THROCKMORTON, Kenelm (by 1514-83/87), of London and Little Easton, Essex.

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. by 1514, 2nd s. of Sir George Throckmorton, and bro. of Anthony, Clement, George, John I, Nicholas and Robert. educ. M. Temple. m. 6s. 5da.2

Offices Held

Servant of Thomas Cromwell by 1538, Sir William Parr, Earl of Essex and later Marquess of Northampton by 1547-80; keeper, Little Easton park, Essex by 1552; j.p. Essex 1558/59-82, q. 1583.3


Kenelm Throckmorton is one of the more obscure members of a prominent and prolific family. The date of his admission to the Middle Temple is unknown but he may already have been there by November 1531 when his father replied to Cromwell about a matter on which Kenelm had conveyed Cromwell’s displeasure to Sir George. He was in London in July 1534 when his father used him as an intermediary with Cromwell over a local dispute. Early in the following year Sir George sought the minister’s help towards a marriage for him. The lady in question was the daughter of Thomas Hunckes of Gloucestershire and the recently widowed partner of Thomas Littleton, whom Sir George called a countryman of his and who was perhaps a kinsman of John Lyttleton of Worcestershire: no match resulted, however, and Throckmorton was to marry elsewhere, although the name of his wife, who was to add substantially to the number of Sir George’s grandchildren, remains unknown.4

By about 1538 Throckmorton had gained a place in Cromwell’s household: in a list assigned to that year he is numbered among the gentlemen ‘most meet to be daily waiters’ upon the minister and ‘allowed in his house’. He was not to enjoy the position for long and after Cromwell’s fall he transferred to the suite of his cousin William Parr, afterwards Earl of Essex and Marquess of Northampton. It was while he and his brother Nicholas were serving with some distinction on the Scottish border that his new master’s sister Catherine became Henry VIII’s sixth Queen. He was thus well placed to benefit from the distribution of monastic lands and in August 1544 he partnered Sir William Barentyne, his father’s old parliamentary colleague, and Henry Aveton in the purchase for £671 of Newcastle nunnery and lands in several counties: the nunnery they promptly sold to the Newcastle merchant Robert Brandling and one of the Warwickshire properties soon afterwards passed to Clement Throckmorton. At court Throckmorton moved in Protestant circles and in 1546 he and his brother Nicholas visited Anne Askew in prison.5

Throckmorton’s parliamentary career began with his return for Warwick to Henry VIII’s last Parliament. His father had long wielded influence in the borough and between 1542 and 1554 Throckmorton’s brothers Clement, George and John I all sat for it in turn. In 1545 he had three of his brothers in the House, Clement sitting for Devizes, John I for Leicester and Nicholas for Maldon; two years later the quartet reappeared, although with a re-arrangement of seats, and were joined by their cousin Thomas Throckmorton I. In this Parliament it was Clement who sat for Warwick and Kenelm who migrated to the Wiltshire borough of Westbury. His election there marks an exception to the rule by which Westbury was represented throughout the period either by townsmen or by gentlemen living within easy reach of the town; it is therefore to be explained only by the intrusion of a powerful influence from outside, and that influence can scarcely have originated elsewhere than in the circle of Catherine Parr and her new husband Admiral Seymour. Its exercise in favour of Throckmorton is to be accounted for by his dependence upon the Queen’s brother.

Throckmorton’s Membership of these two Parliaments, which earned him no mention in the Journal or elsewhere (although he presumably assisted the bill of 1552 confirming his master’s second marriage), may have been followed by his re-election to the next, that of March 1553. Northampton stood close to the Duke of Northumberland, under whose aegis this Parliament was held, and four of the Throckmorton brothers sat in it, Clement and John I for Warwick, Nicholas for Northamptonshire and Robert for Warwickshire. As the Members for Westbury are unknown Kenelm may again have been one of them, or he could have been returned for another of the many boroughs for which the names of the Members are lacking. It is not known whether he was involved in the succession crisis of the following summer, which cost Northampton his honours and almost his life, nor is his name mentioned in connexion with the conspiracies of the reign of Mary in which his brother Nicholas and his kinsman John Throckmorton II were involved. If he did share Northampton’s eclipse, Throckmorton was evidently sure enough of himself to sit in the Parliament of 1555, this time for Warwick again. As before, he had brothers among his fellow-Members, John I sitting for Coventry and Robert as knight for Warwickshire, as well as his relative Thomas Throckmorton. Of these four it is only the last who is listed as having opposed a government bill towards the close of this Parliament and Kenelm may thus be thought to have aligned himself with his brothers in an innocuous attitude.6

This was to prove Throckmorton’s last appearance in the Commons although he had some 30 years of life still before him. It was at the close of Mary’s reign that he began to build up the estate in Essex which qualified him for appointment to the bench of that county: in doing so he was following his master, who had lands and offices there and who for two years had been Earl of Essex. Throckmorton had already parted with the lands in Warwickshire which he had either inherited or acquired and had thus cut his links with his native county. Judged by the Bishop of London in 1564 to be a ‘favourer’ of religion, he was spared the troubles which their recusancy was to bring to others of his family and continued to be re-appointed to the Essex bench until his death, becoming a member of the quorum in 1583. He died between that year and 1587 when his name was removed from the liber pacis for Essex.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: S. M. Thorpe


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from younger brother Nicholas’s. Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 88-89; Vis. Oxon (Harl. Soc. v), 120.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, xii; CPR, 1547-8, p. 212; 1569-72, p. 224; Stowe 571, f. 50; M. L. Robertson, ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 573.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, v. vii, viii; Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 81-82.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xviii, xx; A. L. Rowse, Ralegh and the Throckmortons, 12; Warwick castle ms 2539; CPR, 1547-8, p. 212; 1553, p. 28; 1553-4, p. 374; VCH Warws. iii. 144, 172, v. 175; Narr. Ref. (Cam. Soc. lxxxvii), 42.
  • 6. D. M. Loades, Two Tudor Conspiracies, 95-97, 188-230.
  • 7. Morant, Essex, ii. 431, 457; CPR, 1558-60, p. 244; 1560-3, pp. 173, 476; 1563-6, p. 139; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 380; Coughton Ct. mss box 46; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 62; C142/205/197; E163/14/8.