ROPER, Thomas (1533/34-98), of Eltham, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. 1533/34, 1st s. of William Roper of St. Dunstan’s, Canterbury and Eltham, Kent and Chelsea, Mdx. by Margaret, da. of Sir Thomas More of London and Chelsea. educ. L. Inn. m. by 1557, Lucy, da. of Sir Anthony Browne of Cowdray, Suss., 5s. 5da. suc. fa. 4 Jan. 1578.1
Prothonotary, KB 1574-d.2
Thomas Roper was a student at Lincoln’s Inn barely out of his teens when he took the senior place for one of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk’s boroughs in Mary’s first Parliament: his fellow-Member was his older kinsman Thomas Elrington. His father’s association with the duke, which dated back as early as 1529, could account for their election, but if Roper himself was already married the returning officer, Sir Anthony Browne, was his brother-in-law. At Newport it was presumably another of his brothers-in-law, James Bassett, who enlisted the powerful support of his Grenville kinsmen: his fellow-Member Thomas Hungate was a former dependant of the Browne family. Roper did not support the Protestant opposition in 1553 and the ‘Mr. Roper’ mentioned in the Journal for 1558 was undoubtedly his father.3
Roper lacked the literary talent of his sister Mary, an expert classical scholar who contributed to the cost of printing the first edition of More’s English works in 1557, and his Catholicism precluded him from a public career in his mature years. In 1574 Roper’s father passed on to him the prothonotary-ship of the King’s bench, which he had held for over 50 years, but shortly afterwards his family’s troubles began. Three years later Lincoln’s Inn made a return of recusants stating that William Roper and his two sons had been sequestered from the inn ‘for su