ALURED (ALDRED), Thomas (1583-1638), of Blackfriars, London and Edmonton, Mdx.; formerly of Ludlow, Salop and Bewdley, Worcs.
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Family and Education
b. 3 Sept. 1583, 3rd s. of John Aldred† (d.1606) of the Charterhouse, Sculcoates, Yorks. and Frances, da. of Sir Henry Gates† of Seamer, Yorks.1 educ. Trin., Camb. 1602; G. Inn 1604.2 m. lic. April 1617, Mary Jones (bur. 7 Mar. 1632), s.p.3 bur. 19 May 1638.4 sig. Tho[mas] Alured.
Sec. to 3rd Bar. Eure (Ralph Eure†), ld. pres. Council in the Marches of Wales c.1607-17, to ld. kpr. (Sir Thomas) Coventry* by 1631-d.5
Remembrancer (jt.), principalities of N. and S. Wales 1614-21;6 auditor (jt.) fines in the Marches 1616-d.;7 clerk of bills for debt, Council in the Marches c.1620-1; kpr. king’s wardrobe in the Marches c.1620-1.8
In the 1585 Yorkshire visitation the Alureds claimed to be a Suffolk family ‘of good antiquity’, but another pedigree stated that they came from Lopham, Norfolk, which suggests they were related to the Norwich alderman Thomas Aldrich.9 Whatever the truth, the MP’s grandfather, Thomas Alured†, came to Hull in the 1540s as paymaster of the garrison, and stayed as customer of the port; he leased the newly dissolved Hull Charterhouse, which became the family seat, and he and his eldest son represented the borough in Parliament. However, relations between the Alureds and the town were soured by a dispute at the end of the 1590s over access to the Darringham Dyke, Hull’s main source of drinking water.10
Alured received an annuity of only £50 p.a. from his father, charged upon lands leased from his uncle, Sir Henry Constable*. It was perhaps Constable, or Alured’s elder brother Henry, who recommended him to Lord Eure, president of the Council in the Marches, as a secretary. In 1610 he was granted reversions of two minor Council posts, although as these did not fall in until 1620 he acquired two other positions in the meantime. This source of patronage ended with Eure’s death in 1617.11 Alured’s income, part of which may have been derived from money-lending on a small scale, sufficed to meet the rent of £30 p.a. for his house in the Blackfriars in 1623. That same year his brother-in-law Henry Darley* persuaded him to pay £450 for a lease of lands in Yorkshire, which yielded an annuity of £50.12
Alured achieved instant notoriety in June 1620 as the supposed author of an open letter to the marquess of Buckingham opposing the Spanish Match. The letter insisted that God had raised Buckingham, like Joseph in Egypt, to save His people in their hour of need, ‘in this case ... to stand in the gap to divert this [the Spanish Match]’. Buckingham was advised that such a marriage would raise the prospect of a Catholic succession, and warned that the only precedent for such a mixed marriage involved the Huguenot Henri Navarre and the Catholic Marguerite de Valois, whose nuptials had occasioned the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. Previous matches with Spain, it was observed, had incurred divine displeasure: Prince Arthur had died shortly after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon; while all of the latter’s sons by Henry VIII had died in infancy. Moreover, under Catherine’s daughter Mary there was more blood shed ‘for the true religion in six years than for the false in these succeeding threescore years’. Mary’s own marriage to Philip of Spain had been ‘so discontenting to the people that it caused Wyatt’s rebellion’ and led to English involvement in the war with France and the loss of Calais. Instead of a Spanish Infanta, Prince Charles should be encouraged to take an English bride in the manner of his ancestors Edward IV and Henry VIII,
from which two matches God, as it were to show the less we rely on others abroad, the more He will help us at home, gave two daughters ... [Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth Tudor, who established] peace in the land and religion in the church until His Majesty’s happy coming who brought both with him.13
The Privy Council was outraged at public discussion of one of the most sensitive of the royal prerogatives, and imprisoned Alured in the Fleet until he submitted an abject apology. He probably owed his release to the intervention of the leading conciliar opponents of Spain, among them Archbishop Abbot and William, 3rd earl of Pembroke.14
Despite his punishment, Alured may have been shielding others in taking the blame as author of this controversial letter. Many years later, it was claimed that the godly divine John Preston, who was closely connected with Sir Fulke Greville*, Alured’s superior as secretary of the Council in the Marches, had written it at the behest of a peer, possibly Viscount Saye and Sele. The letter’s detailed references to scripture and to Calvin’s Institutes, and its repeated juxtaposition of biblical and modern precedents certainly echo the language of contemporary sermons, but this does not mean it could not have been written by a layman. In fact, it may have been penned by several hands, and is perhaps best viewed as a product of Greville’s circle; it is therefore likely that Alured played some part in its composition, accepting sole responsibility in order to exonerate his influential collaborators. We would like to thank Noah Millstone for a discussion of the authorship of this text.15
Alured’s acknowledgement of the authorship of the letter was considered ‘very unadvised’ by the then lord president, William, 1st earl of Northampton, and this was doubtless why Alured surrendered all his Welsh offices except for the auditorship in 1621. He remained a source of expert advice on the workings of the Council in the Marches for the rest of his life, but lived in London, working on the fringes of the Court and government.16 His most important contact was Greville’s erstwhile client John Coke*, for whom he provided an occasional digest of Court and foreign news. In 1624 Alured opened negotiations with the widow of the London alderman Sir John Gore, who became Coke’s second wife.17 Although he is not known to have served Coke in any official capacity, Alured requested a series of favours for friends and relatives: a place in Coke’s service for a son of the Hull alderman Richard Burgis*; the (unsuccessful) nomination of his brother Henry for a knighthood at the Coronation in 1626; exemption from service as sheriff of Yorkshire for Sir Matthew Boynton*; a rectory for his brother Benjamin; and preferment for his wife’s nephews, who were raised by him after their father’s death at the Ile de Ré.18 Coke, moreover, provided Alured with a glowing testimonial in October 1625, when he sought a position as secretary to the newly appointed lord keeper Sir Thomas Coventry*, commending him as ‘a man upon whose faith and ability you may safely rely’. However, this recommendation, and another from lord president Northampton, failed to secure Alured the appointment.19
Alured also turned to Coke in the first instance for parliamentary patronage. In March 1625 he asked ‘to be remembered to my lord bishop for a burgess-ship’, by whom he doubtless meant Coke’s brother-in-law Valentine Cary, bishop of Exeter, who found Coke a seat at St. Germans. While disappointed on this occasion, Alured renewed his request in December, and it was presumably at Coke’s behest that Buckingham, as lord warden of the Cinque Ports, recommended Alured to the jurats of Rye, albeit in lukewarm terms as ‘a man very able to do you service for the second place’.20 In 1628 Alured’s brother Lancelot recommended him to the Scarborough corporation, but he was rejected, probably because of his connection to the Gates family, who had tried to undermine the town’s market in the 1580s. Instead he was returned for Hedon. Although his brother Henry owned a farm on the outskirts of the town, it is unlikely he would have been chosen there without the support of his third cousin Henry Constable, Viscount Dunbar. This may have been obtained through Greville, a relative of Dunbar’s who had sat for Hedon in 1584. Another possibility is that Coke intervened on his behalf, perhaps via Buckingham’s client Sir John Savile*.21
Alured had little perceptible impact on his only Parliament. He was named to one of the many committees which debated the issues that gave rise to the Petition of Right (3 Apr. 1628), and to another for the bill for copyhold tenures on the Crown manors of Bromfield and Yale, Denbighshire (13 June 1628); he left no trace on the records of the 1629 session. However, he was clearly a regular attender of debates: he subsequently recalled a speech by Edward Littleton II* attacking lord president Northampton for usurping shrieval powers; and in a letter of 6 June 1628 he described the hysterical attacks of the previous day on Buckingham, warning of an imminent dissolution. Moreover, in June 1628 he sent at least two reports of parliamentary proceedings to Coke, then at Portsmouth. The first covered the reception of the king’s second reply to the Petition of Right, and the second recounted attacks on Arminians, the debate on Tunnage and Poundage and the expulsion of Sir Edmund Sawyer from the House.22
By June 1631 Alured had acquired a position as secretary to lord keeper Coventry, in which capacity the Hull corporation used him as an intermediary when they offered Coventry the post of high steward two years later. He earned the corporation’s further gratitude in 1637 with a donation of £100 towards the relief of plague victims.23 In his will of 2 May 1638 he left generous legacies to the children of his brother Henry, and forgave his brother Lancelot a debt of £500. He was buried at St. Anne’s, Blackfriars on 19 May, ‘without any solemnities, blacks, scutcheons, banquets or such ceremonies’. The will was proved by his nephew John Alured, who was returned to the Short and Long Parliaments for Hedon.24