THROCKMORTON, Thomas (1534-1615), of Coughton, Warws. and Weston Underwood, Bucks.

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. by 1534, 1st s. of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton by his 1st w. Muriel, da. of Thomas, 5th Lord Berkeley. educ. M. Temple 1555. m. by 1556, Margaret, da. and coh. of William Whorwood of Putney, Surr., 3s. 5da. suc. fa. Feb. 1581.1

Offices Held

J.p. Warws. from 1564, rem. 1570.


Heir of the elder branch of a prosperous and prolific family, Throckmorton had three uncles with him in the 1559 Parliament, Clement, John I and Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, and a cousin, Simon. The Throckmortons of Coughton remained Catholic, and for this reason after 1558 Throckmorton could play little part in parliamentary affairs or local government. His reduced position became apparent as early as 1559, for while in Mary’s last Parliament he had been knight of the shire, in Elizabeth’s first he resorted to the borough, Warwick, where the influence of the Throckmortons was still strong.

The rest of Throckmorton’s long life was dogged by the consequences of his recusancy. During the earlier part of the reign he was left alone, though bonds were taken from him to ensure that he did not leave the country, and he was sometimes ordered to stay within five miles of Weston Underwood, the house in Buckinghamshire where he principally resided. In 1570 both he and his father refused to take the oaths and were removed from the commission of the peace. In August 1580 he was summoned to appear before the Privy Council, who committed him to the bishop of London. Thereafter he spent long periods in prison, usually at Banbury castle. In 1586 he offered to pay the Queen £100 in composition of recusancy fines, but this did not save him from further imprisonment. At any time of unrest or danger, particularly in 1588 and during the 1590s, Throckmorton was to be found in Banbury castle.2

For many years he was involved in a dispute with (Sir) Moyle Finch, who had been granted a reversion of the manor of Ravenstone, of which Throckmorton already held a lease. In order to accelerate his possession of the manor, Finch claimed that Throckmorton’s lease had been terminated in 1567 when a servant’s negligence had caused the rent to remain unpaid for six months. They contested the matter in the court of Exchequer and Finch twice obtained favourable judgments, but Throckmorton continued to fight him, both in common pleas and Queen’s bench. In March 1597 he wrote to Sir Robert Cecil from Banbury castle, begging him to secure his release

in regard of the great suits which of late are attempted against me and my tenants by Sir Moyle Finch, for the avoiding of my lease of the manor of Ravenstone; and further, in respect of my own poor estate, which at this instant standeth very dangerously for that by my longer restraint I shall be unable to satisfy my creditors and in worse case to recover that which is my own.

On 24 Nov. 1597 a bill for lessees against patentees was introduced into Parliament which could be turned to Throckmorton’s advantage. Not being an MP himself, he asked his friends in the House, particularly (Sir) Walter Ralegh, to table a special amendment in his favour. On 14 Dec. 1597 he wrote to one of his friends:

Good Sir, I must acknowledge myself most bound unto you for your honourable favour, that you extended towards my cause with many of your good friends in the Parliament house, and it was not a little comfort to me.

On 19 Dec. ‘a special proviso for Mr. Throckmorton’ was read twice in the House, but rather than include it in the bill, it was agreed by the House, Throckmorton and Finch, both of whom appeared in person, that ‘the matter in controversy between them’ should be settled by arbitration. The 1597 journals make no mention of Throckmorton’s proviso after this point. Eventually the matter was settled by a compromise: Finch was given possession of Ravenstone, but granted Throckmorton a new lease for 14 years at a higher rent.3

Throckmorton paid dear for his determined recusancy. In 1584 he was fined £260 and forced to redeem his movables for £600. In 1588 a bond of £5,000 was required of him before he was allowed to remove for seven days from the bishop of London’s custody to his own town house in Holborn. In 1596 he was noted as one of the wealthier recusants in the diocese of Worcester, and two years later was forced to contribute £3 to the war in Ireland. Such extraordinary levies in addition to monthly fines of £20 must have depleted his financial reserves. They did not, however, force him to sell any land.4

The death of Elizabeth was followed for a time by greater leniency towards Catholics. In November 1604 Throckmorton was among those recusants who were discharged of their unpaid fines by the King, but a year later he was in greater danger than ever. Living principally at Weston Underwood he had lent Coughton to Sir Everard Digby, who arranged the Warwickshire rising which was to coincide with the blowing up of Parliament. Throckmorton’s name occurred frequently during the examination of the arrested conspirators and other witnesses, but his own loyalty was not questioned in spite of his relatives being involved in the plot. However, with other recusants, he suffered the consequences Fines and restrictions were reimposed, and in August 1606, writing to the Earl of Salisbury, he complained that

of late commissions are come ... for inquiry of the value of my poor living for his Majesty according to the late made statute. And by this late session of Parliament I am restrained not to pass above five miles from my habitation.

He begged to be allowed to travel about his necessary business, adding ‘if my poor estate did not urge me to these travels, to satisfy the law and my creditors who stand in danger for me, my old years would desire rest at home’. His efforts to conserve his estates met with some success, for in May 1607, James I agreed to accept £20 monthly for his recusancy instead of the forfeiture of two-thirds of his lands enjoined by the statute.5

Throckmorton died in March 1618, aged 81, and was buried at Weston Underwood. By a will made in January that year, he left £150 and his household goods to his daughter Mary and enjoined his grandson and heir, Robert, to maintain all existing leases, even if invalid in law. There were bequests to the poor, to servants and for the maintenancye of almshouses at Coughton.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Authors: S. M. Thorpe / Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Nash, Worcs. i. 453; Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 88; C142/193/89.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 366; 1581-90, p. 321; APC, xii. 166; xv. 348; xviii. 415; xx. 6, 7; xxi. 250-1; xxiv. 76, 221, 224, 339; xxvi. 538-9; xxvii. 64; xxviii. 14-15, 102; Coughton Court muniments, boxes 62, 64.
  • 3. Coughton Court muniments, boxes 53, 60, 61, 64; letters file 52; St. Ch. 4/5/52; Lansd. 106, f. 196; C2/W11/62; VCH Bucks. iv. 441; D’Ewes, 562, 575.
  • 4. Coughton Court muniments, boxes 60, 62; APC, xv. 348; Cath. Rec. Soc. xxii. 65; HMC Hatfield, vii. 266; APC, xxviii. 589; Lansd. 153, f. 177.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 171, 248, 260, 263, 295, 356; HMC Hatfield, xviii. 240-1.
  • 6. VCH Bucks. iv. 499, 501; Coughton Court muniments, wills box 60.