BEDINGFIELD, Thomas (1593-1661), of Gray's Inn, London; later of Darsham, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

bap. 13 Sept. 1593,1 2nd s. of Thomas Bedingfield† (d.1636), of Redlingfield, Suff. and L. Inn and Dorothy, da. of John Southwell of Barham, Suff.; bro. of Anthony† and Philip†.2 educ. Southwold sch. (Mr. Clayton); Caius, Camb. 1608; G. Inn 1608, called 1615.3 m. Elizabeth (d. 19 July 1669), da. of Charles Hoskins, Mercer, of London and Oxted, Surr., 1s. d.v.p. 3da. (1 d.v.p.). kntd. 23 June 1638. d. 24 Mar. 1661.4

Offices Held

Commr. piracy, Suff. 1627, gaol delivery, Dunwich, Suff. 1627, Southwold, Suff. by 1654-at least 1658,5 oyer and terminer and gaol delivery, London 1638-41, 1644-5,6 assessment, Norf. 1647-51, Suff. 1647-52,7 sewers, Suff. and Norf. 1658-9, oyer and terminer Norf. circ. 1660,8 militia, Suff. 1660;9 j.p. Suff. 1660-d.10

Recorder, Dunwich by 1627-?1630;11 ancient, G. Inn 1627, treas. 1638-42;12 att.-gen. duchy of Lancaster 1638-48;13 j.c.p. 1648-9;14 sjt.-at-law 1648-60.15


Bedingfield was descended from a cadet branch of a family resident at Fleming’s Hall in the Suffolk parish of Bedingfield since the mid-fourteenth century. Bedingfield’s father, a lawyer, sat for Eye in 1586, bought the manor of Darsham in east Suffolk from Edward Honing* and, in the new reign, became steward of the duchy of Lancaster lands in East Anglia.16

Bedingfield was a younger son and consequently entered the law like his father, with whom he is easily confused. Nevertheless, there can be no question that it was he who was elected for Dunwich, four miles from Darsham, in 1620, as he is specifically identified as ‘junior’ in the return.17 Presumably his father secured his election, in preference to Bedingfield’s elder brother, Philip†, to further Bedingfield’s legal career. Bedingfield was named to the committee to confirm the endowment of Wadham College, on 9 March. He was also instructed to attend the conference with the Lords on the informers’ bill on 19 April.18 He made his first recorded speech in the debate on the second reading of the bill to cancel a conveyance made by Robert Hogan, a royal ward, on 12 May. Unsuccessfully defending the measure, he firmly condemned the practices committed by the wife of Sir Julius Caesar* to gain control of the Hogan estate and argued that it was appropriate for an Act of Parliament to cancel the conveyance.19 His only other recorded speech was on 24 May, when he successfully moved to recommit the bankruptcy bill, whose provisions were unsatisfactory because ‘£100 borrowing shall make a man a bankrupt and disenable him from all trade and traffic’. Bedingfield further objected that the bill, as it stood, would mean that ‘if a tradesman do not pay his money within six months, ... his lands which come by descent may be sued out’.20 He played no recorded part in the second sitting.

Bedingfield did not sit again until 1626, when he was again identified as ‘junior’.21 He was appointed to four committees, those on the bills against secret inquisitions (14 Feb.), unskilled attorneys (23 Mar.), abuse of excommunication (2 May), and nil returns on urban escheats (3 May). He made no recorded speeches.22 Bedingfield was recorder of Dunwich by December 1627, but is not known to have sought re-election in 1628. He had resigned the recordership by 1630, when (Sir) William Denny* was appointed to the post.

Bedingfield was made attorney-general of the duchy of Lancaster in 1638, but during the Civil War supported Parliament. Rewarded with a judgeship in 1648, he laid it down after the execution of Charles I. He represented the county in the first Protectorate Parliament. He bought considerable amounts of property in Suffolk in the 1640s and 1650s, including Copdock Hall manor from a sequestrated recusant and Darsham from his elder brother.23 He drew up his will on 10 Nov. 1659 and died at Darsham Hall on 24 Mar. 1661. Although he desired to be buried ‘without any pomp’, his widow erected an elaborate monument in Darsham church ‘for the preservation of this worthy, pious, learned and good man’.24 On the failure of the male line most of his estate passed to his granddaughter Philippa, the mother of John Rous, who represented Dunwich from 1705 to 1708.25

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Add. 19091, f. 99.
  • 2. Burke Commoners, iii. 509.
  • 3. J. Venn, Biog. Hist. of Gonville and Caius Coll. i. 198; Al. Cant.; GI Admiss.
  • 4. Burke Commoners, iii. 509; Suckling, Suff. ii. 227; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 206.
  • 5. C181/3, ff. 232v, 236; 181/6, ff. 35, 341.
  • 6. C181/5, ff. 120, 214, 244, 265.
  • 7. A. and O. i. 971, 975; ii. 473, 675.
  • 8. C181/6, ff. 291, 360; 181/7, f. 13.
  • 9. A. and O. ii. 1443.
  • 10. Perfect List of all such Persons as by Commission under Great Seal of Eng. are now Confirmed to be Custos rotulorum, Justices of Oyer and Terminer, JPs and Quorum (1660), p. 51; C220/9/4, f. 81.
  • 11. C181/3, f. 236; HMC Var. vii. 96.
  • 12. PBG Inn, i. 277, 332, 336, 340
  • 13. Duchy of Lancaster Office-Holders ed. R. Somerville, 22.
  • 14. Sainty, Judges, 76.
  • 15. Order of Sjts.-at-Law ed. J.H. Baker (Selden Soc. suppl. ser. v) 188, 192.
  • 16. W.A. Copinger, Manors of Suff. ii. 56; iv. 20; Duchy of Lancaster Office-Holders, 198.
  • 17. OR.
  • 18. CJ, i. 546b, 582b.
  • 19. CD 1621, iii. 242.
  • 20. Ibid. ii. 285; iii. 296; CJ, i. 626a.
  • 21. Suff. RO (Ipswich), HD1538/208/6.
  • 22. Procs. 1626, ii. 33, 348; iii. 120, 139.
  • 23. Copinger, ii. 56; vi. 35.
  • 24. PROB 11/304, f. 102v; Suckling, ii. 226-7.
  • 25. Copinger, ii. 57; HP Commons, 1690-1715, v. 310.