EDGAR, Thomas (by 1508-47), of Blewbury, Berks.; Bermondsey, Surr. and London.
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Family and Education
?Auditor to 5th Earl of Northumberland in 1537; j.p. Berks. 1538-44, Surr. 1542-3; gent. usher, privy chamber by 1541-2 or later; searcher, Boulonnais and Boulogne in 1544.2
The origins of Thomas Edgar are obscure, although in a chancery suit during Wolsey’s time he described himself as a gentleman. There are similarities between the arms and crest granted to the Edgars of Great Glemham, in east Suffolk, and those granted to Thomas Edgar by the same herald. It is not clear whether he had inherited any of the lands which he held at the time of his death, in Lincolnshire, London and Yorkshire, or whether these were all acquired in the course of his career.3
It is also not known when Edgar attached himself to Cromwell, but from 1536 onwards the minister’s accounts contain many sums paid to him by Edgar, sometimes on his own behalf and sometimes for others. In August 1536 Edgar protested at his master’s request to him to part with his interest in a farm at Huttoft, Lincolnshire, late of Markby priory, in favour of Sir William Skipwith; writing from ‘my brother Yorke’s house, in Wiltshire’, he promised to explain his objection when he saw the King and Cromwell at Reading. In 1537 he was listed with other prospective jurors to try the rebels in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire and he was empanelled for the trial of Sir Edward Neville in the following year. He may have been the ‘Edgare’, auditor to the late Earl of Northumberland, whom (Sir) Robert Southwell asked to be sent north in July 1538; as the childless earl had promised to leave his estates to the crown, the auditor may well have been appointed by the government. Official attempts to have ‘Master Edgare’ rewarded in 1538 are revealed by letters from the abbots of Biddlesden and Chester, both of whom pleaded that they should not be forced to grant him leases out of their few remaining lands. Edgar was among the esquires who received Anne of Cleves in January 1540 and at the end of April he secured a 21-year lease of lands in Mumby, Lincolnshire.4
Edgar’s return for Malmesbury to the Parliament of 1529 is probably to be explained by his marriage connexions with influential local families: Broad Hinton, the home of the Wroughtons, was some ten miles from Malmesbury, and Hilldrop, near Ramsbury, where in 1536 he stayed with Thomas Yorke (three times sheriff of Wiltshire), about twice that distance. Edgar had joined his wife, his sisters-in-law and their husbands in a chancery suit before Wolsey against Sir Henry Long and his son-in-law, Anthony Beauchamp, who as feoffees had withheld income bequeathed to Edgar’s daughters by Sir Christopher Wroughton: they accused Long of allowing this income to be enjoyed by Sir John Seymour, who had been granted the wardship of William Wroughton. With Seymour, however, Edgar seems to have been on good terms: in 1537 Seymour’s son Edward, then Viscount Beauchamp, wrote to Cromwell from Wolf Hall that the minister had a friend there in Edgar, who seldom forgot him. It is probable that Edgar sat again for Malmesbury in the Parliament of 1536, in accordance with the King’s general request for the return of the previous Members, and with Cromwell’s patronage to reinforce his local claim he may have done so again in 1539, when, as in 1536, the names of the Malmesbury Members are lost. There is no trace of his part in the proceedings of the House.5
Two days after Cromwell’s death his protégé Dr. Robert Barnes was burned for heresy at Smithfield; at the stake Barnes asked (Sir) Thomas Pope to commend him to Edgar and desire him to ‘leave that abominable swearing which he used’, lest he should come to a bad end. Edgar himself seems to have survived Cromwell’s fall unharmed. In July 1541 he obtained confirmation of a 50-year lease of the prebend and rectory of Blewbury made to him by Sir Thomas Paston, another gentleman of the privy chamber; when in the following year an Act (33 Hen. VIII, c.42) abolished the prebend and annexed it to the personal use of the bishop of Salisbury, a proviso safeguarded Edgar’s rights: perhaps he was again a Member and thus able to intervene directly. In August 1541 he was associated with Sir Robert Southwell, who had acquired Bermondsey abbey, in a licence to alienate to Sir Thomas Pope lands in the manor of Dulwich, the abbey’s fishing and hawking rights in Bermondsey and Erith marshes, and the advowson of St. Mary Magdalen’s church, and in the next two years he himself was granted the reversion of a 21-year lease of the Oxfordshire manor of Burford and a rent of corn at Hendred, Berkshire. In July 1544 he was in the King’s suite on the expedition against Boulogne, travelling with 40 men and conveying an unspecified part of the royal baggage: after the capture of the town he was ordered to remain there as searcher.6
When he came to make his will early in 1547 Edgar asked to be buried in the chancel of St. Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey. A London house and its contents were left to his widow, together with the estate at Blewbury for 40 years; the remainder of the lease at Blewbury was to go to Robert Edgar and George Downes for life, and then to the testator’s niece, Dorothy, and her sister, Alice Gibson, probably the widow of Richard Gibson, one of Edgar’s colleagues in the Parliament of 1529. Five Yorkshire manors were committed to Robert Warton, bishop of St. Asaph and a former abbot of Bermondsey, to the use of Alice Gibson, with remainder to her son Edgar, the testator’s godson. The bishop also received all the Lincolnshire lands with instructions to employ the profits as had been agreed, and the remainder was again left to Edgar Gibson. More Yorkshire manors, in the West Riding, lately bought from Robert Roos and including Kirk Deighton and Azerley, passed to the right heir, who was to allow the testator’s widow to enjoy one third as her dower. Bishop Warton, Robert Curzon, a baron of the Exchequer (to whom Warton leased the Lincolnshire and Yorkshire lands), and Alice Gibson were appointed executors, with (Sir) Edward North, Sir Robert Southwell, Sir Thomas Pope and Sir Thomas Holcroft as supervisors. An inquisition on Edgar’s Lincolnshire property found that he had held lands in Anderby, Huttoft and Mumby, and that he had died on 20 Feb. 1547. Richard King, the 15 year-old son of Edgar’s sister Margaret by the late John King, was the heir.7
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: T. F.T. Baker
- 1. Presumed to be of age at election. C1/503/19; E150/581/7.
- 2. LP Hen. VIII, xii, xiii, xvi-xviii, xx.
- 3. C1/503/19; Wilts. Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. cv, cvi), 219; Vis. Suff. (Harl. Soc. lxi), 101, 142; Grantees of Arms (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 80; Harl. 5846, ff. 33, 34.
- 4. LP Hen. VIII, xi-xv; M. L. Robertson, ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph. D. thesis, 1975), 577-8; St.Ch. 2/27/66.
- 5. C1/503/19; LP Hen. VIII, ii, xi, xii.
- 6. Foxe, Acts and Mons. v. 436; LP Hen. VIII, xvi-xix; VCH Surr. iv. 20-21.
- 7. PCC 35 Alen; E150/581/7.