FOWLER, Thomas (by 1505-56), of Islington, Mdx., London and Calais.

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. by 1505, s. of John Fowler by Agnes. m. by 1527, Alice, da. of one Layson, wid. of (?Richard) Peyton, 1s. 2da.1

Offices Held

Receiver, Marck and Oye 23 May 1530-18 Nov. 1545; gent. usher by 20 Feb. 1535-d.; paymaster, Calais garrison in 1539; waterbailiff (with Ralph Broke) 29 July 1539-9 Aug. 1546, (with Edmund Peyton) 9 Aug. 1546-d.; commr. oyer and terminer, Calais 1542; keeper, storehouse of the works in 1552.2


Thomas Fowler, a younger son and merchant of the staple of Calais, maintained trading connexions with Antwerp and Bruges throughout his life, owning a ship in 1540 and dealing mainly in wine. By 1526, perhaps with the help of his elder brother Robert, he had obtained a minor post in the royal service under the King’s surveyor at Calais. When Fowler took up his appointment, there was little interest in the crumbling fortifications of the pale, but the years which followed saw a reappraisal which was to bring Fowler promotion as paymaster of the works and garrison and contact with the King’s chief advisers: during the 1530s he corresponded regularly with Cromwell, and when he visited England in 1534 Audley ‘shook him and told him he perseveres like a singular good lord’ to him. Fowler had further benefited from the advancement of his elder brother to the vice-treasurership of Calais in 1531, for he became Robert Fowler’s deputy; he also held a post, described either as a spear or as an archer, in the retinue of the exchequer of Calais, but this was probably a sinecure, as there is nothing to suggest that he was a soldier and in 1544 he was exempted from serving in the Boulogne campaign.3

In religion as in temperament a conservative, Fowler was on good terms with the deputy, Viscount Lisle, and his wife, and with Lady Lisle’s kinsmen, especially John Grenville. With his brother and his stepson Edmund Peyton, Fowler supported Lisle in his attack on Thomas Broke in 1539 and 1540 over the bill of Six Articles. The downfall of Lisle and the death of Robert Fowler in 1540 temporarily blighted Fowler’s prospects even though as his brother’s heir he achieved the status of gentleman: he and another brother had been appointed executors of Robert Fowler’s will, a vexatious task because the King briefly impounded the late vice-treasurer’s possessions and probate was delayed for three or four years. By then, however, the outbreak of war had further quickened interest in the defences of Calais and made the pale a base for mercenary forces, with a consequent revival in Fowler’s activity and an increase in his standing. At an election held on 20 Oct. 1547 the mayor and council of Calais returned Fowler as their Member to the Parliament of 1547, the deputy’s Member being Thomas Broke. Fowler had been reconciled with Broke, who succeeded him as receiver of Marck and Oye, but his election may have been designed by the mayor to balance Broke’s return by the deputy, the two being opposed in religion. Nothing is known of Fowler’s part in the Commons, but on 6 Dec. 1549 he received a pardon.4

By his will of 20 Mar. 1556, made at his London house, Fowler provided for his wife, son and daughter, for his own burial, and for the payment of an honest priest at Calais, Islington, or St. Sepulchre’s, and at the Black Friars, Smithfield, to sing and pray for his and his kin’s souls. He made several small bequests to charities and to certain friends and relatives, including William Horne and Edmund Peyton. His executors were his wife, his son, his son-in-law Thomas Fisher (brother of Henry Fisher) and a London attorney named Went, and his overseer was (Sir) William Stanford. Fowler probably died soon afterwards, his will being proved on 9 July 1556.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from marriage. Mill Stephenson, Mon. Brasses, 305; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 127; PCC 10 Ketchyn.
  • 2. LP Hen. VIII, iv, viii, xiv, xvi, xviii, xx, xxi; Stowe 571, f. 24v.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, iv, vi, vii, ix-xv, xix.
  • 4. Ibid. vii, viii, xii, xiv-xvi; Foxe, Acts and Mons. v. 510; P. T. J. Morgan ‘The govt. of Calais, 1485-1558’ (Oxf. Univ. D. Phil. thesis, 1966), 231; PCC 3 Pynnyng; ECP, viii. 117; HMC Shrewsbury and Talbot, ii. 341; CPR, 1548-9, p. 168.
  • 5. PCC 10 Ketchyn.