AUDLEY, Thomas II (by 1492-1554), of St. Ives, Hunts.
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Family and Education
b. by 1492, s. of Thomas Audley of Lewes Suss. by da. of one Sutton of Suss. m. by 1538, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Owen Perrot of Haroldston, Pemb., 2s. 1da.1
Of the dozen and more Thomas Audleys living in the second quarter of the 16th century two were preeminent, the chancellor and the soldier. They appear to have been unrelated, Thomas Audley I being the son of an Essex yeoman whereas his namesake came from Lewes in Sussex. What is known of the Audleys of Lewes, including the Thomas Audley who was a draper and churchwarden and who occupied Moat House, now 73 High Street, hardly bears out the claim made in Audley’s rhymed epitaph that he was ‘well born’, although in other respects this account of him, composed anonymously at the bidding of Audley’s son, seems trustworthy. The first indication of Audley’s exercise ‘in feats of wars full long beyond the seas’ may be a captaincy of footmen in the Tournai campaign of 1513, but both the epitaph and the records are then silent until his exploits at Guisnes in the early 1540s led to his appointment as provost-marshal there; his initial demur that he was ‘too pitiful’ for the post was overruled by the Privy Council at the instance of his commanding officer Sir John Wallop. In 1544-5 Audley served in Scotland and at Berwick-upon-Tweed, but when Boulogne fell in the following year he was put in charge of the bulwark there known as the Old Man. The King acknowledged Audley’s merits by making him a gentleman usher of the privy chamber (a status which he shared with a namesake with whom he is apt to be confused) and by directing him to produce a military treatise for the instruction of Prince Edward. Audley discharged this commission, which he received through ‘Mr. Fowler’, doubtless his fellow-usher Thomas Fowler, by writing the ‘Booke of Orders for the Warre both by Sea and Land’ and presenting this to Edward in the first year of his reign. Unlike most of its counterparts, which copied from their classical models and from one another, Audley’s work contained much that was based on his 30 years’ experience and so justified the title of ‘their father’ bestowed on him by the leading soldiers of the time. His tangible rewards included a bequest of 200 marks from Henry VIII and an annuity of £50 from Edward VI.3
Audley’s progress at court had probably been smoothed by his marriage, which made him the brother-in-law of Robert Perrot, one of Edward VI’s tutors, and the uncle of John Perrot. It was followed by his acquisition in 1544, first on lease and then by grant in tail male, of the dissolved priory of St. Ives, formerly belonging to Ramsey abbey. It is not clear why he chose to settle in Huntingdonshire but he quickly came to the fore there. Although he is not known to have served against the Norfolk rebels in 1549—the Thomas Audley who captured Robert Ket was a namesake from Essex, probably the chancellor’s younger brother—it was clearly his military record which earned him appointment in 1551 as lord lieutenant jointly with Sir Robert Tyrwhitt, a fellow courtier who was also a newcomer to the shire. For Audley, whose exploits had somewhat surprisingly not brought him a knighthood, the lieutenancy was a signal honour, even in a county lacking a peer for the office, and it was appropriately followed by his election as knight of the shire to the second Edwardian Parliament, with Tyrwhitt as his probable fellow-Member. Nothing has come to light about either in connexion with the succession crisis of 1553, but they were soon called upon to defend the new regime against the rebellion led by Sir Thomas Wyatt II; for his service on this occasion Audley was given 200 marks. Neither he nor Tyrwhitt had been re-elected to the first Parliament of the reign and only Tyrwhitt was to reappear in the second, although both were retained on the commission of the peace.4
Audley was buried at St. Mary Overy, Southwark, on 29 Oct. 1554; among the mourners was William, 13th Lord Grey of Wilton, his former commander at Boulogne. His wife survived him until 1560, when the property at St. Ives passed to their son Robert, then rising 21.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: T. M. Hofmann
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Harl. 890, f. 45v.
- 2. CPR, 1547-8, p. 85; 1550-3, pp. 141, 394; 1553, pp. 354, 414; 1553-4, p. 20; APC, iii. 259; iv. 49, 277.
- 3. A. L. Reade, Audley Peds.; W. H. Challen, ‘Kyme fam. of Lewes’, Suss. Arch. Coll., c.113; E179/189/119; LP Hen. VIII, ii, xii, xvii-xxi; Add. 23971; 41295; Harl. 297, 309; Bodl. Rawlinson D363; Bodl. Tanner 103; ex inf. Dr. C. G. Cruickshank; APC, ii. 101; CPR, 1548-9, p. 401.
- 4. LP Hen. VIII, xix; APC, ii. 323; CPR, 1549-51, p. 190; VCH Hunts. ii. 23; Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 187.
- 5. Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 73; VCH Hunts. ii. 219.