GURLYN (GIRLING), Thomas (1585-1644), of Page Stair Lane, King's Lynn, Norf.

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



1640 (Apr.)

Family and Education

bap. 17 Jan. 1585,1 1st s. of William Gurlyn of King’s Lynn, brewer, and Marie, da. of one Baker of ?Bowers Gifford, Essex; bro. of Nathaniel*. m. (1) bef. 1606, Frances (d.1634), da. of Robert Morrell of Swaffham, Norf. 3s. 2da.; (2) Frances (d.1654), da. of Sir William Boswell of Newhall, Yorks., wid. of Robert Raymond of Northwold, Norf., 1da.2 suc. fa. 1604.3 d. 3 Aug. 1644.4

Offices Held

Freeman, King’s Lynn 1605,5 common cllr. 1614,6 alderman 1616,7 auditor 1617-34,8 capt. militia ft. 1619-23,9 mayor 1621-2, 1634-5, 1642-3;10 j.p. Norf. 1621-d.,11 commr. assessment 1641.12

Commr. to examine Edward Downes 1606.13


The earliest recorded mention of the surname Gurlyn (sometimes spelt and pronounced ‘Gallant’) in Norfolk occurs when Ralph Gurlyn was admitted a freeman of Norwich in 1374. However, our Member descended from a branch of the family which settled at Wellingham, Norfolk, in the late fifteenth century.14 His father, a prosperous merchant of King’s Lynn, twice served as mayor. On the latter’s death in 1604, Gurlyn inherited warehouses and cornchambers near Page Stair Lane, a share in the family brewhouse, £400 in cash, and land in Wellingham, Wesenham, and Raynham.15

In 1606 Gurlyn was one of the commissioners appointed by Parliament to organize the sale of the lands of Edward Downes of Buckenham Castle in Norfolk, having previously acted as surety for Downes, along with Sir Henry Hobart* and Sir Nathaniel Bacon*.16 In 1610 Gurlyn was one of 20 people named as beneficiaries of recusancy fines in Norfolk,17 and in 1613 he petitioned the king for a grant for the ‘sole making of charter parties indented between merchants, masters, and owners of ships’.18 The following year he was imprisoned in Wood Street Compter, London, for failing to answer a bill in Chancery relating to a dispute over a surety of £800. After three years of legal wrangling Gurlyn appealed to the king, and a commission eventually ruled in his favour.19 In 1629 he wrote to William Laud, then bishop of London, claiming to have performed many beneficial services for the Crown without adequate recompense, and enclosing proposals of projects which might be of benefit to both Charles and the commonweal. Unfortunately only the covering letter has survived.20

Little is known of Gurlyn’s activities in King’s Lynn until he became a common councillor in February 1614. Perhaps because of his brewing interests, he often served as the town’s corn-supervisor.21 In keeping with the customary practices of the Lynn corporation, he benefited from leases and sales of town land, and in 1638 bought a lease for 10 years of three ferry rights across the Ouse for the annual rental of £9.22 Gurlyn played almost no recorded part in the two parliaments in which he sat. In 1626 this may have reflected the fact he was ill for part of the time. On 15 May the Commons sent a delegation to his London residence, where he lay sick, to receive his protestation that Sir Dudley Digges* and Sir John Eliot* had not spoken the words that had seen them imprisoned by King Charles.23 The following day it was received by the House.24 During the 1629 session Gurlyn resided at the house of Mr Wilbard, ‘a little beyond the Parliament stairs’.25

In 1642-3 Gurlyn served his final term as mayor, when he was involved in the preparations to declare the town for the king.26 Besieged by parliamentary forces, Lynn surrendered on 16 September. Gurlyn died on 3 Aug. 1644. No will has been found but a monument to him was erected at Snettisham parish church.27 None of his sons or immmediate descendants sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Chris Kyle


  • 1. Norf. RO, St. Margaret’s par. reg., King’s Lynn.
  • 2. Norf. Gen. xvii. 81; Vis. Norf. (Norf. Rec. Soc., i), 89; Norf. Arch. i. 202; Vis. Norf. (Norf. Rec. Soc., v), 182.
  • 3. C142/285/132; PROB 11/103, f. 365.
  • 4. F. Blomefield, Hist. Norf. x. 378.
  • 5. Cal. Lynn Freemen, 133.
  • 6. Norf. RO (King’s Lynn), KL/C7/9, f. 51.
  • 7. Ibid. f. 92.
  • 8. Ibid. ff. 124, 277.
  • 9. Ibid. ff. 141v, 219.
  • 10. W. Rye, Norf. Fams. 255-6.
  • 11. Norf. RO (King’s Lynn), KL/C2/48.
  • 12. SR, v. 65.
  • 13. HLRO, O.A. 3 Jas.I, c. 48.
  • 14. Rye, 255-6.
  • 15. PROB 11/103, f. 365; V. Parker, Making of King’s Lynn, 47.
  • 16. HLRO, O.A. 3 Jas.I, c. 48.
  • 17. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 593.
  • 18. Lansd. 162, f. 312.
  • 19. Lansd. 162, ff. 305r-v, 314r-v, 316r-v.
  • 20. SP16/139/20.
  • 21. Norf. RO (King’s Lynn), KL/C7/9, ff. 59v, 119, 205v.
  • 22. Ibid. ff. 108, 303v; C7/10, f. 14; unnumb. mss, corporate leases.
  • 23. Procs. 1626, iii. 263.
  • 24. Ibid. 265.
  • 25. SP16/139/20.
  • 26. R.W. Ketton-Cremer, Norf. in Civil War, 207.
  • 27. Blomefield, x. 378.