CAWARDEN, Sir Thomas (d.1559), of Blackfriars, London and Bletchingley, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. by 1514, s. of William Cawarden of London by his w. Elizabeth. m. by 1542, Elizabeth, d.s.p. Kntd. at Boulogne 30 Sept. 1544.
Gent. of privy chamber by 1540; keeper of Bletchingley manor 1540, of Donnington, Benham Valence and other Berks. manors by 1541; steward and bailiff of Nonsuch, Surr. 1544; master of the revels and tents 1544; j.p. Surr. by May 1547, q. by 1559; sheriff, Surr. and Suss. 1547-8; keeper of Hampton Court 1550; jt. (with Sir Edward Warner) lt. of the Tower Nov.-Dec. 1558.3
Bletchingley was one of the royal manors granted by Henry VIII to Anne of Cleves, and Cawarden took over the property first as her tenant, then, after her death, as lord of the manor, acquiring thereby the parliamentary patronage. When he was not in residence at the revels office, he lived in Bletchingley castle, where he maintained a household of over 100 servants. He was an energetic master of the revels, and his privy chamber appointment involved him in constant attendance on Henry VIII, who left him a bequest of money and land ‘in token of special love and favour’. In Edward VI’s reign he was active in ‘abolishing and defacing of the idolatry’ in Bletchingley parish church. Though he kept his central offices under Mary, he spent part of the reign under arrest for implication in the Wyatt and Dudley plots. He was kept from time to time at Bletchingley; in ‘the lord chancellor’s house at the Clink’; and in the Fleet. Elizabeth wrote him a letter some time before the death of Edward VI, thanking him for his readiness to do her service, and when she succeeded he became joint lieutenant of the Tower, from which office, however, he soon retired.4
The only reference to Cawarden in the journals of the 1559 Parliament, is to his being put in charge of a bill concerning Thames watermen on 20 Apr. His death was reported, on 29 Aug. 1559, to have taken place ‘last night about one o’clock’ at Horsley, where he was probably visiting John Agmondesham I. The parish register records his burial at Bletchingley on 29 Aug. His will, proved the following 19 Dec., appointed William More I of Loseley co-executor with Lady Cawarden, who died in the following year. Bletchingley was then sold to the Howards of Effingham. Among the bequests in the will were a number of suits of armour to More and others and a cup valued at £10 to ‘the honourable Lord Clinton [later 1st Earl of Lincoln], my very friend and especial good lord’. There were no surviving children, though letters of 1546-7 suggest that there may have been a son or daughter who died at that time. The heir was Cawarden’s nephew William, who was about 27 when he succeeded.