KNYVET, Thomas I (c.1545-1622), of Westminster, Mdx. and Escrick, Yorks.
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Family and Education
b. c.1545, 2nd s. of Sir Henry Knyvet by his w. Anne; bro. of Henry Knyvet and half-bro. of Sir Henry Weston. educ. Jesus, Camb. 1565; G. Inn 1566. m. 1597, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Rowland Hayward, wid. of Richard Warren of Claybury, Essex. Kntd. by 1601; cr. Baron Knyvet of Escrick 1607.
In the privy chamber by 1572; seneschal of Penrith castle and other royal manors in Cumb. 1577; j.p.q. Mdx. 1583, Yorks. (E. Riding) 1596; commr. musters, Mdx. 1595-8, sewers, Westminster 1596; keeper of Whitehall palace and of Shere and Whitehall parks by 1597; steward and receiver of lordship of Pickering 1597-9; keeper, St. James’s park; warden of the Tower mint 1599.2
It is probable that Thomas Knyvet was already in the Queen’s household when he was returned as Member for Westmorland. A potentially lucrative patent granted to him in May 1572 describes him as ‘of the privy chamber’; later, in the first extant list of its officials, dated 1579, he occurs as one of the grooms, and he was still a groom in 1597. His mother, who married thirdly John Vaughan I, was a Westmorland heiress, and his elder brother, a Member of the 1571 Parliament, re-elected in 1572, had served in Scotland under the Earl of Sussex, the president of the north, to whom the Knyvets were related, as well as under the warden of the west march, the 9th Lord Scrope. Also significant in the Westmorland context may have been the marriage link between the Knyvets (see KNYVET, Sir Thomas) and the 3rd Earl of Derby, whose son and heir had married Margaret Clifford, the only surviving issue of the 2nd Earl of Cumberland by his first wife and effective head at this time of the Clifford family, her young half-brother, the 3rd Earl, being a minor. Whether or not Burghley had a hand in Knyvet’s first election is unknown, but it was doubtless Burghley, steward of Westminster, who secured Knyvet’s return in 1584 as fellow-Member with Robert Cecil.3
In the course of his parliamentary career, always thenceforward representing Westminster, Knyvet was named to several committees concerning the Scottish borders (25 Feb. 1581), the Norfolk election dispute (9 Nov. 1586), cordwainers and curriers (6 Mar. 1589), privileges and returns (5 Nov. 1597, 31 Oct. 1601) and armour and weapons (8 Nov. 1597). He was also named to a committee on 15 Dec. 1584 concerning a bill promoted by Westminster for the better enforcement of law within its boundaries. The Members for Westminster were appointed to the committees concerning purveyors (27 Feb. 1589) and the better setting of watches (7 Nov. 1601). During the debate on Mary Queen of Scots (23 Nov. 1586) he offered a paper to the Speaker setting out his own thoughts on the matter, claiming that Members had been given permission ‘to deliver their conceits ... either in speech or in writing’, but Hatton the vice-chamberlain corrected him: such notes in writing should have been presented in committee and could not be offered in the House. During the same Parliament he was appointed with his brother Henry, Sir Thomas Scott and Richard Topcliffe to search houses in Westminster suspected of sheltering Jesuits. On 5 Nov. 1597 he reported to the House that he had been subpoenaed to appear in Chancery. A committee was appointed to look into this breach of privilege, and ordered on 8 Nov. that the subpoena should be revoked.