GRAVESEND, Thomas (by 1513-58 or later), of Shoreham, Suss. and London.
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Family and Education
b. by 1513, prob. s. of John Gravesend of Shoreham. m. by 1551, Joan, da. of John Playstead of Arlington.1
Assay master, Tower I mint 25 Dec. 1556-8.2
Thomas Gravesend was probably the son of a Shoreham merchant trading to France and the Netherlands; he may also have been related to William Gravesend, a merchant of Steyning. The early part of his career was passed in the service of Sir John Gage. From 1534 he is found witnessing deeds for Gage and in 1544 he and Thomas Pelham had a letter of attorney to receive to Gage’s use the lordship of Compton, Sussex, from John Thatcher. The account of John Bray, a collector of rents for Gage, records the delivery in 1546 of £14 ‘to the hand of Lady Philippa Gage by the hand of Thomas Gravesend of the issues of his office’, but what that office was has not been discovered.3
His transactions for his master, Gravesend was to supplement by dealings on his own account. In 1546 a priest surrendered to him, in return for an agreed pension, Shermans Chantry in Lewes, and to this he added the leasehold of a house called the Prior of Lewes’s Cellar at Shoreham. Three years later he joined Thomas Sally, a London haberdasher, in buying for £1,152 a series of properties which included, in Sussex, Cooden farm, the lands of Maresfield free chapel and the rectory of Hampnett, in Surrey lands of the fraternity at Dorking, in Devon the chantry of Morthoe, and in London a string of wharves, shops, cellars, stables and houses. The speedy resale of Cooden to Richard Sackville II and of the Maresfield property to Gage, together with the transfer of land in Kent to John Baker I, suggests that on this occasion Gravesend and Sally were to some extent agents or partners of these greater figures; it was with Sackville that Gravesend was to acquire the Sussex manor of Keymer in 1553. In other transactions, however, like the purchase of lands in Nottinghamshire of Haverholme priory from Sir Thomas Tresham and his son George in 1551, Gravesend seems to have acted as a principal.4
It may have been as a by-product of his service with Gage that Gravesend sat in two Parliaments for Lewes, although he was also known in Lewes and especially its suburb or ‘member’ Southover (which exercised its right to elect him in 1553) as lessee of the lands in Sussex which had belonged to Cromwell, including those of Lewes priory in Southover. As a follower of so staunch a Marian he could be expected to support the government in 1555 and his name is not to be found on the list of Members who opposed one of its bills. In the same year both he and Gage became founder members of the Russia Company. Gage died in April 1556, having left Gravesend a monetary bequest in his will, and before the year was out Gravesend was a salaried official in the mint: his patent as assay master at the Tower was issued in July 1557. A financial commission of April 1558 is the last reference found to him, and in the absence of a will or inquisition it can only be guessed that he died soon afterwards, perhaps as a victim of the current epidemic.5
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: R. J.W. Swales
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. liii), 139; CPR, 1550-3, p. 86.
- 2. CPR, 1557-8, pp. 12, 192; Brit. Numismatic Jnl. xlv. 60.
- 3. E122/200/5, f. 3; Barbican House, Lewes Gage ms 4/27, 44, 56; 11/10; 35/10; Suss. Rec. Soc. lvi. 82.
- 4. Suss. Rec. Soc. xxxvi. 57; Suss. Arch. Colls. lxv. 190; CPR, 1548-9, p. 372 1549-51, pp. 55, 60, 107-9; 1553, p. 115; Barbican House, Lewes Gage ms 6/7; Req.2/23/110, ff. 9v, 18; NRA 8289, pp. 92-93.
- 5. SC6 Edw. VI/457; CPR, 1554-5, p. 56; 1557-8, pp. 12, 72, 74 T. S. Willan, Muscovy Merchants of 1555, pp. 16, 99; PCC 9 Ketchyn.