WALSINGHAM, Sir Thomas I (1561-1630), of Scadbury, nr. Chislehurst, Kent; Walsingham House, nr. the Tiltyard, Whitehall and St. Stephen's, Coleman Street, London.

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. 1561,1 3rd s. of Sir Thomas Walsingham† (d.1584) of Scadbury and Dorothy, da. of Sir John Guldeford of Benenden, Kent. m. by 1589, Audrey (bur. 20 May 1624), da. of Sir Ralph Shelton of Shelton, Norf., 1s. 1da. d.v.p. suc. bro. Edmund 1589;2 kntd. 21 July 1597;3 d. 10 or 11 Aug. 1630.4 sig. Thomas Walsingham.

Offices Held

Capt. militia ft., lathe of Sutton-at-Hone, Kent by c.1595-at least 1621;5 commr. subsidy, Kent 1595, 1608, 1610, 1621, 1624-6, Rochester, Kent 1621, 1624,6 grain, Kent 1595-6;7 dep. lt. Kent 1595-at least 1626,8 j.p. Kent by 1596-?d.;9 freeman, Rochester by 1597; kpr. Eltham Park, Kent by 1601-at least 1613;10 compounder and collector for purveyance, lathe of Sutton-at-Hone 1602-at least 1616;11 recvr. (jt.), revenues of lands of 11th Lord Cobham (Henry Brooke alias Cobham†), Kent 1603-5;12 commr. survey, Eltham manor, Kent 1605,13 charitable legacies of John Ady of Deptford, Kent 1607,14 charitable uses, Kent 1608-at least 1626,15 aid 1609,16 sewers, Gravesend to Ravensbourne, Kent 1610-at least 1627,17 oyer and terminer, the Verge 1613-21, Kent 1615, the Marshalsea 1620-3, Kent, Canterbury and the Cinque Ports 1627;18 asst. bridge warden, Rochester 1615-d., snr. warden 1616, 1622, ?jnr. warden 1629;19 commr. inquiry, revenues of Wye Coll., Kent 1622-3,20 recusants’ lands, Kent 1622/3,21 martial law, Kent, 1624, 1626,22 Forced Loan 1626-7.23

Kpr. (jt.), Anne of Denmark’s Wardrobe, 1608-at least 1610;24 commr. inquiry, lands of Henry Brooke alias Cobham†, 11th Lord Cobham 1608;25 ?sub-commr. exacted fees 1623.26

Cttee. Virg. Co. 1612.27


As the owner of a substantial estate in north-west Kent, Walsingham was one of the most prominent members of the Kentish gentry. In April 1601 he was instructed by the Privy Council to help organize the county’s reception at Dover of the French ambassador, and in November 1602 he and eight others were authorized by his shire to compound for purveyance with the board of greencloth.28 He was also a noted patron of literature. Christopher Marlowe lived under his roof, and George Chapman dedicated to him his 1605 play, ‘All Fools’, describing him as his ‘long-loved and honourable friend’.29

Walsingham’s wife, Lady Audrey, was described by Lady Anne Clifford as one of ‘the great favourites of Sir Robert Cecil†’.30 Walsingham seems not to have objected to his wife’s closeness to Cecil, and indeed he kept a mistress himself.31 Following the death of Elizabeth, Walsingham’s wife was sent to Scotland to help accompany Anne of Denmark to London.32 The new queen initially refused to admit Lady Audrey to her Privy Chamber, but in July 1603 she appointed her keeper of her wardrobe and subsequently the two women performed together in Court masques.33 In 1608 Walsingham was appointed joint keeper with his wife, and probably through her he also obtained a lease from the king of a two-storey tenement on the edge of St. James’s Park. Before 1612 Lady Audrey spent more than 1,000 marks in extending and improving this property, which was used in 1620 by Elector Frederick V as a gallery to view the tilts.34 She and her husband were well able to afford such a sum: as well as the estate in Kent, Walsingham owned properties in St. Mary-le-Bow, London, and High Laver, Essex, and enjoyed an annual income of roughly £1,500.35 In addition, Lady Audrey held an annuity of £200, granted by the king in 1604. It was subsequently increased to £500, though it evidently fell into arrears and was surrendered in 1613.36

Following the attainder of Henry, Lord Cobham, in 1603, Walsingham was appointed to help receive his disgraced neighbour’s rents and debts on behalf of the Crown.37 Shortly thereafter he was returned to Parliament for Rochester, which he had represented twice before. He played only a modest role in its proceedings; he was entirely unmentioned in the records of the second and fifth sessions, and was named to just 13 committees in total. Three, concerned with bills for prisons (16 Feb. and 10 May 1610) and the punishment of the parents of bastard children (9 Dec. 1606), probably reflected his interests as a magistrate.38 His wife’s connection with Cecil, now earl of Salisbury, helps to explain his appointment to consider the Cheshunt vicarage bill (12 Dec. 1606), and constituency ties underlay his nomination to the committee for an obscure measure concerning Rochester (22 June 1610).39 Other bill committees to which he was appointed were concerned with Martin Calthrop’s wife (27 Apr. 1604), pluralism (4 June 1604), Herbert Pelham* (20 Feb. 1607), the lands of the London livery companies (4 May 1607), Mr. Davison (27 Mar. 1610) and brokers (22 June 1610).40 His remaining appointments were to consider the grievances raised by Sir Edward Montagu (23 Mar. 1604) and the hardship endured by officers who had served in the Elizabethan wars (26 Mar. 1604).41 Walsingham was also named to five joint conferences, two concerning the Buckinghamshire election dispute (28 Mar. and 12 Apr. 1604), two with the Union (14 and 19 Apr. 1604) and one with the Great Contract (15 Feb. 1610).42 On 19 Mar. 1604 Walsingham was deputed by the earl of Nottingham (Charles Howard†) to help administer the Oath of Supremacy to his fellow Members.43

Walsingham accompanied Henry Howard, earl of Northampton to Windsor in May 1605 on the occasion of the latter’s investiture as a knight of the Garter.44 In June 1611 he purchased the reversion to various Kentish properties that he already leased from the Crown. However, in 1613 he sold all but Scadbury and Chislehurst to Sir Robert Darcy of Dartford for £500.45 He may have begun to experience financial difficulties, for that same year he fell behind in paying tithes for his London townhouse, while sometime before 1618 he was ‘molested and distrained’ for non-payment of rent on his Whitehall tenements.46

In 1614 Walsingham was returned as junior knight for Kent after threatening to dispute the seat with Sir Edwin Sandys,47 who was forced to make do with Walsingham’s former seat at Rochester. During the election campaign it was suggested by Sir Peter Manwood, who took the senior place, ‘that this is his turn, and Sir Thomas Walsingham’s’.48 He played no recorded part in the Parliament, except that he was named to the committee for the bill for the continuance and repeal of expiring statutes (8 April).49

Sir Thomas Walsingham was one of the six sub-commissioners to the commissioners for exacted fees appointed in May 1623, but it is unclear whether this was Walsingham himself or his son, Sir Thomas Walsingham II*. During the 1620s Walsingham became concerned that his son was living beyond his means, and in his will, drafted on 5 Aug. 1630, he consequently reserved the rents from three properties for his grand-daughter, Katherine, as her portion.50 He appointed as his executors his son and his late daughter’s husband, (Sir) Thomas Pelham*, and died five or six days later, being buried, as he requested, in Scadbury chapel, Chislehurst, at a total cost of £420.51 He was succeeded by his son, who represented Rochester in the Short and Long Parliaments.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. C24/499/105, f. 13.
  • 2. Arch. Cant. xvii. 390-1, although this misdates his wife’s death and omits his daughter. Cf. Soc. Gen. transcript Chislehurst par. reg. and E.A. Webb, G.W. Miller and J. Beckwith, Hist. Chislehurst, 137, 144.
  • 3. Arch. Cant. lxix. 220-1.
  • 4. His i.p.m. and the Chislehurst par. reg. say he d. 11 Aug., but his son records that he d. on the 10th: C142/467/71; Soc. Gen. transcript Chislehurst par. reg; Cent. Kent. Stud. U119/A2, unfol.
  • 5. Staffs. RO, D593/S/4/38/9; HMC Finch, i. 42.
  • 6. Staffs. RO, D593/S/4/38/16; SP14/31/1; E115/524, f. 18; 115/22, f. 1; 115/136/118; C212/22/20, 23.
  • 7. Staffs. RO, D593/S/3/7.
  • 8. C231/1, f. 5v; J.J.N. McGurk, ‘Letter Bk. relating to Ltcy. of Kent’, Arch. Cant. lxxxii. 128, 133-4; Add. 64884, f. 92v; C193/8, no. 84.
  • 9. Webb, Miller and Beckwith, 137-8; C66/2527.
  • 10. PSO5/2, unfol. Dec. 1601; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 397.
  • 11. Staffs. RO, D593/S/4/58/1, S/4/60/6; J.R. Scott, Scott, of Scot’s-Hall, pp. xix-xx, xxiii.; Cent. Kent. Stud. U1115/013/6.
  • 12. E351/412.
  • 13. E164/44.
  • 14. Webb, Miller and Beckwith, 142.
  • 15. E. Hansted, Kent: i. Hundred of Blackheath ed. H.H. Drake, 23; C93/6/18; 93/7/7; 93/9/11; 93/10/25.
  • 16. SP14/43/107.
  • 17. C181/2, ff. 106, 210, 216v; Cent. Kent. Stud. S/NK/SO7, ff. 1v, 5v.
  • 18. Ibid. ff. 179v, 228; 181/3, ff. 1, 97, 213, 215v.
  • 19. Traffic and Pols. ed. N. Yates and J.M. Gibson, 294.
  • 20. C181/3, ff. 66, 78, 83v.
  • 21. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 449 (misdated).
  • 22. T. Rymer, Foedera, vii. pt. 4, p. 170; C193/8/84.
  • 23. Harl. 6846, f. 37; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 498; Rymer, viii. pt. 2, p. 155.
  • 24. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 420; C66/1758/17.
  • 25. C181/2, f. 64v.
  • 26. Bodl. Tanner 101, no. 67.
  • 27. A. Brown, Genesis of US, 543.
  • 28. APC, 1601-4, pp. 190, 213; J.J.N. McGurk, ‘Royal Purveyance in the Shire of Kent’, BIHR, l. 63-4.
  • 29. Webb, Miller and Beckwith, 143.
  • 30. Diary of Lady Anne Clifford ed. V. Sackville-West, 8.
  • 31. A.L. Rowse, Simon Forman, 127.
  • 32. AO1/2022/1. We are grateful to Helen Payne for this ref.
  • 33. Webb, Miller and Beckwith, 140; J. Nichols, Progs. of Jas. I, i. 162.
  • 34. LCC Survey of London, xvi. 28, 29, 31.
  • 35. HMC Hatfield, xii. 14, 573; C142/467/71.
  • 36. CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 113; 1611-18, p. 193; 1623-5, p. 444.
  • 37. Ibid. 1603-10, p. 64.
  • 38. CJ, i. 329a, 394b, 426b.
  • 39. Ibid. 330a, 443a.
  • 40. Ibid. 187a, 231b, 338a, 368b, 415a, 444a.
  • 41. Ibid. 151b, 153a.
  • 42. Ibid. 157a, 169b, 172a, 178a, 393b.
  • 43. Ibid. 140b.
  • 44. Add. 34218, f. 87.
  • 45. Webb, Miller and Beckwith, 104; E. Hasted, Kent, ii. 6-7; Cent. Kent. Stud. U119/T16.
  • 46. GL, ms 4457/2, f. 198v; LCC Survey of London, xvi. 28.
  • 47. Chamberlain Letters, i. 516.
  • 48. P. Clark, ‘Thomas Scott and the growth of urban opposition to the early Stuart regime’, HJ, xxi. 10.
  • 49. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 36.
  • 50. Ibid. 384.
  • 51. HP Commons, 1558-1603 understates the cost, which included £120 paid to tradesmen in Nov. 1631; Cent. Kent. Stud. U119/A2, unfol.