LEIGH, Thomas (c.1512-71), of Caldwell, Beds. and Bermondsey, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1553
Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554

Family and Education

b. c.l512, s. of Hugh Leigh by Maud, da. and h. of John Hogshaw. m. (1) Katherine (d. 1558), s.p.; (2) Jan. 1559 at Bermondsey, Anne or Amy (d.1603), da. of Richard Wodden of ‘Walingham’, Beds., wid. of Richard Wheatley (d.1558) of Bermondsey, 3s. 1da.

Offices Held

Auditor of first fruits and tenths 1540-54; mayor, Bedford 1556-7; j.p. Beds. by 1554, q. 1559; sheriff, Beds. and Bucks. 1571-d.; charter member, Vintners’ Co. 1567; commr. subsidy 1567; commr. to enforce Acts of Uniformity and Supremacy, dioceses of Lincoln and Peterborough 1571.1


Though a Member of four Marian Parliaments, Leigh was described as ‘earnest in religion’ by the bishop of Lincoln in 1564. Since Caldwell is near Bedford, and Leigh owned property in and adjoining the borough, there is no difficulty in identifying the town official with the landed gentleman. The pardon roll of this period describes Leigh as of Caldwell alias of Bermondsey.2

By 1559 Leigh’s prominence in Bedford was enough to secure his return to Parliament for the borough, but he may have owed his earlier membership to his connexion with the locally influential family of Gostwick. Sir John Gostwick, treasurer of first fruits and tenths, was his superior officer at court, and Leigh may have begun his career as a servant in Gostwick’s household: during an Edwardian inquiry into church plate he described himself as ‘abiding with’ Sir John from about 1537 to 1545. In 1546 he was one of the feoffees appointed by another of the family, William Gostwick, in reversion to whom Leigh received his first lease of the Caldwell priory lands.3

In January 1569 Leigh was ordered to pull down enclosures of common ‘near adjoining to the town of Bedford’. He died on or about 14 Nov. 1571, very soon after being pricked as sheriff, and was buried in the same church—St. Mary’s, Bedford—as his first wife. Between 1562 and 1565 three of his children had been baptized there. The eldest son, John, was nine years old at Leigh’s death.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Beds. N. and Q. i. 300 seq.; C142/160/11; Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. v. 199; xxxvi. 13, 75, 80; Vis. Beds. (Harl. Soc. xix), 179; F. A. Blaydes, Genealogia Bedfordiensis, 25 seq.; PCC 40 Bakon, 54 Spencer, 63 Noodes; LP Hen. VIII, xvi, p. 143; CPR, 1553-4, pp. 17, 399; 1558-60, p. 210; 1566-9, p. 129; 1569-72, p. 277; T. Milbourn, Vintners’ Co. 34; Add. 22115, f. 8.
  • 2. Cam. Misc. ix(3), pp. 28-9; Bedford Recs. (1993), pp. 33 seq.; Vis. Beds. 72.
  • 3. Beds. N. and Q. i. 300 seq.; Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. xxxvi. 75, 80; LP Hen. VIII , xxi(1), p. 489; xxi(2), p. 441.
  • 4. Bedford Recs. (1883), pp. 33 seq.; C142/160/11; Beds. Parish Regs. ed. Emmison, x. 26, 28, 55; Blaydes.