DALSTON (DAWSTON), Thomas (by 1502-50), of Dalston Hall, nr. Carlisle, Cumb.

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



Family and Education

b. by 1502, 1st s. of John Dalston of Dalston Hall by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of George Kirkbride of Kirkbride. m. (1) by 1523, Mabel Denton of Cardew, 2s. inc. John; (2) by 1545, Eleanor, da. and coh. of Thomas Carlile of Carlisle, 1s.; 4da. suc. fa. by 1537.2

Offices Held

Under steward to Henry, 1st Earl of Cumberland in 1534; steward (for the earl) lands of Holme abbey, Cumb. until Dec. 1534; assistant to dep. warden, west marches 1537; j.p. Cumb. 1538-d.; sheriff, 1540-1; mayor, Carlisle in Nov. 1542.3


By the opening of the 16th century the Dalston family had been seated near Carlisle for nine generations. Thomas Dalston made his career in the service of Henry, Earl of Cumberland, who was captain of Carlisle between 1525 and 1528 and from 1534 until 1541. He is first met with in June 1534 as a member of the grand jury at Carlisle which found an indictment of treason against William, 3rd Lord Dacre. In the following December, as the bearer of a letter from the Earl of Cumberland to Cromwell, he was to inform the minister of the riots caused by Dacre’s servants over Christmas. His role in the northern rebellion of 1536 is obscure. A Thomas Dalston or Thomas of Dalston was appointed by the rebels to go with the abbot of Holme and others to Carlisle to discover whether the mayor would meet them and take the oath, but there are signs that this was the vicar of Dalston. If it was the gentleman of Dalston Hall, he must have redeemed himself later, for in July 1537 the 3rd Duke of Norfolk sent him with a letter of recommendation to Cromwell as one who, unlike other gentlemen of the west marches, had received no fees although he had done good service in the time of the rebellion. In the same year Dalston was accordingly named an assistant to (Sir) Thomas Wharton I in the west marches, at a fee of £6 13s.4d., one of only two Clifford followers to be so honoured.4

In the years which followed Dalston was active in the administration of Carlisle and Cumberland: placed on the Cumberland bench in 1538 he was nominated sheriff in that and the following year and finally pricked in 1540. In May 1540, with Edward Aglionby I and two other justices, he was concerned with a book still being used in the church of the former priory of Carlisle in which the bishop of Rome was styled ‘pope’ and which still contained the service for the feast of St. Thomas Becket. The four justices wrote about the matter to the King and, on discovering that the offending book was missing, to Wharton to seek his advice.5

During the last decade of his life Dalston was involved in a number of land transactions. In July 1543 he purchased for £1,763 the manors of Brundholme, Caldbeck, Kirkbride, Uldale and Upton in Cumberland, which had belonged to the 5th Earl of Northumberland, as well as the manor of Temple Sowerby in Westmorland and various other lands and two rectories (which he was to sell back to the King). Then in January 1545 he acquired the advowson of the rectories of Harrington and Workington (the seat of Wharton’s allies the Curwens) in Cumberland; in the following July he and his second wife bought the freehold of a large number of messuages in Cumberland and also the demesnes of the manor of Bowes, Yorkshire. They obtained more such property in the following year, when Dalston also sold to Wharton the manors of Caldbeck and Upton. Dalston’s last major purchase was in January 1549, when with William Denton of London, a kinsman of his first wife, he bought chantries in Carlisle, Skelton and Wigton Bromfield, Cumberland.6

Dalston’s local standing would have sufficed to secure him a seat for Carlisle in 1547 but he may have enjoyed the patronage of Wharton, Cumberland’s successor as captain of Carlisle and by then a peer, whose son and namesake was senior knight of the shire. Dalston died on 22 July 1550 and was replaced in the Commons by Edward Aglionby II. His lands in Cumberland and Yorkshire were valued at more than £73 a year and his son and heir John, who was to achieve the knighthood of the shire in 1558, was aged 27 and more. One of Dalston’s daughters, Elizabeth, married Henry Legh, knight of the shire in 1586.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Hutchinson, Cumb. ii. 445; Nicolson and Burn, Westmld. and Cumb. ii. 316; Jefferson, Cumb. i. 217, 223; CCR, 1500-9, p. 283; LP Hen. VIII, xx; Trans. Cumb. and Westmld. Antiq. and Arch. Soc. n.s. x. 213-14.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, vii, viii, xii-xv, xvii.
  • 4. Ibid. vii, xii, xv; M. E. James, Change and Continuity in Tudor North (Borthwick Pprs. xxvii), 37.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xv; Elton, Policy and Police, 253-4.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, xvi, xviii, xxi; CPR, 1548-9, p. 222.
  • 7. Wards 7/5/111.