DRAWSWERD, Thomas (by 1476-1529), of York.

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 1476. m. Maud, at least 1s. 1da.2

Offices Held

Member, Corpus Christi guild, York 1500, junior chamberlain 1501-2, sheriff 1505-6, member of the Twenty-Four by 1507, alderman 1508-d., mayor 1515-16, 1523-4; commr. subsidy 1512, 1514, 1515.3


Thomas Drawswerd, one of a family of York image-makers and carvers, became free of the city as a carver in 1496-7. In 1498 he was working for the minster, mending ‘the dove for the paschal candle’, and during the next ten years he was also engaged by the York merchants and for the funeral of Archbishop Savage in 1507. Of his work outside the city the best-known trace is the estimate which he submitted in 1505-6 for image-work in Henry VII’s chapel, Westminster; some years earlier he had designed the present rood screen at Newark in Nottinghamshire. Although the last known reference to his work dates from 1509, he probably remained in business until his death, for in 1528 the York council settled a dispute between him and an alabasterer.4

Drawswerd’s wide reputation probably helps to account for his speedy advance to the aldermanship. In 1510 he led a deputation to Henry VIII to plead for a remission of York’s fee-farm, and on 2 Jan. 1512 he was elected to the second Parliament of the reign. Nothing is known of his own or his colleague William Nelson’s part in its proceedings but they used the opportunity to sue to the Council for its favour to the city and they succeeded in compounding with Sir Thomas Lovell I for the fee-farm. Drawswerd may have had a personal interest in Membership of this Parliament, for Henry VII had intended to found a hospital at York and at a time when contracts were being issued for a number of that King’s benefactions he could have hoped to receive the commission for the hospital. It may have been because he was mayor-designate that the city did not comply with the King’s request by re-electing Drawswerd to the Parliament of 1515 as it did in the case of Nelson. During his first mayoralty a Nicholas Drawswerd, carver, perhaps his son, became a freeman. This mayoralty ended in uproar over an aldermanic election in which Drawswerd and Nelson led opposite factions: riots broke out in the city and both men were summoned before the Council to answer for their conduct. More praiseworthy were the two principal events of Drawswerd’s second term, his strong letter to the treasurer rejecting royal dictation about a city sheriff, and his gift to the city of Holtby Hall, an old mansion which he had recently acquired. When shortly after he quitted office he was assessed for subsidy, as a parishioner of St. Martin’s, Coney Street, on £18 in lands, the highest such figure at York, it was noted that he had spent £22 in holding office since the last subsidy.5

Drawswerd made his will on 28 Jan. 1529. He asked to be buried in the churchyard of St. Martin’s, before the rood, and lavishly augmented a chantry there; this was one of the last to be endowed in any York parish church, with the priest giving free education to seven poor children of the parish. Of Drawswerd’s nine houses and tenements in different parts of York four were bequeathed, after his wife’s death, to the church and chantry and two to St. Christopher’s guild. He made provision for his children George and Maud, appointed his wife executrix and residuary legatee, and named Martin Metcalf supervisor. The will was proved on 30 July 1529. No other son than George is known, but besides Nicholas Drawswerd there was another carver, William Drawswerd, who was working at the minster in 1525-6.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: D. M. Palliser


  • 1. York Civic Recs. iii (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. cvi), 37, 42-43; York archs. B9, f. 62.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from admission as freeman. York wills 9, f. 448 ptd. Test, Ebor. v. (Surtees Soc. lxxix), 267-9.
  • 3. Reg. Corpus Christi Guild, York (Surtees Soc. lvii), 151; York archs. B8-11 passim; Statutes, iii. 85, 112, 175.
  • 4. Reg. Freemen, York, i (Surtees Soc. xcvi), 220; York pub. lib. R. H. Skaife ms civic officials, i. 223; Fabric Rolls of York Minster (Surtees Soc. xxxv), 92; York Mercers and Merchant Adventures (Surtees Soc. cxxix), 104-5, 116; Test. Ebor. iv. (Surtees Soc. liii), 299, 321; J. Harvey, Eng. Mediaeval Architects, 88; Pevsner, Notts. 109; The King’s Works, iii. 219-20; York archs. B11, f. 152v.
  • 5. York archs. B9, ff. 42, 62; York Civic Recs. iii. 32-33, 37, 42-43, 46-49, 52-61, 86-90; Reg. Freemen, York, i. 237; The King’s Works, iii. 187, 196; Yorks. Arch. Jnl. iv. 173; D. M. Palliser, ‘York in the 16th cent.’ (Oxf. Univ. D. Phil. thesis, 1968), 133, 242.
  • 6. York wills 9, f. 448; Studies in Church Hist. ed. Cuming, iv. 33n; Harvey, 88.