WROTH, Sir Thomas (1584-1672), of Petherton Park, nr. Bridgwater, Som.
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Family and Education
bap. 5 May 1584, 1st s. of Thomas Wroth, counsellor at law, of the Inner Temple and Blunden Hall, Boxley, Kent by Joanna, da. and coh, of Thomas Bulmer of London; bro. of Sir Peter Wroth. educ. Gloucester Hall, Oxf. 1600; I. Temple 1606. m. Margaret (d. 14 Oct. 1635), da. of Richard Rich of Leighs, Essex, s.p. suc. fa. 1610; kntd, 11 Nov. 1613.1
Member, New England Co. 1620, Bermuda Co. 1620, Virginia Co. 1621, Eastland Co.; j.p. Som. 1624-5, 1636-40, 1652-July 1660; recorder, Bridgwater by 1636-62; sheriff, Som. 1639-40, dep. lt. 1639-42, commr. for maintenance of forces 1643, assessment 1643-8, 1650, 1652, 1657, Jan. 1660, levying of money 1643, execution of ordinances 1644, appeals, Oxf. Univ. 1647, militia, Som. 1648, 1650, 1659, Mar. 1660; elder, Taunton classis 1648; commr. for scandalous ministers, Som. 1654, government, Bermudas 1653, sewers, Som. Aug. 1660.2
Commr. for exclusion from sacrament 1646, scandalous offences 1648, high court of justice 1649, removing obstructions 1649-51.
Wroth was descended from Richard de Plaiz who took the name of Wroth on inheriting extensive property in Somerset and Middlesex in 1250. His ancestors regularly represented the latter county from 1332. Wroth came from a strongly Puritan branch of the family. His father, a younger son of the Marian exile Sir Thomas Wroth, made a fortune at the law and purchased an estate in Kent, and Wroth himself bought Petherton from a ruined cousin in 1614. The property lay two miles from Bridgwater, of which he became recorder before the Civil War. A prominent adherent of the parliamentary cause, he was returned for the borough as a recruiter and seconded the vote of no further addresses to the King in 1648 in an outrageously republican speech. But he attended only one of the sessions of the high court of justice, and did not sign the death-warrant. Though an intolerant Presbyterian, he took his seat in the Rump, and voted for the offer of the crown to Cromwell in 1656.3
At the general election of 1660 Wroth was returned for Bridgwater for the fifth time, and listed by Lord Wharton as a friend. An inactive Member of the Convention, he made three recorded speeches, and was appointed to seven committees, including that for confirming purchases of forfeited land, a matter in which he was vitally interested. He was quick to sue out a pardon, and apparently the House accepted his explanation of his part in the King’s trial. He was appointed to the committee of inquiry into unauthorized Anglican publications on 30 June. On 11 July he undertook to restore all the lands he had bought during the Interregnum, even if he had paid 18 years’ purchase for them, a gesture which Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper hoped would be generally followed. On 18 Aug. he urged that no Papists should be nominated as commissioners for the poll-tax. In his last speech, on 21 Dec., he opposed compensation for officials of the court of wards, because they had purchased their places.4
Wroth’s political career ended with the dissolution of the Convention. He was removed from the Somerset commission of the peace, and soon afterwards lost his recordership. He lived on in retirement at Petherton Park, perhaps resuming the poetic diversions of his youth, and died there on 11 July 1672. The property passed to a great-nephew, whose son sat for Bridgwater and Somerset as a Tory under Queen Anne.5
Ref Volumes: 1660-1690
Authors: M. W. Helms / Irene Cassidy
- 1. DNB; Vis. Som. ed. Weaver. 93.
- 2. T. K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 409; Q. Sess. Recs. (Som. Rec. Soc. xxiv), 347; (xxvii), p. xxi; T. G. Barnes, Som. 317; W. Prynne, Som. Divided into Classes (1648), 11; CSP Col. 1547-1660, pp. 404, 449; C181/7/24.
- 3. Collinson, Som. iii. 55, 62, 63, 65, 67-69; HMC 8th Rep. pt. 2 (1881), 38, 40, 47; D. Underdown, Pride’s Purge, 88; Old Parl. Hist. xxi. 14.
- 4. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 9; Bowman diary, ff. 71v. 139v; Old Parl. Hist. xxiii. 62.