CHARNOCK, Thomas (1587-1648), of Astley Hall, Chorley, Lancs.

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

b. 7 Jan. 1587,1 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Robert Charnock of Charnock and Astley, Lancs. and his 1st w. Isabel, da. of Sir William Norris of Speke, Lancs.; bro. of Roger*. m. by 1608, Bridget, da. and h. of John Molyneux of New Hall, Lancs., 2s. 2da.2 suc. fa. 1616. bur. 24 May 1648.3 sig. Tho Chernock.

Offices Held

Freeman, Preston, Lancs. by 1602,4 Liverpool 1617,5 Wigan by 1628;6 j.p. Lancs. by 1620-at least 1630.7


The Charnocks of Astley were a subsidiary branch of an ancient family from Charnock, near Chorley in Lancashire.8 In a 1586 list of persons ‘ill affected to the state’, several Charnocks appeared, including this Member’s father,9 while a notorious Jesuit priest, Robert Charnock of Leyland, was a kinsman. Through their father’s five marriages, Charnock and his brother Roger were connected with three of Lancashire’s most Catholic gentry families - Norris of Speke, Gerrard of Bryn and Fleetwood of Penwortham.10 Charnock’s wife, Bridget, was the ward of the crypto-papist Sir Richard Molyneux I* of Sefton. Molyneux had arranged in 1606 for her to marry the heir of Sir John Salusbury† of Denbighshire, but she broke off the engagement. As the sole heiress of John Molyneux of New Hall, her inheritance considerably bolstered the Charnocks’ ailing finances.

Astley Hall, an impressive country manor house, had been built by Charnock’s father sometime before 1600; he inherited it at the latter’s death in 1616.11 Charnock also acquired, from his wife, a colliery at Bradford, near Manchester, in which he invested heavily. He initially lost money in the venture, and sued various rivals, who had mounted a hostile takeover bid, for deliberately flooding his works.12 Financial troubles in the 1620s forced Charnock to sell off much of the land he had inherited, with the exception of Astley and the manor of Charnock Richard, raising over £8,000 between c.1622-36.13 This included Boothes, a parcel of land his father had purchased from the Worsleys of Wardley in the 1590s, and which had been the subject of bitter litigation between the two families for decades.14 Charnock also became embroiled in numerous debt cases, having stood as surety for his brother, Roger, and their friend Edmund Breres*.15 By the 1640s, around 50 per cent of Charnock’s much diminished income derived from coal production.16

Charnock was elected for Newton in 1624 as a relative of the patron of the borough, Sir Richard Fleetwood, via his stepmother Elizabeth, Fleetwood’s aunt. He was named to the committee for the case of Edwards v. Edwards on 16 Apr., but was not present at any of its meetings. As a Lancashire burgess he was entitled to attend the York gaol patent bill committee on 19 May.17 During the Civil War Charnock supported the royalists, but died before his estates were sequestered. His son, who was captured at the siege of Lathom, later compounded.18 Charnock left no will, and was buried at Chorley church in May 1648, where his kinsmen had long quarrelled with the neighbouring Standish family of Duxbury over the right to a vault ‘on the north side above the steps of the chancel’.19 Though Sir Thomas Standish*, a puritan and parliamentarian, had previously attempted to have the Charnocks’s vault removed, his royalist sons apparently relented. Charnock was succeeded by his eldest son, Robert, who eventually recovered Astley Hall and began a series of substantial alterations to the building.20 None of his descendants sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. DL7/21/6; Lancs. Inquisitions pt. 2 (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. xvi), 37-9.
  • 2. Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxii), 8-9.
  • 3. Chorley Par. Reg. (Lancs. Par. Reg. Soc. xxxviii), 103.
  • 4. Preston Guild Roll (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), 54.
  • 5. G. Chandler, Liverpool Under Jas. I, 204.
  • 6. D. Sinclair, Hist. Wigan, i.197.
  • 7. Lancs. RO, QSC4-11.
  • 8. Lancs. and Cheshire Antiquarian Notes ed. W.D. Pink ii. 1-11.
  • 9. HMC Hatfield, x. 305; J.S. Leatherbarrow, Lancs. Eliz. Recusants (Chetham Soc. cx), 103.
  • 10. Vis. Lancs. 1613 (Chetham Soc. lxxxii), 8-9.
  • 11. VCH Lancs. vi. 138.
  • 12. DL1/296; STAC 8/106/7.
  • 13. C54/2930/5; PL17/129/12; DL1/292; Lancs. RO, DDTa/265; QDD/29/3, QDD34/13, QDD35/3; B.G. Blackwood, Lancs. Gentry and Gt. Rebellion 1640-60 (Chetham Soc. ser. 3. xxv), 16, 59.
  • 14. DL1/226, 227; C2/Chas.I/W6/8, C2/Chas.I/C60/36; C2/Chas.I/C129/137; HMC Hatfield xxiv. 15; H.V. Hart-Davis, Wardley Hall, 85-6; HMC 7th Rep. 41, 46; LJ, x. 415b, 447a.
  • 15. DL1/292, 315, 340; C2/Chas.I/F35/12; C2/Chas.I/F50/81; Hart-Davis, 93-5, 137.
  • 16. Blackwood, 16.
  • 17. CJ, i. 705a, 768a; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 204.
  • 18. Royalist Composition Pprs. ii. ed. J.H. Stanning (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. xxvi), 25-7.
  • 19. DL1/269; CSP Dom. 1629-31, p. 429.
  • 20. VCH Lancs. vi. 138.