ESTCOURT, Sir Thomas (1569-1624), of Lasborough, Glos.
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Family and Education
b. 5 Oct. 1569,1 1st s. of Thomas Estcourt, second justice, Brecon circ. 1581-99, of Shipton Moyne, Glos. and Emma, da. of Richard Ascough.2 educ. Magdalen, Oxf. 1586; G. Inn 1586, called 1593.3 m. (settlement 26 Aug. 1597),4 Mary (d.1646),5 da. of William Savage of Elmley Castle, Worcs., s.p.6 suc. fa. 1599; kntd. 6 or 8 Nov. 1607.7 d. 4 July 1624.8
J.p. Glos. by 1601-d.,9 sheriff 1607-8;10 commr. oyer and terminer, Oxf. circ. 1607-d., Thames navigation, Glos. 1607, sewers 1607, 1615, 1625,11 subsidy 1621-2, 1624,12 survey of Wotton g.s., Glos. 1622;13 member, Council in the Marches of Wales 1623-d.14
Ancient, G. Inn 1603.15
The Estcourts had lived in Shipton Moyne on the Gloucestershire-Wiltshire border since the early fourteenth century but it was not until they took to the legal profession that they entered Parliament.16 Estcourt’s father concentrated on his career, but failed to pass on an interest in the law to his son despite a bequest of books ‘in my studies in Shipton and Gray’s Inn’.17 Indeed, Estcourt never acquired any higher status than ancient in his inn, which he was awarded in 1603, and was ousted from his chamber for non-compliance with ‘the rules of the house’ in 1608.18 In about 1609 he acquired Shipton Moyne from his stepfather, Sir Henry Blomer, but he preferred to live at Lasborough, which he had purchased and emparked.19 He was among the Gloucestershire justices ordered by the Privy Council in 1616 to inquire discreetly into the decay of the cloth industry,20 on which subject he signed a gloomy report in 1622.21
It seems clear that it was concern over the economic crisis that prompted Estcourt to return to the Commons in 1624 after an absence of more than a quarter of a century. At the general election his claim to the junior Gloucestershire seat was disputed by Robert Poyntz*, one of whose relatives accused Estcourt at about this time of complicity in tax evasion and ‘intolerable oppression’ in the county.22 As the surviving executor of the 7th Lord Berkeley,23 Estcourt enjoyed the strongest interest, but he offered to stand down, out of modesty it was alleged, but more probably to lull Poyntz into a false sense of security. One of his supporters, Sir John Tracy†, insisted on a poll, in which Estcourt obtained a majority of 152 votes. Poyntz subsequently appealed to the committee for privileges but his petition was rejected.24
Estcourt was appointed to 47 committees during the session but made only four recorded speeches. On 26 Feb. he offered to the committee for trade ‘papers declaring the causes of the decay’, and urged more care in preventing the export of wool.25 On 6 Mar. he was among those named to consider the bill on the latter subject and to extend the Cloth Act of 1606.26 His subsequent appointments included bills to restore free trade to the Merchants of the Staple, to prevent customs extortions (24 Mar.) and to relieve the London Clothworkers (15 April).27 He does not seem to have attended any of the recorded meetings of the two last committees but he was present at three meetings of the committee for the bill concerning the manor of Goathland, part of the Duchy of Cornwall, to which he had been appointed on 15 March.28 On 28 May he was appointed to a committee of four to consider trade grievances.29 On 6 Mar. he announced that he was informed that four East India Company ships laden with coins were about to set sail, which he advised should be searched, ‘that the money may be stayed’.30 As one of the knights for Gloucestershire, he presented his county’s complaints in the debates concerning composition for purveyance (23 Apr.) and the fees charged by the heralds (28 April).31 He helped to manage the monopolies conference of 8 Apr. and was among those appointed to examine the patents involved (21 April).32 He was also named to attend the conferences with the Lords on prerogative laws in Wales (15 Apr.) and on limitations and the abuse of privilege in the Exchequer (1 May).33 On 27 Apr. he presented Sir Thomas Somerset* and another Gloucestershire office-holder as recusants, and was named to the committee to perfect the list.34 He was added to the committee to consider charges against Dr. Anyan and other wayward teachers (1 May),35 and helped to prepare for the conference with the Lords concerning the House’s charges against the Arminian bishop Samuel Harsnett (15 May).36 His other legislative concerns included unlawful imprisonment, the abuse of writs of supersedeas (9 Mar.)37 and poor relief (8 May).38 He was appointed to consider a measure concerned with lands in Essex that had formerly belonged to a branch of the Poyntz family (30 April).39
Estcourt died at Cirencester on 4 July 1624,40 while returning home after the prorogation. The cause of his death is unknown, but he was able to make a fairly detailed will on his deathbed. He left £20 to the poor, to be divided among six Gloucestershire parishes, and set aside some of his property in Tetbury to fund a quarterly lecture. The rest of the income from the property was bequeathed to the poor at Tetbury and at Dursley, and a further £5 to the poor of Cirencester.41 He was buried at Lasborough, where his epitaph describes him as ‘a pillar of this country, and much honoured and beloved for his wisdom and hospitality’.42 In his will he requested the Court of Wards to grant the wardship of his heir, his nephew Thomas, to trustees including his widow, his cousin Sir Giles Estcourt* and Sir William Master*. It was calculated that his heir would eventually inherit an estate of £900 p.a. No later member of this branch of the family entered Parliament.43
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Alan Davidson / Ben Coates
- 1. C142/262/110.
- 2. Vis. Glos. (Harl. Soc. xxi), 56; Glos. RO, D1571/F7.
- 3. Al. Ox.; G. Inn Admiss.; PBG Inn, i. 97.
- 4. C142/262/110.
- 5. PROB 11/198, ff. 54v-6.
- 6. Vis. Glos. 56.
- 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 143.
- 8. C142/408/124.
- 9. C66/1549; 66/2310.
- 10. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 51.
- 11. C181/2, ff. 23, 28, 34, 240; 181/3, ff. 119v, 172.
- 12. C212/22/20-1, 23.
- 13. R. Austin, Cat. Glos. Coll. 11998.
- 14. HMC 13th Rep. IV, 270.
- 15. PBG Inn, i. 162.
- 16. VCH Glos. xi. 249.
- 17. PROB 11/94, f. 326.
- 18. PBG Inn, i. 191.
- 19. VCH Glos. xi. 251, 284, 288.
- 20. APC, 1616-17, p. 22.
- 21. F.H. Clutterbuck, ‘State Papers Relating to the Cloth Trade’ Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. v. 160.
- 22. SP14/135/65.
- 23. J. Smyth, Berkeley Mss ed. J. Maclean, ii. 373.
- 24. J. Glanville, Reps. of Certain Cases Determined and Adjudged by the Commons in Parl. ed. J. Topham, 99-103; ‘Earle 1624’, ff. 124v-5; CJ, i. 759a.
- 25. ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 27.
- 26. CJ, i. 678b, 679b.
- 27. Ibid. 747b, 767b.
- 28. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 196, 215, 217.
- 29. Ibid. 714a
- 30. Ibid. 730b, ‘Nicholas 1624’, f. 55
- 31. ‘Earle 1624’, f. 158v; CJ, i. 777b.
- 32. CJ, i. 757b, 773a.
- 33. Ibid. 767a, 695a.
- 34. Ibid. 776a, 777b.
- 35. Ibid. 695b
- 36. Ibid. 705a.
- 37. Ibid. 680b.
- 38. Ibid. 701a.
- 39. Ibid. 694b
- 40. C142/408/124.
- 41. PROB 11/144, f. 360.
- 42. A.T. Lee, Hist. of the Town and Par. of Tetbury, 199.
- 43. PROB 11/144, f. 360; HMC Portland, iii. 34.