VENABLES, Sir Thomas (by 1513-80), of Kinderton, Cheshire.
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Family and Education
b. by 1513, 1st s. of Sir William Venables of Kinderton by Eleanor, da. and coh. of Richard Cotton of Ridware, Staffs. m. Maud, da. of Sir Robert Needham of Shavington, Salop, 3s. 3da. suc. fa. 31 July 1540. Kntd. 11 May 1544.1
Chamberlain, Middlewich, Cheshire 1540-72; j.p. Cheshire 1543-7, q. 1561-d.; sheriff 1544-5, 1556-7; commr. benevolence, Chester 1544/45, musters, Cheshire 1545, 1548, relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; gent. of the chamber to Prince Edward by 1547.2
Thomas Venables came of a family settled in Cheshire since the Norman Conquest. On his father’s death in July 1540 he inherited lands valued by the inquisition at £166 a year. He also quickly took his place in local administration: he was nominated (but not pricked) as sheriff in 1542, brought on to the bench in the following year and made sheriff in 1544. He had first served in the field when he led a contingent under the 3rd Earl of Derby in Lancashire during the Pilgrimage of Grace. In 1544 he took part in the Earl of Hertford’s invasion of Scotland and was knighted at Leith, but when in the following April the 5th Earl of Shrewsbury appointed him to lead 3,000 men against the Scots he excused himself on the grounds that the King had appointed him sheriff of Cheshire ‘during pleasure’ and that he was also commissioned in the marches of Wales to organize coastal defence.3
Venables made his entry at court before the death of Henry VIII, whose funeral he attended as a gentleman of the chamber to Prince Edward; he retained his status in the Household until at least 1558, when he was listed as an ‘old pensioner’. His standing at court and in the county explains his election to the Parliament of March 1553: he sat with Sir Thomas Holcroft, with whom he had been knighted in 1544 and whose association with the Duke of Northumberland’s supporter Sir Richard Cotton he also shared. With his Catholic leanings (which may help to explain why he had not been pricked sheriff when nominated in the three previous years) Venables could hardly have found this a congenial experience, but he was not above acquiring, as soon as the Parliament was over, 11 salthouses in Middlewich and Nantwich, Cheshire, all former monastic properties, for which he paid £236. His absence from the Commons under Mary did not reflect any estrangement from her government, which he served in his county and which granted him a renewal for 21 years of his father’s lease of the town of Middlewich and the office of chamberlain there. By its terms no free burgess of the town could be made without the consent of the lessee and of the lord treasurer. On its expiry, the lease was granted by Elizabeth to another.4
Venables sat in Elizabeth’s second Parliament and despite an unfavourable report on his religious outlook in 1564 he was retained as a justice until his death on 19 July 1580.5