DACRES, Sir Thomas (1587-1668), of Cheshunt, Herts.
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Family and Education
b. 19 Oct. 1587, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Dacres of Cheshunt by 2nd w. Dorothy, da. of Thomas Pigott of Doddershall, Bucks. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1603. m. c.1609 (with £2,000), Martha, da. of Thomas Elmes of Lilford, Northants., 9s. (3 d.v.p.) 4da. suc. fa. 1615, kntd. 22 Feb. 1617.2
Sheriff, Herts. Aug.-Nov. 1615, j.p. c.1621-49, 1656-d., dep. lt. by 1627-42, commr. for assessment 1643-8, Aug. 1660-d., Hunts. 1647-8, Northants. Aug. 1660-1, sequestration, Herts. 1643, defence 1643, accounts 1643, levying of money 1643, eastern association 1643; treas. Cromwell’s regt. 1644; commr. for new model ordinance, Herts. 1644; member, council of war, Kent 1645; commr. for militia, Herts. and Hunts. 1648, Herts. Mar. 1660, oyer and terminer, Northern circuit July 1660.3
Commr. for exclusion from sacrament 1646, appeals, Oxf. Univ. 1647, scandalous offences 1648, adventurers [I] 1654.
Dacres was the great-grandson of one of Henry VIII’s masters of requests, who acquired the college and advowson of Higham Ferrers as well as the property at Cheshunt where the family lived. His grandfather sat for Castle Rising in 1571. Dacres, a Presbyterian, felt the weight of Archbishop Laud’s displeasure, and supported Parliament throughout the first Civil War, but was turned back by the soldiers, to his great indignation, at Pride’s Purge. He was involved in a double return with Edward Harby for Higham Ferrers at the general election of 1660, which was resolved in his favour on 16 May. An inactive Member of the Convention, he was named to only nine committees, of which the most important was for confirming civil marriages. His chief concern in the House was to obtain repayment of the £250 he had advanced for the suppression of the Irish rebellion in 1642. On 8 Nov. he obtained leave of the House ‘to attend certain commissioners’ in the afternoon; and four days later Arthur Annesley presented a report from the committee for debts of the army and navy, recommending that he should receive £180 interest; but the House would only vote him the principal, which they charged on the excise. Dacres’s activity over revenue matters naturally increased; he was appointed to the committees for settling wine licences and for excise and accounts. But he was probably reckoned an opponent of the Court, and at the dissolution he had still received nothing. His estate was valued at £1,000 p.a. at this time, but the effort of launching his numerous offspring on the world without court assistance had probably strained his resources, and he suffered further loss in the Great Fire of London. He was buried at Cheshunt on 26 Dec. 1668, ‘without funeral solemnity or other expenses, according as these times of humiliation require’. His grandson became a gentleman pensioner to Charles II, and sold the Cheshunt estate in 1675. But the Higham Ferrers property was reserved, and in 1724 the borough was unsuccessfully contested by his great-grandson, who revived the fortunes of the family, though not their parliamentary record, by marrying one of the coheirs of Richard Brett.4