WHITE, Thomas I (by 1500-42), of Coventry, Warws. and Bristol, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. by 1500. m. by 1530, Christine (d.1546), wid. of one Perkins, 1da.2
?Warden, guild of Holy Trinity, Coventry 1509, master 1524; ?sheriff, Coventry 1514-15, jury member 1516-22, 1524-6, mayor 1523-4; mayor, Bristol 1530-1, alderman by 1536; commr. examine preaching 1537.3
There were at least three Thomas Whites living at Bristol during the 1530s, a merchant, a pinner and a mariner. Neither the pinner nor the mariner was a man of substance or standing, whereas the merchant was rich (his widow’s goods being assessed at £100 in 1545), prominent in the town and a client of Cromwell; he is therefore taken as the Member. Reference in his will to his property in Coventry suggests his identification with a merchant of Coventry who shared a lease dated November 1524 of the ‘prise’ wine within the port, and with a mayor of Coventry admitted to the freedom of Bristol in 1525-6 and simultaneously amerced £20 for the privilege of not being pricked sheriff. After 1526 the name of Thomas White merchant alias fishmonger disappears from the records of Coventry.4
White, who lived in Broad Street, Bristol, was rewarded with £37 6s.8d. by the King in 1536 when he built the Mary Bryde, which he intended ‘to set to the utter parts with commodities of this realm’; a second vessel, the Mary James, he was to leave to his daughter. The proceeds of his business enabled him to buy property in Dyrham and Hinton, Gloucestershire.5
When on account of plague in the town the King stayed at Thornbury castle, Gloucestershire, in 1535, White was one of several Bristolians received there by Cromwell. Official correspondence between the two survives, with White frequently advocating the interests of the corporation, and Cromwell chose him as one of the arbitrators (the others being David Broke and Sir William Kingston and his son Anthony, all three, like White, subsequently returned to the Parliament of 1539) in a longstanding dispute between Bristol and Tewkesbury. White must have been absent from part of the second session of that Parliament, one of his letters to Cromwell being dated 22 June 1539 at Bristol, but he received his wages in full for attending the third session.6
White was already a sick man when he made his will on 10 Sept. 1542; it was proved on 12 Oct. He made several charitable bequests, for the maintenance of almshouses, for the repair of the All Hallows’ and St. John’s pipes, and for the erection in the cathedral of a screen removed from the dissolved White Friars in Bristol. He was buried, as he had asked to be, in the crypt of St. John the Baptist’s church. His daughter married one Thomas Harris, perhaps a kinsman of David Harris.7
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard
- 1. Bristol AO, 04026/2/335; E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
- 2. Date of birth estimated from trading activity. PCC 9 Spert, 20 Alen; Cal. Bristol Apprentice Bk. i (Bristol Rec. Soc. xiv), 39, 83, 193; Gt. Red. Bk. Bristol, iii (Bristol Rec. Soc. xvi), 130-3.
- 3. Coventry Leet Bk. (EETS cxxxviii), 624-92; Recs. Guild Coventry, ii (Dugdale Soc. xix), 168; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xix. 130-1; xxvi. 135; Ricart’s Cal. (Cam. Soc. n.s. v), 51; Bristol AO, 04027/1/a-1, 219.