GIFFARD, Thomas (by 1491-1560), of Caverswall and Chillington, Staffs.

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



Oct. 1553

Family and Education

b. by 1491, s. of Sir John Giffard by 1st w. educ. Strand Inn; I. Temple, adm. 11 Nov. 1512. m. (1) by 1519, Dorothy (d. by 1529), da. of Sir John Montgomery of Cubley, Derbys., at least 1da.; (2) settlement 20 Oct. 1531, Ursula (d. 15 Mar. 1581), da. of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton, Warws., at least 4s. inc. John 5da. suc. fa. 13 Nov. 1556. Kntd. 22 Feb. 1547.3

Offices Held

Escheator, Staffs. 1523-4, Apr.-Nov. 1538; eommr. subsidy 1523, 1524, tenths of spiritualities 1535, musters 1539, relief 1550, goods of churches and fraternities 1553; sheriff 1529-30, 1547-8, 1553-4; j.p. 1532-d.; jt. (with fa.) ranger, Cannock forest, Staffs. 1532-56, sole 1556-d.; gent. usher, the chamber by 1533-d.; keeper, Brewood park by 1535; steward, manor of Shenstone, Staffs. 30 Apr. 1538.4


After brief spells at an inn of chancery and the Inner Temple, Thomas Giffard followed his father to court, where he is often found in attendance on the King. In 1539 he shared the responsibility for preparing the castles of Dover and Sittingbourne to accommodate Anne of Cleves, and in 1544 he took part in the French campaign. When not at court he lived at Caverswall in the northern part of his county but eventually moved to Chillington after his father’s death. In February 1539 he acquired for £134 the dissolved priory of Brewood, Staffordshire; both he and Edward Littleton had applied for and been given permission to buy it, but when the decision was referred to Cromwell he ruled in favour of Giffard.5

It is some measure of their standing that between them Giffard and his father were pricked sheriff nine times in 44 years. Giffard’s election to the Parliament of 1539, following his father’s to the two previous ones, might have presaged a comparable hold on the knighthood of the shire, but although his father was sheriff at the summoning of the next Parliament Giffard was not elected to it, nor was he to sit again until the accession of Mary. The hiatus is scarcely to be attributed to religion, for Giffard’s Catholicism could not have harmed him before 1547 and under Edward VI he was to be knighted and again pricked sheriff; the concurrent break in the parliamentary career of his fellow-Member Littleton suggests rather that their fortunes were similarly affected by local politics. A rare glimpse into these is afforded at the next occasion on which they were returned together. The shire election for Mary’s first Parliament, held at Stafford on 7 Sept. 1553, saw Giffard ‘chosen by every man’s voice’ whereas Littleton was returned only after a count and a dispute which Chancellor Gardiner settled in Littleton’s favour. Two years later the pair were returned again, each for the last time. In neither Parliament did they have any truck with the opposition to the new regime, their names being absent alike from those of the Members who ‘stood for the true religion’ in 1553 and those who opposed a government bill in 1555. Between the two Parliaments Giffard served his last term as sheriff and in this capacity returned his son John for Stafford in the spring of 1554.6

Giffard did not long survive the death of Mary and the reversal of her religious policy. He sued out a pardon on 15 Jan. 1559 but on the following 4 Aug. he made his will. A traditionalist to the end, he instructed his executors, if allowed to do so, to repair the painting on the altar of Brewood church. He did not die until 27 May 1560, to be buried, as he had wished, beside his first wife in the chancel there. His will was proved on 26 June 1560.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 2. Bodl. e Museo 17.
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from mother’s death. Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. iii(2), 82; C142/110/143, 127/45; HMC Hastings, i. 309; Giffard is styled ‘miles’ on the commission of oyer and terminer for the Oxford circuit dated 9 Feb. 1547 (CPR, 1547-8, p. 75) in anticipation of his knighthood bestowed two weeks later—see H. H. Leonard, ‘Knights and knighthood in Tudor Eng.’ (London Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1970), 78-79.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, ii-v, viii, xiii, xiv, xx, xxi; CPR, 1547-8, p. 75; 1550-3, p. 395; 1553, pp. 316, 357, 415; Val. Eccles, iii. 130.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, xiii, xiv, xvi, xix; CPR, 1553-4, p. 444; Wm. Salt Arch. Soc. (1917), p. 335.
  • 6. A. H. Anderson, ‘Henry, Lord Stafford in local and central govt.’, EHR, lxviii. 227-9.
  • 7. CPR, 1558-60, p. 226; C142/127/45; PCC 36 Mellershe; Trans. Birmingham Arch. Soc. lxx. 21-22; VCH Staffs. iii. 43; Pevsner, Staffs. 97.