WARCOP, Thomas (by 1525-89), of Smardale, Westmld.

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



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1525, 1st s. of John Warcop of Smardale, by Anne, da. of Geoffrey Lancaster of Crake Trees. m. Anne, da. of Rowland Thornborough of Hampsfield, Lancs., 2da. suc. fa. 1561/62.2

Offices Held

Esquire of the body in 1546; gent. pens. by 1552-d.; gov. Kirkby Stephen g.s. 1565, capt. Carlisle castle Sept. 1568-d.; j.p. Westmld. 1573/74-d., q. by 1579; commr. for pirates’ goods 1588.3


The Warcops were tenants by military service of the Clifford family, but Thomas Warcop could also have looked for his preferment to Thomas Wharton, 1st Baron Wharton, whose mother was a Warcop of Smardale. Wharton was captain-general of Carlisle (although Warcop does not seem to have been appointed to office there until after his kinsman’s death) and Warcop was a governor of the school Wharton founded at Kirkby Stephen, but as he was also on good terms with Wharton’s successor at Carlisle, the 9th Lord Scrope, whose mother was a Clifford, he may not have been affected by Wharton’s quarrel with that family. His election as knight for Westmorland to four of the seven Parliaments called between 1547 and 1558 (and to six of the first seven called thereafter) certainly betokens his general acceptance by his neighbours as well as his standing at court. While knight for the first time he and another Member Thomas Jolye were sued in the court of common pleas for money owed to a Londoner, but with what result is not known.4

Warcop is first mentioned at court early in 1552 when he took part in two jousts before the King, in the second of which he took the side of ‘youth’ against ‘riches’. He may already have seen real warfare against the Scots in 1542, and he was to be in the field in 1569, although then as a messenger between Scrope and the government rather than as a soldier. In the meantime he had prospered as a courtier. On 9 Feb. 1546 he obtained a lease of the tithes of Warcop rectory for 21 years. He conveyed this lease to his father before December 1560, when John Warcop made his will leaving it to his sons Reynold and John: the statement in the will that the lease had been granted in 1546 to Thomas Warcop, ‘esquire for the body of the same late King’, furnishes the evidence for Warcop’s entry into the Household by that date. On 10 June 1550 he obtained a lease for 21 years of the subsidy or custom of merchandise in Cumberland, with some reservations, at a rent of £13 6s.8d.Later grants included a licence to export 1,500 quarters of wheat, a venture which ended disastrously owing to French piracy, and four wardships: one of the wards was Warcop’s nephew James Leyburn, son of Warcop’s sister Elizabeth and grandson of Sir James Leyburn, Member for Westmorland in 1542 and 1545.5

In 1564 Bishop Best of Carlisle named Thomas Warcop among gentlemen of Westmorland ‘very good in religion’ and fit to be made justices of the peace; as within a few years he was to become one, Bishop Barnes’s description of him in October 1570 as an enemy of religion seems to have been disregarded and may have been unjustified. He lived to see his ex-ward James Leyburn executed as a Catholic traitor in 1583, but he had ceased to be responsible for the young man in 1567, when he sold the wardship to his sister. It is not known whether he was related to the Thomas Warcop of Winston, Durham, who was executed for harbouring priests in 1597. Warcop’s own children, his daughters and coheirs Agnes and Frances, married respectively Talbot Bowes, of a strongly Protestant family, and John Dalston, who succeeded his father-in-law as captain of Carlisle in 1589. Warcop died on 25 Mar. 1589.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Huntington Lib. Hastings mss Parl. pprs.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from first certain reference. Vis. Westmld. ed. Bridges, 10; Vis. Northern Counties (Surtees Soc. xli), 100-1; Vis. Yorks. (Harl. Soc. xvi), 334; Nicolson and Burn, Westmld. and Cumb. i. 554; PCC 21 Loftes.
  • 3. PCC 21 Loftes; E179/69/63, 64; E407/1/1-19; LC2/4/2; CPR, 1563-6, p. 367; 1566-9, p. 200; APC, xvi. 385.
  • 4. M.E. James, Change and Continuity in Tudor North (Borthwick Pprs. xxvii), 13, 48; Northern Hist. i. 52-53, 55n; CPR, 1563-6, p. 367; Cal Border Pprs. i. 95, 155; CP 40/1142, r. 719.
  • 5. Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, 384, 388; LP Hen. VIII, xvii, xxi; HMC Hatfield, i. 442; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 352; Add. 1566-79, pp. 88, 148, 167; PCC 21 Loftes; CPR, 1553, p. 344; 1555-7, p. 512; 1558-60, pp. 14, 327; 1560-3, p. 122; 1569-72, pp. 177, 448; APC, ix. 71-72; CSP For. 1579-80, pp. 13-14.
  • 6. Cam. Misc. ix(3), 51; Cath. Rec. Soc. xxii, 117; J. H. Pollen, Acts of Eng. Martyrs, 212-18; CPR, 1560-3, p. 122; Strype, Annals, iv. 426; HMC Hatfield, vii. 230, 300; CSP Dom. Add. 1580-1625, p. 290; C142/222/8.