CONWAY, Thomas (1597-c.1631), of Drury Lane, Mdx.
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Family and Education
bap. 28 July 1597,1 2nd s. of Sir Edward Conway I*, 1st Visct. Conway (d. Jan. 1631) and his 1st w. Dorothy, da. of Sir John Tracy† of Toddington, Glos.; bro. of Sir Edward II* and Ralph*.2 educ. ?Trin. Camb. 1615; G. Inn 1617.3 unm.4 kntd. 14 July 1624.5 d. bet. Oct. 1631 and Jan. 1632.6 sig. Tho[mas] Conway.
Freeman, Rye, Suss. 1624.15
Conway presumably spent his early life at the Dutch garrison town of Brill, where his father, Sir Edward, was lieutenant-governor. Although he enjoyed a taste of higher education in England, he was ‘bred a soldier’, probably gaining his earliest military experience as a volunteer in the Netherlands, where he ‘perfectly learned the rudiments of warfare’.16 In around 1618 he entered Venetian service under the command of Sir Henry Peyton, and two years later joined the forces sent to defend the Palatinate, obtaining a commission under his uncle, Sir Horace Vere. He remained in Germany until at least July 1623, but by then the cause was all but lost, and within months he was back in England.17
At the 1624 general election, Sir Edward requested the lord warden of the Cinque Ports to supply Conway with a seat at Rye. However, Lord Zouche had never heard of the young man, and instead nominated his elder brother, Sir Edward Conway II, who also secured a place at Warwick. Once a fresh election was called at Rye, their father wrote to the borough on Conway’s behalf, explaining the mistake, and promising ‘in every point to be answerable to you for his care and diligence in serving you’. Conway attended the election on 28 Feb., and was sworn a freeman. Despite the sustained effort to get him into the Commons, he left no trace on the records of the last Jacobean Parliament, even though he and his fellow Rye Member were instructed to lay before the Commons a bill to secure control of the Dungeness lighthouse (situated at the mouth of Rye harbour).18
Thanks to his father’s influence as a secretary of state, Conway was commissioned in June 1624 as a captain in the regiment sent to the Low Countries under the command of Lord Willoughby of Eresby and Sir Edward Conway II. He was also knighted a month later, along with his uncle and namesake, Thomas Conway of Ragley, Warwickshire. However, the military stalemate in the Netherlands gave him little scope for action, and in mid-1625 he expressed frustration that a shortage of funds was preventing a major offensive.19 In December 1626 Secretary Conway procured for him a promotion, and for over two years he served with the Danish forces in Germany as second-in-command to Sir Charles Morgan, earning ‘a very good reputation among the troops’, despite the miserable conditions that the regiment endured.20 Following the Peace of Lübeck in 1629, he was re-employed with Morgan in the Netherlands, but after several months of garrison life he came back to England.21 In June 1630 he contemplated resuming his service with Venice, but his father’s approaches to the Venetian ambassador were rebuffed. Instead, he obtained a letter of recommendation from Charles I, and returned briefly to the Low Countries, apparently with the intention of rejoining the conflict in Germany.22 When his father died in January 1631, Conway’s existing annuity of £40 was increased by £100 a year, but he still preferred military life. By July 1631 he had begun recruiting a regiment to fight under Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, initially as lieutenant-colonel to Lord Reay. When the latter’s commission was withdrawn a few weeks later, Conway took charge of the enterprise himself, and in October was reportedly ready to leave for the Continent. However, he drowned when his ship foundered off the Danish coast sometime between then and January 1632. No will or administration has been found.23
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Peter Lefevre / Paul Hunneyball
CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 131.
- 1. St. Giles, Cripplegate par. reg.
- 2. W. Dugdale, Warws. 848, 850.
- 3. Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.
- 4. Dugdale, 850.
- 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 185.
- 6. CSP Ven. 1629-32, p. 550; Monro, his Expedition ed. W.S. Brockington, 231.
- 7. SP84/73, f. 42.
- 8. CSP Ven. 1629-32, p. 362.
- 9. SP75/11, f. 246.
- 10. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 190; CSP Ire. Addenda, 1625-60, p. 47; SP84/113, f. 102.
- 11. SP84/121, f. 277v; Het Nationaal Archief, Eerste Afdeling, Raad van State (1.01.19) 1908, pt. i, Eng. lias, ms marked ‘1626’ (ex inf. David Trim).
- 12. CSP Ven. 1629-32, p. 362; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 268; SP75/10, f. 156.
- 13. APC, 1629-30, p. 109; SP84/140, f. 62.
- 14. CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 129; Monro, his Expedition, 138.
- 15. E. Suss. RO, RYE 1/11, f. 22.
- 16. CSP Ire. Addenda, 1625-60, p. 49; SP84/142, f. 287.
- 17. CSP Ven. 1629-32, p. 362; CSP Ire. Addenda, 1625-60, p. 49; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 167; SP84/113, f. 102.
- 18. E. Suss. RO, RYE 1/11, f. 22r-v; RYE 47/98/9-11.
- 19. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 562, 571; SP84/121, f. 277v; 84/126, f. 299; 84/128, ff. 1, 77.
- 20. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 485; CSP Ven. 1629-32, p. 362; SP75/9, f. 339; 75/10, ff. 77, 156; E.A. Beller, ‘Military expedition of Sir Chas. Morgan’, EHR, xliii. 536- 9.
- 21. SP75/10, ff. 183, 187; APC, 1629-30, p. 109; SP84/134, f. 180 (misdated by TNA to 1627); 84/140, f. 62; CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 123.
- 22. CSP Ven. 1629-32, pp. 362, 391, 397; SP84/142, ff. 97, 287; SP75/11, f. 246.
- 23. PROB 11/160, f. 410; CSP Dom. 1631-2, pp. 124, 129-31; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, 414-15; CSP Ven. 1629-32, p. 550; Monro, his Expedition, 138, 231.