THROCKMORTON, Sir Thomas (1538/9-1607), of Tortworth, Glos.

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. 1558/9, 1st s. of Sir Thomas Throckmorton of Coss Court by Margaret. da. and coh. of Thomas Whittington of Pauntley. m. (1) Ellen, da. of Sir Richard Berkeley, 2s. 1da.; (2) settlement 6 Nov. 1559, Elizabeth, da. of Sir Edward Rogers of Cannington, Som., s.p. suc. fa. 1568. Kntd. 1587.1

Offices Held

Commr. restraint of grain, Glos. 1573, j.p. 1574, sheriff 1587-8, 1600-1601; member, council in the marches of Wales 1590; deprived of all offices 1602.2


On succeeding his father to a prominent position in the county, Throckmorton was active in local affairs, and was frequently employed by the Privy Council. In 1579, for example, he was instructed to examine a case of assault on a messenger of the Queen’s chamber; the same year he was to inquire into a robbery committed at Gloucester by ‘certain disguised persons’, and in 1589 he was ordered to search out the publishers of ‘infamous letters’ which had been circulating in Gloucester, and tended to discredit the ministry. But by this time his overbearing and bellicose nature had begun to assert itself, and soon his reputation was such that a suitor, taking a sugar loaf to appease him, called it ‘going to offer my candle to the devil’, a phrase which became proverbial in the hundred of Berkeley. In 1580 he was bound over to keep the peace towards Sir Thomas Proctor. In 1589 he was accused of provoking ‘a riot, and other outrages’, against Nicholas Poyntz, and the next year he was summoned before the Privy Council to answer for ‘divers misdemeanours and outrages committed by him, his servants and followers’, and to explain why he and Sir Richard Berkeley ‘had not carried themselves with such indifference ... as was meet for men of their place and calling’. In addition to this, he appears to have used his position as subsidy commissioner to falsify the lists, his captaincy of trained bands to press his enemies and their servants for service in Ireland, and his place on the council in the marches to prosecute his feud with the Poyntz family. In 1602 his quarrel with Sir Henry Winston brought him once more before the Privy Council. He was fined 2,000 marks in Star Chamber, imprisoned and disabled from bearing office ‘for divers foul matters, and extortions committed in his country’. He was also mentioned as an example of justices who ‘maintain quarrels’.3

Little is known of Throckmorton’s parliamentary career save that on 5 Mar. 1589 he was licensed to depart. As knight of the shire he may have attended the subsidy committee, 11 Feb. 1589. His private life was as stormy as the rest of his career, complicated by a wife and daughter ‘obstinately addicted to Popery’. At one point he appears to have turned his wife out of doors, and refused to provide for her until ordered by the Council to do so.4

Throckmorton died on 31 Jan. 1607, ‘in happy and peaceable manner’, according to his tombstone. In his will, dated 17 Dec. 1600, he commended his soul to God, ‘beseeching Him that for His Son Christ Jesu’s sake, He will have mercy on the same’. His body was not to be ‘opened or bowelled’, but buried ‘without pomp or unnecessary charges’. The bulk of his property he left to his surviving son, with small annuities to his daughter, and to his ‘right honest and loving brother’ Anthony Throckmorton, who, with Sir Henry Poole, was named as overseer of the will. He was buried at Tortworth, his tomb bearing the inscription, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course ... henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness’.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: J.J.C.


  • 1. C142/149/130; Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 163; W. R. Williams, Parl. Hist. Glos. 47; PCC 8 Babington.
  • 2. APC, viii. 116, 288-9; xxiv. 474; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 307; HMC Hatfield, xiii. 457.
  • 3. APC, xi. 156-7, 272; xii. 284-5; xviii. 200, 287; xix. 48, 400; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 147; W. B. Willcox, Glos. 23-4, 83-4, 94-5, 113-14.
  • 4. D’Ewes, 431, 443; APC, xxiv. 279-80, 303, 385.
  • 5. PCC 26 Windebanck; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xxx. 137-41.