Colet, Henry (DNB00)

COLET, Sir HENRY (d. 1505), lord mayor of London, was the third son of Robert Colet of Wendover, Buckinghamshire. Coming to London in youth, he was apprenticed to a mercer, and soon became one of the wealthiest members of the Mercers' Company. He was elected alderman of Farringdon ward without 15 Nov. 1476, and sheriff of London 21 June 1477. He became alderman of Castle Baynard, in exchange for Farringdon ward, 1 Feb. 1483-4, and was removed to Cornhill ward 7 March 1487-8. He was chosen mayor for the first time 13 Oct. 1486. During his mayoralty he rebuilt at his own expense the cross in West Cheap, and when Henry VII married Elizabeth of York (13 Jan. 1486-7), Colet was knighted. According to the churchwardens' accounts of the parish of St. Michael, Cornhill, he was granted a release from serving the office of mayor for the second time, 20 July 1495, but he was nevertheless re-elected 13 Oct. following, and did not decline the honour. He purchased an estate and a fine house at Stepney, and there he died in 1505, being buried in Stepney Church, of which his son John was at one time vicar. His London residence was situated in the parish of St. Antholin, and Stow states that a painted window containing portraits of himself and his family was erected to his memory in St. Antholin's Church, to which Colet was a great benefactor. His tomb at Stepney was twice repaired by the Mercers' Company, in 1605 and 1697, and an engraving of it is given in Knight's 'Life of Dean Colet,' p. 6. Colet's will is dated 27 Sept. 1505. There the testator expresses a desire to be buried in St. Paul's Cathedral, if he die in the city of London, and bequeaths much money to the parish of Stepney, 100l. for poor scholars at Oxford and Cambridge, 100l. for poor maidens of good name and fame on their marriage, and other sums to his nephew, William Colet, and his nephew's children. His executors, his wife Christian and his son John, afterwards dean of St. Paul's [q.v.], are the residuary legatees. The will was proved 20 Oct. 1505. Just before his death he subscribed to the fund for rebuilding St. Mary's Church, Cambridge. By his wife, Christian Knevet, to whom letters of fraternity were granted by the prior and chapter of Christchurch, Canterbury, 1 Dec. 1510, Colet had twenty-two children, but all except his son John died before 1498 (Erasmi Opera, Leyden, iii. 455). His widow, who continued to occupy the house at Stepney, survived the dean of St. Paul's, who died in 1519.

[The Accounts of the Churchwardens of the Parish of St. Michael, Cornhill, privately printed by Mr. A. J. Waterlow; Lupton's Colet (1887); Knight's Dean Colet (1823), pp. 1-7 and 398-400 (where the will is printed at length); Stow's Survey of London, ed. Strype. Weever, in his collection of epitaphs, quotes one from Colet's tomb, which erroneously gives the date of his death as 1510. On 6 Nov. 1505 the parish accounts show that Sir Thomas Knesworth was chosen alderman of Cornhill ward in the place of Sir Henry Colet, deceased, and this, with the fact of the will being proved 20 Oct. 1505, makes Weever's date, although often accepted, quite impossible.]

S. L. L.