OTLEY, Thomas (d.1603), of Pitchford, Salop.
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Family and Education
2nd s. of Adam Otley of Pitchford by Mary, da. of Richard Mainwaring of Ightfield, sis. of Sir Arthur Mainwaring. educ. Shrewsbury 1562; I. Temple 1565. m. Christabel, da. of Richard Lister of Rowton, ?wid. of Thomas Welles or Welkes, 3da.1
Otley’s family owned property at Bridgnorth, for which he was returned to the 1571 Parliament, no doubt with the approval of Sir Andrew Corbet, to whom the Privy Council wrote before the election, urging him to see that suitable burgesses were chosen in Shropshire. Otley’s maternal grandmother was a Corbet, and the two families remained on friendly terms throughout Elizabeth’s reign. Otley’s niece Martha, daughter of his elder brother Richard, married Richard Corbet, a young relative of Sir Andrew.
Otley also owned at least three houses in Shrewsbury, probably acquired after his father’s death in 1578. The elder Otley had connexions with the town. Otley himself may have practiced as a lawyer. There is no record of his having been called to the bar, but he, or a namesake from Suffolk admitted a year earlier, held minor offices at the Inner Temple, acting as steward for the reader’s dinner as late as 1587, when he was described as ‘Mr. Otley the elder’: by this time the Bridgnorth Member’s nephew and namesake was also in residence at the Inn. The last mention of the name in the Inner Temple records which may possibly refer to the MP is dated 3 Nov. 1590. Soon after the end of the 1571 Parliament Otley’s cousin John Hall, a former servant of the (probably the 6th) Earl of Shrewsbury, confessed to having communicated with Mary Stuart’s agent, the bishop of Ross, at the time of the Norfolk conspiracy. He had spent some time at the end of the previous year in Shropshire at the house of ‘one Thomas Oteley, my cousin german, with whom I had before appointed to be all that winter’. His host had warned him that Shrewsbury’s servants had been searching for him and offering large sums for his capture. Otley’s own loyalty does not seem to have been in doubt—at least there is no record of his being questioned.2
Some time before his death Otley was in financial difficulty. His will, made 12 May and proved 11 July 1603, lists property in Shrewsbury, plate, law books and other goods, all to be sold to pay debts. (Sir) Francis Newport II and Otley’s brother Richard were appointed overseers, and the widow joint executrix with her youngest daughter. Two other daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, are also mentioned. In a preamble, Otley claimed ‘full assurance of my salvation through the merits of Christ Jesus my Saviour’.3