AVERY, Thomas (d.1576), of Berden and Colne, Essex.
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Family and Education
?s. of John Avery, steward of duchy of Lancaster lands, Carm. and officer of the King’s cellar. m. Mary, da. of Thomas Thacker, servant of Thomas Cromwell, d.s.p. legit.1
Servant of Thomas Cromwell† by 1529; gent. pens. 1543-68; commr. to raise troops in Netherlands and Germany 1545; steward, surveyor and receiver, duchy of Lancaster lands in Kidwelly, Carm. Nov. 1546; j.p. Essex from 1558/9.2
The first known reference to Avery occurs in the early will made by Thomas Cromwell in July 1529, which bequeathed £6 13s.4d. to ‘Thomas Avery my servant’. He was probably only a boy at the time, as Cromwell’s friend and commercial agent Stephen Vaughan†, an educated man and successful merchant, was asked to undertake his upbringing. Writing from the Continent in February 1532 Vaughan referred to Avery as in Zeeland on his way back to England.
As you were pleased to put him to me to be taught and brought up in the knowledge of things meet for his age, receive him again as the first-fruit of my rude education. If he were neglected, the sap would be spilt, and the flowers lost that might spring hereafter.
After his return to England Avery possibly spent some time in the service of Gertrude, Marchioness of Exeter, who told Cromwell in November 1533 that she had received a letter from the King ‘by my fellow Avery’. By September 1535, however, he was working regularly for Cromwell, perhaps as his private purse-keeper. Very large sums passed regularly through his hands during the next few years, and in August 1538 he was associated with Walter Williams, Cromwell’s nephew, in a large land grant at Wimbledon, Putney and Roehampton. In the same year he was made master of the hunt in Bushley Park, Worcestershire, an office which carried with it a cottage and some land.3
It was probably after Cromwell’s fall in 1540 that Avery entered the King’s service, becoming a gentleman pensioner and as such necessarily attending court regularly. In August 1548 Sir Ralph Sadler, on his way to Berwick as treasurer for the army on the Scottish border, asked the Duke of Somerset if Avery might accompany him. Details of any official connexion between the two men are lacking, but it seems possible that Avery may have remained attached to Sadler in some official capacity. Sadler was appointed chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster in 1568, and Avery’s retirement from the pensioners in the same year, although perhaps merely on grounds of age, may indicate that at this period he was working for Sadler outside London. At the parliamentary election of 1571 the corporation of Liverpool informed the sheriff that they had left one seat ‘for master chancellor to nominate at his pleasure’.4
Avery died in December 1576. His will describes him as of Berden, Essex, where in March 1554 he and his wife had bought a large estate, including the house and site of the priory, from Sir Thomas Wroth. Another Essex manor, Gaynes Colne, purchased from Henry Cheyney in 1563, was bequeathed to the widow for life, with reversion to ‘a boy called John Avery’, probably the testator’s illegitimate son. Among other legacies was one to Sadler—‘my table of gold, with the Lord Cromwell’s visage’. The overseers appointed to help the widow, the sole executrix, were Sir Thomas Lodge, a well-known merchant and ex-lord mayor of London, and one of the John Haringtons. Avery’s inquisition post mortem, taken at Stratford, Essex, on 26 Nov. 1577, gives the date of death as 18 Nov. last past. This cannot be correct, for no inquisition could have been produced in so short a time; it also conflicts with the dates of the will, which was made and proved in December 1576. The heir was his sister Joan Clarke of Kidderminster, widow, aged 60 at the taking of the inquisition.5