GRANTHAM, Sir Thomas (1573-1630), of Goltho and St. Katherine's Priory, Lincoln, Lincs.

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. 10 July 1573,1 1st s. of Vincent Grantham of Goltho and Elizabeth, da. of Sir Francis Ayscough of South Kelsey, Lincs.; bro. of Francis†.2 educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 1589; L. Inn 1592; travelled abroad 1595-7.3 m. (1) Frances (d. 26 Jan. 1619),4 da. of Sir John Puckering†, ld. kpr. 1592-6, of Kew, Surr., 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da.;5 (2) 1625, Lucy, da. of William Boughton of Lawford, Warws., wid. of Henry Sacheverell of Ratcliffe-upon-Soar, Notts., 1da.6 suc. fa. 1581;7 kntd. 23 Apr. 1603.8 d. 30 July 1630.9

Offices Held

Freeman, Lincoln 1597;10 j.p. Lincs. (Kesteven, Lindsey) 1598-1626, 1628-d.;11 sheriff, Lincs. 1600-1;12 collector, Privy Seal loan, Lincs. 1604-5, 1625-6;13 commr. sewers, Fenland 1604, 1629, river Gleane, Lincs. and Notts. 1607-27, Lincoln 1608, 1625, 1629, Newark, Notts. 1610, preservation of ditches, Fenland 1605,14 inquiry, boundaries of Holland and Kesteven, 1607,15 Admlty. causes, Lincs. 1608,16 subsidy (Lindsey, Kesteven, Lincoln) 1608, 1621-2, 1624,17 aid Lincs. (Kesteven, Lincoln) 1609,18 oyer and terminer, Midland circ. 1610-d.;19 dep. lt. Lincs. by 1612-d.;20 collector (jt.), aid 1612-13;21 commr. preservation of game, Ancaster Heath, Lincs. 1619,22 swans, Lincs., Northants., Rutland, Notts. 1619, 1625, Lincs. and elsewhere c.1629,23 Forced Loan, Lincs. (Lindsey) 1627.24

Member, Virg. Co. 1610.25


Grantham’s family originated as wool merchants in Lincoln, regularly holding municipal office from 1425, and first represented the city in the Reformation Parliament.26 In the early sixteenth century Vincent Grantham†, this Member’s grandfather, purchased an estate at Goltho, nine or ten miles north-east of Lincoln. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries he also acquired St. Katherine’s Priory in Lincoln itself.27 Grantham himself was a minor when his father died. His wardship was granted to Sir Thomas Cecil† (later 1st earl of Exeter), who ensured that his education at Oxford and Lincoln’s Inn was followed by a tour of the Continent and election to Parliament for Lincoln in 1597.28

Knighted by James I as the new king passed through Lincolnshire on his way to London in 1603, Grantham was returned for Lincoln to the first Jacobean Parliament. In the opening session he was appointed to consider bills concerned with the conversion of woodland into pasture (28 Apr. 1604) and fen drainage in Cambridgeshire (12 May), always a subject of interest to Lincolnshire Members.29 In the second session he was named to a further two committees, on bills to protect leaseholders (23 Jan. 1606) and to strengthen the law against usury (3 April).30 In the third session he was appointed to consider two bills of local interest, one to naturalize Dr. Peter Baro, a noted resident of Boston (6 Dec. 1606), and the other on fen drainage (9 May 1607); he was also among those instructed draw up a petition for sterner action against recusants and non-resident clergy (18 May).31 In 1610 Grantham’s committee appointments included bills on clerical non-residence (16 Apr.), unseasonable hawking (17 Apr.), prison keepers (10 May), and the suppression of idleness (19 April).32 He left no trace on the records of the fifth and final session. While in London, Grantham invested in the recently founded Virginia Company, and in May 1610 he joined with Sir George Manners* to present a tender for the farm of Lincolnshire recusancy fines. Though his prospective partner’s elder brother, the 5th earl of Rutland, was a well known adherent of the Church of Rome, Grantham promised to increase takings by £2,000 a year.33 When Rutland entertained the king at Belvoir Castle in 1612, Grantham contributed a present of game, though he did not attend in person.34

Re-elected for Lincoln in 1614, Grantham’s first appointment was to the conference with the Lords on the Palatine marriage bill (14 April).35 On 5 May he delivered a ‘grave’ speech opposing the consideration of supply before grievances.36 He was appointed to consider bills concerning the export of iron ordnance (11 May), and debts (31 May).37 When the bishop of Lincoln attacked the Commons for discussing impositions contrary to James’s wishes, Grantham was quick to assure the House on 25 May that ‘all they of that county [Lincolnshire], disavow the [bishop’s] action and wish he may be punished’, and he was one of the Members appointed three days later to hear the king’s answer to their decision to ‘forbear’ all business until the matter had been resolved.38

James I, en route to Scotland in 1617, visited Lincoln and lodged at Grantham’s house at St. Katherine’s.39 Grantham was subsequently one of those appointed to preserve game in the area for the king’s sport.40 On the death of his cousin Robert in 1618, Grantham inherited a further estate in Lincoln, called Black Monks.41 He remained zealous against recusants, and in December 1618 went to the king to denounce Sir Edward Carr’s widow as a strong papist.42 He presumably recommended his friend and kinsman, Sir Edward Ayscough*, to Lincoln corporation at the next general election, while he himself was returned for the county, together with Manners. During the course of the 1621 Parliament, Grantham was appointed to two conferences with the Lords, on recusancy (15 Feb.) and the better observation of the Sabbath (24 May).43 On 15 Mar. he suggested, during the debate about reforming the courts of justice, ‘that there may be no injunction granted out of Chancery, after judgment given in other courts’.44 He was also named to an inquiry into the abuses alleged against the warden of the Fleet (3 March).45 In the second session his only intervention came on 24 Nov. when he spoke on the petition of the dean and chapter of Lincoln against Sir Francis Popham*, who had claimed privilege in a lawsuit.46

Re-elected to the last Jacobean Parliament for Lincolnshire, Grantham’s departure for Westminster was delayed by a dispute between Boston and the county over sluice repairs, which the Privy Council ordered him to investigate.47 Arriving in mid-March 1624, he was appointed to seven bill committees, including those for building and regulating inns (1 Apr.), altering erroneous judgments in the courts of equity (14 Apr.), restraining the abuses of the clerk of the market (14 Apr.), and an estate bill for Sir Lewis Watson* (9 April).48 After attending the recusancy conference with the Lords (3 Apr.), he identified the 6th earl of Rutland as a papist, perhaps in the hope of undermining the Manners’ influence both in the borough and the county.49

In the first Parliament of the new reign, Grantham was elected at Lincoln and named to the privileges committee (21 June 1625), and to two legislative committees concerning larceny (25 June) and the limitation of benefit of clergy (25 June).50 On 8 July he delivered a brief speech against the duke of Buckingham’s proposal for additional supply. According to (Sir) John Eliot* the motion ‘forthwith died and perished, though from the dust thereof more troubles did spring’; and for this he commended Grantham as ‘a worthy gentleman of Lincolnshire, who was never wanting to the service of his country’.51 After the session adjourned to Oxford to avoid the plague, Grantham, on 10 Aug., again advised the House ‘not now to give, but thus far to engage ourselves: that at our next meeting in winter we will respect His Majesty’s occasions, as shall be fitting for dutiful and loving subjects’.52 The majority concurred, and since it was clear that an impasse had been reached, two days later the Parliament came to an end.

Re-elected the following year, Grantham was appointed to consider bills to abolish proceedings for concealed tenures (14 Feb. 1626), the holding of secret inquisitions (14 Feb.), and the use of nil returns by escheators (3 May).53 He was also named to consider several ecclesiastical bills, including those to remove scandalous and unworthy clergymen (15 Feb.), restrict the number of clerical magistrates (10 Mar.), limit the use of excommunication (2 May), and permit marriage in Lent (6 May).54 His other appointments included bill committees for measures to prevent the use of the Exchequer by privileged private creditors (28 Feb.), the procurement of judicial office for money (3 Mar.), and the dissipation of the Crown’s revenue (7 March).55 He was one of those instructed on 2 Mar. to prepare a warning to the king against such dangerous recusants as Tobie Matthew*, and was named to conferences with the Lords concerning the duke of Buckingham (4 Mar.) and the conduct of the war (7 March).56 On 10 Mar. Grantham joined in the demand that the royal message on supply, delivered orally by Sir Richard Weston*, should be put in writing.57 He was named to the inquiries into the grievances of merchants trading with France (16 Mar.) and the defects in the victualling of the Navy (22 Mar.), and was required to help draft bills to increase seamen’s wages (22 Mar.), to restrict the activities of pressmasters (15 Apr.), and to prevent the spread of contagious diseases (29 April).58 His first recorded speech of the session, on 20 Feb. was to propose a petition to the king against new impositions on imported wine; he followed this four days later in committee of the whole House with a suggestion that Charles should also be petitioned to ensure better defence of the English Channel.59 In the debate on supply on 27 Mar. he did not oppose the motion for three subsidies, but spoke against fifteenths as ‘likely to be burdensome to the poor’.60 He furthermore moved on 3 May that should a fourth subsidy be granted, payment must be delayed until after Michaelmas 1627, since ‘the time for payment is as much as the money ... the purses of the poor are very short’.61 On 16 May he moved for the king’s charge against Eliot, who had been arrested, to be laid before the House, ‘whereby we may the better judge’.62 Later in the month he was named to committees to consider a private bill for the 2nd earl of Exeter (William Cecil†) (24 May), to draft the subsidy preamble (25 May), and to consider abuses in purveyance (25 May).63

Back in his county after the dissolution, Grantham was dismissed from the magistrates’ bench, presumably as a punishment for his zeal against recusants and his attitude to Buckingham; he went on to become one of several Lincolnshire commissioners for the Forced Loan who refused either to collect or lend.64 The Privy Council sent him to the Gatehouse, followed by a spell of exile in Dorset and Kent, which he found even harder to endure than imprisonment.65 He was finally released in January 1628, in time for the next parliamentary election, at which he was again returned for Lincoln. Soon after taking his seat he was appointed to the privileges committee (20 March).66 He lost no time in taking up one of his favourite themes, moving on 21 Mar. that the lack of any list of recusants from the bishopric of Durham should be supplied by the Members for neighbouring counties.67 Five days later he reminded the House that in 1597 it had shrunk from imposing on recusants the punishment of confinement recently inflicted on Loan refusers.68 He was appointed to a conference with the Lords on the general fast (21 Mar.), and to a committee to draft a bill to regulate the powers of the lieutenancy (24 March).69 In the ensuing debates about billeting, he argued, on 2 Apr., that in Elizabethan times coat and conduct money had usually been repaid, and he was subsequently among those named to draft a petition on the subject (12 June).70 Nevertheless, on 10 May he defended Sir William Welby, a Lincolnshire deputy lieutenant accused of wrongfully arresting those who refused to pay military taxes, and on 21 May he was added to a committee to search for records and precedents in similar cases.71 On 13 June he gave information about the imposition on Tyneside coal, and was named to the committee to recommend the fittest course to be taken about Tunnage and Poundage.72 His final appointment of the session was to confer with the Lords on 20 June over the title of the Petition of Right.73 During the recess Grantham supported the residents of Axholme against the drainage schemes of Sir Cornelius Vermuyden, although their protest eventually led to serious rioting.74 In the second session he was named to attend the king on 28 Jan. 1629 with the address from both Houses for a fast, and on 3 Feb. he was added to the committee to examine the grievances of John Rolle* and other merchants over Tunnage and Poundage.75

As a schoolboy, the future regicide John Hutchinson† boarded with Grantham at St. Katherine’s during the early 1630s, and it is to him that we owe a description of his host as ‘a gentleman of great repute in his country’, who ‘kept up all his life the old hospitality of England, having a great retinue and a noble table and a resort of all the nobility and gentry in those parts’.76 In his will, dated 4 Oct. 1628, Grantham left Black Monks and £1,000 to his younger son, and his main estates of Goltho and St. Katherine’s to his eldest son and heir, Thomas†, whose wardship was purchased by Ayscough.77 Grantham died on 30 July 1630, and was buried with his ancestors in St. Martin’s church, Lincoln.78 Thomas represented the city in the Short and Long Parliaments until Pride’s Purge.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Authors: Paula Watson / Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. C142/196/7.
  • 2. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. li), 422.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; LI Admiss; SO3/1, unfol. (13 Mar. 1595).
  • 4. G. Holles, Lincs. Church Notes (Lincs. Rec. Soc. i), 58.
  • 5. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. li), 423.
  • 6. Ibid. 423; Soc. Gen. Boyd’s Mar. Index.
  • 7. C142/196/7.
  • 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 103.
  • 9. C142/457/91.
  • 10. J.W.F. Hill, Tudor and Stuart Lincoln, 114.
  • 11. C231/1, f. 46v; 231/4, ff. 211, 261.
  • 12. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 80.
  • 13. E401/2585, ff. 82-5; 401/2586, p. 158.
  • 14. C181/1, ff. 75, 117v; 181/2, ff. 48, 74v, 119, 353; 181/3, ff. 35v, 214v, 228v; 181/4, ff. 20, 39v.
  • 15. C181/2, f. 46.
  • 16. HCA 14/39, no. 217.
  • 17. SP14/123/77; 14/31/1; C212/22/21, 23.
  • 18. SP14/43/107; E179/283/12.
  • 19. C181/2, ff. 115v, 332v; 181/3, ff. 5, 258v; 181/4, ff. 11, 59.
  • 20. Lincs. AO, Yarb. 8/2/2, 3.
  • 21. E403/2732, f. 101.
  • 22. HMC Rutland, i. 456.
  • 23. C181/2, f. 341v; 181/3, ff. 165, 268v.
  • 24. C193/12/2, f. 32v.
  • 25. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 544; T.K. Rabb, Enterprise and Empire, 301.
  • 26. Hill, 22, 114; CPR, 1494-1509, p. 447.
  • 27. C78/326/2.
  • 28. WARD 9/159, f. 9.
  • 29. CJ, i. 189b, 207b.
  • 30. Ibid. 258b, 292b.
  • 31. Ibid. 328a, 371b, 375a.
  • 32. Ibid. 418b, 419a, 426b.
  • 33. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 613.
  • 34. HMC Rutland, ii. 343; iv. 489.
  • 35. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 82.
  • 36. Ibid. 153; T. Birch, Ct. and Times of Jas. I, i. 315-16.
  • 37. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 202, 391.
  • 38. Ibid. 341, 352, 377.
  • 39. Hill, 129-30.
  • 40. HMC Rutland, i. 456.
  • 41. Ibid. iv. 217.
  • 42. Fortescue Pprs. ed. S.R. Gardiner (Cam. Soc. n.s. i), 70.
  • 43. CJ, i. 522b, 626a.
  • 44. Ibid. 556a; Nicholas, Procs. 1621, i. 169.
  • 45. CJ, i. 536b.
  • 46. Ibid. 643b; Nicholas, ii. 200-1.
  • 47. APC, 1623-5, p. 182.
  • 48. CJ, i. 751b, 758b, 766a.
  • 49. Ibid. 754a, 776a.
  • 50. Procs. 1625, pp. 205, 245, 246.
  • 51. Ibid. 522; J. Forster, Sir John Eliot, i. 177.
  • 52. Procs. 1625, p. 445.
  • 53. Procs. 1626, ii. 32, 33; iii. 139.
  • 54. Ibid. ii. 44, 246; iii. 120, 180.
  • 55. Ibid. ii. 147, 186, 214.
  • 56. Ibid. 176, 195, 216.
  • 57. Ibid. 251.
  • 58. Ibid. 297, 339, 340, 446; iii. 97.
  • 59. Ibid. ii. 76, 123.
  • 60. Ibid. 376, 383; Forster, i. 307.
  • 61. Ibid. iii. 147.
  • 62. Ibid. 266.
  • 63. Ibid. 317, 329, 331.
  • 64. R. Cust, Forced Loan, 189; C. Holmes, Seventeenth Cent. Lincs. 107; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 81.
  • 65. APC, 1627, pp. 241, 253, 395, 430; 1627-8, p. 217.
  • 66. CD 1628, ii. 29.
  • 67. Ibid. 48.
  • 68. Ibid. 122, 133.
  • 69. Ibid. 41, 78.
  • 70. Ibid. 255; iv. 280.
  • 71. Ibid. iii. 359, 511.
  • 72. Ibid. iv. 289, 300.
  • 73. Ibid. 390.
  • 74. Holmes, 124, 138-40.
  • 75. CJ, i. 923a, 926a.
  • 76. L. Hutchinson, Mems. of Col. Hutchinson, 31.
  • 77. PROB 11/159, f. 21; WARD 9/163, f. 23.
  • 78. C142/457/91; Lincs. Peds. 423.