STOUGHTON, Thomas (1521-76), of Stoughton, Surr. and West Stoke, Suss.
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Family and Education
b. 25 Mar. 1521, 1st s. of Lawrence Stoughton of Stoughton by Anne, ?da. of Thomas Combes of Guildford, Surr. educ. I. Temple. m. (1) Anne, da. of Francis Fleming of London, s.p.; (2) 27 Feb. 1553, Elizabeth, da. of Edmund Lewknor of Tangmere, Suss., 2s. Adrian† and Lawrence† 2da. suc. fa. 1571.3
Bencher, I. Temple.
Comptroller, household of the 12th Earl of Arundel; under steward, crown lands in Suss.; j.p. Surr. 1558/59-d., Suss. 1558/59, 1573/74-d.; commr. musters, Surr. in 1560.4
The Stoughton family had held the manor of that name in the parish of Stoke-next-Guildford since at least the 12th century and was holding it direct from the crown by 1345. Members of the family had sat for the borough of Guildford since 1419.5
Like his grandfather Gilbert Stoughton, Thomas Stoughton was educated at the Inner Temple. His father is not known to have sat in Parliament and despite the family’s long association with the borough and its friendship with the locally powerful Mores of Loseley, Stoughton probably owed his seat in the Parliament of 1547, in place of the deceased Thomas Elyot, to his master the Earl of Arundel, with whom he was to record about 1569 that he had lived for 20 years. Elyot, a servant of Sir Anthony Browne, had died between September 1548 and 31 Jan. 1549, a month and a half before the closing of the second session, and Stoughton was presumably returned before Arundel’s fall from grace early in 1550 and perhaps on the occasion of the earl’s visit to Surrey in 1549 to prevent insurrection: Arundel was in Guildford on 29 June.6
Before the next Parliament the Marquess of Northampton had succeeded to Browne’s post as keeper of Guildford park and apparently to his influence in the borough. Stoughton turned to Chichester, a borough seven miles from Arundel’s manor of Stanstead (where Stoughton was himself resident in 1564 and 1569) and then more firmly under the earl’s control: Stoughton’s fellow-Member for Chichester in three Parliaments, Thomas Carpenter, was surveyor of the earl’s lands in Sussex. The borough’s willingness to accept Arundel’s nominees may have arisen out of a desire to obtain his support for a private bill to demolish the bishop’s fishgarths in the harbour, although in the event the measure was not introduced until the following Parliament when it proceeded no further than its second reading: both the Members chosen had legal knowledge and previous parliamentary experience. Stoughton may have had other claims on the borough: in the reign of Henry VIII his father had been in the household of Thomas, 9th Lord la Warr, at nearby Halnaker, and his second wife’s family was also connected with the la Warrs. His brother-in-law, Richard Lewknor†, was to be recorder of Chichester from 1588 to 1600, when he was succeeded by Stoughton’s younger son Adrian. Stoughton was on good terms with other Chichester Members: in 1565 Thomas Carpenter left him ‘20 angels besides the discharge of my book’ and in 1568 Lawrence Ardren bequeathed ‘to my friend Master Thomas Stoughton an old angelet’.7
Stoughton was not among the Members of the Parliament of October 1553 who ‘stood for the true religion’, that is, Protestantism; indeed, in 1564 he was to be described by the bishop of Chichester as ‘a misliker of godly orders’ and ‘a stout scorner of godliness’. At first sight, therefore, it is difficult to account for his disappearance from the parliamentary scene after Mary’s third Parliament and his reappearance in Elizabeth’s first; the explanation seems to be that Chichester, in obedience to the Queen’s circular letter asking for the return of Catholic residents, reverted to the practice of electing local men. Stoughton sat in Elizabeth’s first Parliament for Guildford, where Arundel had become high steward, and did not sit again for Chichester until after his acquisition in 1560 of the neighbouring manor of West Stoke.8
Remaining in Arundel’s service, Stoughton became involved in quarrels with Sussex gentlemen on the earl’s behalf and, at least to the extent of knowing what was afoot, in his plotting with the 4th Duke of Norfolk. In 1572, despite the earl’s disgrace, Stoughton was returned again for Guildford, where he had recently succeeded to his father’s estate, and after his death on 26 Mar. 1576 the seat was filled by his elder son Lawrence.9