BLUDDER, Sir Thomas (c.1597-1655), of Flanchford, Reigate, Surr. and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster.
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Education
b. c.1597, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Bludder of Mile End, Stepney, Mdx. and Flanchford and Mary, da. of Christopher Herrys of Shenfield, Essex.1 educ. Christ’s, Camb. 1614, BA 1617; I. Temple 1616.2 m. (1) by 1619 Elizabeth, da. of Robert Brett of Rotherby, Leics., 3s. d.v.p. 1da. d.v.p.; (2) by 1637, Jane, da. of Henry Franklyn of Throwley, Kent, wid. of John Bill (d.1630), printer to the king, of Blackfriars, London, s.p.; (3) aft. 1640, Elizabeth, s.p. suc. fa. 1618;3 kntd. 22 Apr. 1618.4 d. 29 Sept. 1655.5
Bludder’s father was a London merchant of Lancashire origin who settled at Flanchford, two miles south-west of Reigate, which he purchased from the father of Sir Ralph Freeman* in 1601. The elder Bludder was joint surveyor of marine victuals from 1603-12, possibly thanks to the patronage of the lord admiral, the 1st earl of Nottingham (Charles Howard†), whom he accompanied on the earl’s embassy to Spain in 1605. He also invested in a variety of ventures, including the alum works, the Virginia Company and the farms of pre-emption of tin and imposition on coal. Together with estates in Surrey, Bludder inherited several of these ventures and, early in 1621, shared in the first of several renewals of the lease of the farm of the imposition on coal.16
In 1620 Bludder stood at Gatton, two-and-a-half miles north-east of Reigate, where the earl of Nottingham had influence. He was elected, alongside Sir Thomas Gresham, at a meeting of ten freeholders on 13 December. The previous day, however, a smaller gathering of inhabitants of the borough had elected John Holles and Henry Britton. Holles and Britton were returned but their election was overturned in favour of Gresham and Bludder on 7 February. Aside from being mentioned in the election dispute, Bludder left no mark on the records of the third Jacobean Parliament.17
In February 1622 Bludder contributed £100 towards the Palatinate Benevolence.18 The following month the marquess of Buckingham and Lord Cranfield (Lionel Cranfield*), both of whom were related to Bludder’s first wife, stood as godparents at the birth of his first son, who was christened George, possibly after Buckingham.19 Bludder was returned for Reigate in 1624 either on his own interest or at the nomination of the earl of Nottingham, who was part owner of Reigate manor. He received two committee nominations, both on 23 March. Both concerned private estate bills - one for Sir Richard Lumley, a Durham landowner, and the other for Sir Francis Clarke, a resident of Bludder’s own county.20
Bludder was re-elected in 1625 but left no impression on the surviving parliamentary records. Returned again the following year, he again received no committee appointments and made no recorded speeches. Nevertheless he clearly attended the House as he gave the disgraced Cranfield (now earl of Middlesex), a detailed account of the early part of the Parliament’s proceedings on 22 March. Probably writing from the Commons’ committee chamber, he stated that ‘divers good bills which were prepared by the last session’ had been read, but ‘that which chiefly is insisted on is to reform such grievances as is conceived occasion the want in the king’s revenue and the general want in the kingdom’. These he enumerated as the misuse of public funds; the sale of honours and offices to ‘unworthy persons’; the encouragement of Catholicism; the concentration of key offices in the hands of a few; the loss of the control over the Channel ‘by employing unable men’; and the loan of ships to the French for use against the Huguenots. Bludder commented that Buckingham had found ‘with what uncertainty he may trust’ Parliament but thought that the duke ‘may thank himself for the first precedent’, a reference, perhaps, to the encouragement Buckingham had given to the 1624 Parliament to embark upon a war with Spain. Bludder informed Middlesex that Charles I still strongly supported Buckingham, but such was the hostility of the Commons to the favourite that the House thought that anyone who did not attack the duke ‘speaks not to the purpose’. Not long after, Bludder seems to have left London, as it is apparent that when he again wrote to Middlesex on 7 Apr. he had only just returned to the capital, and his letter contained no parliamentary news.21 He evidently remained thereafter at Westminster, for when Sir Robert Heath* wrote to Middlesex on 29 Apr. concerning the Commons’ belief that Buckingham had hastened James I’s death, he quoted Bludder, indicating that the latter had also been keeping the attorney-general informed of proceedings in the Commons. On 25 May Bludder was given leave to depart and it is not known whether he returned before the end of the session.22
In late 1627 Bludder was appointed to the surveyorship of the Ordnance and became involved in a project sponsored by Buckingham concerning gunpowder. John Evelyn* had a monopoly of the production of gunpowder in return for an obligation to supply the Crown with a set monthly amount for a fixed sum. However, as he was frequently unpaid he was entitled, according to his agreement with the Crown, to sell his powder elsewhere. Bludder undertook to purchase the powder not paid for, in return for the right to sell on any leftover after the king’s needs had been met. The scheme was approved by the Privy Council in January 1628, but by the following April Bludder and Evelyn had fallen out and the Council was obliged to establish a committee to settle their differences.23
In 1628 Bludder was again returned for Reigate. Evelyn was also sitting in the Commons, and towards the end of the session he took the opportunity to pursue his dispute with Bludder in the House, although by the time he launched his attack Bludder had surrendered the surveyorship to Sir Paul Harris, to whom he also sold his interest in the gunpowder project.24 On 4 June, while Bludder was absent, Evelyn announced that Bludder had sold gunpowder from the stores in the Tower. This prompted ‘Mr. Waller’, presumably Henry who sat for London rather than Edmund who sat for Amersham, to state that he had witnesses who could prove that Bludder had sold powder, possibly ‘to our enemies’. It was also alleged that Bludder’s activities had inflated the price. Waller called for Bludder to ‘be examined when he comes with all exactness and diligence’.25 A committee met that afternoon and ‘proved’ that Bludder had profited by more than 2d. a hundredweight from the sale of gunpowder. It resolved to report back to the Commons the following day but this was forborne, presumably because the king sent a message against undertaking new business.26 On 14 June Bludder took advantage of the reading of the clause in the Commons’ Remonstrance about the shortage of powder to defend himself, making his only recorded parliamentary speech of this period. He stated that he had been asked by the Privy Council to pay Evelyn what he was owed and as a result had procured ‘90 barrels for nothing’ for the king. He admitted having sold gunpowder for 10d. a barrel, but asserted that if Evelyn had not been paid he would have been unable to make powder. In response to the accusation that the powder he sold could have gone to England’s enemies he flatly denied that any had been exported.27
Bludder’s financial affairs were not going well, and in 1627, 1631 and 1632 he secured royal protections against his creditors.28 His second marriage in the 1630s brought him some interest, through his wife and stepson, in the office of king’s printer.29 In 1635 he shared in a grant of fines in the court of Common Pleas, but soon complained of infringements.30 When the First Bishop’s War broke out in 1639 he was summoned to attend the king but failed to do so.31 He was re-elected for Reigate to the Long Parliament and was a royalist in the Civil War, sitting in the Oxford Parliament, and was a ringleader of the 1648 royalist rising in Surrey. The parliamentarians compiled a detailed inventory of his books when his estate was under sequestration, but this is an unreliable guide to his own literary and academic tastes as many of the works had presumably been inherited from his father-in-law. He was certainly a friend of the poet George Sandys (brother of Sir Edwin Sandys*) and himself wrote lines ‘upon the death of the Lady Anne Rich’.32 He compounded for his estate in 1650 but was imprisoned in King’s Bench for his debts. In his will, dated 17 July 1655, he gave instructions for the sale of Flanchford and left £20 to the poor of Reigate. He died in prison on 29 Sept., the only member of his family to sit in Parliament.33
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates
- 1. C142/380/114; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 124-5.
- 2. Al. Cant.; I. Temple database of admiss.
- 3. J.L. Lievsay and R. B. Davis, ‘A Cavalier library - 1643’, Studies in Bibliography (Pprs. of Bibliographical Soc. of Univ. of Virg.), vi. 143-4; M.A. Lower, ‘Mems. of the Town, Par. and Cinque-port of Seaford, Historical and Antiquarian’, Suss. Arch. Colls. vii. 137; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 111.
- 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 168.
- 5. Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 306.
- 6. J.U. Nef, Rise of Brit. Coal Industry, ii. 271, 283, 295, 306.
- 7. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 448; LC3/1, unfol.
- 8. C66/2427/2; C66/2409/25.
- 9. GL, ms 5257/4, p. 344.
- 10. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, iii. 318.
- 11. C231/4, f. 146; C66/2858.
- 12. C212/22/23; SR, v. 88, 155.
- 13. T. Rymer, Foedera viii. pt. 2, p. 142; C193/12/2, f. 58.
- 14. PC2/46, f. 273.
- 15. CSP Dom. 1637-8, p. 453; Northants. RO, FH133.
- 16. Vis. Surr. 124; VCH Surr. iii. 237; M.F. Keeler, Long Parl. 109; CSP Dom. 1603-10, pp. 29, 312, 362; 1611-18, p. 114; 1619-23, p. 114; NLW, Carreglwyd mss I/699; PROB 11/133, f. 487; HMC Var. viii. 19, 28.
- 17. Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 20; CJ, i. 512b.
- 18. SP14/156/15.
- 19. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 429.
- 20. CJ, i. 747a
- 21. Cent. Kent. Stud. U269/1/CP12.
- 22. Procs. 1626, iii. 332; iv. 297.
- 23. CSP Dom.1625-6, p. 201; 1628-9, p. 475; APC, 1627-8, pp. 249, 383, 386.
- 24. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 313.
- 25. CD 1628, iv. 82-3, 86, 90, 97-8.
- 26. Ibid. 92.
- 27. Ibid. 326-7.
- 28. C66/2427; APC, 1630-1, p. 258; CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 547; 1631-2, pp. 275, 282.
- 29. CSP Dom. 1636-7, p. 267; HMC 4th Rep. 36.
- 30. Cal. of Docquets of Ld. Kpr. Coventry ed. J. Broadway, R. Cust and S.K. Roberts (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xxxiv-vii), 228, 356; CSP Dom. 1636-7, p. 273.
- 31. SP16/427/38vi.
- 32. Lievsay and Davis, 142-3.
- 33. CSP Dom. 1645-7, p. 472; 1649-50, p. 269; 1660-1, p. 390; CCC, 1498; List of all Prisoners in Upper Bench Prison (1653), p. 5; PROB 11/285, f. 209.