CAREY, Thomas (1597-1634), of Whitehall; The Strand, Westminster and Parson's Green, Fulham, Mdx.

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



8 Mar. 1621

Family and Education

b. 16 Sept. 1597,1 2nd s. of Sir Robert Carey* (d.1639), of Whitehall and Leppington, Yorks., and Elizabeth, da. of Sir Hugh Trevanion of Caerhayes, Cornw.; bro. of Sir Henry II*.2 educ. privately (Henry Burton); Exeter Coll. Oxf. 1611, BA 1614;3 embassy, Madrid 1617;4 travelled abroad (Germany, France) 1618-20.5 m. c.1627, Margaret, da. of (Sir) Thomas Smith† of Parson’s Green, clerk of the parliaments 1597-1609, 3da.6 d. 9 Apr. 1634.7

Offices Held

Groom of the bedchamber to Prince Charles 1616, to Charles as king 1625-d.8

Gent. porter, Tower of London 1629-d.;9 commr. archery, London 1632;10 j.p. Mdx. 1633-d.11


Before reaching his majority Carey joined his father as a member of Prince Charles’s Household, and was sent to accompany Sir John Digby* on a diplomatic journey to Spain in 1617. He went abroad again, to France and Germany two years later, and in 1621 rounded off his education by entering Parliament, presumably on the nomination of his Court acquaintance, the 2nd earl of Hertford (William Seymour*), at a by-election to replace (Sir) Giles Mompesson*, who had been expelled. Carey left no trace on the parliamentary records. In 1623 he followed Prince Charles and Buckingham to Madrid over land, setting off a week before his father.12

Sustained by his father’s post as Charles’s chamberlain and his mother’s connections with the local gentry, Carey sat for duchy of Cornwall constituencies in the next four parliaments. He was nominated for Grampound by the prince’s Council in 1624, but failed to make good his candidature in the face of powerful local interests, and ultimately found a seat at Helston via his cousin’s husband Sir Francis Godolphin*.13 As ‘Sir Thomas Carey’ he was named to consider a bill enabling his master to lease out duchy of Cornwall lands (9 Mar. 1624); his only other appointment was to attend a joint conference on recusancy (3 April).14 On 29 Nov. he was given a pass into France ‘upon the king’s special service’, to carry, as John Chamberlain surmised, a love letter from the prince to Henrietta Maria.15

Carey retained his post in the new reign with a pension of £500, and was re-elected for Helston, but no parliamentary activity is recorded for him in 1625.16 In the following year he was returned for Tregony with the backing of both the duchy and his kinsman Charles Trevanion*, who lived nearby. On 4 Mar. 1626 ‘Sir Thomas Carey’ was among those ordered to manage the conference on the summons to Buckingham.17 At some point thereafter he seems to have left London, for on 4 May Sir Edward Conway I* ordered him to repair ‘presently’ to Court, and attempt nothing that might hinder his journey.18 Shortly before the next election he was granted three Crown manors in the West Country.19 He sat for St. Mawes in 1628, another Cornish borough previously represented by his brother; but again left no trace on the records. In the aftermath of Buckingham’s assassination, Carey’s correspondence with the earl of Carlisle illustrates the ensuing turmoil at Court. On 28 Nov. 1628 he assured the veteran Scottish favourite that he still stood in the king’s good graces; however, as a bedchamber-man he was to be believed when he wrote that Charles ‘has now so wholly made over his affections to his wife that I dare say we are out of any other favourites’. A month later Carey was commissioned by the lord treasurer (Sir Richard Weston*) to offer Carlisle the king’s friendship and affection.20

In 1631 it was reported that Carey was to go as ambassador to France. Nothing came of this, but three years later, on being designated for Venice, he went so far as to let his house in the Strand to Carlisle at the considerable rent of £150.21 It was probably a sudden breakdown in his health that prevented his departure. In his undated will he declared his mind ‘undisturbed, unaffected, and free, though my body [is] ... somewhat weakened’. He appointed his wife and brother, together with Sir Francis Cottington* and Sir John Trevor II*, as joint executors. Appropriate but costly bequests were provided for his parents and his mother-in-law, and he ordered £200 to be paid to Archbishop Laud for rebuilding the church of his baptism at Berwick-upon-Tweed. He desired to be buried among his ancestors in Westminster Abbey ‘with some little inscription’ to ‘let posterity know that my whole life was spent in the service of my gracious master, which I count one of the greatest of this world’s blessings’. Finally, he bequeathed his best andirons, less valuable than curious, to the king, ‘humbly beseeching him to pardon this presumption’.22 Carey died at Whitehall on 9 Apr. 1634, and was buried in the family vault as he wished.23 It was reported that he left debts behind him, but this may refer to the uncompleted purchase of an estate in Cheshire, part of the Ditchfield grant; and in any case he claimed that £4,000 was due to him from the Crown.24 His eldest daughter had no children by her husband Sir Henry Lyttelton†; another died single; but the youngest married the royalist conspirator John Mordaunt, and the Monmouth title was revived for their son, better known for his exploits in the War of the Spanish Succession as Lord Peterborough.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: John. P. Ferris / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. Mems. of Robert Carey ed. F.H. Mares, 85.
  • 2. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 154-5; Her. and Gen. iv. 45.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; Oxford DNB sub Burton, Henry.
  • 4. SP94/22, f. 241.
  • 5. APC, 1618-19, p. 467; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, i. 245-6; ii. 158.
  • 6. Vis. Herts. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 137; H. Feret, Fulham Old and New, ii. 137.
  • 7. C142/537/87; Feret, ii. 138.
  • 8. Mems. of Robert Carey, 76; Northants RO, IC4313; LC2/6, f. 69; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 70.
  • 9. APC, 1629-30, pp. 248-9; CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 132.
  • 10. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 3, p. 253.
  • 11. C231/5, p. 101.
  • 12. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 482.
  • 13. P.M. Hunneyball, ‘Prince Charle’s Council as Electoral Agent, 1620-4’, PH, xxiii. 328-9.
  • 14. CJ, i. 680a, 754a.
  • 15. APC, 1623-5, p.380; Chamberlain Letters, ii. 588-9.
  • 16. C66/2358; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 538.
  • 17. Procs. 1626, ii. 195.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 328.
  • 19. Ibid. 1627-8, p. 573.
  • 20. Ibid. 1628-9, pp. 393, 412.
  • 21. T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Chas. I, ii. 108; Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 177.
  • 22. PROB 11/166, ff. 14v-15v.
  • 23. Feret, ii. 138; Her. and Gen. iv. 135-6.
  • 24. Strafforde Letters, i. 262.