WORLICH (WOORLEDGE, WORLEGE, WORLYGE), Thomas (by 1520-92 or later), of Alconbury, Hunts.

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 1520. m. Jane, da. of Sir Richard Wingfield of Kimbolton, Hunts., prob. at least 4s. 1da.1

Offices Held

Commr. to enforce Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, dioceses of Lincoln and Peterborough 1571, 1575; j.p. Hunts. 1575-92/93.2


Thomas Worlich first emerges clearly in the 1540s. In November 1541 he was granted a 21-year lease of Alconbury rectory and it was as of Alconbury that in 1546 he was assessed for subsidy at 26s.8d. on goods valued at £20. His origin and early life are matter for speculation. It is reasonable to assume that he belonged to the family of which one branch was settled at Everton and Potton, near Sandy in Bedfordshire, and another at Wickhambrook, Suffolk. If, as one visitation has it, his daughter Honor married Charles Worlich of the Suffolk line he may be thought to have sprung from the other, yet it could have been at Wickhambrook that he first met Stephen Gardiner, who came from nearby Bury St. Edmunds and whose protégé George Eden was to become a land-holder at Wickhambrook. Worlich’s other principal connexion, with the Wingfields of Kimbolton, may have been of independent origin. The marriage which sealed it could well have coincided with his settlement at Alconbury, for Jane Wingfield was probably born about the time her father died in 1525 and may have given birth to her first son about 1544. Of the education which qualified Worlich to be the recipient of Gardiner’s library no trace has been found; he appears to have sent four sons to Cambridge but not to have gone to either university himself, and his name does not occur at an inn of court, although his son Francis probably entered the Inner Temple. Early dependence upon the Wingfields might have taken him to Calais, and there is a remote chance that he was the Thomas Warley who served Viscount Lisle, the deputy, for a number of years before being discharged, with a reward of 13s.4d., when Lisle’s household was dissolved in 1540. Alternatively, he could have joined his future brother-in-law Jacques Wingfield in service with Gardiner and perhaps have accompanied the bishop on his missions abroad.3

Worlich was not among Gardiner’s dependants who testified at the trial in 1551 nor does his name occur in the evidence then given. If Gardiner, by then a dying man, had a hand in Worlich’s election in 1555, it was presumably the Wingfields who procured him the seat for Huntingdon; Thomas Maria Wingfield had recently sat three times for the borough and it may have been Wingfield’s promotion to the knighthood of the shire which gave Worlich his chance there. Unlike his brother-in-law Worlich is not listed among the Members who voted against one of the government’s bills; the division concerned took place within a month of Gardiner’s death and Worlich may either have acted out of respect for the chancellor’s memory or perhaps have been engaged in collecting his legacy of all Gardiner’s ‘humanity and law books’. It is unlikely that he shared Gardiner’s beliefs, for in 1564 his bishop was to commend him to the Privy Council as ‘earnest in religion and fit to be trusted’, and in 1571 and 1575 he was to be named to the commission for enforcing the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity in the dioceses of Lincoln and Peterborough. In 1558 he and seven others had been commissioned to investigate breaches of Acts governing the making of cloth and leather. Worlich is not known to have made a will and his date of death has not been discovered.4

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: M. K. Dale


  • 1. Date of birth estimated from first reference. Vis. Hunts. (Cam. Soc. xliii), 131; Vis. Suff. ed. Metcalfe, 107; Al. Cant. iv. 448.
  • 2. CPR, 1569-72, p. 277; 1572-5, p. 552.
  • 3. LP Hen. VIII, vii, x-xv, xvii; E179/122/136; PCC 10 Adeane, 11 Bucke; Cal. Feet of Fines, Hunts. ed. Turner, 124, 128; Cal. I.T. Recs. i. 235.
  • 4. PCC 3 Noodes; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 29; CPR, 1557-8, p. 148.