STANLEY, Thomas (1581-1669), of Hamptons, West Peckham and Earl's Place, Earl's Lane, Maidstone, Kent

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. 5 Feb. 1581,1 s. of John Stanley of Oxenhoath, W. Peckham and Dorothy, da. of Thomas Totesham of Peckham. m. (1) aft. 11 Aug. 1606,2 Margery (bur. 29 May 1633), da. of one Edgate of Essex, wid. of one Leiston of Gravesend, Kent , s.p.; (2) lic. 14 Aug. 1633, Anne (bur. 24 Apr. 1634), da. of Capt. Long, wid. of John Harvey of Broxbourne, Herts., s.p.; (3) lic. 10 Sept. 1634, Mary, da. of Manasses Norwood of Chilston, nr. Boughton Malherbe, Kent, wid. of William Duling of Gillingham, Kent, 1da. suc. fa. 1617. d. by 4 Apr. 1669.3

Offices Held

Freeman, Gravesend 1606, member of the Twenty-Four, 1607, jurat 1608-at least 1622, Portreeve, 1611-12, 1616-17;4 jurat, Maidstone by 1625-44, 1660-?d., mayor, 1625-6, 1641-2;5 capt. militia ft. Kent c.1628-42;6 ?churchwarden, Peckham by 1630-at least 1633.7

Under clerk to Chancery six clerk by 1609,8 dep. clerk of the enrolments (jt.) by c.1630-at least 1640.9


Stanley’s great-grandfather was born into the Lancashire branch of his family. Sometime between 1601 and 1609 Stanley himself served as an under-clerk to the Chancery six clerk Richard Wilkinson, whom he later described as ‘a kind and loving master’.10 By 1604 he was making small loans, the largest recorded in his notebook being £12, and had probably already begun trading as a brewer, though the earliest reference to him doing so is dated 1607.11 By then he was living in Gravesend, having married a local widow whose maiden name was Edgate. She was probably connected with the brewing trade herself, for William Edgate was one of Stanley’s malt suppliers.12 Stanley rapidly became a member of the town’s corporation, serving twice as Portreeve. In 1614 he contributed 15s. to the royal Benevolence.13 He was probably the Thomas Stanley who, with Jeffrey Duppa, unsuccessfully petitioned the king in February 1620 to establish a uniform method of brewing beer.14

On his father’s death in March 1617, Stanley inherited a house in West Peckham known as Hamptons, but evidently remained at Gravesend, where he was a jurat as late as October 1622. By 1624 he had moved to Maidstone,15 where he also became a jurat. In May 1625 Maidstone’s mayor, Ambrose Beale, had him elected to Parliament to prevent the return of Sir Francis Barnham*, but he played no recorded part in the Commons.16 Following the dissolution, Stanley himself served as mayor, when he defended the town against a writ of quo warranto which had been brought by Sir John Astley* over disputed fishing rights in the Medway. Though the matter was not resolved during his mayoral year, he was warmly thanked by the corporation, whose members urged him ‘to do his best endeavour to finish the remain of that business’.17 Stanley may have been well placed to do so, for by then he was probably one of the two deputy clerks of the enrolments in Chancery. In 1640 he calculated that this office, which entitled him to at least a quarter of the fees paid for enrolments, was worth £800 p.a.18 During the early 1630s it was alleged that he and a colleague commonly charged more than twice the lawful level of fees.19

Throughout the 1630s Stanley remained prosperous, though the harvest failure of 1630 temporarily disrupted his supply of seed corn.20 In September 1635 he set his net assets at £7,660. These included the lease of a Rochester brewhouse, which he probably obtained from the alderman brewer John Duling, whose widowed daughter-in-law he had married in 1634 following the death of his second wife.21 He could well afford the £50 he donated for the repair of St. Paul’s Cathedral and to provide an Oxford education for his first wife’s nephew, Thomas Leiston.22

Stanley served as Maidstone’s mayor for a second time in 1641-2, and retained office even though his election was challenged in February 1642 by John Wall.23 However, shortly after he served his term he complained that the controversy had ‘rendered me odious to divers with whom otherwise I have had a good esteem’, including Sir Henry Heyman†, who stripped him of his captaincy in the local militia.24 The manner of Stanley’s election was not the only matter which earned him enemies. During his mayoralty he canvassed signatures for the Kentish petition of March 1642 to restore bishops to the House of Lords. Detained by the Lords for 18 days, he was released on bail of £200 after complaining that he was being held without charge.25

On the outbreak of the royalist rebellion in Kent in July 1643, Stanley mediated between the rebel leaders and the parliamentarian deputy-lieutenants. He tried to persuade the rebels to accept that ‘a reasonable satisfaction is far better than a miserable devastation’ of the county, but they failed to reply to his letter of 23 July, in which he communicated the offer of a temporary cessation of hostilities while Parliament considered their demands. Consequently, Stanley warned them that the deputy-lieutenants had resolved ‘to advance towards you with more forces than you are able to resist’ and he advised them to surrender.26 Stanley was no neutral observer though, for in his letter of 23 July he described the rebel forces as ‘our soldiers’ and referred to their demands as ‘our petition’. Indeed, in February 1644 his openly royalist sympathies were used by his enemies in Maidstone to justify his removal from the town’s governing body.27 Nevertheless, in July 1643 he evidently supported the royalists under duress, as he asked to be restored to ‘my former freedom and liberty’.

Stanley apparently never paid the £1,500 demanded by the committee for the advance of money in February 1646.28 He suffered substantial financial losses for his royalism, which cost him £300 in compounding for his estates, £60 in plundered goods and £130 in fines.29 He also appears to have lost the income he had enjoyed from Chancery.30 His difficulties were exacerbated by Sir John Sedley, who defaulted on a loan of about £150. In December 1645 Stanley complained to Lady Sedley that because of her husband’s failure to repay him he was unable to find the £30 demanded by the Kent county committee, and he feared that ‘I am like to have my goods taken from me as heretofore’.31 Stanley’s financial distress was further compounded by his kinsman, Barnabas Walsall, who owed him £1,700 by November 1649. Stanley was forced to order the sale of his Rochester brewhouse in April 1650, apparently because of Walsall’s mismanagement.32 Stanley also lost at least £1,600 in gifts or loans to his brother, John, and his nephew, William.33 Whereas in April 1640 Stanley estimated his assets at £8,110, by May 1653 he put a net value on his entire estate of just £2,201.34

Following the Restoration, Stanley resumed his former position on Maidstone’s town council. He died in 1669 and was buried in the chancel of West Peckham church. In his will, drawn up in March 1663, he left his remaining property, comprising two Rochester inns whose leases he had acquired in 1660 and some houses in St. Giles-Without-Cripplegate, to his wife, brother and nephew.35 He was succeeded by his daughter Frances, who had married the son and heir of Sir Maximilian Dallison*. A portrait of Stanley was at Hamptons in the late nineteenth century.36 No other member of his family subsequently sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. Cent. Kent. Stud. P285/1/1, p. 21.
  • 2. Cent. Kent. Stud. U522/T128/2.
  • 3. ‘Letters of Thomas Stanley’ ed. W.A. Scott Robertson in Arch. Cant. xvii. 356; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 55; Bp. of London, Mar. Lics. 1611-1828 ed. G.J. Armytage (Harl. Soc. xxvi), 213; Canterbury Mar. Lics. ser. 2. 1619-60 ed. J.M. Cowper, 931; Cent. Kent. Stud. P285/1/1, pp. 48, 53, 54.
  • 4. Cent. Kent. Stud. GR/AC1, pp. 123, 134, 137, 140, 150, 205, 293, 295.
  • 5. Maidstone Recs. 115, 144, 273.
  • 6. Arch. Cant. xvii. 362-3, 367.
  • 7. Cent. Kent. Stud. U522/A3, f. 9.
  • 8. C2/Jas.I/S26/53.
  • 9. E215/4; Cent. Kent. Stud. U522/A3, f. 4v.
  • 10. The dates were those when Wilkinson was in office: IND 1/16818, p. 7.
  • 11. Cent. Kent. Stud. U522/A3, ff. 14v-16v.
  • 12. Ibid. f. 20.
  • 13. Staffs. RO, D593/S/4/60/2.
  • 14. CSP Dom. 1619-23, pp. 122, 135.
  • 15. E115/354/33; Cent. Kent. Stud. Md/JLp2/9, unfol.
  • 16. W. Roberts James, Charters of Maidstone, 119; Surr. Hist. Cent. LM cor. 4/51.
  • 17. Maidstone Recs. 86-7, 89-90.
  • 18. Cent. Kent. Stud. U522/A3, f. 4v. For the division of fees, see H.C. Maxwell-Lyte, Hist. Notes on Gt. Seal, 379-80.
  • 19. E215/4; 215/278.
  • 20. APC, 1630-1, p. 230. See also CSP Dom. 1629-31, pp. 502-3.
  • 21. Arch. Cant. xvii. 354.
  • 22. GL, ms 25475/1, ff. 8, 43; Arch. Cant. xvii. 357-9.
  • 23. Maidstone Recs. 112.
  • 24. Arch. Cant. xvii. 363.
  • 25. T.P.S. Woods, Preludes to Civil War 1642: Mr. Justice Malet and Kentish Petitions, 45, 67; LJ, iv. 721a; v. 40a; HMC 5th Rep. 18.
  • 26. Arch. Cant. xvii. 365-6.
  • 27. Maidstone Recs. 115.
  • 28. CCAM, 680.
  • 29. Arch. Cant. xvii. 356; CCC, 460.
  • 30. Cent. Kent. Stud. U522/A3, f. 5.
  • 31. Arch. Cant. xvii. 368.
  • 32. Ibid. 368-9, 370-1.
  • 33. Ibid. 356.
  • 34. Cent. Kent. Stud. U522/A3, ff. 4v, 5v.
  • 35. Cent. Kent. Stud. PRS/W/15/82; U522/T73.
  • 36. Arch. Cant. xvii. 353.