MILDMAY, Thomas II (c.1540-1608), of Moulsham, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. c.1540, 1st s. of Thomas Mildmay I by Avis, da. of William Gonson of London. educ. Christ’s, Camb. May 1555; L. Inn 1559. m. (1) Frances, da. of Henry Radcliffe, 2nd Earl of Sussex, 3s. inc. Thomas III 1da.; (2) 2 Dec. 1605, Margaret Whettle (or Whitwell), s.p. suc. fa. 25 Sept. 1566. Kntd. 23 June 1567.1
J.p. Essex by 1571, q. by 1574, sheriff 1572-3, custos rot. c.1576, commr. piracy 1577, dep. lt. from 1584, commr. grain 1586; high steward, Maldon by 1603.2
Mildmay owed his return at Lostwithiel to his father, auditor of the duchy of Cornwall, who had himself sat for the borough in the previous Parliament. In 1571, having succeeded to the family estates, he obtained an Essex county seat, but he never again sat in Parliament despite an active local career extending over the remainder of the reign, including membership of piracy and grain commissions, the apprehension of coiners, conjurers and other felons and in 1576 an inquiry into complaints by the inhabitants of Colchester against their bailiff. As a deputy lieutenant he supervised the equipment and training of the levies, quarrelled (June 1584) with Lord Darcy over the command of the half hundred of Witham, and (after 1588, when Lord Burghley became lord lieutenant) with the central authorities over such matters as the muster-master’s wages. In February 1596 the Privy Council were surprised that Essex could not provide the number of cattle required for the royal service, and complained of excessive grain prices in the county. During the vacancy in the lieutenancy, 1598-9, the Council refused to agree to a reduction in the numbers of horsemen from Essex, and censured the commissioners for musters for allowing the justices of the peace to make an insufficient assessment. Soon afterwards the question of local taxation arose again over a petition from the townsmen of Upminster against new rates, and Mildmay and his fellow commissioners were reminded that the Privy Council expected them to prevent the wealthier sort from unburdening themselves at the expense of the poor.3
A few letters survive about more personal matters. In February 1591 Mildmay was trying to enlist the support of Michael Hickes for his suit for ‘registering strangers’. He was prepared to pay £40 annually for the grant, and asked Hickes to remind Burghley that his 22 years’ service for the Crown deserved some consideration. He had not been successful by January 1595, when he pressed Hickes to expedite matters. Nothing more is known of this project, but his name occurs on a 1597 list of suits for the sole refining of sugar in England. His petition described him as having served ‘painfully and chargeably’ for 13 years under Leicester and Burghley as deputy lieutenant of Essex.4
Towards the end of his life Mildmay divided his time between Moulsham and his town house in Aldgate. His will, drawn up in 1606, and proved 30 Nov. 1608, mentions extensive property in Essex, and contains charitable legacies to the poor of various parishes in the county, as well as to those of St. Botolph’s, Bishopsgate. The document sheds some light on his domestic circumstances. At the age of 65 he married Margaret Whettle, settling the manors of Chelmsford and Moulsham on her for life. The will quotes this conveyance, and details the property which was to descend to Mildmay’s eldest son Thomas. The widow, the sole executrix and residuary legatee, was to see that her husband was buried in the Mildmay chapel at Chelmsford ‘in honest and decent sort without any unnecessary pomp or ceremony’, at an expense of not more than £200. Mildmay asked six relatives and friends, including Sir Anthony Mildmay and Sir John Petre to act as overseers. He died 21 July 1608, and was buried, as he had asked, at Chelmsford.5