CARUS, Thomas (by 1515-71), of Halton, Lancs.; Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmld. and the Middle Temple, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1515, s. of William Carus of Asthwaite, Westmld. by Isabel, da. of Thomas Leyburn of Cunswick, Westmld. educ. M. Temple. m. by 1545, Catherine, da. of Thomas Preston of Preston Patrick, Westmld., 3s. 3da. Kntd. 1567.1

Offices Held

Lent reader, M. Temple 1556.

J.p. Lancs. 1538-d., Westmld. 1554-d., Berks., Cumb., Glos., Herefs., Mon., Oxon., Salop, Staffs., Worcs. 1558/59-d.; commr. chantries, Cheshire, Chester and Lancs. 1548, Lancs. 1550, 1552, 1554, goods of churches and fraternities, Lancs. and Yorks. 1553, eccles. causes, diocese of Chester 1562; other commissions 1551-d.; v.-chancellor at Lancaster, duchy of Lancaster by Aug. 1547-?d., feodary, Essex, Herts., London, Mdx. and Surr. 1553; serjeant-at-law Dec. 1558; Queen’s serjeant Oct. 1559; j. KB c.1566.2


Thomas Carus was a lawyer from Westmorland who rose to be a justice of the King’s bench. He both inherited and acquired property in Westmorland but his main theatre of action in the north was Lancashire. In 1536 his uncle Sir James Leyburn asked for Cromwell’s help in obtaining a lease from Cartmel priory for himself and Carus. What came of this is not known, but within two years Carus had been named to the Lancashire bench. By 1547 he held the vice-chancellorship in the duchy at Lancaster, and presumably this post and his own standing in the county explain his successive elections: he may also have had the backing of his kinsmen the Stanleys, and in 1547 the personal support of the new chancellor of the duchy Sir William Paget, who was to retain, or was even already retaining, his services in matters relating to property. Carus’s name is inserted in a different hand from the rest of the document on the indenture for Lancaster in the autumn of 1553 and over an erasure two years later. Early in 1549 he was one of several lawyers approached by Thomas Jolye to defend hereditary shrievalties which were then under review in Parliament, and on 30 Oct. 1555 a bill regulating the attendance of Members was committed to him after its first reading.3

Carus was employed in the dissolution of the chantries and his appointment to execute the Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy in the diocese of Chester in July 1562 reflects his conformism. In 1564 he was judged ‘favourable’ to the Anglican settlement and on at least one occasion tried and condemned a man for hearing mass. Yet the will he made on 1 June 1569 opens with the bequest of his soul to the Trinity, the Virgin Mary and the saints, and three years after his death his eldest son, also Thomas, and other members of the family were taken at Limehouse with ‘all things prepared for the saying of mass’. His third son and eventual heir, Christopher, was the founder of a line that remained Catholic till the 18th century. After providing for his wife and family Carus named his wife and son Thomas executors. He died on 5 July 1571 and the will was proved a week later.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxi), 60; H. Carus-Wilson and H. I. Talboys, Carus-Wilson Fam. 3-10; H. H. Leonard, ‘Knights and knighthood in Tudor Eng.’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1970), 302.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, xiii; CPR , 1554-5, p. 106; 1557-8, p. 457; 1558-60, pp. 21, 65, 335; 1560-3, pp. 94, 280-1, 434-5, 437, 441-4; 1563-6, pp. 20, 22-23, 25-28, 35, 37, 41, 104-5, 510; 1566-9, pp. 441, 444; 1569-72, pp. 37, 215, 223; VCH Lancs. ii. 96-98; Somerville, Duchy, i. 297; 298n, 215, 223; VCH Lancs. ii. 96-98; Somerville, Duchy, i. 297, 298n, 323n, 480-1, 611; Foss, Judges, v. 471.
  • 3. J. B. Watson, ‘Lancs. gentry 1529-58’ (London Univ. M.A. thesis, 1959), 272-3; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 308, 447; 1555-7, p. 61; 1557-8, p. 261; 1560-3, pp. 200, 263; 1563-6, p. 264; LP Hen. VIII, xi; Clifford Letters (Surtees Soc. clxxii), 103; CJ, i. 43.
  • 4. Watson, 273; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 77; CPR, 1566-9, p. 69; PCC 33 Holney; Lansd. 19, art. 21; Cath. Rec. Soc. iv. 168; C. Haigh, Ref. and Resistance in Tudor Lancs. 213; C142/159/79.