POLEY, Thomas I (c.1527-c.84), of Icklingham and Little Saxham, Suff.

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



Family and Education

b. c.1527, o.s. of William Poley of Icklingham by his w. Katherine Larke of Thetford, Norf. m. aft. Jan. 1557, Juliana, da. and h. of John Fayre of London, wid. of Thomas Spring of Pakenham. suc. fa. 1557.1

Offices Held

J.p. Suff. from c. 1573, q. 1583; keeper of Framlingham castle 1580.2


The identification of the 1559 Thetford MP with Thomas Poley of Icklingham rather than with any of a number of namesakes, is based upon no more than the fact that his mother came from Thetford. He was included in the general pardon of 1553, but less than two years later Sir William Drury and Sir Clement Heigham were ordered by the Privy Council to arrest him and search his house for writings and other suspicious matter. His wife brought him a life interest in her first husband’s estates, and in February 1560 he was licensed to enter into his own lands. Poley was in fact mentioned in Thomas Spring’s will, where he was called Spring’s cousin, and left £40 to buy a ring.3

Thomas Poley of Little Saxham, some seven miles from Icklingham, who was a Suffolk j.p. between 1573 and 1584, was almost certainly the same man. He was active in the puritan interest with Sir Robert Jermyn, Clement Heigham and William Spring, a connexion of Poley’s wife, attempting to install godly ministers in several Norfolk and Suffolk churches and protecting preachers against the bishop of Norwich. On one occasion these activities involved him again in the affairs of Thetford. He was one of the justices who claimed that at Thetford the ruling factions were:

very cold in the cause of religion ... They have been greatly laboured, yet would never consent to entertain a preacher. Such as affect the gospel, they remove from being either burgess or commoner and put in others which be either suspected or enemies.

Another example of his zeal is provided by the case of one Walter Norton who had been hearing Mass privately in his house and had tried to prevent the demolition of the roodloft in Halesworth parish church. When examined by Poley, Norton offered him £10 to ‘advertise favourably on his behalf’. The response must have been unfavourable, as the facts were reported to the Privy Council. The last references to Poley are found in 1584; he probably died that year.4

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Irene Cassidy


  • 1. Vis. Suff. 1561, ed. Metcalfe, 58; Vis Suff. ed. Howard, i. 301; Coppinger, Suff Recs. and mss, ii. 181.
  • 2. Egerton 2345, f. 32v; Royal 18.D.111; APC, xii. 143.
  • 3. CPR, 1553-4, p. 436; 1558-60, p. 361; APC, v. 106; PCC 4 Wrastley.
  • 4. APC, ix. 305; x. 100; xiii. 46-8, 50; Collinson thesis, 868, 877-8, 879.