HALL, Thomas II (by 1488-1550), of Huntingdon and Coleby, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. by 1488. educ. M. Temple, adm. 5 Feb. 1509. m. by 1510, 1da.1
J.p. Hunts. 1509-44, Lincs. (Kesteven) 1531, 1536, 1543; commr. subsidy, Hunts. 1512, 1514, 1515, 1524, musters 1542, 1546, benevolence, Hunts. and Lincs. (Kesteven) 1544/45, contribution, Hunts. 1546, relief, Lincs. (Kesteven) 1550; other commissions 1515-47; feodary, Cambs., Hunts., Lincs. by Apr. 1519; escheator, Cambs. and Hunts. 1522-3, 1529-30, 1543-4, Lincs. 1530-1; bp. of Lincoln’s receiver in 1533; receiver, Exchequer, Lincs. by 1537; receiver-gen. attainted lands, Lincs., Notts. and Rutland Mar. 1538; steward, Huntingdon at d.2
Thomas Hall had many contemporary namesakes from whom he can generally, but not always, be distinguished by the suffixes ‘esquire’ and ‘of Huntingdon’: the first of these he presumably enjoyed in virtue of his membership of the Middle Temple, the second by his early domicile. Whether he was a native of Huntingdon, or sprang from a family in the neighbourhood, has not been established, nor what his relationship was to the Cambridge-trained physician Thomas Hall, who came from Coleby, Lincolnshire, married the widow of a Member for Huntingdon, and became steward of the chapter of Lincoln’s manor of Paxton, south-west of the town.3
Hall had already attained considerable maturity when he entered the Middle Temple early in 1509: within the previous two years he had engaged as an executor in property transactions in Huntingdon, he was either already married or would shortly be so, and he was promptly named to the Huntingdonshire commission of the peace. His seniority was reflected in the terms of his admission to the masters’ commons at the inn: at the instance of the treasurer he was excused all offices and vacancies on payment of a fine of 4 marks, and close on three years later he was given a chamber with a newly admitted member of the Willoughby family. His early and sustained progress in local administration implies powerful sponsorship: Wolsey may have noticed Hall when he was dean and bishop of Lincoln, and another likely patron was Sir Richard Wingfield of Kimbolton, with whom Hall had been named to local commissions.4
It was therefore as an established figure that Hall secured a seat in the Parliament of 1529: he may, indeed, have sat in one or more earlier ones for which the names of the Members are lost. As a duchy of Lancaster borough Huntingdon could have been expected to return at least one nominee, and although Hall is not known to have either held office in the duchy or formed any personal link with its chancellor Sir Thomas More, his combination of local, legal and court connexions evidently served his turn. If a connexion with Wolsey had helped him earlier, it may also have begun his association with Cromwell, to whom he looked for further reward and promotion. By 1532 he was corresponding with Cromwell on personal as well as public matters: in July of that year he suggested that he should call on Cromwell when the King was at Buckden, and in April 1533 he asked for lands at Leighton likely to escheat through attainder: ‘I beg you’, he wrote, ‘to hold up any suit until I see you. [The lands] are within five or six miles of Huntingdon and would be much to my comfort if I had them of the King’s gift.’ He also aspired to higher status following the death in August 1532 of Sir Nicholas Harvey, one of the knights for Huntingdonshire. On 9 Jan. 1533 an unidentified correspondent, believed to have been Richard Sapcote, who had been instructed by Sir Thomas Audley and Cromwell to canvass his own return ‘to serve the King’s highness as one of the knights of this shire at this Parliament’, reported from his home at Elton that ‘Master Hall of Huntingdon’ had already received promises of support from many people, among them friends of Sapcote’s, ‘not without special labour with all the friends he could make’: the writer professed his willingness to serve but asked the King and Cromwell to see to it that Hall not only desisted but also gave ‘his voice with him and such as he hath procured against me’. Nothing more is heard of the matter, but Hall probably continued as a Member for the town of Huntingdon. As such he doubtless sat again in the Parliament of 1536, in accordance with the King’s general request for the return of the previous Members, and he may have done so in any or all of the three following ones, for which the names of the Huntingdon Members are lost. There are two further glimpses of him in the House. The original of the Act for sowing flax and hemp passed in 1533 (24 Hen. VIII, c.6) bears on its dorse his name and those of Sir William Gascoigne, (probably) Francis Hall, and Thomas Rush: as all four Members came from the principal hemp-growing area of the country, they were doubtless called upon for specialist advice on the Act. By contrast, six months later Hall was asking Cromwell for leave of absence from the next session so that he could attend to his business as receiver to the bishop of Lincoln: in the event, that session was further prorogued until January 1534, by which time Hall may have been less preoccupied.5
Hall’s appointment in the diocese was a step towards similar employment in governmental service. Cromwell noted in a ‘remembrance’ of 1534, ‘for Thomas Hall to be custos rotulorum of Hunts.’, and three years later he was one of six gentlemen of Huntingdon due to receive instructions in connexion with the rebellion. He was most suited to a part in financial administration, and in 1537 he became receiver of crown lands in Lincolnshire and in the following year receiver-general for the lands of traitors and ex-monasteries in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland. For the rest of his life he was fully occupied in the eastern counties as royal official and local commissioner. Described as Thomas Hall of Coleby, he was one of the grand jury summoned for the trial of Culpeper and Dereham for treason at Lincoln in 1541, although he was not among the first 18 men sworn. In 1544 he was expected to serve in the vanguard of the army in France with six of his men, but in August he secured an exemption from doing so signed by the Earl of Hertford, the bishop of Westminster and Secretary Petre.6
From modest beginnings Hall rose to affluence by making opportunities for himself. Undeterred by the failure of his suit for Leighton in 1533, he wound up an official letter to Richard Cromwell alias Williams in June 1537 by saying that when at court his friend Philip Wild would remind Cromwell of his requests, especially for mills at ‘S’ [?Sleaford] and for another ‘quillett’ near his house in Lincolnshire. In July 1538 Richard Pollard told him that he would not get the former priory of St. Catherine, Lincoln, but that Pollard and Richard Cromwell had persuaded Cromwell to find him something else as good. After further solicitation by Hall, this proved to be the priory of Haverholme near Sleaford, which was granted to him in the following November. The next year brought a lease of Linghow grange in Ashby, Lincolnshire, formerly of the same priory and of St. Catherine’s, Lincoln, and 1540 the most gratifying of all his acquisitions, the lands which St. Catherine’s had held at Coleby, home of his namesakes and probable kinsmen. It was at Coleby that Hall was to settle and eventually die, possessed of the manor and nine tenements all held of the Duke of Suffolk. In 1544 he paid £184 for other ex-monastic property in Lincolnshire and four years later he added the manor of Mere, bought from John Bellow of Grimsby and John Broxholme of London. He retained and augmented his stake in Huntingdon, where in 1550 he paid 13 years’ arrears of rent to the hospital of St. John the Baptist. To the yield of this considerable estate he must have added the fees for such offices as that of bailiff and clerk of the bishop of Lincoln’s manor of Stowe, which he held for life, and of steward of Nettleham manor.7
No will or administration of Hall’s goods has been found. When in 1549 he was sued by the rector of St. John the Baptist, Huntingdon, for nonpayment of tithes it was noted that he was ‘adeo impotens’, so that he perhaps left the making of a will until it was too late. The inquisition on his Lincolnshire lands gives the date of his death as 31 Dec. 1550 and names as his heir a daughter Dorothy, then aged 40 and more: she had been married for upwards of 16 years to Robert Brockbank, and licence to enter her inheritance was granted to him in May 1551. Shortly afterwards the town of Huntingdon sued Brockbank in the court of the duchy of Lancaster for the return of deeds connected with the fee-farm, held by Hall as steward of the town.8
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: M. K. Dale
- 1. Date of birth estimated from first commission. E150/585/16.
- 2. LP Hen. VIII, ii-viii, x-xviii, xx, xxi; Statutes, iii. 82, 114, 175; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 75-76; DL1/31, H7.
- 3. SC12/Portf. 31, no. 21; CCR, 1500-9, pp. 303-4; LP Hen. VIII, i; E179/122/100, m. 5; Lincoln Cath. Chapter Acts, 1520-36 (Lincoln Rec. Soc. xii), 34, 172; PCC 23 Adeane.
- 4. Hunts. RO, Manchester ms, dd.M.84, no. 5; M.T.Recs. i. 26, 37; Cal. Hunts. Fines, ed. Turner, 117.
- 5. Somerville, Duchy, i. 393; LP Hen. VIII, v, vi; SP1/74, p. 26; House of Lords RO, Original Acts, 24 Hen. VIII, no. 6; S. E. Lehmberg, Ref. Parl. 173 and n.4.
- 6. LP Hen. VIII, vii, xi, xvi, xix.