SACKVILLE, Thomas (1535/36-1608), of London.

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



Family and Education

b. 1535/36, prob. 1st s. of Richard Sackville II. educ. ‘Sullington’ (?Lullington) g.s.; ?Hart Hall, Oxf. ?Jesus, Camb.; I. Temple, adm. 1 July 1555, called, Camb. MA 1571; Oxf. incorp. 1592. m. 1555, Cecily, da. of (Sir) John Baker I of London and Sissinghurst, Kent, 4s. inc. Robert 3da.; ?1s. illegit. suc. fa. 21 Apr. 1566. Kntd. 8 June 1567; KG nom. 22 Apr., inst. 18 Dec. 1589. cr. Baron of Buckhurst 8 June 1567, Earl of Dorset 13 Mar. 1604.1

Offices Held

J.p. Kent, Suss. 1558/59-d.; feodary, duchy of Lancaster, Suss. 1561; jt. ld. lt. Suss. 1569; ambassador to France 1571-2, 1591, to the Netherlands 1586, 1598; trier of petitions in the Lords, Parlts. of 1572, 1584, 1586, 1589, 1593, 1597; custos rot. Suss. 1573/74-d.; chief butler, England 1590; high steward, Winchester c.1590; jt. commr. of great seal Nov. 1591-May 1592; chancellor, Oxf. Univ. 1591; ld. treasurer May 1599-d.2


His father’s exclusion from office under Mary did not significantly delay Thomas Sackville’s entry upon public life for it was not long after his coming of age that he sat in his first Parliament. His election at the beginning of 1558 for East Grinstead, where his father wielded great influence, has the appearance of a safeguard against his failing to carry off the knighthood for Westmorland; after he had done so and entered the House as junior knight for that shire, the vacancy at East Grinstead was filled by another Sackville nominee, Thomas Farnham. The circumstances of Sackville’s election for Westmorland are not made easier of explanation by the damaged state of the return, on which the surname is represented only by the fragment ‘Sa ...’ A century ago the name was read as ‘Salkeld’. The accuracy of this reading is borne out by the appearance of that name, afterwards erased and replaced by ‘Sackvell’, on one of the two remaining copies of the Crown Office list; the other and later copy has ‘Sackveld’ alone. It is thus possible that a Thomas Salkeld, presumably of the prominent Westmorland family of that name, was elected but was afterwards superseded by Sackville. What is more likely, however, is that Sackville was elected and that instead of his unfamiliar name its near counterpart was entered on the return, to be copied on the Crown Office list and only corrected when Sackville appeared in the House. Who procured his election is a matter of speculation. Neither he nor his fellow-knight Anthony Kempe, another Sussex man, had any standing in Westmorland, but both could claim a marriage connexion with the 2nd Earl of Cumberland, hereditary sheriff of the county, and with his father-in-law the 3rd Lord Dacre of Gilsland; Cumberland must also have had dealings with both Sackville’s father, an ex-chancellor of augmentations, and his father-in-law Sir John Baker, one of whom doubtless made the approach. For Sackville, as for Kempe, a knighthood of the shire was not to recur: he was to sit as a burgess in the first two Elizabethan Parliaments and in the third he took his seat in the Lords.3

Sackville had appeared on the pardon roll in October 1553 as of London. On 8 Mar. 1557, together with Thomas Swynton, he purchased various properties in Kent and Sussex for £1,221. In co-operation with Thomas Norton he wrote The Tragedie of Gorboduc, but he handed over his other literary project A myrroure for magistrates to George Ferrers and William Baldwin after completing the ‘Induction’. His career took Sackville to the treasurership and an earldom before he died at the council table on 19 Apr. 1608. Several portraits of him in old age survive.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Aged 72 at death, G. Abbott, Funeral Sermon (1608), 16. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. lxxxix), 95; DNB; CP; J. E. Mousley, ‘Suss. country gentry in the reign of Eliz.’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1956), 692; C.J. Phillips, Sackville Fam. i. 151, 242.
  • 2. Somerville, Duchy, i. 619; G. Scott Thomson, Lds. Lt. 50; LJ, i. 703; ii. 62, 113, 145, 168, 191; SP12/93 ex inf. J. C. Sainty; C66/1682 ex inf. J. C. Sainty; APC, xiv. 3; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 702; Hants RO, Winchester 1st bk. of ordinances ex inf. Dr. Adrienne Rosen.
  • 3. C193/32/2; 219/25/28, 113, 116; Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264; CJ, i. 47.
  • 4. CPR, 1553-4, p. 442; 1555, p. 473; F. P. Wilson, Eng. Drama 1485-1585, pp. 132-7; C. H. Wilson, ‘Thomas Sackville: an Elizabethan poet as citizen’, Ten Studies in Anglo-Dutch Relations (Pbls. Sir Thomas Browne Inst. Leiden, gen. ser. v), 30-50; R. C. Strong, Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, 67-68; The Eng. Icon, 260.