STANLEY, Thomas (1511/13-71), of Dalegarth, Cumb. and 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. 1511/13, 3rd s. of Thomas Stanley of Dalegarth by Margaret, da. of John Fleming. educ. ?G. Inn, adm. 1537. m. by 1552, Joyce, da. of John Barrett of Belhus in Aveley, Essex, wid. of Sir James Wilford (d. Nov. 1550) of Hartridge, Kent, 1da.1

Offices Held

Assay master, Tower I mint Mar. 1545-Mar. 1552, comptroller Mar. 1552-Sept. 1561, under treasurer Sept. 1561-d.; warden, Goldsmiths’ Co. 1555-6, 1560-1, prime warden 1565-6; commr. sewers, Kent 1553, 1555; j.p. 1562, q. 1569.2


It has been customary to identify the senior Member for Liverpool in the Parliament of 1547 with the Sir Thomas Stanley, second son of the 3rd Earl of Derby, who was to sit as knight of the shire for Lancashire in three Marian Parliaments. Yet the earl had been married not long before February 1530 and his eldest son born in September 1531, so that in the autumn of 1547 his son Thomas could have been barely 15, an age at which even an earl’s son could scarcely have been elected. Much to be preferred is the identification of the Member of 1547—and of 1558—with Thomas Stanley of the mint.3

Although this Thomas Stanley inherited ‘the first and most ancient family possessions of Greysouthen, Embleton and Brackenthwaite in Cumberland’, and was himself to add to them, he spent his life in and around London. He may have prefaced his apprenticeship as a goldsmith by a spell at Gray’s Inn, where a Thomas Stanley was admitted in 1537: the style ‘esquire’ appended to his name both on the election indenture of 1547 and on the pardon roll of the same year could have owed something to legal attainment. It was, however, as a goldsmith that Stanley qualified himself for his career. Trained under Sir Martin Bowes, whose second wife’s sister he later married, Stanley was admitted to the livery of the Goldsmiths’ Company during March 1545 on the eve of becoming an assay master in the mint, where following its recent reorganization Bowes was already established as under treasurer. On the accession of Edward VI he sued out a pardon as a citizen and goldsmith of London alias of Dalegarth, esquire.4

Election to the first Parliament of the new reign would have followed naturally from such a progression. With the ill effects of the Great Debasement under attack and the Protector himself holding the office of treasurer, the mint seems to have been well represented in the Commons, amongst others Bowes sitting for London. Enjoying such patronage, and with his name and distant kinship to the Earl of Derby to commend him, Stanley was suitably placed at Liverpool, where indeed a colleague at the mint Francis Goldsmith may have been originally named as his fellow, only to be superseded by Francis Cave. Of Stanley’s part in the work of this Parliament the only trace is the committal to him, on 7 Mar. 1549, of a bill ‘for the continuance of divers Acts’ which, however, did not survive the prorogation a week later, but presumably he took an active interest in the Act regulating the exchange of gold and silver (5 and 6 Edw. VI, c.19) passed in the final session of 1552. By what must be taken for an error—perhaps arising from an attempt to explain what may have appeared a double occupancy of the second Liverpool seat—Stanley’s name is suffixed by the adjective ‘mortuus’ on the list of Members which was annotated in preparation for that session: he had another 20 years of life ahead of him, and no other Thomas Stanley is known to have died about this time.5

Towards the end of his Membership in the Parliament of 1547 Stanley was consulted about the new coinage then under review by the Duke of Northumberland and exchanged the office of assay master at the Tower for that of comptroller. On the downfall of the Protector the treasurership had passed to the 1st Marquess of Winchester, and Stanley’s promotion with Winchester’s approval is unlikely to have had political significance. In the absence of so many returns to the Parliament he is not known to have been re-elected early in 1553 when his expertise would have proved invaluable in the passage of the Act reviving earlier measures controlling the export of gold and silver (7 Edw. VI, c.6). Both Winchester and Stanley retained their offices under Mary, and Stanley had his salary increased from 100 marks to £100 a year. His growing prosperity had already shown itself in his acquisition of land. In January 1549 he had paid close on £150 for a chantry in the parish church of Kirkby Ireleth, a property which while it gave him a stake in Lancashire was geographically an outlier of his Cumberland patrimony, while his subsequent securing of three wardships in his native county reflects his continued interest in its affairs. It was, however, his position at the mint which dictated his principal purchases, beginning in 1548 with a house at Woolwich bought from Sir Edward Dymoke. On 1 July 1553 he obtained the wardship of his stepson, Thomas Wilford, with custody of Thomas’s inheritance in Kent. Four years later he sold some Kentish property to John Robinson, one of his Cumberland wards, but he bought more in the county in 1558 and 1565, and in May 1562 Robinson, who also became a goldsmith, had licence to alienate to him certain manors in Cumberland.6

Problems arising from the reorganization of the mint and schemes to reform the coinage were to take up most of Stanley’s time under Mary. At first he shared the control of the Tower mint with Thomas Egerton but after Egerton’s dismissal in 1555 the responsibility was his alone. The proposals submitted by him late in 1557 for the revaluation of the coinage presumably account for his Membership in 1558 when as Thomas Stanley ‘armiger’ he was returned for Bossiney. As his name was inserted on the election indenture over an erasure, the replacement of Stanley’s earlier style of ‘esquire’ need not tell against the identification, while the translation from Lancashire to Cornwall is less unlikely than it might appear. Treasurer Winchester’s pervasive influence apart, Sir John Arundell of Lanherne could have provided the necessary link. Arundell had sat for Preston in 1555, doubtless at the instance of the Earl of Derby, one of whose daughters, the widowed Lady Stourton, he was afterwards to marry, and in 1558 he was to secure a knighthood of the shire for Cornwall: as another client of Derby’s, Stanley may well have enjoyed Arundell’s backing at Bossiney, a borough which was used to returning such stranger-nominees. Nothing is known about his part in this Parliament.7

Retained in office by Elizabeth, Stanley sued out a pardon in 1559 and he was further promoted in 1561 to under treasurer; the recoinage considered for over a decade was then achieved under his supervision. This task brought him into conflict with his subordinates at the mint and his manner of executing it seems to explain the clash between him and the Goldsmiths not long after his term as prime warden of the company. The ostensible quarrel with the Goldsmiths over the delivery of bullion and its repayment within two weeks led to an information being laid against him in the Exchequer early in 1571 and the confiscation of some of his Cumberland property in October following his failure to render a complete account for the reign of Mary. The process against him was terminated by his death two months later, on 15 Dec., apparently intestate. The new reign had seen him increase his standing in Kent, where his acceptance of the Anglican settlement earned him in 1564 a certificate of fitness to retain the place on the county bench which he had achieved two years before. His social advancement was reflected in the marriage of his only child Mary to Edward Herbert, by whom she became the mother of William Herbert, 1st Baron Powis.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: Alan Davidson / A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Age given as 50 on a medal dated only 1562, M. B. Donald, Eliz. Monopolies, pl. 2. Vis. Cumb. (Harl. Soc. vii), 10; C142/161/111.
  • 2. Brit. Numismatic Jnl. xlv. 68; LP Hen. VIII , xx; CPR, 1550-3, p. 320; 1553-4, pp. 36, 86; 1554-5, p. 110; 1560-3, pp. 17, 438; 1563-6, p. 23; 1569-72, p. 225.
  • 3. CP; C219/19/50; H. Hornyold-Strickland, Lancs. MPs (Chetham Soc. n.s. xciii), 95; Pink and Beaven, Parl. Rep. Lancs. 63-64; Liverpool Town Bks. ed. Twemlow, i. 216, 383, 582; J. B. Watson, ‘Lancs. gentry 1529-58’ (London Univ. M.A. thesis, 1959), 618; J. Craig, The Mint, 113-14 where the knighthood bestowed on the official presumably arises out of confusion with the earl’s son.
  • 4. Hutchinson, Cumb. i. 587; Nicolson and Burn, Westmld. and Cumb. ii. 587; C219/19/50; CPR 1547-8, p. 358; Hatfield 207; CJ, i. 10.
  • 5. CJ, i. 10; Hatfield 207.
  • 6. C. E. Challis, The Tudor Coinage, 107; CPR, 1547-8 to 1563-6 passim.
  • 7. Challis, 111, 117; C193/32/2; 219/25/22; Wm. Salt Lib. SMS 264.
  • 8. CPR, 1558-60, p. 154; Challis, 36, 115, 122, 127-34; C142/161/111; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 58.