The Winchcombe family:
Two of the magistrates who try the Newbury Martyrs are John Winchcombe II (Snr) (1489-1557), and John Winchcombe III (Jnr). These men are leaders of their community at the time of the trial and have to balance their responsibilities to the Queen and to their neighbours, many of whom were Protestants.
Jack of Newbury
At this time Newbury is very wealthy being at the centre of the English wool trade. John Winchcombe I also known as 'Jack of Newbury' has built the first 'Factory' in England and has a house that extends along Northbrook Street. John Winchcombe I is rich enough to renew Newbury’s old Norman church, St Nicolas' Church, with the fine new 'Perpendicular' style church we still have today.
Jack of Newbury (John Winchcombe I) died in 1519 and is buried in St Nicolas' Church.
John Winchcombe II (Snr)
John Winchcombe II inherits his father's wealth and is a very successful merchant in his own right. He used his wealth, accumulated from the clothing industry, to acquire much land and property (thus establishing himself and his family as 'landed gentry' with a coat of arms and a merchant's mark) and to mix with some of the most prominent people in Tudor England.
By the late 1540’s Newbury produces about 8900 kersey pieces of wool a year, dyed and finished: 6000 by John Winchcombe, 2500 by Thomas Dolman, 400 by William Bennett. At this time the Winchcombe’s house occupies about 96 feet of Northbrook Street, between Jack Street and Marsh Lane.[D. Peacock]. John Winchcombe II became a well- respected and well-connected member of the gentry and highly respected senior dignitary of the town - both in age and experience and in terms of the public offices he held - i.e. John Winchcombe II was an M.P. In 1545 he is M.P. for Great Bedwyn and in 1547 M.P. for Cricklade. He was also a Justice of the Peace, which is recognition of his status.
John Winchcombe II (Snr) died the year after the trial and burnings in 1557.
John Winchcombe III (Jnr)
The John Winchcombe Jnr., as seen in the Community Play would have been Jack of Newbury's grandson and is known as John Winchcombe III.