POLEY, Thomas (by 1523-64), of London and Ware, Herts.

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



Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1523, 2nd s. of Edmund Poley (d. 31 Dec. 1548) of Badley, Suff. by Mirabelle, da. of John Garneys or Garnish of Kenton, Suff. m. Mary.1

Offices Held

Jt. (with Maurice Denys) receiver, rents of former lands of the order of St. John of Jerusalem Oct. 1544-d.; member, household of Princess Mary by 1549; equerry, the stable by Nov. 1553-d.; bailiff of manor and keeper of park, Ware 7 Nov. 1553-d.2


The christian name Thomas was a common one in the Poley family but the most likely bearer of it to have sat for three widely separated boroughs between 1545 and 1555 was a younger son in the branch seated at Badley. This Thomas Poley may have owed his advancement to the marriage of his elder brother John to a daughter of Sir Thomas Wentworth I, 1st Baron Wentworth, which had taken place by 1544. Poley himself is first glimpsed in April 1544 when, as a resident of London, he bought Manton manor, Suffolk, from Edward Elrington and Humphrey Metcalfe. In October of the same year he was appointed joint receiver of the former lands of the order of St. John, an office which gave him an official tie with Sir Thomas Arundell, his most likely patron at Melcombe Regis in 1545. He was not the port’s own choice since his name and that of his fellow, another East Anglian, Anthony Cokett, appear over an erasure on the sheriff’s schedule.3

By 1549 Poley had joined the household of Princess Mary. Accused in that year of participating in disorders in Suffolk, he was exonerated by the princess who said that ‘Poley remained continually in her house and was never doer among the commons nor came into their company’. She admitted, however, that she had another servant of the name living in Suffolk. Poley remained in Mary’s service after she became Queen and was rewarded with the office of bailiff of Ware in November 1553. He sat in her second and fourth Parliaments, in April 1554 for Ipswich, a Suffolk town not five miles from the chief seat of the Wentworths, and in 1555 for Ripon, a duchy of Lancaster borough where he and John Holmes II were said to have been ‘appointed’ by Sir Robert Rochester, chancellor of the duchy, who was familiar with Poley from their time in the Queen’s service while princess. Poley’s name was inserted on the indenture for Ripon, and at this and his earlier returns he was styled esquire.4

Under Elizabeth Poley continued to hold his post of equerry and may have been returned to her first Parliament for Thetford. The Thetford Member has been identified as a namesake of Icklingham, Suffolk, but Poley’s kinsman Nicholas Rookwood had sat for the borough in three Marian Parliaments and his nephew, another Thomas Poley, was probably to do so in 1586. For the first payment of the subsidy of 1563 he was assessed in Ware at £20 on lands and fees. Within a year he died intestate and his widow Mary took out letters of administration of his estate.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 58-59; Vis. Suff. ed. Howard, i. 274-5, 301-4; Add. 40138; PCC 31 Populwell.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xx; CPR, 1553-4, p. 325; Lansd. 3(89), f. 198.
  • 3. PCC 35 Bucke; LP Hen. VIII, xix, xx; C219/18C/36.
  • 4. Strype, Eccles