WILLIAMS, Thomas (1602-1630), of Ugborough, Devon
Available from Cambridge University Press
Family and Education
b. 17 Mar. 1602, 1st s. of Thomas Williams (d.1638) of Stowford, Harford, Devon and Jane, da. and h. of Richard Edgcumbe† of Calstock, Cornw.1 educ. I. Temple 1619.2 m. settlement 12 Apr. 1624 (with £1,100), Anna, da. of (Sir) John Speccott* of Thornbury, Devon and Penheale, Cornw., 1s. 2da. d. 9 Sept. 1630.3
Williams’ forebears were minor Devon gentry who acquired their principal seat of Stowford, on the southern edge of Dartmoor, in the early sixteenth century. His great-grandfather, Thomas Williams, was a successful lawyer who became Speaker of the 1563 Parliament, but otherwise the family played little part in public affairs.4 Williams’ father, another Thomas, owned just two manors and around 730 acres in 1624, though he had managed to marry into a junior branch of the locally prominant Edgcumbe family. This connection probably explains Williams’ own socially advantageous marriage to a daughter of Sir John Speccott, since his mother and Speccott’s first wife, Elizabeth Edgcumbe, were close cousins. This 1624 union allowed Williams to establish an independent base, since the pre-nuptial settlement provided him with a small estate at Ugborough, a few miles from Stowford.5
Two years later, Williams was elected to Parliament at Newport, doubtless with the backing of his father-in-law, whose house at Penheale was one of the principal seats near the borough. Williams was returned almost a week after two rival candidates, Thomas Gewen and Sir Henry Hungate, both of whom he apparently sought to displace. When the committee for privileges examined the dispute on 16 Mar. 1626, they noted an appeal by Williams against Gewen, who had breached protocol by securing a place while serving as one of the borough’s returning officers, or vianders. By this time, the committee had also received a petition from some of Newport’s residents which alleged that Hungate had been elected on an unduly restricted franchise, whereas Williams’ indenture reflected a broader electoral base. However, perhaps because Williams had himself been irregularly returned without the support of either viander, he withdrew his candidacy on or by 16 Mar., leaving his rivals to win by default. Gewen and Hungate were confirmed in their seats on the following day.6
Williams died in September 1630, apparently intestate, and was buried at Ugborough. As he predeceased his father, he had provided for his two daughters only by assigning them a reversionary interest in the Ugborough estate, a situation which both the elder Thomas Williams and Sir John Speccott subsequently sought to rectify. Thomas also secured the wardship of Williams’ two-year-old son, which had fallen to the Crown, though he himself died in 1638 while the boy was still a minor. None of Williams’ immediate descendants are known to have sat in Parliament.7
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Paul Hunneyball
- 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 789; C142/571/159.
- 2. I. Temple database of admiss.
- 3. C142/457/87. Many of the details in Vivian for this stage of the pedigree are inaccurate.
- 4. Vivian, 789; T. Risdon, Survey of Devon, 184; HP Commons, 1558-1603, iii. 625-7.
- 5. C142/457/87; Vivian, Vis. Devon, 707, 789; Vivian, Vis. Cornw. 142.
- 6. Procs. 1626, ii. 16, 300, 305; C219/40/262.
- 7. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 789; C142/457/87; 142/571/159; PROB 11/176, ff. 361v-2; 11/197, f. 282v.