STANLEY, Sir Thomas (1532/33-76), of Winwick, Lancs. and Tong, Salop.

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



Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1532/33, 2nd s. of Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby, by Dorothy, da. of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk. m. Margaret, da. and coh. of (Sir) George Vernon of Haddon, Derbys., 2s. Kntd. 2 Oct. 1553.1

Offices Held

?Commr. goods of churches and fraternities, Lancs. 1552, musters 1569; lt. I.o.M. in 1562; mayor, Liverpool 1568-9.2


It was to his father that Sir Thomas Stanley owed his knighthood of the shire in three successive Parliaments while still in his early twenties: on each occasion he was the senior knight, and in 1555 his fellow-Member was his kinsman Sir William Stanley, later 3rd Lord Monteagle.

Stanley’s marriage to Margaret Vernon brought him Tong in Shropshire and other estates. In October 1563 he received a 99-year lease of the rectory of Winwick at a rent of £120 from one of his Monteagle kinsmen, Thomas Stanley, bishop of Sodor and Man; the Earl of Derby and the bishop of Chester were consenting parties to the lease. The earl himself gave his son a life interest in various manors and lands in Cheshire, Devon, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, of which the most important was probably Eynsham in Oxfordshire. Stanley was a freeman of Liverpool and Preston in the 1650s.3

The earls of Derby adhered more or less faithfully to ‘the religion that had most good luck’, but many other members of the Stanley family remained Catholic after the accession of Elizabeth. Although described as meet to be a justice of the peace in 1564, Sir Thomas Stanley was among these, as befitted one whom his Catholic stepmother Margaret Barlow called ‘the good Stanley’. He was in communication with Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1566 and although he had been active in suppressing the northern rebellion in 1569 he was arrested in 1571 for conspiring with Thomas Gerard and others to procure Mary’s escape by conveying her to the Isle of Man. He was still in prison in 1572.4

Stanley made a nuncupative will on 14 Dec. 1576, leaving everything equally between his wife Margaret and his surviving son Edward. Letters of administration were granted to Margaret on the following 22 Dec. The son erected ‘a magnificent monument’ to his father in Tong church, one further distinguished by its bearing of two epitaphs attributed to William Shakespeare.5

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from elder brother’s and from presumption that he was of age at election. CP; P. Draper, House of Stanley, 52; J. B. Watson, ‘Lancs. gentry 1529-58’ (London Univ. M.A. thesis, 1959), 617-18.
  • 2. VCH Lancs. ii. 97; Watson, 618; Liverpool Archs. 13th-17th Cent. ed. Picton, 34; Liverpool Town Bks. ed. Twemlow, i. 224, 383.
  • 3. Shaw, Staffs. i. 401; CPR, 1566-9, p. 11; VCH Lancs. iv. 127-8n; Oxon. Rec. Soc. xviii. 41-42; Watson, 618; Liverpool Town Bks. i. 477.
  • 4. J. Croston, County Fams. Lancs. and Cheshire, 48; J. S. Leatherbarrow, Lancs. Eliz. Recusants (Chetham Soc. n.s. cx), 43; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 77-78; Palatine Note Bk. iv. 229; APC, viii. 37; HMC Hatfield, i. 339, 505-76 passim; C. Haigh, Ref. and Resistance in Tudor Lancs. 253-4; Lansd. 14, art. 16; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 442; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), ii. 236.
  • 5. PCC 39 Carew; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. xlix (1937-8), 251-64; Pevsner, Salop, 303.