SPICER, Thomas (1502/3-59 or later), of Orford, Suff.

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. 1502/3. ?m. Helen, 2s. 1da.1

Offices Held

Servant of Sir William Willoughby, later 1st Baron Willoughby of Parham ?1537-54 or later; bailiff, manor of Orford by 1554.2


Thomas Spicer was probably a descendant of a namesake and mayor of Orford against whom the townsmen drew up an unspecified complaint in the reign of Henry VI. Nothing has come to light about his own life until in his mid 30s he entered the service of William Willoughby; as Willoughby’s servant he collected the rents for ‘stall boats’ in Orford haven due to Lady Mary Willoughby until her death and then to his master as lord of the manor. Willoughby made Spicer his bailiff there. The Willoughby lordship of Orford was contested by the townsmen and Spicer’s dependence on the family was to involve him in the clashes between the townsmen and Willoughby. During the uprisings of 1549 he was taken prisoner by the townsmen headed by Robert Pawling, one of their constables, and put in the stocks for three days. Early in January Spicer tried to arrest Pawling in Orford church on a writ of non omittas but Pawling denied his authority to do so, claiming it infringed the liberties of the town. Others came to Pawling’s help and Spicer was only spared a second spell in the stocks by reason of their being broken. This episode, together with two other complaints against him of ploughing up a local highway and removing timber from a collapsed market stall, led to a series of suits and counter charges in the Chancery, Exchequer and Star Chamber, in which the Willoughby interest was again put to the test. Among the many deponents who in the autumn answered interrogatories relating to these suits before Sir William Drury and Clement Heigham were Spicer and his brother-in-law John Cook. Spicer’s own return to Parliament a year later has the appearance of being an affirmation of Willoughby’s authority as well as a vindication of Spicer’s own conduct. Like his fellow-Member Thomas Seckford he followed the lead of Sir Anthony Kingston in opposing a government bill.3

In January 1559 he sued out a general pardon from Elizabeth as Thomas Spicer, yeoman, late of Orford, and after his difficult term as bailiff he could well have moved away from the neighbourhood. If so, he may be identifiable with the man of this name assessed for the subsidy of 1568 on goods worth £6 in Lakenheath, Suffolk. This Thomas Spicer, by a will proved on 13 July 1579, left his lands there to his wife and son Mark, and his mares to two grandsons, the children of his son Thomas and daughter Joan Walker respectively. His executors were his son Mark and his son-in-law Edward Walker.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Aged 51 in Oct. 1554, C1/1392/35. Norwich consist. ct. 209 Woodstocke.
  • 2. C1/1392/35; E111/48.
  • 3. HMC Var. iv. 274; NCA 13/5; C1/1392/34, 35; St.Ch.4/10/52, 53, 76; E111/48; information from Dr. D. MacCulloch; Guildford mus. Loseley 1331/2.
  • 4. CPR, 1558-60, p. 246; Suff. Green Bks. xii. 171; Norwich consist. ct. 209 Woodstocke.