BEST, Thomas (1589-c.1649), of Middleton Quernhow, nr. Ripon, Yorks. and Fleet Street, London

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. 30 July 1589, 1st s. of Henry Best, scrivener, of Fleet Street, London and 1st w. Ann. m. (1) Martha (bur. 25 Mar. 1615), 1s. d.v.p. 1da. d.v.p.; (2) 17 Jan. 1621, Olive, da. of Sir John Mallory* of Studley Royal, Yorks., s.p.1 suc. fa. 1630.2 admon. 18 June 1649.3

Offices Held

J.p., Yorks. (N. Riding) 1624-5, 1629-?42, liberty of Ripon 1625-7; commr. sewers, N. Riding 1632;4 capt. militia ft., N. Riding by c.1633.5


The Bests were resident at Middleton Quernhow, five miles from Ripon, before the Reformation: one was the last chantry priest at Wath, and another leased Middleton Grange in 1555. The MP’s father, a scrivener, prospered in London during the 1590s as a conveyancer of Crown lands, but his Yorkshire estates were not large.6 At his first wife’s death Thomas Best (no relation to the explorer of the same name) was described as a gentleman, but he was a minor figure, who was only granted arms in 1625. His second wife, a sister of William Mallory*, came from a family of considerably greater status, and it seems likely that Best’s suit was accepted because of her brother’s inability to provide an adequate dowry.7

At the 1626 election Mallory apparently decided not to stand at Ripon. He clearly nominated Best in his stead, but the latter left little trace on his only Parliament. He was named to a single committee, for the Bergavenny (Sir Henry Neville II*) estate bill (17 March), and on 8 June he participated in a concerted attempt to discredit Sir John Savile*. Mallory was one of Savile’s leading Yorkshire opponents, and Best’s wife had recently stood as godmother to the daughter of another, Christopher Wandesford*, so it was undoubtedly by pre-arrangement that Best named one of Savile’s sons as the author of a letter which outraged MPs by censuring their preference for attacking Buckingham instead of dealing with economic problems. Best stood aside at the 1628 election, when Mallory was returned for Ripon once again.8

Best sold his London property after his father’s death, but was in serious trouble by 1635, when Middleton manor was seized for debt and leased to a London attorney, Richard Ayer, for 5s. a year.9 Best presumably passed the Civil War in Yorkshire, although his estates were not sequestrated, presumably because the earlier seizure for debt was still in force. The Capt. Thomas Best who petitioned to compound for royalism in 1650 must have been a namesake from Crathorne, Yorkshire, as administration of the MP’s goods had been granted to his daughter’s brother-in-law a year earlier. The estate passed to his grandson Henry, whose nephew sold up in 1714. No subsequent member of the family sat in Parliament.10

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Best’s Farming Bk. ed. C.B. Robinson (Surtees Soc. xxxiii), 170; GL, ms 10342, ff. 30, 225.
  • 2. C142/713/201.
  • 3. PROB 6/24, f. 69v.
  • 4. C231/4, f. 165; C181/3, f. 142, 160; 181/4, f. 114.
  • 5. Add. 28082, f. 81.
  • 6. VCH Yorks. (N. Riding), i. 183, 359, 362, 365, 392-3; ii. 435, 456; BIHR, xliv. 20-2; Best’s Farming Bk. ed. D. Woodward (Recs. Soc. and Ec. Hist. n.s. viii), pp. xxii-xxiv.
  • 7. Grantees of Arms ed. W.H. Rylands (Harl. Soc. lxvi), 22.
  • 8. Procs. 1626, iii. 393, 396, 398; C142/713/201; Autobiog. Alice Thornton (Surtees Soc. lxii), 2.
  • 9. Yorks. ERRO, DDHV/80/1; E401/1922, entry for 4 Dec. 1635.
  • 10. Roy. Comp. Pprs. ed. J.W. Clay (Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xx), 141; PROB 6/24, f. 69v; Vis. Yorks. ed. Foster, 527; VCH N. Riding, i. 392.