WHEELER, Thomas (by 1513-74), of Dorking, Surr. and Ludlow, Salop.
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Family and Education
b. by 1513, 4th s. of William Wheeler of Dorking. educ. ?I. Temple, adm. 2 Nov. 1529. m. (1) Juliana Passey of Ludlow, s.p.; (2) Anne, da. of William Foxe of Ludlow, s.p.; (3) by 1565, Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Barnaby of Bockleton, Worcs., 1s. 3da.2
Steward, palmers’ guild, Ludlow 1534; bailiff 1538-9, 1542-3, 1554-5, 1565-6; commr musters 1542.3
It is not clear how a member of a little known Surrey family made his way to Ludlow, where he must have arrived before 1534, but if he was the Thomas Wheeler of Clement’s Inn admitted to the Inner Temple in November 1529 he could have gone there to practise in the court of the marches, perhaps with the encouragement of Charles Foxe, who probably entered the inn at about the same time. Once established at Ludlow, Wheeler strengthened his position by two advantageous marriages, to the sister or daughter of John Passey and to the daughter of William Foxe and sister of Edmund and Charles Foxe, and he was to pass the rest of his life as one of the elite of the town. During his first term as bailiff he became marginally involved, through his part in the arrest of John Cragge, parson of Ludlow, in the complex struggle for the property of Wigmore abbey between Bishop Rowland Lee, president of the council in the marches, his kinsman John Bradshaw I, Thomas Croft and probably the Foxe family.4
Among Members for Ludlow between 1523 and 1558 Wheeler ranks equal first with Charles Foxe in his total of elections. For his first Parliament, in which he sat with Foxe, the borough paid Wheeler £8 6s.3d.; this sum included expenses in connexion with one of Ludlow’s dissolved friaries, among them the cost of breakfasting ‘Mr. Lyster’, presumably the chief baron of the Exchequer, so that the rate for attending three sessions totalling 166 days was somewhat less than 1s. a day. No other evidence survives of payments to Wheeler, who like Foxe may have owed his re-elections in part to his willingness to forgo them. His recurrent Membership has left no trace on the Commons Journal and he was not one of those who in the first Marian Parliament ‘stood for the true religion’ against the restoration of Catholicism. There is no obvious reason for his disappearance from the House thereafter, although as Charles Foxe was not to sit again for Ludlow the two may together have held aloof, or been excluded, from re-election.5
Wheeler made his will on 21 Apr. 1568. ‘Trusting only in the merits and glorious passion of [Christ’s] blood-shedding to be saved’, he made bequests to Ludlow church and Hereford cathedral. The will, witnessed by Thomas Blashefild, mentions Wheeler’s purchase of a property in Shropshire from (Sir) Edward Littleton, with whom there is a little more evidence that he was connected, and of another in Herefordshire; he also seems to have acquired certain tithes and a lease of chantry property in Ludlow. Wheeler was buried on 15 July 1574 and the will was proved on the following 2 Dec. He left his third wife, the mother of all his children, as sole executrix, and his only son Humphrey (possibly the Humphry Wheler who sat for Droitwich in 1601), then about eight years old, as heir.6
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Alan Harding
- 1. Salop RO, Ludlow bailiffs’ accts. 1540-1, where the ‘Mr. Wheeler’ mentioned is taken to be Thomas Wheeler.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first certain reference. Vis. Salop (Harl. Soc. xxix), 496-7; Vis. Worcs. (Harl. Soc. xxvii), 13-14; PCC 46 Martyn.
- 3. Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vii. 11; Bodl. Gough Salop 1, ff. 276-7v; LP Hen. VIII, xvii.
- 4. Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 94; LP Hen. VIII, xiii; Elton, Policy and Police, 351.
- 5. Ludlow bailiffs’ accts. 1540-1.
- 6. PCC 46 Martyn; Ludlow bailiffs’ accts. 1547-8; CPR, 1548-9, pp. 349-50; Trans. Salop Arch. Soc. (ser. 2), vii. 11.