TEMYS (TEMMYS, TEMSE), Thomas (by 1508-75), of Shorwell, I.o.W. and West Ashling, Suss.

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 1508, 5th s. of William Temys of Rood Ashton, Wilts. by Joan, da. of Robert Baynard of Lackham, Wilts. m. by 1545, Elizabeth, da. of one Bowes of London, at least 1s. 1da.1

Offices Held

Auditor and steward, manor cts. of Lacock abbey by 1535; ?servant of Cromwell c.1538; centenier, I.o.W. in 1545.2


The youngest of five sons, Thomas Temys might have had little prospect of advancement but for the fact that he was the brother of Joan Temys, the last abbess of the Augustinian nunnery at Lacock. She succeeded to that office, so it appears, shortly before 1516 and was to surrender the abbey to the crown in July 1539. She recruited her two youngest brothers to her service, Christopher as steward of her household and Thomas as a leading official of the abbey. The town of Westbury, near which lay the Temys family home, was within 15 miles of the main abbey lands. It is not known what influence his connexion with the abbey had on Temys’s election in 1529, although the fact that its chief steward was the influential Sir Edward Baynton, himself returned as one of the knights for Wiltshire, is suggestive; his mother’s family, the powerful Baynards of Lackham, may also have helped him. Of his part in the Commons’ proceedings there is only one indication, but that a striking one. It dates from April 1532, when the House received a delegation of peers, headed by Chancellor More, which asked for a grant towards the fortification of the Scottish border. After two Members had argued that this was unnecessary, the best fortifications being the maintenance of justice at home and of friendship abroad, Temys fastened on the second of these aims of policy and, in the words of the chronicler Hall, who probably heard him, ‘moved the Commons to sue to the King, to take the Queen again into his company, and declared certain great mischiefs, as in bastarding the Lady Mary, the King’s only child, and divers other inconveniences’. What effect Temys’s words had on the House we do not know, but the King, when they were reported to him, took the initiative by raising the matter when the Commons waited on him on 30 April. After expressing surprise that ‘one of the parliament house’ should have spoken openly of his separation from the Queen, ‘which matter was not to be determined there, for he said it touched his soul’, he described the ‘grudge of conscience’ which had assailed him over the marriage. The tone of the King’s words, as reported by Hall, was one of sorrow rather than anger, but they vetoed any further discussion of the subject in Parliament.3

Whether they silenced Temys is not known, although when, less than 12 months later, Cromwell drew up what is believed to be a list of Members opposed to the bill in restraint of appeals his name was not included, and this despite the fact that Temys sat for one of the centres of the west country cloth trade, which was well represented by other names on the list. It is possible that he had ceased to attend regularly, but even if Westbury paid him wages no evidence has survived which might have thrown light on the point. In the same way, the loss of the names of the Westbury Members for the three succeeding Parliaments rules out any check of Temys’s attitude based on his reappearance or disappearance as a Member.4

There are, however, hints that in course of time he came to terms with the regime. A list dating from 1538 of those in waiting on Cromwell includes his name among the ‘gentlemen not to be allowed [that is, required and probably paid] in my lord’s household ... but when they have commandment or cause necessary to repair there’: it was perhaps only a foot in the door, but it was not banishment. Two years later a ‘Thomas Thame’ attended the reception of Anne of Cleves. That Temys was the man concerned is the less improbable by reason of his employment in local administration. In March 1538 he and six others had taken depositions at Shorwell about local rumours that Queen Anne Boleyn had been ‘boiled in lead’. Shorwell was a manor of which in September 1529 Temys had received an 80-year lease from Lacock abbey and which in February 1544, some years after the Dissolution, he and his wife were to be granted in fee, at a cost of nearly £300. In June 1546 Temys leased much of his Shorwell property to a local man, John Lovibond: if Lovibond’s statement in a chancery petition is to be believed, Temys had promised to do this before he bought the manor, in return for a loan of £82 from Lovibond towards the purchase price.5

Although Temys was to retain Shorwell until his death, his leasing of it in 1546 seems to have ended his active interest in the Isle of Wight in favour of Wiltshire and, later, Sussex. To judge from another lawsuit of about this time the reason may have been, at least in part, a far from creditable one. Meeting Temys at Portsmouth, a local butcher named Ireland assaulted him, declaring

that at the taking of the French men and French ships in the Isle of Wight I stood in the King’s garrison like a man when thou as a traitor and coward fleddest out of said Isle with thy wife and conveyest then all thy plate and thy money with thee as the King’s untrue subject.

That Temys was there, or was supposed to be there, in July 1545 is clear from the inclusion of his name among those providing men for the Hampshire forces, but there is no way of testing the accusation, which Temys himself denied. Yet his seeming withdrawal from the island so soon after it had suffered its worst invasion of the century prompts the suspicion that the moral courage which Temys had once shown in the House was not matched by his physical courage in the field.6

It was at Temys’s house called ‘Le Pryorye’ at Chitterne, Wiltshire, that the lease of Shorwell called for rent to be paid. The manor of Chitterne Temys had bought in 1543 from Sir John Williams and another, but he had had an interest there since 1538, when he paid Lacock abbey £150 for a large flock of sheep which was kept at Chitterne. When Lacock was dissolved and acquired by (Sir) William Sharington (Temys’s relative by marriage) Temys was kept on there, at least for a time, as auditor and steward of the courts at his previous salary. His own most important acquisition from Lacock was the manor of Bishopstrow. The abbess had leased the manor there for 99 years to her sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Robert Bath (a Bishopstrow clothier), and it was subject to this lease that in 1544 Temys bought the manor from the crown for £506. However, completion was unaccountably slow: Temys appears to have paid the first £250 in November 1544 and the balance by September 1546, but it was not until 1 May 1550 that a patent was issued which after stating that Henry VIII had been ‘prevented by death’ from making the grant, described the property as now indisputably his.7

Although Temys was not to die until 12 Feb. 1575, next to nothing has transpired about the last 25 years of his life. His earlier championship of Princess Mary seems to have found no echo when she came to the throne and he was never put on the bench. It is not known at what stage he moved from the Isle of Wight to Sussex, where he was resident at his death: the last known transaction in which he was involved, dating from May 1570, shows him and Giles Estcourt selling the manor of Whitley and other lands in or near Calne, Wiltshire, to one William Jordan. His son John, who continued to live chiefly in Sussex, sold Bishopstrow in 1577 or 1578.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Presumed to be of age at election. VCH Wilts. iii. 313; C142/172/160; The Gen. n.s. xiii. 24; Wilts. N. and Q. vi. 554-6.
  • 2. Val. Eccles. ii. 117; LP Hen. VIII, xx; M. L. Robertson, ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 571.
  • 3. W. L. Bowles and J. G. Nichols, Annals of Lacock Abbey, 281-2, 291-2; VCH Wilts. iii. 313, 314; Hall, Chron. 788; P. Hughes, Ref. in England (1963 ed.), i. 236; LP Hen. VIII, v.
  • 4. LP Hen. VIII, ix. 1077 citing SP1/99, p. 234.
  • 5. Ibid. xiii, xiv, xix, xxi; C1/1028/46.
  • 6. St.Ch.2/31/121; LP Hen. VIII, xx.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, xviii; VCH Wilts. iii. 314; Bowles and Nichols, 291-2, 311, 313-14; CPR, 1550-3, pp. 20-21.
  • 8. C142/172/160; VCH Wilts. viii. 6; CPR, 1569-72, p. 141; 1572-5, p. 537.