BRUARTON (BRUTON), Thomas, of Exeter, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

?1st s. of Thomas Bruton of Mortehoe. m. 3s. 2da.

Offices Held

Bailiff, Exeter 1565, receiver of revenues 1569, sheriff 1570-1, mayor 1571-2, 1580-1; gov. merchant adventurers’ guild 1578.


Bruarton was an Exeter moneylender assessed at £20 for goods in the 1576 subsidy. His business involved him in a number of unsavoury lawsuits and allegations of‘dreadful perjury’. In 1581 he and his brother-in-law Thomas Walker lent £2,000 to a syndicate including Arthur Bassett, Francis Drake and John Hele I. Bruarton proposed, as mayor, that a stipend be paid to a preacher to teach the city children their catechism, and he was probably the mayor whose zeal against Catholics brought a commendation from the 2nd Earl of Bedford and the thanks of the Privy Council at the end of his term of office. When the city later appointed the radical Edmund Snape as preacher, it was Bruarton’s relation Thomas Walker and his associate John Peryam who put up the money. It is probable that Bruarton was the Thomas‘ Brereton’ who served on the committee for the better and more reverent observing of the Sabbath day (27 Nov. 1584).

As MP, Bruarton corresponded with the city about such matters as salmon from the haven, a grant of the impost of wines, the mustering of horses in Exeter and a lease of the fee farm of the manor of Ottery. In 1586 he signed the subsidy roll in Exeter, but he may have moved to a country estate soon afterwards, for in 1590 the corporation resolved that because he had ‘of long time neglected’ his office as alderman, ‘and the said Mr. Bruton hath by his letter signified unto the House that he will not any further execute the said office’, he was to return in a few days or be replaced. He is described in one source as of Alvington, and he seems to have founded a minor family of landowners. He was probably still alive in 1600, for when in that year John Hooker wrote in his commonplace book (now in the Exeter muniments) short biographies of mayors of Exeter he excluded those still living and he did not mention Bruarton.

Roberts thesis; C. Worthy, Devon Wills, 369; D’Ewes, 333.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: P. W. Hasler