Westcote, Thomas (DNB00)

WESTCOTE, THOMAS (fl. 1624–1636), topographer, baptised at Shobrooke in Devonshire on 17 June 1567, was the third son of Philip Westcote of West Raddon in the parish of Shobrooke, by his wife Katharine, daughter of George Waltham of Brenton in the parish of Exminster, Devonshire. In his youth ‘he was a soldier, a traveller, and a courtier,’ but in middle age he ‘retired to a private country life,’ probably residing at West Raddon with his eldest brother, Robert. In 1624 he held a lease of Thorn Park in the neighbouring parish of Holcombe Burnell.

On retiring to the country Westcote began to interest himself in local antiquities, and his tastes were encouraged by his friendship with the topographers Sir William Pole (1561–1635) [q. v.] and Tristram Risdon [q. v.] He was desirous of undertaking a description of Devonshire, similar to that accomplished for Cornwall by Richard Carew (1555–1620) [q. v.] He was encouraged in his design by Edward Bourchier, earl of Bath, and compiled two collections, ‘A View of Devonshire,’ in which, after a general dissertation on the history of the county, he gave a topographical account of its condition about 1630, and the ‘Pedigrees of most of our Devonshire Families,’ a compilation containing much genealogical information, but impaired by ‘some egregious mistakes and errors.’ The two manuscripts were published at Exeter in 1845, under the editorship of George Oliver (1781–1861) [q. v.] and of Pitman Jones.

Westcote was buried at Shobrooke, but the date of his death is uncertain, as the register of burials between May 1639 and July 1644 is missing. He was married to Mary (d. 1666), eldest daughter and coheiress of Richard Roberts of Combe Martin, Devonshire. By her he had one son, Philip (d. 1641), and four surviving daughters.

[Memoir prefixed to the View of Devonshire, 1845; Prince's Worthies of Devon, 1701, p. 585; Vivian's Visitations of Devon, p. 778.]

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