COLLY, Thomas (by 1513-60 or later), of Dover, Kent.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1513, s. of William Colly (d.1513) of Dover by Joan.1

Offices Held

Jurat, Dover in 1544 and for every year for which records survive from 1547 to 1559, mayor 1545-6, 1558-9; bailiff to Yarmouth 1549.2


Thomas Colly was, like his father, an innkeeper, brewer and victualler at Dover, but also a reformer and trouble-maker. From a local book of orders and decrees passed in his time it appears that he made it compulsory for every inn to have a sign over the front door and for hackneymen to provide good and reliable horses at fair prices; he also started a regular system of town scavenging. Yet he was regularly bound over to keep the peace against fellow-townsmen and the town twice made payments to men who had been put to trouble ‘at the complaint of Coll’.3

According to a local historian Colly was elected mayor in September 1546 but removed from office on the accession of Edward VI; in the Dover hundred court book, however, his alleged replacement appears as mayor in October 1546. In March 1551 Colly was one of the assessors appointed to raise the parliamentary wages of Joseph Beverley and later in the same year he was fined £5 by the Brotherhood for having failed in his attendance at Yarmouth when he was bailiff; £4 of the fine was later remitted. In 1552 he was chosen alderman by the fellowship of shoemakers, and early in the reign of Mary he became churchwarden of St. Mary’s, Dover.4

On 17 Sept. 1553 Colly and Thomas Portway were elected to Mary’s first Parliament, but on the intervention of the lord warden Sir Thomas Cheyne they were set aside in favour of Joseph Beverley, and John Webbe. Five years later Colly was to be bound over to keep the peace against Beverley and although the immediate cause of their quarrel is unknown Colly’s continued resentment at his supplanting in 1553 may have played its part. Returned with John Webbe to the second Parliament of the reign, he rather than Anthony Colly, a knight of the shire for Rutland, was probably the ‘Mr. Colley’ to whom two unsuccessful bills dealing with foreign merchandise and purveyance were committed. Colly is not known to have received any parliamentary wages or expenses but the Dover accounts for the following year, into which they might have been carried, are missing.5

In July 1556 Colly denied before the mayor and jurats that he knew ‘any manner of cause or matter that they or any of them have offended the King’s and the Queen’s majesties in any manner of case or cause of high treason or petty treason’, being bound over on the same day to keep the peace. His second mayoral term was interrupted in February 1559 by his summons before the Privy Council and imprisonment in the Fleet for an unspecified offence: he was released three weeks later upon entering into a recognizance of 100 marks for his appearance. Early in the following year he was the defendant in two cases brought before the Dover chancery court and on 14 Oct. 1560 the town authorities decreed that for the contempt he had shown them he should pay a fine or suffer 20 days’ imprisonment. This is the last reference found to him.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Patricia Hyde


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from fa.’s death. Canterbury prob. reg. C11, ff. 73 and v.
  • 2. Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. (Kent Arch. Soc. recs. br. xix), 233; Dover accts. 1545-58, ff. 4, 132; 1558-81, f. 1.
  • 3. Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 146; Egerton 2094, ff. 82v, 95, 155v; 2099, f. 10; Dover accts. 1545-58, f. 337v.
  • 4. J. Bavington Jones, Dover Annals, 296; Dover hundred ct. bk. f. 21; Egerton 1912, f. 64; 2094, ff. 30, 72v; Cinque Ports White and Black Bks. 245, 247.
  • 5. Egerton 2094, ff. 89, 90v, 177v; CF, i. 33, 34.
  • 6. Egerton 2094, ff. 147 and v, 186v; APC, vii. 58, 61, 70; Dover ass. bk. 1, f. 246.