PARRY, Thomas (1544-1616), of Hampstead Marshall, Berks.

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

b. 1544, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Parry by Anne, da. of Sir William Reade of Boarstall, Bucks., wid. of Sir Giles Greville and of Sir Adrian Fortescue of Shirburn and Stonor Place, Oxon. educ. Winchester 1558 (scholar, aged 14); abroad. m. Dorothy Brooke of Bristol, maid of honour to the Queen, s.p. suc. fa. 1560. Kntd. 1601.

Offices Held

J.p. Berks. from c.1573, commr. musters 1573, sheriff 1575-6, 1587-8, dep. lt. 1593, collector of loans 1590, 1598; ambassador to France 1601-5; PC and chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster Dec. 1607; commr. to regulate King’s income 1612.3


In June 1560 Thomas Gresham reported from Antwerp to Parry’s father that Parry was ‘well given to virtue and his studies’, was ‘well beloved of all men’, and needed an increase in his allowance. In February 1561, ‘young Mr. Parry and one of his half-brothers’ were in Italy, still ignorant that their father had died in the previous December. Though his return to Parliament for Bridport, presumably on the nomination of the 2nd Earl of Bedford, suggests that he maintained his court connexions, Parry, for most of the reign, performed the ordinary duties of a landed gentleman. He purchased new estates in Berkshire, which brought him into debt, but also gained him a turn as knight of the shire, in the Parliament of 1586. He made no known contribution to the business of the House in either of his Parliaments. Presumably on account of his early experience abroad, he was kept in mind by the government as a possible ambassador. In the spring of 1601 he was nominated to succeed Henry Neville as ambassador to France, and given a knighthood. He did his best to avoid going—in May 1602 he had still not appeared in London to receive his instructions, which þraised a conceit of his ineptness for his charge’. Eventually his creditors were dealt with by his half-brother, (Sir) John Fortescue I, and he went ‘over with great power’ and ‘a flush of secretaries’. Soon after his return he was appointed, in 1607, to succeed Sir John Fortescue as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, and he was later given charge of Arbella Stuart. His vigorous interference in the 1614 election for Stockbridge, where the duchy had customarily nominated one Member, caused a notable scandal and his temporary suspension from office. He died, childless and intestate, on 30 May 1616 and was buried, like his father, in Westminster abbey. His heirs were Thomas Knyvet and John Abrahall.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Alan Harding


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. DNB; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvii), 191; APC, vii. 98; xx. 187; xxiv. 254; xxviii. 559.
  • 4. CSP For. 1560-1, pp. 114, 530; APC, xi. 165; xiv. 215; xv. 82; xxiii. 256; VCH Berks. iv. 45, 107, 170, 208, 544; CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 667; 1601-3, pp. 222, 267; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 49, 122, 145, 156, 339; HMC Hatfield, xi. 427; Neale, Commons, 232; C142/356/129; PCC admon. act bk. 1616, f. 73.