WHARTON, Thomas II (1520-72), of Wharton and Nateby, Westmld., Beaulieu alias New Hall, Essex and Westminster, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1520, 1st s. of Thomas Wharton I, 1st Baron Wharton, of Wharton and Nateby, Westmld. and Healaugh, Yorks. by 1st w. m. May 1547, Anne, da. of Robert Radcliffe, 1st Earl of Sussex, by Margaret, da. of Thomas Stanley, 2nd Earl of Derby, 2s. 3da. Kntd. 23 Sept. 1545; suc. fa. as 2nd Baron Wharton 23 Aug. 1568.4

Offices Held

Jt. (with fa.) steward, manor of Preston, Yorks. Jan. 1546; j.p. Cumb. 1547, q. 1554-58/59, Westmld. 1547, q. 1554-58/59, 1564, Yorks. (W. Riding) 1547; sheriff, Cumb. 1547-8; commr. chantries, Cumb., Westmld. and Carlisle 1548, relief from aliens, Cumb. 1550; ?steward, Princess Mary’s household by 1552; PC by Aug. 1553-8; member, council in the north Sept. 1553-Apr. 1561; master of henchmen 26 Oct. 1553-Dec. 1558; chief steward, crown lands Yorks. (E. Riding) Oct. 1553-?d.; steward, manor of Beverley, Yorks. Oct. 1553; bailiff, clerk of the court and chief steward, manor and honor of Beaulieu, Essex June 1558.5


Thomas Wharton the younger is first mentioned, when aged about 16, during the Pilgrimage of Grace. The rebels came to the family house in Kirkby Stephen, Westmorland, seeking his father, but on finding that he had fled they took Wharton prisoner; what befell the young man at their hands is not known. By November 1542 he had entered the service of Sir Anthony Browne, a leading courtier who saw much service in the north in the period after the Pilgrimage. In the same month he was engaged in border raids in which he continued to figure prominently. He was also employed by his father who was deputy warden of the west marches; in 1543 he conveyed letters on Scottish matters to the Duke of Suffolk at Newcastle. Later in the same year his father petitioned Suffolk for the stewardship of Furness and Sheriff Hutton for his son, whom he described as ‘Mr. Brown’s servant’, but Wharton is not known to have been granted them. The suggestion that in May 1544 he was attending Browne in France is not supported by evidence. Between February and April of that year he had been engaged in border raids but a reference in a despatch of 8 Nov. to Wharton’s repairing to court may imply that he was briefly absent from the north about that time. It may have been in part for military services that he was knighted in 1545 by the Earl of Hertford at Norham castle after Hertford had been in Scotland for two weeks.6

Wharton’s parliamentary career had probably begun in 1542. The return for Cumberland to the Parliament of that year survives in a damaged condition: all that is legible is the name ‘Thomas Wharton’ followed by the incomplete christian name ‘Thomas’. Although he was then barely of age, it is likely that the second name is that of the younger Wharton and that his father was the senior knight. In view of his activity on the border the younger Wharton could hardly have given full attendance, especially during the third session. No uncertainty attaches to his Membership of the next Parliament, that of 1545: he was elected on 27 Jan. senior knight of the shire, being styled on the indenture ‘Thomas Wharton esquire son and heir of Thomas Lord Wharton lord warden of the west marches of England towards Scotland’. He was to profit in a small way from the two fallen interests of the north, the Percys and the monasteries, for in January 1546, in addition to the stewardship of Preston manor in Yorkshire which had previously belonged to the 5th Earl of Northumberland, he received, again jointly with his father, the lands of St. Bees in Cumberland, a dependent cell of St. Mary’s, York.7

The first year of Edward VI’s reign was a busy one for Wharton. In March 1547 his father asked the Protector Somerset for permission to be present at his wedding, ‘concluded by your pleasure’, at Lady Derby’s house a month after Easter: the reward of £100 good service in the north which was granted by warrant in the same month has the air of a wedding present. Later in the year he was put on the commission of the peace in three counties, was pricked sheriff of Cumberland and was re-elected senior knight of the shire in the first Parliament of the new reign. Twice during the year he was sent by his father to bring border business before Somerset and the Council, on the second occasion when he was ‘about to attend Parliament’. He had earlier led a foray into Annandale and Nithsdale and in 1548 he burnt and devastated the lands of the Irwins. On the day before this exploit he was ordered by his father to hang some Scots outside Carlisle, one of them a Maxwell of the prominent west march family; the resulting feud between Whartons and Maxwells later led the 4th Duke of Norfolk to consider his father as unsuitable for the wardenship of the west marches.8

Nothing seems to be known about the next four years of Wharton’s career or how he came to unite his fortunes with those of Princess Mary: it may have been in part through the connexion with his brother-in-law the 2nd Earl of Sussex who was one of the first to declare for Mary as Queen. Wharton had entered her service by September 1552, when Bishop Ridley visited Mary at Hunsdon and was ‘gently entertained’ by him and other of her officers: later he became the object of Ridley’s attack upon the religious practices of the princess’s household. Wharton’s attachment to Mary cannot have commended him to the Duke of Northumberland. It is noteworthy that, unless he found a seat for the first time outside Cumberland, Wharton was not elected to the second Edwardian Parliament, which was called at Northumberland’s behest, although he sat in every other Parliament from 1545 to 1558 and was knight of the shire for Cumberland in 1545, 1547 and October 1553.9

Throughout the crisis of 1553 Wharton’s loyalty to Mary never wavered. On 12 July it was reported to the Council, then at the Tower with Jane Grey, that Wharton and several other prominent men were with Mary at Kenninghall; later he followed her to Framlingham castle. His fidelity found quick recognition when she became Queen; he became a Privy Councillor on or before 21 Aug. 1553 and in October master of the Queen’s henchmen with an annual fee of £100. He was the only member appointed to the council in the north in September 1553 whose selection may have been prompted by Mary’s desire to reward loyalty when such loyalty had been dangerous. He also acquired from the crown grants of office and property in Yorkshire.10

Wharton was a regular attendant at meetings of Mary’s Privy Council. When Gardiner wrote to Secretary Petre, three days after the outbreak of Wyatt’s rebellion, about the arrest of John Harington II, he added a postscript that ‘Master [written over ‘Sir’] Wharton shall tell you the rest’. Certain border affairs were entrusted to him. In June 1554 he was to examine with others matters concerning the marshal of Berwick, and in November 1555 the dispute between Sir Robert Brandling and Sir John Widdrington was committed to him and other prominent men. It is probable that Wharton favoured the Queen’s marriage to Philip of Spain. In July 1554 he accompanied the 12th Earl of Arundel to Southampton when Philip was invested with the Garter on his arrival there, and in 1555 Philip became godfather to Wharton’s son and heir. Wharton was a pensioner of Spain and it was probably the Spanish ambassador Feria who, after Mary’s death, described him as ‘a good man, harmless; he is retiring’. In June 1555 Wharton was present at the trial of Bishop Hooper.11

Wharton was sent north in July 1557 when the border was threatened by Scottish incursions; 600 horsemen and 400 archers were levied under him for strengthening the east and middle marches, and he was again responsible to his father as warden of the marches. On 12 Aug. 1557 Wharton was noted as being at Berwick with Thomas Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland. Favours continued to be bestowed upon him. He was licensed to retain 30 persons besides those in his household and pardoned for his offences against the Act of Retainers. In July 1558 in addition to the grant of the stewardship of Beaulieu he had the keepership of the capital mansion and the parks there and was also appointed bailiff. He was further engaged in augmenting his estates: in 1558 he bought from Thomas Gravesend and Richard Day of London ex-monastic property at Thorpe Underwood in Yorkshire. Wharton’s nearness to the Queen is indicated by his status as a witness to her will in March 1558. He was present at her funeral, as was his wife, who was probably one of the ladies of the privy chamber.12

Wharton was elected to every one of Mary’s Parliaments. His return for Hedon in April 1554, instead of Cumberland, reflected the shift of his interest and influence to the court and to Yorkshire, and especially his stewardship of crown lands in the East Riding. This was the only break in Wharton’s successive knighthoods of the shire. His next election, for Yorkshire, answered to his own and his family’s property there, his local offices and his membership of the council in the north. (As steward of the crown’s manor at Beverley he was presumably interested in the bill uniting the three manors there which failed after a single reading in the Commons on 6 Dec. 1554.) In Northumberland, however, for which he sat in 1555, he had no standing of his own and his election must be attributed to the influence of his father, who was by then a key figure in the county, being warden of the middle marches, captain of Berwick, constable of Alnwick castle and chief steward of Hexham: it may have been a younger brother Charles who sat in this Parliament for Berwick. At his last election Wharton seems to have had the unusual distinction of being returned for two shires, Northumberland and Yorkshire. Which of them he sat for is not known: there is no trace of a by-election, although there was ample time for one to be held before the second session. For someone of his parliamentary experience Wharton appears to have made little mark in the Commons: the only indication of his part there is his employment to carry bills to the Lords, which he did on 23 Nov. 1553 and 7 Mar. 1558.13

Under Elizabeth, Wharton quickly fell into disfavour and was removed from office. He openly defied the new religious settlement and in June 1561 he and his wife were among the Catholics indicted at Brentwood, Essex, for hearing mass and other offences. Committed to the Tower, he petitioned the Queen for release and pardon, saying that he had been ill, his wife had died and there was domestic disharmony; by July he had submitted. In July 1564, however, the bishop of Carlisle reported that Wharton was still ‘evil of religion’. During the rising of 1569 he had a fall from a horse from which he nearly died, but before this accident he had done nothing towards checking the rebellion and he was said to have an ‘affection for the cause’.14

Having succeeded his father in 1568, Wharton took his seat in the Lords at the opening of the Parliament of 1571 and thereafter was regular in his attendance until his death during the first session of the following Parliament. He made his last appearance on 11 June 1572 and died three days later at his house in Cannon Row, Westminster. He was buried in Westminster abbey. He left considerable property in Cumberland, Yorkshire and Westmorland, and perhaps some in Durham, where his father had lands at Castletown and Trimdon. Administration of his estates was granted on 28 Feb. 1579 and again on 3 Feb. 1637.15

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. J. Taylor


  • 1. C219/18B/15.
  • 2. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 3. Sat for either Northumberland or Yorkshire.
  • 4. Date of birth given in CP. E. R. Wharton, Whartons, 26; Vis. of the North (Surtees Soc. cxxxiii), 184; Machyn’s Diary (Cam. Soc. xlii), 384; Essex Rev. i. 219; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, p. 321; DNB.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xxi; Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 354-5; APC, iv. 323; vii. 34; D. M. Gladish, Tudor Privy Council, 142; R. R. Reid, King’s Council in the North, 493; CPR, 1547-8, p. 82; 1548-9, p. 136; 1553, p. 364; 1553-4, pp. 18, 25, 277, 393; 1554-5, p. 110; 1557-8, p. 293; 1560-3, pp. 187-8; Lansd. 104(14), ff. 33-34; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, p. 567.
  • 6. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xvii-xix.
  • 7. Ibid. xxi.
  • 8. APC, ii. 175; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, pp. 321, 330, 338, 372, 374.
  • 9. Foxe, vi. 354-5; H. F. M. Prescott, Mary Tudor, 161.
  • 10. Chron. Q. Jane and Q. Mary (Cam. Soc. xlviii), 4; APC, iv. 53; Lansd. 156(28), f. 102v; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 277, 296, 393; Reid, 181.
  • 11. APC, iv. 53, 311 et passim; v. 45, 193; Letters of Stephen Gardiner ed. Muller, 460; CSP Span. 1554-8, pp. 1, 374, 454-5; Wharton, 26-27; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, iii(1), 286.
  • 12. APC, vi. 114-15, 120, 125, 131-2; CSP Dom. 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, pp. 413, 455, 457; Strype, iii(2), 83, 162; HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 58-76 passim; CPR, 1555-7, p. 281; 1557-8, pp. 293, 403-4; Privy Purse Expenses of Princess Mary 1536-44 ed. Madden, app. iv, p. cci; LC2/4/2; Lansd. 14(1), f.2.
  • 13. J. Scott, Berwick, 473; Arch. Ael. (ser. 4), xiv. 64; CJ, i. 31, 39, 51.
  • 14. APC, vii. 34; Essex Recusant, iii. 1-21; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 152, 171, 173-4, 176, 179-80; 1598-1601, p. 505; 1601-3, Add. 1547-65, p. 510; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, pp. 112, 120, 137-9, 164, 225, 413; CSP Span. 1558-67, p. 208; Cath. Rec. Soc. i. 45, 50, 51; Machyn’s Diary, 259, 384; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 51; Surtees Soc. cxxxiv. 97. He did not, as stated in Browne Willis, Notitia Parliamentaria, iii. 65, sit for Northumb. in 1559.
  • 15. LJ, i. 668-721 passim; J. Nichols, Progresses Eliz. i. 307; HMC 4th Rep. 179; C142/163/30; CPR, 1566-9, pp. 376, 417; 1569-72, p. 318; PCC Admins. ed. Glencross, ii. 112.