WALSINGHAM, Sir Thomas II (c.1589-1669), of Scadbury, nr. Chislehurst, 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



1640 (Apr.)
1640 (Nov.)

Family and Education

b. c.1589, o.s. of Sir Thomas Walsingham I* and Audrey, da. of Sir Ralph Shelton of Shelton, Norf.1 educ. King’s, Camb. 1606; travelled abroad 1609-12.2 m. (1) settlement 2 Mar. 1616, Elizabeth (bur. 24 Apr. 1632), da. of Sir Peter Manwood* of Hackington, Kent, 1s. 1da. d.v.p.; (2) 1634, Elizabeth (d. 4 Nov. 1676), da. of Sir Richard Bourne of Bobbingworth, Essex, wid. of Nathaniel Master (bur. 4 Apr. 1633) of St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate, London and Highgate, Mdx., merchant, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 1da. d.v.p.3 kntd. 26 Nov. 1613;4 suc. fa. 1630. bur. 10 Apr. 1669.5

Offices Held

?Gent. privy chamber extraordinary to Prince Henry, 1610-12,6 Chas. I 1641.7

Freeman, Rochester, Kent 1620;8 commr. subsidy, Kent 1621-2, 1624, 1641,9 inquiry, recusants’ lands, Kent 1622/3,10 charitable uses, 1622-33, 1637-at least 1640, Rochester 1635,11 sewers, Gravesend to Ravensbourne, Kent by 1626-at least 1627,12 martial law, Kent 1626, billeting and training soldiers 1626,13 Privy Seal loans 1626,14 Forced Loan 1626-7;15 v.-adm. Kent 1626-at least 1652;16 j.p. Kent 1629-at least 1651;17 commr. piracy, Cinque Ports 1629-at least 1639;18 jnr. bridge warden, Rochester 1631, snr. Bridge warden 1639, 1645, 1651, asst. bridge warden ?1632-59;19 commr. highways, repair, Kent 1631,20 knighthood fines 1631-at least 1632;21 dep. lt. Kent by 1635-at least 1642;22 commr. oyer and terminer, Home circ. 1635,23 Poll Tax, Kent 1641,24 assessment, Kent 1643-60,25 Surr. 1647-at least 1652;26 steward Eltham manor, Kent by 1643-at least 1648;27 commr. sequestration of delinquents, Kent 1643, Kentish rebels 1643,28 seizure of timber from delinquents’ lands, Essex and Kent 1644,29 gaol delivery, Kent 1644,30 defence of Surr. 1645,31 militia 1648-at least 1660.32

Commr. Southern Assoc. 1643, New Model Ordinance 1645, fen drainage 1649.33


According to the historians of Chislehurst and his father’s inquisition post mortem, Walsingham was born in 1600. However, this would mean that he was six on his admission to university, and eight when George Chapman dedicated The conspiracie and tragedie of Charles, Duke of Byron to him and his father.34 The historian of Rochester preferred the date 1594,35 but Walsingham was actually born in about 1589, for in 1602 his father, offering to compound for his wardship and marriage from the Court of Wards for £50, gave his age as 13.36 In November 1609, following the completion of his university education, Walsingham was licensed to travel abroad for three years. It is unclear whether he made the trip, as he may have been the Mr. Walsingham who served as a gentleman of the privy chamber to Prince Henry between 1610 and 1612. A keen huntsman,37 he was knighted by James at Royston in November 1613.

Walsingham probably secured his election for Poole in 1614 through the influence of Bartholomew Man, a Rochester alderman whose brother Edward had represented the seat in the first Jacobean Parliament.38 He made no recorded impact on the Commons. At the next general election he transferred to Rochester, which had previously been represented by his father. According to a later petition drafted by ‘divers citizens and freemen’, he and the recorder, Henry Clerke, were secretly chosen and elected by the mayor and a small group of freemen against the wishes of the majority, who were not warned in advance of the time of the election.39 Once again, he made no recorded contributions to the session.

In November 1623 Walsingham narrowly escaped heavy expense when Chancery released him from his obligations as surety for the late Sir Charles Howard. His bonds, worth £1,400 in total, were cancelled because Howard’s trustee had failed to pay off the debts despite receiving lands of sufficient value.40 He represented Rochester again in 1624, 1625, 1626 and 1628-9. Apart from the 1628 session, when he was named to the committee for privileges and a single conference, he left no trace on the records of any of these assemblies.41 His electoral success may have owed much to the services he performed for the borough outside Parliament. Seeking election to the second Caroline Parliament in December 1625, he reminded Rochester that ‘all the towns and cities in Kent have had lately privy seals, (yourselves only excepted), which my father and myself have only endeavoured to keep you from’.42 As well as intervening on the borough’s behalf, Walsingham also kept it well informed. Shortly after his election in 1625, he wrote to the mayor ‘according to my promise’ warning that the king and queen intended to stay overnight in Rochester on their journey to London from Dover, and he added that he would continue to ‘advertise you especially’ of ‘anything that may concern you or the city’.43 It was not until 1629 that Walsingham, appointed vice-admiral of Kent in 1626, seriously offended the corporation by defending the Admiralty’s rights against its own claims when it sought to renew its charter.44

Despite Walsingham’s usefulness to Rochester, his election may not always have been entirely assured. Writing from Scadbury on 23 Apr. 1625, he complained to the mayor that ‘I did expect I should have heard from you this week,’ having ‘stayed at home on purpose’. But despite urging him to ‘hasten the election as much as you can’,45 the election was not held until 7 May. Walsingham’s anxiety about his return ultimately proved misplaced, but at the following general election, a challenger to his position appeared. On 29 Dec. 1625 the duke of Buckingham, Rochester’s high steward, nominated Sir John Smythe III*, presuming upon his interest ‘not to be denied, nor to alter that assurance I have given him to rely upon that place and stand for no other’. Walsingham was so alarmed that he went to see Buckingham, who promised to recommend him for the second seat, but this was worthless, as the junior place was traditionally reserved for the borough’s recorder. Consequently Walsingham tried to undermine Smythe’s position. On 2 Jan. 1626 he wrote to the mayor that Smith was ineligible as he was not a freeman, that he ‘is but a stranger amongst you’, and that ‘the name of Smith can never deserve better of your city than my father and [my]self have done’.46 He also argued that since Buckingham had now endorsed his own candidacy as well as Smythe’s, the borough would not offend Buckingham if they now elected him.47 However, he clearly realized that he might not prevail, for by 6 Jan. it was rumoured that he would instead seek election as a knight of the shire, thereby pitting himself against another of the duke’s clients, Sir Edwin Sandys*. For Buckingham’s opponents in the county this was unwelcome news, as a Walsingham candidacy threatened to split the forces opposed to Sandys.48

In the event, Walsingham channeled all his energies into the campaign at Rochester where, despite continued lobbying by Buckingham and Smythe himself,49 he took the senior seat on the 19th. Buckingham, who found another seat for Smith, bore no grudge against Walsingham, but instead appointed him vice-admiral of Kent in the following August. For his part, Walsingham came to admire the duke, whose letters he kept under lock and key as ‘relics’ after the latter’s death.50

Walsingham’s finances often seemed precarious. Indeed, in 1630 his father urged him to reduce his household costs.51 In January 1625 the king granted him an annual pension of £200 in exchange for surrendering his claims to the arrears due to his late mother as keeper of Queen Anne’s Wardrobe, but it seems unlikely that this was paid regularly.52 On the death in 1627 of his childless cousin, Sir Ralph Shelton, it seemed that Walsingham would inherit his mother’s Norfolk’s estates, but as late as 1640 he had not secured possession of these lands, whose rightful ownership he was obliged to dispute in Chancery.53 In August 1630 Walsingham finally entered into his inheritance, but a damaging dispute with a tenant54 coincided with his father’s funeral, which cost around £420. In 1638 his finances deteriorated sharply. His debts rose in the space of a few months from just £960 to £7,140, yet his annual income amounted to just £1,700. By June 1642 they had increased to £9,000.55

During the early 1630s Walsingham fought off an attempt by Sir Dudley Digges* to claim Admiralty jurisdiction in Faversham Hundred.56 In 1637 he took legal advice after he was summoned to appear before the king and Privy Council for allegedly authorizing the buyers of a coppice in Croydon to destroy the wood.57 During the First Civil War he publicly assisted the parliamentarian war effort while secretly conducting a correspondence with the royalist earl of Bristol (Sir John Digby*). He fell into disgrace during the mid-1650s, and perhaps also financial ruin, selling his Kentish estates.58 In his will, drawn up on 1 Mar. 1656, his executors were instructed to sell his goods to settle his debts and legacies. He died in April 1669, and was buried in the chancel of Chislehurst church as he had requested.59 No other member of his family subsequently sat in Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Andrew Thrush


  • 1. C2/Chas.I/W73/59.
  • 2. Al. Cant.; SO3/4, unfol. 12 Nov. 1609.
  • 3. Cent. Kent. Stud. U1875/T1; Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, i. 616; ‘Expense bk. of James Master’ ed. S. Robertson, Arch. Cant. xv. 153; E.A. Webb, G.W. Miller and J. Beckwith, Hist. Chislehurst, 151-2; PROB 11/163, f. 396v; St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate (Harl. Soc. Reg. xxxi), 288.
  • 4. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 154.
  • 5. Soc. Gen. transcript Chislehurst par. reg.
  • 6. Govt. of Royal Household (Soc. Antiq. 1790), p. 324.
  • 7. LC3/1, unfol.
  • 8. Rochester, Guildhall Mus., Customal, new f. 41.
  • 9. C212/22/20-1, 23; SR, v. 85, 152.
  • 10. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 449 (misdated).
  • 11. C93/9/11; 93/10/25; 93/14/17; 192/1, unfol.
  • 12. Cent. Kent. Stud. S/NK/SO7, ff. 1v, 5v.
  • 13. APC, 1626, pp. 221, 224.
  • 14. E401/1913, unfol. 4 June 1626.
  • 15. Harl. 6846, f. 37; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144.
  • 16. Add. 37816, f. 158; HCA30/820/37, 61; CSP Dom. 1651, p. 266; 1651-2, p. 216.
  • 17. C66/2527; Cent. Kent. Stud. Q/JC/4.
  • 18. C181/3, f. 247v; 181/4, f. 48v; 181/5, p. 262. The commissions for 1629 and 1630 do not specify whether Walsingham or his father was intended, but as Walsingham was v.-adm. of Kent the commr. was clearly him.
  • 19. Traffic and Pols. ed. N. Yates and J.M. Gibson, 294.
  • 20. C181/4, f. 88.
  • 21. E178/5368, ff. 17, 20.
  • 22. CSP Dom. 1635, pp. 429, 442; 1636-7, p. 168; 1637, pp. 572, 575, 579; 1637-8, pp. 34, 48; CJ, ii. 724a.
  • 23. C181/5, f. 8.
  • 24. As implied by SR, v. 107.
  • 25. A. and O. i. 91, 148, 231, 541, 640, 968, 1085; ii. 36, 301, 469, 666, 1370.
  • 26. A. and O. i. 976, 1093; ii. 44, 310, 479, 676.
  • 27. R.R.C. Gregory, Story of Royal Eltham, 203, 206.
  • 28. A. and O. i. 113, 247.
  • 29. Ibid. 423-4.
  • 30. C181/5, p. 472.
  • 31. A. and O. i. 731.
  • 32. Ibid. 1238; ii. 1326, 1433.
  • 33. A. and O. i. 336, 620; ii. 139.
  • 34. Webb, Miller and Beckwith, 143-5; C142/467/71; STC, 4968.
  • 35. F.F. Smith, Rochester in Parl. 108
  • 36. Staffs. RO, D593/S/4/60/17. The doc. is undated, but his fa. who was born in 1561, is said to have been 41.
  • 37. Webb, Miller and Beckwith, 149.
  • 38. For Bartholomew Man’s connection with Rochester, and his relationship to Edward, see Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. xlii), 157; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. lxxv), 134.
  • 39. Surr. Hist. Cent. LM 1331/28.
  • 40. C78/434/3.
  • 41. CJ, i. 873a, 874a.
  • 42. Soc. Antiq. ms 199 ter. f. 3.
  • 43. F.F. Smith, Hist. Rochester, 343.
  • 44. SP16/138/62.
  • 45. Gent. Mag. lxviii. 117.
  • 46. Soc. Antiq. ms 199 ter. ff. 5, 7.
  • 47. Ibid. f. 11.
  • 48. Dorothea Scott (1883 edn.) ed. G.D. Scull, 132.
  • 49. Soc. Antiq. ms 199 ter. ff. 13, 15, 17.
  • 50. CSP Dom. 1633-4, p. 43.
  • 51. Webb, Miller and Beckwith, 384.
  • 52. CSP Dom. 1623-5, p. 444.
  • 53. C2/Chas.I/W73/59.
  • 54. Add. 29599, ff. 40-1.
  • 55. Cent. Kent. Stud. U119/A2, unfol.
  • 56. CSP Dom. 1629-31, pp. 322, 357; 1634-5, p. 370.
  • 57. Ibid. 1636-7, pp. 381, 390, 401.
  • 58. Webb, Miller and Beckwith, 146-8.
  • 59. Ibid. 152, 385.