CHEYNE, Thomas (by 1537-66), of Westfield, Suss.
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Family and Education
On 9 Dec. 1557, three days after the writs had gone out summoning a Parliament for 20 Jan. 1558, and some weeks before the emissary from Dover castle brought the writ with the lord warden’s precept, Rye made its election, of one Member only, ‘pro isto parliamento’. In so acting, the port sought to ensure that at least one of its Members should be of its own choosing. The writ arrived on 3 Jan.; three days later a messenger was paid for having carried a letter to the warden, Sir Thomas Cheyne, and brought back an answer ‘for the burgess of the Parliament’; and on 10 Jan. the election return was sent from Rye to the warden.2
Sir Thomas Cheyne’s nominee on this occasion was the namesake and distant relative who was (almost certainly) to witness the warden’s will on 6 Dec. 1558. From Cheyne’s own will it appears that he was an ironmaster: the iron industry flourished at Warbleton in the 16th century, one of the chief works there being the furnace and forge belonging to the Cheyne family. Cheyne himself seems to have played no part in local government: at the musters in Sussex in 1539, when his elder brother William headed the list of able bowmen in the borough of Warbleton, two servants of Thomas Cheyne gentleman appear but not himself. He had no official connexion with Rye apart from his single election there, and he was not paid wages for his parliamentary service.3
By his will, made on the day of his death, 6 Feb. 1566, Cheyne left to his wife his house at Warbleton and 20 marks every quarter out of his lands in Ringmer. The son, John, was to have £20 a year ‘to find him at school, inn of court or chancery’, and the daughter £8 a year until she was 21 or married. The two children were named executors, but as they were minors when the will was proved on 17 Mar. 1567 administration was granted to two overseers. Cheyne’s inquisition post mortem showed him holding two tenements in Lewes and lands in Guestling, Ringmer, Warbleton, Westfield and elsewhere in Sussex; when it was taken, on 25 Oct. 1568, John Cheyne was just over five years old.4