HILL, Thomas (by 1500-57), of Gray's Inn, London, Worcester and White Ladies Aston, Worcs.
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Family and Education
b. by 1500. educ. G. Inn. m. by 1521, Anne, 3s. 4da.3
Town clerk, Worcester by Sept. 1536-?d.4
Thomas Hill, whose origin and family connexions might seem to be traceable from the names of his wife and children as given in his will, has not been found among the many men so named appearing in the pedigrees of the time. The sole source for his early career is a letter of 14 Sept. 1536 (the year being established by internal evidence) from the bailiffs, aldermen and brethren of Worcester to the lord privy seal, Cromwell, in which the writers ask that one Thomas Green should no longer be considered for appointment as town clerk of Worcester as
one Thomas Hill of Grays Inn, gentleman, and late one of our citizens of the Parliament ... now is town clerk ... and useth himself lawfully and like a learned man therein.
The Parliament in question must have been that of June-July 1536, for which the names of most of the Members, including those for Worcester, are lost, and the appointment as town clerk have presumably followed its dissolution. A further letter of 17 Dec. 1536 to Cromwell from the same writers, in which they thank him for his agreement about Hill and the clerkship, adds nothing else to the story.5
The city’s adoption of a youngish lawyer in these two capacities implies his enjoyment of local patronage, but whence this came can only be guessed at. The matter is complicated by the uncertainty as to when Hill became one of the Members for Worcester. At the election of 1536, when it is clear that he was returned, the King had asked that the previous Members should be re-elected, and his request appears to have been generally complied with. If Worcester did so, Hill must be thought of as having sat with John Braughing during the closing stages of the Parliament of 1529. He could have done so in succession to Hugh Dee, who died in 1530 and whose seat was still vacant two years later when Cromwell drew up a list of vacancies. On this list Worcester bears the note ‘the King to name one’. If the seat was indeed filled by royal nomination there is no known reason why Hill should have been chosen: on the contrary, Cromwell is unlikely to have put forward his own nominee for the clerkship against one whom he knew to enjoy the King’s support. Of less august patrons the most likely was Braughing, the sitting Member and a leading figure at Worcester: Braughing had been associated with Cromwell in the first session of the Parliament of 1529 and could have sponsored Hill with the secretary’s consent. However, apart from the likelihood that Braughing, a London mercer with many connexions in that city, had come across Hill there, no link between the two suggests itself.6
Braughing probably sat in every Parliament save one until his death in 1551, and Hill may have joined him in 1539, when the names of the city’s Members are again lost. After that, Hill was to be re-elected for Worcester once only, to the Parliament of April 1554. On that occasion the commonalty of the city unsuccessfully challenged the validity of the election by the common council, but there is nothing to suggest that either Hill or his fellow-Member John Ainsworth was personally unpopular. Both Members were paid for 40 days’ attendance and although nothing is known of their part in the proceedings they doubtless took an interest in the Act exempting Worcester and other towns from a compulsory seven-year apprenticeship for clothiers (I Mary st. 3, c.7). Hill had perhaps hoped to be one of the city’s Members in the previous Parliament, that of October 1553, when Worcester broke its custom of electing only citizens by returning the secretary of state designate John Bourne I and the hosier John Emery. It is possible that Bourne used his influence to compensate Hill by nominating him for Heytesbury, where Hill was elected 12 days after the election at Worcester and only two before the opening of the Parliament. Neither Bourne nor Hill opposed the reunion with Rome.7
In 1538 Hill and his son William leased the manor of White Ladies Aston from the augmentations, and six years later he bought the manor and property elsewhere from Richard Andrews to whom in the meantime the crown had sold them: some of this property Hill later resold. On 1 Sept. 1554 hedges at White Ladies Aston were destroyed and he himself was assaulted by villagers: when he sued the villagers in Chancery they answered that he had enclosed common meadow. It was as Thomas Hill of Worcester that he made his will on 20 Dec. 1556. After asking for burial in the chancel of the church at White Ladies Aston, he provided for his wife and children and named as executors his two younger sons Francis and Henry. Hill died at White Ladies Aston on 19 Feb. 1557, being succeeded by his son William aged 34 years and more.8
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: R. L. Davids
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
- 2. LP Hen. VIII, xii(2), 692 citing SP1/124, f. 227.
- 3. Date of birth estimated from marriage. PCC 19 Wrastley; C142/110/162; Vis. Herefs. ed. Weaver, 16. The Thomas Hill admitted to Gray’s Inn in 1531 was presumably a namesake, as it was only four years later that the Member’s son William entered the Inn.
- 4. LP Hen. VIII, xii(2), 692.
- 5. Ibid. xii(2), 692 citing SP1/124, f. 227; xii(2), 1224 citing SP1/127, 87-88v.
- 6. Ibid. vii. 56 citing SP1/82, f. 59v.
- 7. Worcester Guildhall, chamber order bk. 1540-1601, ff. 48-51.
- 8. VCH Worcs. iii. 559; LP Hen. VIII, xiv, xix; CPR, 1555-7, p. 343; PCC 19 Wrastley; C142/110/162.