca. 1626-1662) of Heston, Middlesex & Maryland

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Oct 25, 2006, 1:54:31 PM10/25/06
Like so many of the Roman Catholic individuals who settled in Maryland
during its formative period, Robert Cole came from a family with years of
recusancy in its history. In spite of being the subject of Dr Lois Green Carr's
Robert Cole's World (1991), Cole and his English ancestry have been left on a
back burner for some time. So in an attempt to bring him perhaps a little
closer to the forefront of discussion, I am presenting some notes on him and his

Luckily for his descendants, Robert Cole appears in many extant records on
both sides of the Atlantic. On his father's side he was descended from yeoman
stock that teetered on the cusp of gentry status; individuals in his
family's past appeared as one, then another, and sometimes back to the former again.
His mother though was clearly from a gentry family, albeit a Catholic one.
She was dignified with the epithet "Mris" despite her convictions for

By 1651 Robert Cole had married Rebecca, widow of Francis Knott of St.
Olaves, Southwark, Surrey; and they resided at Heston, Middlesex, where their
first child Robert was born on 15 Oct. 1651. Hugh Gore, Gent., of Heston
requested his uncle Robert Cole to be an overseer to his 19 May 1651 will which was
recorded on 13 Aug. 1651. Hugh Gore was married to Robert's niece Anne Cole,
daughter of Robert's older brother William Cole (d. testate 1663), yeoman,
of Heston. Robert Cole sold his property in Heston Manor in 1651, and in 1652
resettled his young family on a freehold in St. Clement's Manor in St.
Mary's County, Maryland. He was perhaps aided in his relocation by his uncle
Benjamin Gill (d. 22 Nov. 1655), chandler, of St. Andrew Holborn, London, who had
already settled nearby on the Wicomico River. When Gill died his nearest
relative in Maryland was young Robert Cole who assumed executorship of Gill's
estate. The whereabouts of Gill's only surviving child Anna Maria was unknown
in Maryland. Actually she was in residence with her husband James Neale,
Esq., who was serving as ambassador to Portugal. During the settling of the
accounts of this estate, Robert Cole was described as "next of Kinne, to the sd
Gill", "his Cozen Robert Cole", and as being "near alyed to the said Gill".
A letter dated 2 Aug. 1658 arrived in Maryland later that year from James
Neale, Gent., stating "I heare tht Robin Cole hath layd some claime to my
ffathers & my Estate, wch I conceiue hee did, supposing I & my Wife had bene
dead. But god be praysed wee are both aliue, & in health, & haue Three Children
lyuing; Soe hee now may excuse the clayming any thing & deliuer all ouer to
you [William Bretton] for my use." Preparing for a return voyage to England,
Robert Cole wrote his will on 2 Apr. 1662, mentioning his mother Mris. Jane
Cole of Heston, Middlesex, and left an accounting of the ages of his children
[since his wife Rebecca had died recently]. On the list of the family record
appeared my ancestor Edward Cole who was born 9 Nov. 1657. Robert died
while on this visit to England; he could very well be the Robert Cole who was
buried on 16 Aug. 1662 at the Church of St. Leonard in Heston. In the surviving
accounts of the estate of Robert Cole a response is mentioned to an inquiry
from his mother; among the receipts from 1663 is one stating "by a
Certificate under the Seale of the office to send into England to Mrs. Cole to sattisfy
her how many children Mr. Cole had Living in this Country & Recording the

The connection between Robert Cole and Benjamin Gill was that Cole's mother
and Gill's wife were sisters, both being daughters of Oliver Mainwaring (d.
testate 1631) of Windleshaw (in Prescot), Lancashire and his wife Margaret
Torbock. Jane Mainwaring had married by 1615 to Thomas Cole, yeoman, of Heston,
a younger son of Robert Cole (d. 1614-15) of Heston and his wife Alice.
Mary Mainwaring had married by 1622 to Benjamin Gill, chandler, of St. Andrew
Holborn, London. In 1622 Benjamin Gill, his wife Mary, and Jane wife of Thomas
Cole appeared on the same roll as convicted recusants in Middlesex.

The royal ancestry for these individuals through their mother and
grandmother Margaret Torbock can be followed in Mr. Douglas Richardson's Plantagenet
Ancestry (2004), pp. 490-491.
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