THORNEY, Thomas (d.1605), of Portsmouth, Hants.

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

m. Mary, at least 1da.

Offices Held

Jurat, Portsmouth 1574, mayor 1578-9, 1585-6.


Nothing is known of Thorney’s origins, but it may be assumed that he was a member of the family which had branches in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. His parliamentary wages in 1597 were 2s. a day, and before he departed for London he acknowledged the receipt of £6

for and towards such fees and charges as I shall pay and lay out for the use and benefit of the ... town in the next Parliament, and also in part of my own charges and expenses.

No record has been found of any activities in the Commons. Thorney was one of only two townsmen to represent the borough in the Elizabethan period.

Most of what is known about Thorney relates to his commercial ventures. In 1576 he declared that he had been robbed of a ship and its cargo in the harbour of La Hogue, and between 1578 and 1581 he was involved in a dispute with John Croke I, a merchant of Southampton. The Privy Council appointed four arbitrators in 1581, urging them—as it was a matter in which Thorney had been gravely prejudiced—‘to have due regard that the poor complainant [Thorney] might be helped and relieved so far as they should find he deserved in equity’.

As one of the principal merchants of Portsmouth, Thorney was appointed a commissioner for assessing the value of the cargoes carried by the vessels taken by Drake and Norris in their attack on the Spanish coast in 1589. He and some of the other commissioners naturally bought ‘great quantities’ of wheat and rye ‘at base and low prices rated by themselves’. Thorney purchased 380 sacks of wheat and rye, the wheat at 6s.6d. a quarter, and the rye at 4s. The Privy Council ordered the commissioners to increase the prices to 10s. a quarter for wheat and 5s.8d. for rye.

Thorney’s will, drawn up on 7 Mar. 1603, was proved on 4 July 1605. He left £1 to all the aldermen of Portsmouth in office at the time of his death ‘for a memory of my poor good will towards them’ and asked them to help gather in his debts. The Queen owed him £480 19s.2d., Lady Hunsdon £160, the late Earl of Essex £120.

R. East, Portsmouth Recs. 149, 313, 326; Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. iv), 69; Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 969-70; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 494; APC, x. 230, 244; xiii. 42-3; xvii. 370, 429; xviii. 81-2; PCC 57 Hayes.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A. M. Mimardière