TAMWORTH, John (c.1524-69), of Sandon, Essex; Sutton, Lincs. and St. Botolph, Bishopsgate.

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.1524, o.s. of Thomas Tamworth of Lincs. and Essex by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Philip Denkaring. m. 1562, Christian, da. of William Walsingham, sis. of Sir Francis, 1da. suc. fa. 1533.2

Offices Held

Clerk of Windsor castle and receiver-gen. of Oxon., Berks. and Oxford from 1559; groom of privy chamber and keeper of privy purse from Jan. 1559; master of the toyles from c.1560; freeman, London from 1560; receiver-gen. Lincs. and Lincoln 1559, 1562; j.p.q. Essex from c.1559.3


Tamworth’s family had lived for some time near Boston, and he was the patron of the living of Fishtoft, but there is no evidence that he himself lived on his Lincolnshire estates, the most important of which was the duchy of Lancaster manor of Sutton. As receiver of the county and with his connexions among the great, he must have been well known at Boston, where he came in at a by-election after Thomas Heneage chose to sit for the county. Tamworth left no mark on the surviving records of his only Parliament.4

The earliest references to him are found during Edward VI’s reign, when in 1550 a mandate to the Exchequer was issued, ordering the payment of money due to him by his father’s will, apparently under a recognizance of statute staple. His name appears on the Marian pardon roll for 1554, where he is described as ‘of Sandon, Essex alias of London’, but by the summer of that year he had gone abroad—assuming that he was the ‘Mr. Tamworth’ whom Sir Thomas Hoby met in August at Padua. This is likely, as he was a protestant, whose marriage into the Walsingham family linked him with the puritan group at court. He was also related by marriage to Sir Walter Mildmay and to Peter Wentworth.5

Early in Elizabeth’s reign he came into royal favour, receiving several posts at Windsor castle and the mastership of the toyles, the fence for the Queen’s hunting. Three years later he was promised the next appointment to a canonry or prebend at Canterbury cathedral, in order to present one William King. However, Archbishop Parker was anxious to have it for his almoner, Thomas Peerson, and Tamworth either waived his right, or was forestalled. A similar grant to him appears on the 1564 patent roll. Tamworth was classified as a ‘favourer’ of the Elizabethan settlement in 1564.6 On one occasion he was given £100, ‘in reward’ for unspecified services, and he was chosen in 1565 to go to Scotland to intercede with Mary Stuart on behalf of the Scottish lords who had opposed the Darnley marriage. His mission failed, and he reported that Mary spoke to him ‘some sharp words that biteth the quick’. He accompanied Elizabeth to Oxford during the 1566 progress, receiving an honorary MA from the university.7

Some of the money gained from his court offices he invested in commercial ventures. He was certainly connected with the mines royal and mineral and battery works, and was presumably the John Tamworth (styled ‘Sir’ in one reference in the State Papers Foreign) who wrote to Cecil about the Muscovy Company. He also speculated in land, acquiring estates and advowsons in Essex, Hertfordshire, London, Middlesex and Radnorshire. Between 1558 and 1564 he sold property in Bishopsgate Street, London, and his manor of Sandon, Essex. During the last years of his life he lived at his town house, though about 1566 he was a feoffee for Sir Henry Stanley’s Lincolnshire lands. He also acted for the Earl of Leicester in land transactions, and was a friend of Sir Francis Knollys and of Thomas Randolph. A letter from Randolph, presumably to Walsingham, complaining of the cold in Russia, continues

As for your brother Tamworth, I think him more happy than wise that could so clearly shift himself of this journey when he saw neither likelihood of honour or profit.

After Tamworth’s death, which took place between 18 and 27 Apr. 1569, the Earl of Leicester wrote to Randolph, ‘You have lost of late two of your good friends, that is to say my Lady Knollys and Tamworth’. It was Leicester who asked London (7 May 1560) to make Tamworth a freeman.8

His will, drawn up in March 1569, has a religious preamble, and arranges for his burial at St. Botolph’s ‘where now my pew is’. He left £40 for a memorial, made arrangements for his widow’s maintenance, and appointed as executors Sir Walter Mildmay, Kenelm Digby, Edmund Downing, Christopher Tamworth and Edmund Danyell. Mildmay was to have ‘my best basin and ewer which my Lord of Leicester gave me’. There was only one charitable bequest—40s. for the repair of the parish church—and that was described as ‘for tithes forgotten or negligently withholden’. The will was proved on 2 Mar. 1570.9

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N. M. Fuidge


  • 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
  • 2. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 947-8; C142/55/58; C. H. Garrett, Marian Exiles, 302.
  • 3. CPR, 1558-60, pp. 108, 431; 1560-3, p. 342; E. K. Chambers, Eliz. Stage, i. 62; Nichols, Progresses Eliz. i. 264-73; Lansd. 4, ff. 57-61.
  • 4. PCC 8 Lyon; P. Thompson, Hist. Antiqs. Boston, 482.
  • 5. CPR, 1549-51, p. 195; 1553-4, p. 458; Cam. Misc. x(2), p. 116; Garrett, 302.
  • 6. CPR, 1558-60, pp. 108, 431; 1560-3, p. 521; 1563-6, p. 371; 1566-9, p. 2; 1569-72, p. 73; Strype, Parker, i. 285; Cam. Misc. ix(3), p. 62.
  • 7. HMC Hatfield, i. 261; Wood, Fasti, ed. Bliss, i. 178; Read, Cecil, 338-9; Lansd. 102, f. 114; Foster, Al. Ox. i(4), p. 1455.
  • 8. M. B. Donald, Eliz. Monopolies, 35, 41; CPR, 1557-8, p. 329; 1563-6, p. 595; 1566-9, pp. 211, 274; PCC 8 Lyon; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 316; CSP For. 1566-8, p. 556; Lansd. 11, f. 50 seq.; 111, f. 203; NRA, Lumley mss, 689, 695, 697.
  • 9. CPR, 1566-9, p. 194; Donald, Eliz. Copper, 56; Nichols, i. 264; Lansd. 111, f. 203; 141, f. 278; London Rep. 14, f. 331; PCC 8 Lyon.