GIEAR (GYER), Thomas (-d.1646), of Weymouth, Dorset
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Family and Education
m. by 1633, Rebecca, da. of one Waltham, 1da. admon. 20 June 1646.1 sig. Tho[mas] Giear.
The Giear or Gyer family was apparently unknown in Weymouth until the mid-sixteenth century. Its first member of local importance was probably Roger Gyer, who was named as one of the original capital burgesses of the united borough of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis in 1571, and served as bailiff in 1585.6 Giear himself was active as a merchant by 1604, trading primarily with France, though he probably also engaged with the Spanish and North American markets.7 He participated in the Weymouth by-elections of 1610, was named as a capital burgess in the corporation’s new charter six years later, and first served as mayor in 1618-19.8
Giear was returned for Weymouth in 1624, and received wages of 3s. 4d. a day.9 Although he attracted no personal nominations, he attended at least four legislative committees, whose topics embraced fishing rights in North America, corrupt customs officials, manorial rights at Beaminster, Dorset and, more surprisingly, the tithing of lead ore in Derbyshire.10 In addition, Giear supplied evidence that was used against lord treasurer Middlesex (Sir Lionel Cranfield*), testifying on oath that Weymouth merchants were prevented from landing cargoes unless they paid the composition for purveyance of groceries. He may well also have provided the Commons’ grand committee on trade with a letter from his borough complaining about the new impositions on wine and groceries.11
The war with Spain and France during the later 1620s doubtless disrupted Giear’s mercantile operations, but he compensated for this by turning to privateering in 1627.12 He also maximized his profits by evading customs duties. During his second mayoralty, in 1630-1, Giear obstructed John Gardiner, the local controller of customs, and provocatively fined him for swearing and drunkenness. In return, the controller accused Giear of smuggling, which led to the latter being fined £3,000 in 1634 by the Exchequer barons. This feud lasted until at least 1639, when Giear and some associates sued Gardiner in Star Chamber for alleged corruption.13 Such financial irregularities evidently did Giear’s local reputation no harm, and during the same decade he was entrusted with £100 of the corporation’s funds. His personal standing was also confirmed by his election to the Short Parliament.14
Giear took no known part in the Civil War, but remained active within Weymouth’s corporation until at least October 1645, when he helped to vote for a new recorder. He presumably died in the following year. In his will, drawn up on 17 Dec. 1642, he left £9 for charitable purposes in Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, provided a £300 dowry for his young daughter, and assigned to his wife his lease of a Dorset prebend and several other minor properties. The will was proved on 20 June 1646. No other members of this family entered Parliament.15
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: John. P. Ferris / Paul Hunneyball
- 1. E134/9 and 10 Chas.I/Hil. 39; PROB 11/196, f. 256r-v.
- 2. C66/2108/5.
- 3. Hutchins, Dorset, ii. 430, 438.
- 4. Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 2.
- 5. Weymouth and Melcombe Regis Min. Bk. ed. M. Weinstock (Dorset Rec. Soc. i), 22.
- 6. Hutchins, ii. 430; HMC 5th Rep. 581.
- 7. E190/869/2, 6.
- 8. C219/35/1/119.
- 9. Dorset RO, Weymouth corp. order bk., f. 93.
- 10. C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 201, 214, 219, 221.
- 11. Cobbett, Parl. Hist. vi. 265; ‘Spring 1624’, p. 194.
- 12. CSP Dom. 1628-9, p. 303.
- 13. E134/9&10 Chas.I/Hil. 39; CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, pp. 603-4; William Whiteway of Dorchester: his Diary 1618-35 (Dorset Rec. Soc. xii), 153; PC2/50, p. 488.
- 14. Weymouth Min. Bk. 32.
- 15. Ibid. 55; PROB 11/196, f. 256r-v.