WALMESLEY, Sir Thomas (1601-1637), of Clayton le Moor and Dunkenhalgh, Lancs.

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. 3 May 1601,1 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Thomas Walmesley (d.1642)2 of Dunkenhalgh, and Eleanor, da. of Sir John Danvers† of Dauntsey, Wilts.3 educ. ‘subscribed’ Oxf. 1613, G. Inn 1614.4 m. c.1617, Juliana (d. Oct. 1668),5 da. of Sir Richard Molyneux I*, 1st bt., of Sefton, Lancs., 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 3da.6 kntd. 12 Aug. 1617.7 bur. 13 July 1637.8

Offices Held

Freeman, Liverpool, Lancs. 1617,9 Preston, Lancs. by 1622,10 Wigan, Lancs. by 1628;11 commr. subsidy, Lancs. 1624;12 commr. sewers, Lancs. 1633.13


The Walmesleys could trace their ancestors back to the fourteenth century, but it was this Member’s grandfather, Sir Thomas Walmesley†, a judge in Common Pleas, whose acquisition of an enormous fortune raised the family to prominence among the Elizabethan Lancashire gentry.14 Justice Walmesley spent over £32,300 in buying lands during his 30-year career, including his principal estate of Dunkenhalgh, near Blackburn.15 In the Union debates of 1607, he was the only legal authority to maintain that the post-nati Scots were not automatically natural-born subjects of both kingdoms, a ‘bold opinion ... delivered openly in Parliament’ which was commemorated in his epitaph.16 At his death in 1612 Justice Walmesley left several Lancashire manors in trust to this Member, his eldest grandson, including Rishton, Clayton le Moor, Billington and Netherdarwen, as well as five burgages in Clitheroe and various outlying properties in Yorkshire.17 Consequently, Walmesley was raised as the heir-apparent of a vast combined inheritance; the Dunkenhalgh accounts kept during his minority record average receipts of between £700 and £900 a year.18

Walmesley, whose mother died within a few months of his birth, was entered at Oxford and Gray’s Inn at a young age. His father’s second marriage to Mary, sister of Sir Richard Houghton* of Houghton Tower, cemented the Walmesleys’ ties with the county’s leading families. When he was only 16, Walmesley married Juliana, daughter of Sir Richard Molyneux of Sefton. He introduced her to Dunkenhalgh in July 1617 during the preparation for the king’s visit to Houghton, on which occasion Walmesley received his knighthood.19

The concentration of his estates in the parishes of Whalley and Blackburn made Walmesley an obvious contender among the local gentry for election at Clitheroe. Although technically still under-age in 1621, he was promised the first seat long before the election, at which he was returned unopposed.20 Once at Westminster, Walmesley made no impression upon the records of the Parliament. He returned to the Commons again in 1624 as a Lancashire knight of the shire, when he was named to committees for bills concerning writs of supersedeas (9 Mar.), bankrupts (22 Mar.), tillage (24 Mar.), Sir Edward Engeham’s lands (3 Apr.), the Edwards v. Edwards lawsuit (16 Apr.), and Goathland manor, in Yorkshire (20 April); he is known to have attended some meetings of the latter two committees.21 On 7 Apr. he was also appointed to attend the conference with the Lords on monopolies.22

In 1628 Walmesley was granted the right to succeed his kinsman Sir John Danvers* as treasurer’s remembrancer in the Exchequer, but he died before the reversion fell in.23 His failure to acquire office was perhaps attributable to his youth and religion, for like his father and grandfather he was suspected of Catholicism. Justice Walmesley’s widow, Anne, paid regular recusancy fines until she died in 1635, and the Dunkenhalgh archives contain a series of printed Exchequer receipts for fines paid by Walmesley’s wife Juliana between 1632-49.24

Walmesley died intestate in July 1637 and was buried at night in Blackburn church, where his grandfather had erected a costly monument and family tomb that was destined to be destroyed during the Civil War.25 Since he predeceased his father he never inherited the main Dunkenhalgh estate, although his inquisition post mortem records that he possessed substantial other property in Lancashire and Yorkshire.26 The wardship of his ten year-old son, Richard, was shared by Walmesley’s father and Richard Byron of Sturley, Nottingham.27 Richard Walmesley sided with the king during the Civil War, and fled abroad when his estates were sequestered. These properties were recovered by Walmesley’s widow, who never remarried and lived at Dunkenhalgh until her death in 1668.28

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Rosemary Sgroi


  • 1. Blackburn Par. Reg. (Lancs. Par. Reg. Soc. xli), 3.
  • 2. Lancs. RO, DDPt/23/88.
  • 3. Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxii), 67.
  • 4. Al. Ox.; GI Admiss.
  • 5. PROB 11/329, ff. 89-91.
  • 6. Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxviii), 327; J. Foster, Lancs. Peds.
  • 7. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 164.
  • 8. Blackburn Par. Reg. 206.
  • 9. G. Chandler, Liverpool Under Jas. I, 204.
  • 10. Preston Guild Rolls ed. W.A. Abram (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. ix), 76.
  • 11. D. Sinclair, Hist. Wigan, i. 197.
  • 12. C212/22/23.
  • 13. C181/4, f. 130.
  • 14. VCH Lancs. vi. 419-22.
  • 15. Lancs. RO, DDPt/46/1; P.R. Long, ‘Wealth of the Magisterial Class in Lancs., 1590-1640’ (Manchester Univ. MA, 1968), pp. 139-42; W.A. Abram, Hist. Blackburn, 305, 309.
  • 16. Lansd. 973, ff. 45v-6v; LJ, ii. 476b.
  • 17. Lancs. IPMs ed. J.P. Rylands (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. iii), 248-52.
  • 18. Lancs. RO, DDPt/1/Box 11; J. Foster, Lancs. Peds.; T.D. Whitaker, Hist. Whalley, ii. 280-1.
  • 19. Jnl. of Nicholas Assheton of Downham ed. F.R. Raines (Chetham soc. xiv), 25.
  • 20. Bodl. Add. C259; W.S. Weeks, Clitheroe in Seventeenth Cent. 225.
  • 21. CJ, i. 680b, 731b, 744b, 748b, 754b, 768a, 771b; C.R. Kyle, ‘Attendance Lists’, PPE 1604-48 ed. Kyle, 198, 204.
  • 22. CJ, i. 757b.
  • 23. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 3, p. 27; C66/2450; Exchequer Officeholders comp. J.C. Sainty (L. and I. Soc. spec. ser. xviii), 55.
  • 24. Lancs. RO, DDPt/29, DDPt/23/82.
  • 25. M. Brigg, ‘Walmesleys of Dunkenhalgh’, Trans. Lancs. and Cheshire Antiq. Soc. lxxv-vi. 72-102.
  • 26. DL7/28/80.
  • 27. WARD 9/163, f. 82; Lancs. RO DDPt/23/84, 86.
  • 28. Royalist Comp. Pprs. ed. J.H. Stanning (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. xcv), 256-60.