REYNELL, Thomas (c.1590-1665), of St. Martin's Lane, Westminster, Laleham, Mdx. and Weybridge, Surr.

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. c.1590, 2nd s. of Sir Thomas Reynell of East Ogwell, Devon and 1st w. Frances, da. of John Aylworth of Poslewe, Devon.1 educ. Exeter Coll., Oxford 1602, aged 12; M. Temple 1608.2 m. 11 Sept. 1621, Katherine (bur. 8 Apr. 1667), da. of Sir Henry Spiller* of Laleham, 2s. (at least 1 d.v.p.), 2da.3 kntd. 15 Sept. 1625.4 bur. 29 May 1665.5 sig. Tho[mas] Reynell.

Offices Held

Cupbearer, Prince Charles’s Household ?1616/17-25; sewer, Privy Chamber 1625-46, 1660-d.6

Patentee (jt.) wine licences, Devon and Cornw. 1629-52,7 (sole) fines upon writs of capiatur in Exch. and k.b. 1636-at least 1640.8

J.p. Devon 1629-?45;9 bailiff, ex-chantry lands, Devon by 1631.10


Reynell’s father, a brother of the courtiers Sir Carew* and Sir George Reynell*, left his Devonshire estate of 3,000 acres to his eldest son in April 1621.11 As a younger son with no such expectations, Reynell made his career at Court, doubtless under his uncles’ supervision: at the beginning of 1630 he claimed to have been in the king’s service for 13 years, which suggests that he had acquired a position shortly after Charles’s creation as prince of Wales in 1616. Almost certainly the ‘Thomas Reynolds’ listed as one of the prince’s cupbearers at King James’s funeral in April 1625, he thereafter served in the privy chamber as a sewer.12

In 1621 Reynell married one of the daughters of the wealthy Exchequer clerk Sir Henry Spiller*.13 The means by which this match was arranged remain obscure, although it was presumably through Court contacts. Spiller and his son Robert* were regularly returned to Parliament for Arundel and Castle Rising, seats which lay in the gift of the earl marshal, Thomas, earl of Arundel, and Reynell clearly developed his own links with the earl, to whom he turned in his quest for a house in St. Martin’s Lane in 1623.14 In the following year Reynell was returned to the Commons for Morpeth, undoubtedly upon the nomination of the lord of the manor, Arundel’s uncle Lord William Howard. Although he sat in four consecutive parliaments, Reynell was not a prominent Member. On 20 May 1628 he joined (Sir) John Eliot as teller for the yeas in a vote for an early adjournment of the day’s business, a deceptively innocuous motion which allowed the Commons to postpone its answer to the Lords, who had attempted to add a saving clause for the Crown’s prerogative rights to the draft Petition of Right. Reynell was otherwise named to half a dozen committees for estate and naturalization bills, the only one of any relevance to his known interests being that to entail Arundel Castle upon the earldom of Arundel and Surrey (11 June 1628).15

At Court, Reynell skilfully exploited his position and contacts to gain an independent income. In 1626 he received a 31-year Crown lease of the profits of Dartmoor Forest, Devon, and by 1631 he had succeeded his father as bailiff of ex-chantry lands in Devon.16 In 1629 he joined with Philip Mainwaring* and two others to farm the right to issue wine licences to taverns in Devon and Cornwall at £65 a year. Although the business was initially hampered by the reluctance of the previous farmer to assist his successors, Reynell was estimated to be drawing between £100 and £130 clear annual profit from this source after the Civil War.17 He seems to have had less success with his 1636 farm of writs of capiatur issued by the Courts of Exchequer and King’s Bench, as the patent was altered shortly before sealing to exclude some fines from its remit, and an attempt to reverse this decision in 1640 was not entirely successful. This farm was not mentioned in his composition proceedings after the war, which suggests that its yield was by then negligible.18 In addition to privileges obtained directly from the Crown, in 1633 Reynell bought the rights to the market tolls of Newton Abbot, Devon from William Elphinstone, another Privy Chamber man, which he quickly sold on to his brother for £540.19

Reynell did not sit in Parliament again during the 1640s, probably through choice, as his business partner (Sir) Philip Mainwaring took the Morpeth seat in the Short Parliament. He continued to serve in the king at Oxford during the Civil War, and duly compounded in 1646, escaping with a fine of £150. He encountered a good deal more trouble over his role as surety for his father-in-law’s fine: although Spiller had passed his manors of Laleham and Teddington to Reynell, the latter missed the deadline for payment of the final £4,500 of Spiller’s composition, and found himself sequestrated afresh in 1648. Reynell’s troubles were multiplied after Spiller’s death in 1649, when he found himself sued by James Herbert†, who had married the heiress to Spiller’s estate; the two men paid off the fine jointly and must have agreed to partition the estates, as Reynell ended up in possession of Laleham, worth over £500 a year.20

Reynell sold his remaining interest in the wine licence farm in 1652, but at the Restoration he petitioned the king for a renewal of the lease, which had just lapsed; it was instead granted to the duke of York in the following year. Reynell also unsuccessfully petitioned to pass his Privy Chamber post to his son Henry.21 Reynell was buried at Laleham on 29 May 1665; no will or administration has been discovered, nor is anything known about the subsequent career of his son, who may have predeceased him. The next member of the family to sit in Parliament was his nephew Thomas Reynell, who represented Devon twice during the 1650s and Ashburton five times thereafter; this man’s nephew married the heiress of Laleham, but the estate was sold by the family in 1746.22

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Simon Healy


  • 1. Vivian, Vis. Devon, 645.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; M. Temple Admiss.
  • 3. D. Lysons, Hist. Acct. Mdx. (1800), p. 225; Vis. Mdx. (Harl. Soc. lxv, 108-9; St. Martin-in-the-Fields (Harl. Soc. reg. lxvi), 249.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 189.
  • 5. Lysons, 225.
  • 6. LC2/6, f. 69v; E179/70/136, 146; LC3/1, unfol.
  • 7. C66/2461/2; CCC, 1149; CTB, 1660-7, p. 328.
  • 8. C66/2705/7; CSP Dom. Addenda 1625-49, p. 750.
  • 9. C231/5, p. 11.
  • 10. E315/31, f. 16.
  • 11. C142/381/139.
  • 12. C2/Chas.I/R13/43, f. 2; LC2/6, f. 69v; E179/70/136, 146; LC3/1, unfol.; C115/108/8632.
  • 13. Lysons, 224; M.C. Questier, ‘Sir Henry Spiller, recusancy and the efficiency of the Jacobean Exchequer’, HR, lxvi. 251-66.
  • 14. SIR HENRY SPILLER; ROBERT SPILLER; CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 54.
  • 15. CD 1628, iii. 492, 501-3, 508; CJ, i. 911a.
  • 16. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 133; E315/310, f. 50; 315/311, f. 16.
  • 17. C66/2383/7; 66/2461/2; APC, 1630-1, pp. 30, 193; CSP Dom. 1636-7, pp. 296-7; 1637-8, pp. 558-9; E401/2459, unfol.; CCC, 1149, 1316-17; C2/Chas.I/B121/2.
  • 18. CSP Dom. 1635-6, pp. 161, 174; 1638-9, p. 614; C66/2705/7; CSP Dom. Addenda, 162-49, p. 563.
  • 19. E179/70/136; C2/Chas.I/Y1/38; 2/Chas.I/Y6/41; E112/170/71.
  • 20. CCC, 1147-8, 1316-17; C2/Chas.I/H89/52; 2/Chas.I/H98/13; Lysons, 198, 201.
  • 21. CSP Dom. 1660-1, pp. 30, 93; CTB, 1660-7, pp. 76, 269-70, 328.
  • 22. Lysons, 198, 225; Vivian, 644.