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This Member has not been identified. Almost certainly he owed his election at Stafford in 1614 to the lord privy seal, Henry Howard, earl of Northampton. Certainly Stafford elected a candidate named by Northampton, whose favour the town was keen to cultivate in order to secure a fresh charter. The remaining seat was bestowed on the nominee of Robert Devereux, 3rd earl of Essex.1 The identity of this man is uncertain, as Essex’s letter to the corporation, like Northampton’s, has not survived. However, it was Essex’s kinsman, Sir Walter Devereux, who served as Gibbs’ fellow Member for Stafford.
It has been claimed, without foundation, that Gibbs was ‘a bureaucrat’.2 Another historian considered Gibbs to have been a courtier: a Thomas Gibbs was certainly the co-recipient of a handful of royal grants towards the end of James’s reign,3 a fact which has led one commentator to suppose that he was the son of Henry Gibb, groom of the king’s bedchamber from July 1613.4 Were this identification to be proven, it might explain how Gibbs came to the attention of his presumed patron, Northampton. However, Henry Gibb was Scottish, and any son of his would have required naturalization before he could sit in the English Parliament. Although Henry had been naturalized in 1610, the Act concerned implies that he was then childless.5
Several men named Thomas Gibbs were living in 1614; none are known to have been connected to Northampton. One became a military knight of Windsor in about 1613, died in November 1641, and was buried in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.6 It is highly unlikely that this man was the MP, as those who became military knights were poverty stricken by definition. Another Thomas Gibbs also lived in Windsor, and in 1634 was described by his son William as a gentleman. The second son of John and Mary Gibbs, he married Isabel, the daughter of a clergyman, William Wilson D.D.7 Nothing else is known about him.
The MP may have been the Thomas Gibbs who joined the Virginia Company. A member of the governing council of the company by 1618, he was elected one of its auditors in May 1622 and helped manage its sister organization, the Somers Island Company. Following the Virginia Company’s collapse in 1624 he was appointed to the newly created council for Virginia, and in 1631 was named a commissioner for the advancement of the colony’s affairs.8 It seems likely that he was the London citizen named Thomas Gibbs who was part-owner of the Truelove of London in 1626.9 The background of the Virginia investor is uncertain, but the Virginia Company records indicate that his sons were named ‘Edmund’ (probably a clerical error for Edward) and Thomas, which points to the Gibbs family of Honington, Warwickshire, who were armigerous, rather than to the gentleman of Windsor, as one authority has suggested.10 This would make him:
GIBBS, Thomas (d.1631) of Hodnell, Warws. and St. Botolph, Bishopsgate, London. 2nd s. of Robert Gibbs of Honington, Warws. and his 2nd w. Katherine, da. of William Porter of Aston, Glos. m. by 1597, Margaret (bur. 12 Sept. 1639), da. and coh. of William Wilkes of Hodnell, Warws. and wid. of Francis Dymocke of Erdington, Warws., lunatic, 2s. 1da. bur. 6 Sept. 1631.11
Through his marriage to Margaret Wilkes, this man acquired a third share of Hodnell manor, Warwickshire. His older brother, Ralph, was knighted at the Coronation in 1603. Gibbs himself drew up his will on 2 Sept. 1631, by which time he was sick. He instructed his widow to pay his sons £40 p.a. each in maintenance, and a further £25 annually to his daughter. His leases ‘in or near Warwick’ were to be sold towards payment of his debts. He died shortly after and was buried at St. Botolph, Bishopsgate, London. He presumably had a townhouse there, as his widow was buried in the same parish eight years later.12
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Andrew Thrush
- 1. Staffs. RO, D(W)1721/1/4, f. 37 (2nd numbering).
- 2. V.F. Snow, Essex the Rebel, 77.
- 3. J. Wedgwood, Staffs. Parl. Hist. (Wm. Salt Arch. Soc.), ii. 15; CSP Dom. 1623-5, pp. 36, 180.
- 4. On Henry Gibb, see N. Cuddy, ‘Revival of the Entourage’, in The English Ct. ed. D. Starkey et al. 213; Lansd. 273, f. 27v; LC2/6, f. 38.
- 5. Letters of Denization and Acts of Naturalization for Aliens in Eng. and Ire. 1603-1700 (Huguenot Soc. xviii), 14.
- 6. E.H. Fellowes, Military Knights of Windsor, 23.
- 7. H.F. Waters, Geneal. Gleanings in Eng. i. 270; ii. 1398.
- 8. Recs. Virg. Co. ed. S.M. Kingsbury, ii. 30; A. Brown, Genesis of US, 896; APC, 1623-5, pp. 490-1.
- 9. APC, 1625-6, pp. 456-7.
- 10. Waters, i. 31.
- 11. Vis. Warws. (Harl. Soc. xii), 213; C2/Jas.I/D13/76; Regs. St. Botolph, Bishopsgate trans. A.W. Cornelius Hallen, ii. 9, 39.
- 12. PROB 11/160, ff. 271v-2.