WILLIAMS, Thomas II (1513/14-66), of Stowford in Harford, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. 1513/14, 1st s. of Adam Williams of Stowford by Alice, da. and h. of Thomas Prideaux of Ashburton. educ. I. Temple, adm. 14 Nov. 1539, called. m. Emmeline, da. and coh. of William Cruwys of Chudleigh, at least 2s. 3da.2
Attendant on reader, I. Temple 1556, 1557, 1560, Lent reader 1558, 1561.
Attorney, Plymouth 1546-d.; feodary, Devon and Exeter in 1559; j.p.q. Devon 1558/9-d. 3
Speaker of House of Commons 1563.
Thomas Williams followed in his father’s footsteps and became a lawyer whose council was retained by the principal towns in south Devon. His father, who obtained a grant of arms in 1538, had enjoyed the favour of the Edgecombe family and Williams, ‘a man of rare gifts and excellently learned in the laws’, was probably indebted for his return to the last two Parliaments of Mary’s reign to (Sir) Richard Edgecombe. Edgecombe owned property in the neighbourhood of Bodmin, Saltash lay between his two houses at Mount Edgcumbe and Cotehele, and in 1555 the sheriff Sir John Arundell was his brother-in-law. Unlike Edgecombe’s son Peter, a Member for Totnes, the Protestant Williams followed Sir Anthony Kingston in opposition to a government bill in the Parliament of 1555. Possibly he enjoyed the support of Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, on both occasions since his brother-in-law John Belfield had long been in the service of the Russell family.4
Williams was able to enlarge his Devonshire patrimony, his chief purchase being the manors of Ugborough, and together with his kinsman Roger Prideaux he speculated on the land market. The death of Mary enabled him to take a more active part in local government, and under the new regime his career blossomed. His appointment as Speaker was universally welcomed, but he died during his tenure of the office on 1 July 1566, leaving two sons ‘both of them thriftless’.5