GERARD, Sir Thomas (d.1601), of Bryn, Lancs. and Etwall, Derbys.

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

Constituency

Dates

Family and Education

1st s. of Sir Thomas Gerard of Bryn by Jane, da. of Sir Peter Legh of Haydock, Lancs. and Lyme, Cheshire. m. Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Sir John Port of Etwall, Derbys., 2s. inc. Thomas II 3da. suc. fa. 1553. Kntd. Oct. 1553.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Lancs. 1557-8; j.p. Derbys. 1564, Lancs. by 1570, prob. rem. from both commissions 1571.

Biography

Gerard succeeded to large estates in Lancashire, centred on the main family seat at Bryn, near Wigan. He also had property in Cheshire, and in November 1558 came into possession of Etwall in Derbyshire by right of his wife, who shared her father’s lands with her two sisters, Margaret, who later married Sir Thomas Stanhope, and Dorothy, wife of Sir George Hastings. Gerard often lived at Etwall, and it was probably here that his younger son, John Gerard the Jesuit, was born in 1564. Both Sir Thomas and his wife were Catholics, and he employed men of his own faith, Edmund Lewknor and William Sutton, as tutors to his sons. He apparently remained on the commission of the peace for some years, in counties where it is unlikely that justices were compelled to take the oath of supremacy, but neither he nor his fellow-Member, Sir John Southworth, was again elected to Parliament. Apart from his membership of the succession committee on 31 Oct. 1566, and of the delegation summoned on 5 Nov. 1566 to hear the Queen’s message on the succession, the only reference to Gerard as an MP is a privilege case concerning one of his servants.1

Little is known of him before 1571, when he was implicated in a half-hearted plot to free Mary Stuart from Tutbury castle, a few miles from his seat at Etwall. By this time he was heavily in debt, which he advanced as an excuse, hoping, as he put it, to escape his English creditors by accompanying Mary to Scotland. Gerard now wrote to Mary ‘offering to her a device that she should come away di