TICHBORNE, Benjamin (c.1542-1629), of Tichborne, Hants.
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Family and Education
b. c.1542, 2nd s. of Nicholas Tichborne† of Tichborne by his 2nd w. Elizabeth, sis. and cob. coh. of James Rithe. m. (1) a da. of one Shelley of Mapledurham, s.p.; (2) 17 May 1571, Amphillis, da. of Richard Weston† of Skreens in Roxwell, Essex, 5s. inc. Richard 3da. Kntd. 14 Sept. 1601. cr. Bt. 8 Mar. 1621.
J.p. Hants from c.1582, sheriff 1579-80, 1602-3; gent. of privy chamber to James I.
The manor of Tichborne in Hampshire had been the residence of the Tichborne family since the twelfth century, but it was not inherited by Tichborne himself until 1571, some years after the death of his half-brother Francis. In that year Tichborne’s sister-in-law conveyed her life interest in the manor to him. He was reported to be an ‘earnest’ or ‘strong’ Catholic in 1572, and he twice married into families sympathetic to Catholicism. In 1586 one Edward Jones—a government agent—stated that mass was performed daily in the Shelley household at Mapledurham, while Richard Weston, Earl of Portland, a relation of Tichborne’s second wife, and his most ‘noble ally and friend’, whom he made overseer of his will, was said to have died a Catholic. Members of collateral branches of the Tichborne family were also Catholics. Chidiock Tichborne of Owlsbury was executed in 1586 for his part in the Babington conspiracy, and Nicholas Tichborne of Hartley Mauduit in Hampshire died in 1589 in Winchester gaol, where he was imprisoned for recusancy.
Tichborne, however, presumably conformed sufficiently to take the oath of supremacy on becoming a justice and sheriff, and on entering Parliament. He was returned for Petersfield in 1589, a borough owned by the Westons of Sutton, Surrey, related to the Weston family of Skreenes, into which he had married. In 1593, despite his religious views, he attained a county seat. His only recorded speech was on the bill against recusants, 28 Feb. 1593, to the effect that ‘the father should not disinherit the son, nor have power so to do for being made conformable by him that should have the bringing of him up’. As a knight of the shire in the 1593 Parliament Tichborne could have sat on the subsidy committee (26 Feb.) and on a legal committee, 9 Mar.
Tichborne happened to be sheriff of Hampshire when Elizabeth died. Without waiting for a Council directive, he hurried to Winchester, and proclaimed James, receiving by way of reward the fee farm of the castle in perpetuity. Next he was made a gentleman of the privy chamber, but for the most part he remained in Hampshire, where James visited him on four occasions. At the time of the Gunpowder Plot he wrote a few words to Cecil about ‘shifting recusants which play at base from county to county’. He died 6 Sept. 1629, having made his will the previous 23 Feb. It was proved 14 Nov. by his eldest son and sole executor, Sir Richard Tichborne.
GEC Baronetage, i. 160; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 126; E163/14/8; PRO Lists and Indexes, iii. 56; VCH Hants, ii. 84, 85; iii. 337; v. 12; J. E. Paul, ‘Hants Recusants in Reign of Eliz. I’ (Soton Univ. PhD thesis 1958); CSP Dom. 1581-90, p. 336; CP, x. 582-5; E. M. Tenison, Eliz. England, vi. 259; D’Ewes, 474, 476-7, 496; APC, xxvi. 533; Nichols, Progresses Jas. I, i. 116; HMC Hatfield, xvii. 492; C142/456/69; PCC 104 Ridley.