THORNHAUGH (THORNEY), Sir John (c.1567-1627), of Fenton Hall, Notts.

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.1567, o.s. of John Thornhaugh of Fenton and Elizabeth, da. of Brian Bailes of Potter Newton, Yorks. and h. to her bro. William.1 educ. King’s, Camb. 1581; Lyon’s Inn; I. Temple 1584.2 m. by 1590, Mary, da. of Francis Rodes, j.c.p. 1585-9, of Staveley Woodthorpe, Derbys., 1s. 2da.3 kntd. 23 Apr. 1603;4 suc. fa. 1614, aged 47.5 d. 9 Nov. 1627.6 Jo[hn] Thornhagh

Offices Held

J.p. Notts 1599-1617, 1619-d.,7 liberties of Southwell and Scrooby, Notts. 1608-d.;8 commr. musters, Notts. by 1605-at least 1625,9 sewers, Lincs. and Notts. 1607-16, Notts. 1625-6,10 subsidy Notts. 1608, 1621-2, 1624;11 sheriff, Notts. 1617-18,12 dep. lt. 1626-d.;13 commr. Forced Loan, Notts. 1626-7, Newark, Notts. 1627.14


Thornhaugh may have been descended from Peter de Thornehawe who was returned for Lincoln in 1295.15 His ancestors acquired Fenton, six miles from East Retford, by marriage in the reign of Henry VI. His father was a Nottinghamshire justice of the peace and deputy warden of Sherwood Forest under Roger, 5th earl of Rutland. In 1598 Rutland, who was high steward of East Retford, appointed Thornhaugh’s father to arbitrate between warring factions in the borough council and three years later the earl nominated either Thornhaugh or his father for one of the borough’s seats in the last Elizabethan Parliament. However by 1601 the earl was in disgrace following his involvement in the Essex rising earlier in the year and the borough preferred to elect a servant of the 7th earl of Shrewsbury (Gilbert Talbot†).16

The earl of Rutland was restored to favour in the new reign and Thornhaugh was knighted when the earl entertained James I at Belvoir Castle on the king’s journey from Edinburgh to London at his accession.17 Thornhaugh was almost certainly elected in 1604 on Rutland’s nomination, but he took little part in the first Stuart Parliament. He made no recorded speeches, and his only committee appointment was on the bill for the abatement of obstructions to rivers (7 Feb. 1606), in which he was interested as operator of the Oswardby ferries on the Trent. Indeed, on 3 Dec. 1608 he was authorized to receive 150 tons of timber from Sherwood Forest for repairs to the boats and buildings.18

There is no evidence that Thornhaugh ever sought re-election. He died at Fenton on 9 Nov. 1627 and was buried the following day in the chancel of the local parish church.19 No will or grant of administration has been found. A portrait of Thornhaugh and his wife, painted by Gilbert Jackson, survives in a private collection in Norfolk.20 His grandson Francis, a parliamentary Colonel, sat for East Retford as a recruiter until he was killed in action in the Second Civil War, while his great-grandson John represented the borough or the county as an independent Whig almost continuously from the 1689 until 1710.21

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Lincs. Peds. (Harl. Soc. lii), 970; Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. iv), 69.
  • 2. Al. Ox.; I. Temple database of admiss.
  • 3. Lincs. Peds. 970.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 103.
  • 5. C142/344/86.
  • 6. C142/443/49.
  • 7. C231/1, f. 84v; 231/4, f. 90; E163/18/12, f. 62v.
  • 8. C181/2, f. 65v; 181/3, f. 222v.
  • 9. Add. 11402, f. 106; SP16/10/61.
  • 10. C181/2, ff. 48, 255v; 181/3, ff. 162. 199v.
  • 11. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 12. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 104.
  • 13. Lincs. Peds. 970.
  • 14. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 145; C193/12/2, ff. 44, 88v.
  • 15. OR.
  • 16. Lincs. Peds. 969-70; HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 224; P.R. Seddon, ‘Parlty. Election at East Retford, 1624’, Trans. Thoroton Soc. lxxvi. 34; D. Marcombe, English Small Town Life, 47, 74.
  • 17. True Narration of the Entertainment of his Royal Majesty (1603), unpag.
  • 18. CJ, i. 265a; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 473.
  • 19. ‘Fun. Certs’. The Gen. vii. 143.
  • 20. Oxford DNB sub Jackson, Gilbert.
  • 21. HP Commons, 1660-90, iii. 556-7.