COLSHILL, Thomas (1517/18-95), of London; Hackney, Mdx. and Chigwell, Essex.

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



Family and Education

b. 1517/18, s. of William Colshill, and bro. of Robert. m. by Feb. 1545, Mary, da. of Gideon Crafford or Crayford, 3da.1

Offices Held

Supervisor of petty customs, London June 1549; surveyor of great customs by 1572; j.p. Mdx. 1554,p.q. Essex 1579-d.; commr. sewers, Mdx. 1554, Essex, Herts. and Mdx. 1566; escheator, Kent and Mdx. 1560-1.2


Thomas Colshill was the son of a London mercer, probably of Essex origin. He attended the funeral of Henry VIII as an esquire but otherwise the earliest references found to him relate to property transactions. In 1543 he bought a London garden which his father had leased some years earlier, and in 1547 he acquired land in Hackney from Sir Thomas Darcy which a year later he parted with to a John and Elizabeth Smith. He also operated further afield, first buying from Sir Humphrey Radcliffe in 1544, and then selling to William, 3rd Lord Dacre, lands in Cumberland, Lancashire and Westmorland. He appears on the pardon roll of 1554 as of Hackney and London, and in the same year he was put on the Middlesex commission of the peace, but he was eventually to settle at Chigwell in Essex.3

Colshill could have owed his return for Knaresborough to one or more of several possible patrons. As a customs official he was a subordinate of the lord treasurer, William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester, who would have needed to act through the duchy of Lancaster, Knaresborough being a duchy borough. With the duchy Colshill may have had a personal link. At the time of the election the chancellorship was in process of transmission from Sir Robert Rochester to his nephew Sir Edward Waldegrave, and Colshill was connected by marriage, through Thomas Smith IV, with (Sir) Clement Smith, a close friend of Rochester. As Thomas Smith himself sat in this Parliament for Wigan, another borough belonging to the duchy, Colshill’s return might be seen as a by-product of this family tie, but among other possibilities are the goodwill of Colshill’s brother Robert (himself returned for Steyning under the patronage of the 12th Earl of Arundel), of his Hackney neighbour Sir Thomas Wentworth II, 2nd Baron Wentworth, or of Wentworth’s cousin Michael Wentworth, and finally of Sir Arthur Darcy, whose son Henry took the other Knaresborough seat on this occasion.4

Under Elizabeth, Colshill remained a customs official and sat in one further Parliament. According to the memorial later set up by his wife he died on 30 Mar. 1595, having made his will two years earlier.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Aged 77 at death according to MI, Trans. Essex Arch. Soc. n.s. xii. 140. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiv), 562; LP Hen. VIII, xx; PCC 46 Kidd.
  • 2. CPR, 1549-51, p. 65; 1553-4, pp. 22, 37; 1554-5, p. 108; 1569-72, p. 219; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, p. 440.
  • 3. LC2/2, f. 67; LP Hen. VIII, xiv, xviii-xx; CPR, 1547-8, p. 213; 1548-9, p. 84; 1549-51, p. 358; 1554-5, p. 348; C1/1156/34, 1263/33.
  • 4. PCC 28 Powell; CPR, 1554-5, p. 56; 1569-72, p. 183; W. Robinson, Hackney, i. 303, 309.
  • 5. PCC 23 Scott.