SONDES, Michael (d.1617), of Throwley, Eastry and Sheldwich, Kent.
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Family and Education
2nd s. of Anthony Sondes (d.1575) of Throwley by Joan, da. of Sir John Fyneux of Herne. educ. L. Inn 1564. m. (1) Mary (d. 23 Sept. 1603), da. and h. of George Finch of Norton, at least 2s. inc. Richard 6da.; (2) Ann, wid. of Reginald Parker of Chatham, s.p.1 suc. bro. 1593. Kntd. 1598.2
J.p.q. Kent by 1579, sheriff 1584-5, 1593-4; j.p.q. Surr. by 1601; commr. surv. Isle of Sheppey 1585; master of ordnance for Kent by 1589.3
Sondes’s family provides a good example of the rise to wealth and importance of a new class in the sixteenth century. They came originally from Surrey—perhaps from the village of Send—and were living in Dorking in the reign of Henry III, moving later to Lingfield. It was William Sondes’s marriage in the 1470s which brought Throwley into the family and transferred their main interest to Kent. Thenceforward the acquisition of landed wealth was steady throughout the Tudor period and beyond. Exactly how the family was able to increase its estates so remarkably is not clear: no fortunate marriage explains it, and no important social connexion or tenure of lucrative office has been traced. Whatever the explanation, Michael Sondes’s inquisition post mortem and other sources reveal the extent of the family’s wealth: he held land in six counties, including at least 14 manors. As well as his estates in many parts of Kent, with a concentration in the rich lowlands between Ashford and Faversham, he owned land in at least six Surrey and nine Sussex parishes, a house at Clerkenwell, and more lands in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. He himself probably bought more property than any of his ancestors, particularly in his later years, including the manor of Acton in the parish of Charing and three manors at Ashford; in 1596 he was granted a licence to make a park at Throwley. Sondes was naturally prominent in local affairs, and he played a major part in organizing local defence in the part of England probably most liable to attack. He helped to raise horses and men in the county for foreign service in 1596, and for Ireland in the last three years of Elizabeth’s reign. As part of his contribution to the latter operation he was to escort 200 men to Greenwich and Deptford, and put a guard on the ships until they sailed. He was one of those who received a commission from the Privy Council to survey the military preparedness of the Isle of Sheppey in 1585. He also served on Privy Council commissions to examine complaints of mis-government in New Romney and to investigate a charge that Kent soldiers in the Low Countries were not receiving their full wages.4
Sondes’s return to Parliament for Maidstone was no doubt due to his family’s local standing, while at Queenborough his relationship to Lord Cobham is sufficient explanation. However, it is of interest that his son, born in 1585, was christened Hoby, presumably after Sir Edward Hoby, whose influence at Queenborough increased as the reign progressed. The parliamentary journals consistently have an ‘a’ as the second letter of Sondes’s surname, which makes for confusion with the Sandys family, but it does appear that Sondes was not active in the Commons. In 1584 he was given leave of absence on 12 Dec. to attend to his duties as sheriff, and the remainder of the references likely to apply to him belong to 1601: he was appointed to consider committee p