CHAFE, Thomas I (c.1611-62), of Sherborne, Dorset and the Middle Temple.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. c.1611, 1st s. of John Chafe, merchant, of Exeter, Devon by Anne, da. of William May of North Molton, Devon. educ. M. Temple 1631, called 1638. m. lic. 28 Dec. 1641 aged 30, Catherine, da. of Sir Thomas Malet, j.K.b. 1641-2, May-Dec. 1660, of St. Audries, Som., 1s. 5da. suc. fa. 1619.1

Offices Held

Bencher, M. Temple 1659; j.p. Dorset July 1660-d., commr. for assessment Aug. 1660-d.


Chafe’s grandfather, of Somerset origin, migrated to Exeter where he was twice mayor. Chafe became a lawyer, and, though doubtless an Anglican and a Royalist in sympathy, took no part in the Civil War. His father-in-law, the father of John Malet and Michael Malet, was associated with the 1st Earl of Bristol over the Kent petition of 1642, and Chafe, as one of the earl’s trustees, helped to buy back and manage the forfeited estate during the Interregnum.2

The first of his family to enter Parliament, Chafe was returned for Totnes, presumably on the Seymour interest, at the general election of 1660, when Cavaliers and their sons were forbidden to stand. A moderately active Member of the Convention he was appointed to 29 committees, including those to draft the assessment ordinances, and made 12 recorded speeches, mostly in defence of the Church against Popery and fanaticism. He wished to impose the oath of supremacy on recusants, and the 39 Articles on incumbents, and he supported the ousting of the intruded dons at Oxford by Lord Hertford, the head of the younger branch of the Seymour family. He was named to the committees for the navigation bill and for settling ecclesiastical livings, and he was among those ordered to give directions on engrossing the latter bill. He was of course named to the committee to consider reparations to his employer, Lord Bristol. He was active in taxation measures, helping to draw up an assertion of the sole right of the Commons to name local commissioners. He was also named to the committees to fix the Dunkirk establishment and to consider a bill for endowing vicarages, a matter which concerned him personally, since his wife’s dowry was charged on a Cornish rectory.3

In the second session, Chafe attacked the ‘indulgence and remissness’ of the poll-tax commissioners, and was named to the committee to examine defects in the Act. He was among those appointed to consider the attainder bill. In the debate on the militia bill he moved for a limitation on the powers of imprisonment granted to deputy lieutenants. He was among those appointed to draft the clauses for compensating the crown for the loss of feudal revenue by means of the excise and for repealing Henry VIII’s Statute of Liveries, though he insisted on proper compensation for officials of the court of wards. He opposed such local Puritans as Sir Walter Erle and Denzil Holles in preferring mothers to grandfathers as guardians.4

Chafe was replaced by Sir Edward Seymour at the general election of 1661. He was buried in the Temple Church on 3 July 1662.5

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 536; PCC 74 Parker; Mar. Lic. (Harl. Soc. xxvi), 262-3.
  • 2. Trans. Devon Assoc. xix. 531; Cal. Comm. Comp. 2170; CSP Dom. 1656-7, p. 10; Dorset RO, KG2655; CJ, ii. 507.
  • 3. Bowman diary, ff. 25v, 53, 69, 109; PCC 138 Laud.
  • 4. Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 2, 22, 47, 61; CJ, ix. 177.
  • 5. Temple Church Recs. 16.