ROBARTS, Thomas (1568-1633), of Poole, Dorset

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

bap. 8 Oct. 1568, 4th s. of John Robartes (d.1569), yeoman, of Sturminster Marshall, Dorset and his w. Emma.1 educ. appr. Poole.2 m. by 1606, Jane, 1s. 4da. d. 1 July 1633.3

Offices Held

Freeman, Poole 1590,4 water-bailiff 1593-4, sheriff 1596-7, mayor 1599-1600, 1606-7, 1617-18, 1628-9,5 common cllr. 1601-d.,6 sen. bailiff 1603-4, 1605-6, 1611-12, 1620-1, 1629-30, 1631-2,7 comptroller of customs 1612-bef. 1623,8 ?collector, Benevolence 1622.9


Robarts’ father farmed several hundred acres in the Stour valley, partly as lord of the manor of Shapwick Cammels, partly as tenant of the earl of Derby’s manor in Sturminster Marshall.10 However, as a younger son Robarts himself was apprenticed to a Poole mercer, and became a freeman of the borough in 1590 on condition that he presented a caliver to the municipal armoury. He quickly achieved prominence in the town, serving as sheriff and mayor by the end of the decade.11

Robarts was returned for Poole in 1604, but barely contributed to the proceedings of the first Jacobean Parliament, which mention him just once. The third session coincided with his second mayoralty, and on 12 Mar. 1607 he was granted leave from the Commons upon ‘allegation of urgent and pressing occasions’ relating to the town. The length of his absence is not recorded.12

In 1612 Robarts was granted a post in the Poole customs house during pleasure, and clearly prospered, for by 1624 he could afford to offer Edward Pitt* £1,000 for a lease. At his death he held 11 Dorset messuages, ten at Wimborne Minster and another in Morden. He also signalled his rising social status by sending his son Thomas to Oxford University.13 Robarts was presumably Poole’s collector of the 1622 Benevolence, since he delivered the money to London. He further boosted his income in 1626-7 through privateering ventures in partnership with his son-in-law George Skutt†, and built a free school for the town on land adjoining his house in 1628.14

Robarts made his will on 28 June 1633 in the presence of Swithin Cleeves, minister of Poole. ‘Sick in body’, he left small legacies to the church and poor of Poole and Sturminster Marshall, full mourning to six poor people, and black gloves for the corporation. His widow stood to inherit a house in Wimborne for life, along with the Morden messuage and various Poole properties, including a salt-house, brew-house, two lofts next to the schoolhouse, and a vineyard. Skutt and Thomas Hanham† were both named as overseers of the will. Robarts died three days later, and was buried in the parish church under an altar-tomb. His son was occupying the largest house in the tithing of Petersham, Dorset in 1662, but nothing further is known of the family.15

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Regs. Sturminster Marshall (Dorset Recs. vii), 3, 47; PROB 11/51, f. 61.
  • 2. Dorset RO, DC/PL/B/1/1, f. 34.
  • 3. PROB 11/164, f. 346; C142/497/131; Hutchins, Dorset, i. 47.
  • 4. Dorset RO, DC/PL/B/1/1, f. 34.
  • 5. Ibid. Poole bor. audit bk. 5, pp. 4-7.
  • 6. Ibid. DC/PL/B/1/1, f. 42.
  • 7. Ibid. Poole bor. audit bk. 5, pp. 5-7.
  • 8. C66/1949/1; SP14/153/137.
  • 9. SP14/130/79.
  • 10. Hutchins, iii. 166, 341; Regs. Sturminster Marshall, 47.
  • 11. Dorset RO, DC/PL/B/1/1, f. 34; Hutchins, i. 31.
  • 12. CJ, i. 351b.
  • 13. C66/1949/1; Add. 29974, f. 75; C142/497/131; Al. Ox.
  • 14. SP14/130/79; CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 148; 1628-9, p. 291; Hutchins, i. 62; J. Sydenham, Poole, 407.
  • 15. PROB 11/164, f. 346; Hutchins, i. 47; Dorset Hearth Tax Assessments ed. C.A.F. Meekings, 32.