GARDINER, Thomas (1525/26-85 or later), of Maidenhead, Berks. and London.

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. 1525/26, s. of one Gardiner of Maidenhead. educ. Eton; King’s, Camb. adm. 13 Aug. 1542, matric. 1544, fellow 1545-55, BA 1547, MA 1550. m. by 1563, Catherine, da. of Robert Chapman of Cambridge, ?4s. 3da.1

Offices Held

Proctor, Camb. Univ. 1553-4, public orator 1554-7; teller, Exchequer 19 Feb. 1560-4 May 1569; chirographer, ct. common pleas 28 Mar. 1565; ?escheator, duchy of Lancaster c.1580-12 May 1588.2


Thomas Gardiner’s parentage has not been clearly established, but his family seems to have been of gentle rank. He was educated at Eton and afterwards at Cambridge, where he made a name for himself both as scholar and as Protestant. He studied under Walter Haddon; for a time he tutored Francis Walsingham, and on the death of Martin Bucer he contributed to a memorial book of epigrams. After obtaining his master’s degree he offered his services to Secretary Cecil; later Haddon also commended him to Cecil, but he was to remain at Cambridge until 1557.

Gardiner’s return to the Parliament of 1558 is not easy to explain. He had no personal ties with Mitchell, where his name was inserted on the indenture in a different hand. Haddon, himself a Member, perhaps sponsored him, but as within two years Gardiner was to obtain an exchequer post he may already have been known to the lord treasurer, William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester, whose kinsmen the Arundells of Lanherne controlled the borough. The Journal does not mention Gardiner, and his name, although included on the Crown Office list for the Parliament, is unaccountably omitted from the copy in use for the second session.3

In 1564 complaints reached Cecil about Gardiner’s misconduct in the Exchequer; these he refuted, but five years later an investigation revealed that he had defrauded the Queen of nearly £30,000 and he lost the tellership. He was ordered to repay the money but when he failed to do so he was imprisoned in 1571 and again in 1585. He asked for leniency from Winchester and Cecil, but without avail. In 1577 Bishop Aylmer noted his refusal to attend church, and his poverty. If he was the escheator in the duchy of Lancaster he probably died not long after surrendering office in May 1588, for in 1597 the escheator was described as ‘long dead’. Either Gardiner or a namesake, describing himself as of London, made a will on 20 Feb. 1588 providing for unmarried daughters, but leaving his younger sons to look to their elder brother Walter (perhaps named after Gardiner’s tutor) for support once his debts had been paid: the will was proved in 1591.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Aged 16 on admission to Cambridge. Vis. Cambs. (Harl. Soc. xli), 83; PCC 80 Sainberbe.
  • 2. CPR, 1558-60, p. 281; 1563-6, p. 235; 1566-9, p. 363; Somerville, Duchy, i. 467.
  • 3. C219/25/17; C. Read, Walsingham, i. 16; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 306; Lansd. 2(40), f. 97, (52), f. 119, (84), f. 185; 3(8), f. 15; Wm. Salt Lib. SMS. 264.
  • 4. Lansd. 4(58), f. 214, 7(93), ff. 226-7, 10(4), ff. 13-15, 12(96), ff. 213-14, 13(36), ff. 111-12, (37), ff. 113-14, 15(82), ff. 173-4, (83), ff. 175-7, 190-1; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 196, 305-6, 362, 412, 419, 597; Cath. Rec. Soc. xxii. 47; Somerville, i. 467; PCC 80 Sainberbe.