WHITE, Thomas IV (1532/34-58), of the Middle Temple, London and Downton, Wilts.
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Family and Education
Thomas White was a scholar of Winchester when his maternal uncle John White was warden of the college, and the subsequent choice of the Middle Temple as his inn instead of the Inner Temple, his family’s inn for three generations, was probably determined by his kinship with one of its recent luminaries Sir Thomas Englefield. He himself was to achieve nothing more there than repeated election as master of the revels. His marriage to a daughter of Stephen Kirton, a merchant taylor and alderman of London, accorded with what seems to have been the family practice of making alliances within a circle of relatives; his younger brother Richard married another daughter of Kirton, who was their father’s first cousin. White’s return for Downton to the last two Marian Parliaments was the work of successive bishops of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner and John White; his father served both of them as treasurer, and the second was his uncle, the ex-warden of the college. In 1555 his fellow-Member was either his elder brother Henry or, less probably, his uncle of the same name; neither of the Whites is found on the list of those who voted against one of the government’s bills.2
White made his will on 1 Sept. 1558. Although its long and pious preamble might suggest that he felt the approach of death, his direction that he should be buried where he should chance to die and his provision for such other children as he should happen to have imply that what moved him was the risk attaching to his return to London for the approaching parliamentary session. It was to this danger that he probably succumbed, for whereas on 3 Nov., two days before the session began, he was again elected master of the revels at his inn, this was afterwards rescinded by the addition of ‘mortuus’ to the entry. It is thus likely that he died either during the two weeks of the session, or shortly before or after it; his will was not to be proved until 20 May 1559. Describing himself as of Downton, where he was lessee of the parsonage, he left 40s. to its parish church and 20s. to South Warnborough church and asked for a dirge and masses at his burial and his month’s mind, and the same at his old school, to which he gave £5 and a present of grain. His wife, who must have brought a substantial dowry to the marriage, was to have £500 in money and jewels, as he had agreed with her mother when they married, and a life interest in the Downton property. He set aside another property for the maintenance of his son John and created an entail, in the event of failure of the direct line, through his numerous brothers and sisters. The executors were his father, mother and uncle the bishop.3