PRESTALL, Thomas (by 1503-51), of Poling, Houghton, Suss. 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. by 1503, s. of Ellis Prestall of Poling by Jane, da. of Richard Brocas, wid. of Thomas Purvocke. educ. I. Temple. m. c.1534, Margaret (?Ingler), 1s. 1da. suc. fa. 1524/27.1

Offices Held

Servant of William Fitzalan, 11th Earl of Arundel; bailiff, Arundel rape, Suss. by 1528; receiver-gen. Arundel coll. by Dec. 1529.2


The family of Prestall was not of old Sussex stock and may have migrated from Lancashire. Between 1536 and 1538 Thomas Prestall fought a chancery case over lands in Sussex granted in 1514 by the abbot of Tewkesbury to his uncles Edward and Nicholas, both of whom had died without issue: Edward Prestall had been described on the pardon roll of 1513 as ‘of Ferring, Sussex, husbandman, alias late of Manchester, Lancashire, yeoman’.3

Thomas Prestall was assigned a chamber at the Inner Temple on 27 June 1517. Appointed master of the revels there in 1519, he was frequently proposed as marshal or butler during the 1520s and 30s, was fined £5 for refusing the butlerage in January 1535 and four years later was similarly fined over the marshaIcy. The records of the inn contain nothing more about him, but he must have set store by his legal training to have instructed his wife that their son John was to be supported ‘in his learning’ at the inns of court or chancery.4

On his deathbed in 1524 Thomas, loth Earl of Arundel, remembered his servant Ellis Prestall, and it is likely that Thomas Prestall (perhaps named after the earl) began his career with the family before that date: within a few years of it his services were certainly retained by the 11th Earl to whom he must also have owed his seat in the Parliament of 1529 with another Fitzalan client, Richard Sackville I. Nothing is known about his part in the affairs of this Parliament, but during 1531-1 he and Sackville were pitted against each other in a wrangle over lands belonging to Arundel college. He doubtless sat for Arundel again in 1536, in compliance with the King’s request for the re-election of the previous Members, and he may have done so again in x539, 1542 and 1545, Parliaments for which the names of the borough’s Members are lost.5

Prestall’s legal knowledge was called upon to safeguard his property, particularly 600 acres at Sullington, which his father had leased from Arundel college and which various people attempted to wrest from him, but after a prolonged legal battle, intervention by the earl and bribing of the master of the college, Prestall received a new lease of it in 1541. This success proved to be short lived, for eight years later he was in court again against a local justice, John Ledes of Steyning, who had seized the land: Ledes braved an order from the Council to yield it up, used all possible means to discredit Prestall, and in a final bid to win the case replaced his first attorney by John Sulyard. From this three-year struggle Prestall emerged the victor only months before death, and such was the hostility aroused that within two more years his widow was to be dispossessed of much of her property.6

Prestall usually dwelt at Poling, but it was at Houghton that he made his will on 30 Sept. 1551. Apart from his lease at Sullington left to Margaret for life, he had property in seven Sussex villages. His wife was to administer the estate, and if she remarried his children John and Joan, the wife of William Cheyne, were to receive the profits of his land under the watchful eye of his ‘cousin’ Thomas Ingler. The will was proved early in the following December.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: R. J.W. Swales


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from education. C1/436/26, 530/27, 1313/72; PCC 35 Bucke.
  • 2. C1/701/9, 875/70.
  • 3. C1/875/70; 67/61, n. 7.
  • 4. Cal. I.T. Recs. 40, 49, 86, 96, 101, 108-9; PCC 35 Bucke.
  • 5. PCC 28 Bodfelde.
  • 6. Req.2/17/65;C1/1313/72.
  • 7. PCC 35 Bucke.